If you've been following me for a while, you'll probably know that I started this project *cough* a couple of years ago *cough*. A combination of different distractions, a little procrastination and a temporary stint of losing my self confidence all contributed to the prolonged progression of this project. However, after several (annoying) reminders from my partner, I committed to completing it.
I started creating self-initiated, mixed-media art over 10 years ago and they've lead to many client commissions, collaborations and press attention; all of which I'm very grateful for. But if you're familiar with my portfolio, you may notice that very few of these pieces feature Black women. As I became more passionate and vocal about social issues, it grew important for me to try harder in creating art that represents me and my politics. This included producing art that featured more Black women.
Many artists who regularly feature Black women in their work (Markus Prime, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Kehinde Wiley, Sara Golish, Lina Iris Viktor to name just a few) were a massive inspiration for me to consciously do the same. Anyone from a marginalised group can identify with that feeling of joy when they see a positive representation of themselves in the media because it can be such a rare occurrence. I would like to contribute in giving other Black women and girls that same feeling of joy when they see my work because representation truly matters.
I chose the self-portrait format because as an artist who often works with the photography of others, I liked the idea of this time being in full control of each stage from beginning to end. I wouldn't owe anyone anything because it was all mine.
I want this ongoing series to display and explore pride, self-love, self-empowerment, freedom, consent - so many things that I personally care about and have struggled with. Publicly, the Black female body is draped in so many layers of negative perceptions; often viewed as undesirable, aggressive and/or hyper-sexual. We regularly find ourselves in a position of defence or self-censorship. I felt the need to express that Black women can be proud and sensual and vulnerable. Our existence is beautiful and it is ours and there's nothing shameful about owning it.
I plan to continue developing this series and possibly produce prints in the near future. I hope you continue to follow my journey.
➔ Manifestations of Me (NSFW)