About Shades of Blackness Vol. 4: "Do You Really See Me?"
Shades of Blackness Volume 4, “Do you Really See Me?” is a continuation of my photographic series investigating how we as Black people see ourselves.
I’ve always used flowers as a medium to engage and draw people in; they are an alluring tool of beauty. In recent years, I began incorporating photography into my art practice for its ability to communicate with the viewer in a more accessible and universal way. Historically, the black body has been portrayed as dangerous or less than. By combining my floral work and portrait photography I hope to encourage a new way of seeing our bodies; to show us as gentle, regal,
sensual, elevated. Taking portraits also gives me an opportunity to see and be seen which is a vulnerable place for me to exist in. My subjects have to let me in and I have to be open to receive them; the exchange between our energies is palpable.
For this edition, I chose to work with a lenticular printer. The format has the ability to add dimension, texture and angles to a 2D object. My subjects are fixed but within the lenticular format, there is constant movement and evolution happening in real time. Rather than presenting you with a beautiful image you can quickly move on from, there is more of an opportunity to spend time with the moving subject and come away with fewer answers.
Black people are presented with warped representations of ourselves by Western society all of the time. Over a lifetime it can become hard for us to see ourselves without that cloudy distortion. With my work, I’m attempting to intentionally distort our representation but from a place of complexity and love, and to give the offering of acceptance which is basically never afforded to us. With that said, I don’t believe there are simple solutions in the search for identity amongst
black folks. We are not a monolith. We are in constant evolution, we are multi dimensional, we can not be essentialized, but I will do my damndest to continue to search for answers and understanding everyday that I walk this ghetto ass earth.
I think it’s critical that the journey and the conversation is propelled by us, but embraced by all. I hope this work encourages you to look at people around you with a little more nuance, love, and empathy.
Thank you to my models Reece Ford and Arinze Iwudyke for sharing their energy, their beauty, and their honesty with the world and to the beautiful community that surrounds me and continues to inspire me.