black. was on display in the Louise Jones Brown Gallery in Durham, NC from January 15 to February 5, 2018. To learn more about the exhibit, click here.
(mobile users: to view photos, scroll to the right)
What does it mean to be black?
In a political climate in which many seek to divide, I used my lens to show how black life is woven into the fabric of our nation’s culture. From intimate portraiture to active protest shots, “black.” provides a visual narrative of the experience of black Americans, from childhood to college, churches, physician’s offices, and everywhere in between.
“black.” emphasizes the beauty and distinction of black life while highlighting the ubiquity of black culture’s influence in everyday spaces. Each portrait tells a different story, showing that black livelihood, while unique, is not a monolith, nor does it differ starkly from the experiences of other races.
On display from January 15 (MLK, Jr. Day) to February 5, 2018 in the Louise Jones Brown Art Gallery in Durham, NC, the project began in 2015 after I watched “Welcome to Durham, USA,” a documentary film which falsely depicted Durham’s black residents as drug-addicted, impoverished, and gang-affiliated. For the next three years, I set out to provide a counter-narrative to this film—a visual representation of the many answers to the question: what does it mean to be black?
The work in this series is divided into two parts. Half of the photos showcase the depth, creativity, beauty, and distinctiveness of blackness, from childhood innocence to artistic and academic traditions. The other half provide a more intimate snapshot of the oxymoron of black life in America: a deep sense of joy and pride that can’t be separated from a painful and dismal history.
I started this project as a first-semester freshman; a girl from Columbia, Maryland with a yearning to use her camera as a weapon for good. I hope that my work offers a glimpse of what it is to be black.