Sky Caesar is a 22-year-old writer and artist living in South London. Her debut novel ‘The Little Book Of Infinite Realities' exploring Afrocentricity, spirituality and self-expression will come out later this year. She recently co-created a multi-media exhibition ‘L.E.G.A.C.Y.’ which re-evaluates Black History Month. This month, ArtULTRA researcher Bea Santos interviewed Sky about her path to becoming a writer and her focus on activism and freedom.
Artwork by Sky Caesar
Bea: Tell me a bit about yourself, and how ‘The Little Book Of Infinite Realities’ came about.
Sky: I come from a mixed background, so my family heritage is Caribbean as well as Italian and Argentinian. I was brought up very Pan-African, very spiritual, very Afrocentric – to give readers context, Afrocentrism means operating from a Black or ethnic perspective whilst respecting other world views. This encompassed me going on a spiritual journey. I was home educated by my parents when I was brought up, which allowed a lot of time to grow and build up my artistic practices. I used to draw every day, write everyday, and I was very lucky to have the time to do that. There were goals I had but I didn’t have goals, if that makes sense.
Bea: So, from an early age you had this idea of writing a book?
Sky: Yes and no. I compiled notes that I had from when I was 15-16 all the way to 20-21 and I just started editing and putting them into chapters: there’s self-reflections, advice I’ve given to friends, there’s research I did on how to develop positive habits. I was supposed to publish it in 2020, but the lockdown did stunt me. The publishing aspect was hard – and you have to take time to recalibrate, I guess.
Bea: What authors or thinkers have most inspired you?
Sky: So many! Including Llaila Afrika, Haile Selassie, Cheikh Anta Diop. My family is Rastafarian – it’s classified as a religion, but it’s very misunderstood globally - that influenced me to find authors who were in the same frame of mind and championed the same ideas as Rastafarian beliefs and the idea that embracing Pan-Africanism can counter systematic racism and injustice. The book that really did it was Afrocentricity by Molefi Kete Asante because it put into words what I had a feeling for. People and places who have been affected by colonialism always talk about Westernism, but do we truly understand that there are central world-view bases from entirely different perspectives? I didn’t truly understand that until I had read Afrocentricity. In terms of influence, I try to have it come from the self and focus that sense of self into my writing so that I don’t feel myself being pulled along by someone else.
Bea: So writing and drawing is a way of politically and spiritually centring yourself?
Sky: Yes! We must re-evaluate world views and reanalyse what it is to be self in its own right. The indoctrinations of colonialism are still latent and we must move away from that. I aim to achieve true self-liberation and emancipation of the mind.
Bea: How do your artworks fit in with your writing?
Sky: I’ve always done more writing than drawing, yet still, somehow, drawing keeps coming up. It was kind of a complimentary thing because I’m very word-based I can get sick of my own thoughts, and where do you go next with that emotional, intangible, feeling? That’s why I draw. In spirituality they say, in the moment you are meditating, or in prayer, or doing whatever your mindfulness practice might be, in that moment you are not thinking, therefore all possibilities are possible. If you are drawing without a goal, you are entering that meditative state. It’s not particularly abstract, my work, but yet I still found that unconscious consciousness. There are some sketches in my book that complement my writing.
Bea: And who is your audience? How would you like the book to be seen?
Sky: The main people that I had in mind were myselves, meaning young people who went through a similar process of decolonising themselves, whether in terms of race, gender or any other external forms of oppression imposed upon them. We do forget our roots of activism and our roots of a more genuine sort of way of living in our attempt to correct everything that’s wrong, we might forget the peaceful side or the positives that come from our history. On the flip side, the elders who have forgot the passion of focusing on freedom – a reminder not to live in resignation.