The initial inspiration for this image came from Simone once saying she fancies growing into a head full of beautiful #gray hair. The hair also serves also as a thought #cloud, filled with a myriad of ideas, feelings, thoughts that are complex and sometimes #tumultuous. The look on her face is unbothered, knowing and unapologetic all at the same time. Also, a literal shoutout to the #Marvel comic book character, Storm, one of the most iconic #blacksuperhero characters.
This is my first inkscapeportrait in my BelleNoir series where my subject looks directly at you. Normally the women are looking off somewhere else, seemingly lost within themselves, unbothered by anyone's new gaze. But with eyes like these, she draws you in with a gaze reminiscent of Queen Nerfertiti and you can't look away.
I've been listening to Sade's Soldier of Love on heavy repeat, not only marveling at the gravity of the song but how dope the music video for it is. If you've seen it, you can see the connections and how I was inspired by the #grayish ##landscape and the red smoke.
The song is powerful as it speaks to the resilience of spirit in the face of recurrent disappointments in love and the determination to soldier on it spite of it all. I've been clinging to this song in light of all the crazy shit I read in the news, particularly in light of the daily reports of sexual assault/harassment allegations. These are daily reminders of how tough is it to be a women, a women of color, a Black woman in a society that increasingly tries to make you feel powerless. I'm grateful for the reminders of the women who put on a brave face when they are battered and can face the #storm. I say that at the risk of further the perennial "strong black woman" stereotype that is tiresome and unhelpful. There is a power in the willingness to be vulnerable by taking off the mask of invincibility.
Last Tuesday was the premiere of the incredible photography book Mfon at the International Center for Photography in Manhattan. I had been aching to finally see the finished product and I was not disappointed. Editors Adama Delphine Fawundu and Laylah Amatallah Barrayn created a compilation of beautiful, powerful and touching photographs that celebrated black womanhood and the power of Black women photographers. Given the level of talent featured, it would be an understatement to say I was honored to be included.
The book signing event was unlike anything I had ever experienced. It was exhilarating being in the same room with all of this excitement and positivity. I felt like I was swinging between a giddy high school girl and rock star signing copies of the books and getting to know the other photographers and asking them to sign my copy as well.
I finally got a chance to settle down with the book over the weekend so I could study each image and read the touching essays and tributes to Mfon, the book's namesake. I shed tears over the power and intensity of her legacy.
So, please, please, support this book and support Mfon's legacy. Copies are still available for sale by making a donation at http://mfonfoto.org/.
A modern day cameo. This Inkscape portrait was inspired by the elaborate old whiskey boxes that my dad used to have that were decorated with ornate cameos and portraits of men and women sipping whiskey from teens and 20s. The succulent rose crown gives off Frida Kahlo vibes and was a last minute touch. Thankful for Myongii for bringing regal #blackgirlmagic to this look.
Trying a different approach to this Inkscape #portrait. I took a ton of pictures of my model Erika during our session but some of my favorites involved shots of her back because it looked so graceful, like a dancer. Adding the Inkscape as a trail behind her was giving me Degas vibes too. I've also been dying to incorporate geometricshapes to my portraits so I'm happy with the way this one came out.
The excitement and support for Mfon is growing! Vogue did a lovely write-up on the upcoming book featuring editors Laylah Amatullah Barryn and Adama Delphine Fawundu. In it, they discuss the motivation and inspiration behind this labor of love.
Copies of the book are still available for sale with an upcoming book signing in New York City on Thursday, November 16th at the Magnum Foundation. I'll be there to sign copies and celebrate so if you'd like to attend, you can reserve your free tickets here!
One of the inspirations behind this newest piece was one of the promotional posters for my new favorite show Queen Sugar featuring two of the lead women actors Dawn Lyen-Gardner and Rutina Wesley. The show is shot with such indescribable beauty and sensitivity that it's hard not to be inspired by it. What stays with me about the show is how the characters, in spite of their very relatable flaws, have such capacity for hope and growth. This capacity for growth is what we have to hold on to these days when the news seems so seemingly stark and replete with bad news about hurricane aftermaths and mass shootings.
This piece is also the latest in my series featuring Black women and I was excited to create a work featuring two women together, reinforcing the importance of unity and solidarity and how when we come together, what we create is phenomenal. I'm also continuing with my continued intrigue with an interstellar theme because I think it also signifies limitless possibilities. A good friend told me that he likes to study cosmology and the nature of the universe because it puts things in perspectives when it comes to our place in existence, an idea which I love. Looking to the stars helps keep my sanity and the concept of incorporating Black imagery with it lends to the idea of possibility of expansion.
Thursday's reception for the Artist Co-Op Exhibition was a success. Thank you to everyone who came out and supported me and all the other exhibiting artists!
The exhibition will be on display until November 11, 2017 at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning.