Artist statement

My current artistic practice is focused on figuration. I am specifically interested in working with oil paint and soft pastels to express my visual language. I constantly take photographs of my surroundings, and daily life to document my lived experiences. I also collect images to use as inspiration for my paintings. Recently, I have been fascinated with images from vintage Black American magazines as well as images from Booker T Washington’s book and W.E.B. Du Bois’s photographs. The images in Ebony magazine portray successful Black Americans, the photographs are uplifting and give me a sense of comfort. The images from Du Bois and Washington are of prominent Black Americans, one could say the foundation of a Black American canon.  These are the images I select to use as a starting point for my portraits. In my work I am interested in exploring a contemporary past and present that bolsters Black self-esteem, offering a representation of what I want to see in the world, Black Americans represented in a positive light.

              Equally, my painting is a vehicle for my own experiences and emotions. In my current work I am thinning out oil paint to a translucent stain to maintains a sense of lightness, as well as to make visible the trace of my brush work.  Oil paint is inevitably loaded with art historical references which communicate a very specific, Eurocentric perspective. It is a European system of thought with the purpose of maintaining European systems as dominant. I use oil paint as a way to think through the complex ideas around art production and the contemporary art system, and often ask myself, on what level do I want to operate in the art world? While I am interested in integrating aspects of how fragile, complex and rich life as a Black American can be, I struggle with the fact that as a Black female artist, my paintings need to be politically charged. The very fact that, I (a woman) choose to paint is a political act in and of itself. I live with the inequalities and oppressive categorizing of race constantly, so what does it mean to make work about it too? I believe these questions are relevant to ask and to try to answer at this moment; I’m still trying to figure things out, but the one thing I do know is, I want to paint what is visually important to me.