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Three Questions with Makiyah Alexander on Rising Waters

Makiyah Alexander is an animator and character illustrator originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan. A graduate of Central Michigan University in 2020, Makiyah creates illustrations and animation geared toward her interest of emulating the forgotten hopes, dreams, loves, and struggles of people of color.

We asked Makiyah, one of the artists on our forthcoming game RISING WATERS (now on Kickstarter), to talk briefly about her work on the game. Below are her answers to our new post series, “Three Questions With…” that we’ll have more of in the future.

What do you find exciting/stimulating about Rising Waters?

What I find stimulating and exciting about RISING WATERS is that it’s a game that dives into history that is glossed over or briefly mentioned in US history. When discussing African American history, we discuss slavery, the Harlem Renaissance, and the Civil Rights Movement. We don’t talk about events like the 1927 Mississippi Flood and its effect on the black community. RISING WATERS gives you a glimpse of what it was like to be an African American sharecropper trying to make a living in the south while also trying to cope and survive the Mississippi flood and systemic racism.

What influences were you drawing from in designing your art for the game?

When I was designing my art for RISING WATERS, I wanted to create art that depicted a variety of African American characters in a relatable as well as humanizing way. My goal was to illustrate people who despite being affected by the flood and systemic racism, still found the grace and courage to push through their adversity and fight for a better future.

To achieve this goal, I would immerse myself in 1920’s blues, jazz, and Negro spirituals to evoke the feeling of life during that time. When I wanted to illustrate art that dealt with family and community; I would use my grandmother’s stories of growing up with Great Grandma Charlotte and the rest of her family in Mississippi for inspiration.

Draft Community Card Art by Makiyah Alexander. Not Final.

What do you find meaningful for you in Rising Waters?

Being a part of a project as special as this one is one of the most meaningful aspects of RISING WATERS. I love that as an African American woman, I was able to have a voice in its depiction as well as learn new things about African American culture in the 1920s. Being able to learn and illustrate different aspects of the Black experience through the lens of different economic classes was another meaningful aspect that I enjoyed while designing for RISING WATERS. My hope for the game is that it will spark people’s interest in learning more about the Mississippi flood and the African American community.

To learn more about RISING WATERS and back the project, check out the Kickstarter page. The campaign ends on Nov 3, so don’t delay!

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