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I am a woman, and I am a woman of color. Two factors which automatically create a series of

intrinsic challenges in my moment in history. However I find myself in an interesting point in time;

an era in which for all its challenges, my color and my gender is finally equipped with a voice, a

vote, and a social climate in which change is possible. That power is expressed in numerous ways.

Some people use the written word, while others utilize politics. My method of expression is the

visual arts. The resulting emotional charge to my work is not necessarily a conscious effort, but

rather a natural expression of the things I internalize on a day to day basis.

My most recent body of work emerged in response to the events ranging specifically from

February 2012 to current. I remember very distinctly hearing about the Trayvon Martin case on

social media first. My initial response was complete and total dismissal. The brutality of the

occurrence led me to believe it was simply a Facebook hoax. As more and more coverage emerged

something shifted in my perception. I’d always known (primarily from firsthand experience) how

callous the majority culture can be towards those of us who exist beyond its preferred outline. But

the slaughter of a black child seemed so distant; a chapter I’d been naive enough to assume had

closed with the exposure of the Emmett Till case. In 2012 I watched our media skew facts and promote stereotypes. I watched the calculated and systematic justification of the death of an unarmed child. Since that occurrence and the nearly unbelievable continuation of others like it, I have remained stunned. I have remained upset. I have lived with the inescapable weight of the reality that people are still dying because of the color of their skin.

For a while, my body of work focused specifically on gender expectations and the role they play in African American/ minority male culture and their portrayal in the media. It was much more of an internal examination, focusing on Black on Black perception. The concept behind the work has been that men of color have a certain preconceived role in our culture. This false role is comprised of stereotypical characteristics such as aggression, hyper sexualization, lawlessness and a general lack of sensitivity and intuition. In many of the pieces I utilize the symbol of a “crown”. Often the crown is made of items which hint at the things often denied to men of color by the mainstream culture. Qualities such as sensitivity and complex emotional expression are often missing in the mainstream representations of POC men. Items such as flowers, found objects, and broken china adorn the subject’s head as a statement of reclaiming those qualities. The initial concept focused much more on gender and the clichés attached to the concept of masculinity within POC culture. The work’s surrounding dialogue often examines how those negative clichés affect even our place in society as women of color. However my series has evolved in the last year. The focus now is slightly broader, and has less emphasis on gender than it does individual character. The goal now is more along the lines of shining a spotlight on POCs and telling the truth about who we are. My work utilizes portraiture to give a glimpse of us as sensitive, sincere, and multi-faceted; an image which is often missing in mainstream media portrayals. I especially enjoy playing with the idea of vulnerability and innocence through the choice of models who possess realistic body types. 

This series is a continuous effort. People of color have been trapped in someone else’s narrative for too long, and when we have tried to write our own, we have often been erased from the mainstream history books. I believe it is time for us to use the talents we possess to speak our truth. Our lives are worthy of dialogue. 

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Photocredit: Alana Adetola Arts Photography, LLC - Qween City Feature
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