#BlackHistoryMonth: A surreal window into Sibanda’s world


Josh Campbell

Coppell High School junior Alexis Sibanda draws mouths from reference for a portrait project. Sibanda’s artwork depicts her friends and family, often commentating on social justice issues.

Shrayes Gunna, Staff Writer

As her pencil hits paper, she floats in a world of her own with her thoughts, beliefs and emotions fluttering around her like the subjects she depicts. 

Coppell High School junior artist and debater Alexis Sibanda toys with the line between the real and fantasy through art, her communicative and creative outlet, by depicting people and objects in less than real configurations such as floating.  

Sibanda conjures finished pieces full of raw texture and depth with ease reminiscent of wizardry. Her wands? Pencils and pens that allow her to render surreal depictions of the world around her and that of her dreams. 

“I draw what’s around me and combine reality with [my] inner thoughts, a sort of amalgamation of both reality and creativity,” Sibanda said. “I do that through using realism in conjunction with elements that would not be found in real life.”

From a  year in the Coppell Band as a bassoon, clarinet and baritone saxophone player to being a casual listener of a variety of artists, Sibanda’s passion for music has always driven her creativity. According to Sibanda, she often reflects on the visuals used in music videos by artists such as Janelle Monae and how they are utilized to enhance the listening experience.

Outside of avenues of music, Sibanda also draws inspiration from her heroes; her definition of which is more vast than those on the big screen.

“Athletes, politicians and personalities who use their talents in a way that is heroic also inspire me,” Sibanda said. “I depict them as heroes because they do things most people could never do by dedicating themselves to their craft and to their passion, which is inspiring to me. I hope to let everyone see what I see.”

Her creations are molded by her unique style, a personal glimpse into her world of what makes Sibanda, Sibanda. 

“Alexis’s art is rugged and has a lot of texture in it,” CHS visual arts teacher Sarah Williams said.   “She never leaves [her pieces] smoothed over but instead exposed. She drew a girl with the ocean consuming her. With her texture, whether brush strokes or pencil markings, her art is a lot more than a pretty piece. They have a deeper meaning.”


The clarity Sibanda maintains with her vision and stories she tells through the creative process are fueled by the world around her. To foster meaningful and authentic conversations about various topics such as identity as a mechanism of resistance, she pursues debate. Currently, Sibanda and her partner CHS junior Keerthi C. compete in policy debate, reading critical arguments such as Afro-pessimism and militant preservation.

According to Keerthi, their case is one that challenges the debate space and logistical reasoning to foster systems of care that address anti-Blackness in the real world. Debate offers Sibanda a space to advocate and delve into her identity, which translates into her perspective as an artist and visionary. 

“In a debate round, Alexis is very analytical and well organized, giving passionate speeches,” Keerthi said. “When she creates, her cultivation of creativity and skill is very important. I have seen her work and I’m in awe; at the current moment, she creates self-portraits and her artworks embody the beauty of a Black female and their experiences.”

For Sibanda, art is more than a pastime. It is an embrace of her heart, views and being. 

“[Art] is the way in which I am able to communicate things that are less than conceivable with words,” Sibanda said. “It’s a window into who I am, and I can use tools like art and music to express that and what I think.”

The window is one into a surreal landscape, in which Sibanda conceives magic with paper, pencil, paint and a canvas. 

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