"Nytaya collaborates with her sitters to share their experiences in their own words. Then she uses the interview and a photograph given to her by the collaborator as inspiration for a painted portrait. Not only does the concept and execution feature Black Women who are often invisible in our culture, but it shares their stories intimately and honorifically giving agency and importance to the women portrayed."

Emily Hanako Momohara, Associate Professor, Photography


Emerging Artist Award & 2021 Valedictorian

2021 has just begun but, for AAC student Nytaya Babbitt, this has already been a year to remember. In January, Babbitt was named SummerFair Cincinnati’s Emerging Young Artist, beating out twenty finalists that their professors selected from area colleges.

Then Academic Dean, Paige Williams, announced that Nytaya was the class of 2021 Valedictorian.

We wanted to ask Nytaya a few questions about what these accomplishments mean to her and how she got here. It comes as no surprise that even though they’re in the final semester of their senior year, they made time to respond and were quick to reply.
Q & A with Nytaya Babbitt
Q: When did you come to Cincinnati?
A: I came to Cincinnati my sophomore year after transferring schools from Memphis.
Q: Where did you grow up, and what was it like? Was art always a part of your life?
A: I grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, around a lot of kind and hardworking individuals. My parents were charitable to a fault, and that trait passed down to me. When I began showing an interest in art my parents were the first people to help me cultivate that interest. The interest in art started around 3rd grade, which prompted my parents to help me get into a performing arts school that spanned from 4th-12th grade. So, in terms of, ” has art always been a part of life,” most of it yes.
Q: How has your work transformed over your time at the AAC?
A: AAC has given me a lot of room to direct myself as an artist. Professors at AAC helped me cultivate language and discussions around my work that I didn’t think were possible.
Q: How do you choose your subjects?
A:  I usually choose subjects that have directly impacted me and how I go about my life. 
Q: How did it feel when Paige Williams told you that you were the 2021 Valedictorian?
A: When Paige told me I was valedictorian, I physically felt the air leave my body. I was so happy. I never thought that I could achieve something like that because I know other great students are working alongside me. To say I was elated is an understatement.
Q: Have you told your family; if so how did they react to your accomplishment?
A: The first people I told were my mom and dad. My dad said no one in his family had achieved that before, so he was proud of me, and my mom made me repeat myself to make sure she heard it right. They were both extremely proud.
Q: What are your plans after you graduate?
A: My immediate plans are to find an apartment so I can move to Cincinnati. Then spend the next year making art and working so next school term I can enter in an MFA program for painting and drawing.
Q: What advice do you have for young artists?
A:  I would say be as genuine as you can be and become a sponge, soaking up lessons and advice

When you scan this QR code, you will be taken to an audio recording of an interview that Nytaya Babbitt recorded with her subject.