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Calida Garcia Rawles

Author of Same Difference

Author, illustrator, fine art artist, and graphic designer Calida Garcia Rawles, C’98, directly credits the education she received at Spelman for molding her into the full creative professional she is today.

“I was able to take many classes in the English department,” said the art major originally from Wilmington, Delaware. “I also took many cross-registered business classes as well, so here I am working for myself.” 

At Spelman, she found she was multifaceted and could do many things, and that has not stopped. “I’m writing a young readers’ book now,” explained Rawles, who lives in Los Angeles. “But I’m also illustrating, painting, and working as an art director for public policy, so I have to read these certain public policy reports and figure out how they need to look and sometimes help with editing.”

Rawles said ADW exposed her to the “diversity without our Blackness” and thanks Spelman for that enlightenment. “We would read all the same things, but it wasn’t like we were all on the same page,” explained the author, who created the 2010 children’s book "Same Difference" about two first cousins who learn to appreciate their physical differences.

“I had some of the most amazing debates with students about religion, about our role coming over from Africa, all different things that I assumed all Black people thought, which is a horrible concept and something you’re kind of taught. When you’re the only one or looking at television, you think that we have one kind of mindset. When I went to ADW, I really did feel the diversity.”

As an art major in 1997, Rawles was one of the student interns to travel to Portobelo, Panama, where she participated in the Spelman College Summer Art Colony program. Currently, she is working on a series of paintings and works on paper titled, “Behind the Veil.” The portraits examine gender identity in the context of marriage.

This article by Ronda Racha Penrice originally appeared in the 2016 winter edition of the Spelman Messenger.