Women leading change: How Desirai Saunders is creating for her community

Indigenous artist Desirai Saunders sorting through her printed illustrations

Creativity is an incredibly powerful tool for expressing oneself and as an important part of human expression, it has served as an emotional outlet for generations. For Indigenous artist Desirai Saunders, her artistic journey began at the young age of six. She was encouraged to nurture her creativity, and since then, has experimented with different mediums, using her craft to help celebrate and uplift women, especially those in the First Nations community.

During a recent collaboration with Adobe and Women's National Basketball League's (WNBL) for their Indigenous Round, Desirai got to work with Indigenous athletes Abby Cubillo, Shaneice Swain and Nes’eya Parker-Williams. Through a series of digital artworks created on Adobe Fresco, Desirai helped put a spotlight on the impact each individual female athlete has made on the sport and their community.

Headshot of Desirai Saunders

“Female-focused campaigns are so powerful because you never know who might be needing to see it. They can draw strength from it.”

Desirai Saunders

Indigenous artist Desirai Saunders' sketch of a basketball player

Desirai's creative process is heavily influenced by her emotional states and personal experiences. She draws inspiration from everyday life, fashion, music, and cultural identity. Through her artwork, Desirai aims to showcase how culture feels for First Nation communities, most-importantly First Nations women rather than trying to represent culture itself.

Upon working on Abby’s artwork, Desirai expressed that her stylised portrait was created to celebrate Abby's achievements as an athlete and a strong Larrakia woman. The blue, oceanic background in her art was included to represent Abby’s cultural heritage, Larrakia mob (saltwater people). Above this is a representation of her family bloodlines. Particularly the three women who had the most impact on Abby’s life and gave her the strength needed to pursue her dreams. For the character itself, Desirai details how she wanted Abby to hold an expression that showcases she's not afraid to take on a challenge.

Desirai Saunders artwork of Abby Cubillo

Desirai Saunders artwork of Abby Cubillo

Collaboration with other First Nations communities and investing in Indigenous representation through art is crucial for building a positive and inclusive future for all Australians. To Desirai, investing in representation shows that First Nations communities should be at the center of Australia's identity, not an afterthought. First Nations art and culture should be recognised throughout the year.

Headshot of Desirai Saunders

“Culture is what grounds and binds us, it feels like a low electrical current constantly buzzing within us. At times the current might feel stronger and other times softer. But it’s always there. This is what I try to represent in my artworks. It’s a natural part of us.”

Desirai Saunders

Building up women in the First Nations community is also very important to Desirai. She believes that showing strength and resilience within the community is vital for young girls to see strong role models and know that they too can achieve greatness.

Desirai Saunders artwork of Shaneice Swain

Desirai Saunders artwork of Nes’eya Parker Williams (Left) and Shaneice Swain (Right)

Desirai's journey as an Indigenous artist highlights the power of creativity in uplifting and celebrating women. Through her collaborative work with Adobe and WNBL, she showcases each athletes cultural identity, and hopes to inspire other young female artists to pursue their dreams.

As a brand, Adobe is proud to help facilitate and celebrate creativity, helping others to push the boundaries. Let us all celebrate and uplift women through creativity and inspire future generations to follow in Desirai's footsteps.

In the spirit of reconciliation Adobe acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community.

We pay our respect to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.