I met Khalil a few weeks ago when I was photographing my cousin Frances for her Inkscape photoshoot. Khalil is a tap-dancer and actor based out of Philadelphia that has known Frances for a long time. He told me his story as Frances readied herself for our photoshoot. Not long ago he moved to California to further his acting career and was able to land some roles while he was there but he left after a month because he longed to return to Philly. He is now performing a one-man play on his own life, which includes how he overcame dyslexia. One thing that really stood out about this aspect of his life is how much it meant to him to able to read a simple sign on the bus that he rode everyday. It was like the whole world opened to him because suddenly he could read and understand something that most people would take for granted.
I wanted to use Khalil's image against black ink because I thought it was a beautiful contrast to the white sunlight that surrounded him when I photographed him. I wanted to show how, in spite of all the obstacles and sadness that that he went through, there was a still of sense of peace amidst the storm. I like the idea that the ink seems to enter his soul and brings him stillness and calm.
Frances and Khalil's pictures are part of a Inkscapes portrait series that I'm working on that featuring Black people. I wanted to showcase Black culture that was a departure from the negative depictions that are often conveyed in the media. I'm intrigued by the concept of magic realism and Afro-futurism and my goal is to fill the void where Black people are often overlooked in these genres. In doing so, I want to show how we can transcend the ordinary, that we are complex and we can elevate our consciousness and being to greater heights. I'm very, very excited about this new adventure and can't wait to do more. Keep your eye over here for more portraits!