Category Storytelling

In Conversation With Yaw Tony

Yaw Tony

Art is a powerful tool of expression. The hopes we have in the past can shape our futures. The ability to create something new or better depends on our ability to imagine it. These ideas and the prompt of what it means to dream while Black is at the core of Union Station’s newest exhibit, Black Dreams and Aspirations, sponsored by TD, co-curated in partnership with MakeRoom Inc. 

We were delighted to speak with Yaw Tony, one of the artists for the exhibit, about what Black Dreams and Aspirations means to him. His featured artwork, entitled Your Future Is Trapped Within You, reminds us of the importance of self-discovery, which results in self-governance, to achieve our dreams and aspirations for a better future. Our future is not outside of us but within us.

Your Future Is Trapped Within You

What was the inspiration behind your art showcased in the Black Dreams and Aspirations exhibit? 

My piece is called Your Future Is Trapped Within You. I believe that every human being on earth has a gift to contribute to the betterment of the world. But you don’t give yourself the gift that you have, you are born with it. So, the question you should ask yourself is ‘why do I have this gift?’. There is a reason why you have your gift, and you need to find it, polish it, and then you can distribute it to the world. In doing this, we can solve problems. Most of us don’t know our gifts, which is why there is so much commotion on the world. If everybody knew their gift, we could work harmoniously. I always use the nature around us to explain this – the trees are not trying to be the car; the flowers are not trying to be the birds. Everything is in perfect order because every piece is giving their gift to the world. I think that’s how humans should think. 

What message or emotion do you hope viewers take away from experiencing your artwork? 

I always say self-discovery is one of the most beautiful things. Once you discover yourself, you know what you’re capable of, your potential, and what you’re supposed to do. And you can begin to self-govern yourself – no one needs to tell you to pick up the trash from the floor, because you are self-governing. And once you become self-governing, your true self comes out. That’s what I’m trying to convey in my artwork. 

I believe that every human being is a leader. But unless you discover yourself you will always follow. I hope people can find the leadership spirit within themselves. 

How do you think that art has the power to inspire change in society? 

I think artists are the vehicles that disturb the waters. As an artist you think differently, and you can see things in a perspective that people do not normally see. And when artists see things, they can convey it visually, so that the rest of the world can see. We paint the misery, the chaos, and then a broader conversation can start. Because now we all see. 

What inspired you to become an artist?

I am an artist because I am. I did not choose it; I was born with it. Ever since I can remember I would always draw and sketch. I love being in this world because I can control what’s happening. 

Thank you, Tony, for taking the time to speak with us about your artwork showcased in the Black Dreams and Aspirations exhibit. You can find Tony’s art in the West Wing of Union Station from now until May. Stop by today to experience it yourself. 


Click here for more information about Union’s Black History Month exhibit.