“It is axiomatic that if we do not define ourselves for ourselves, we will be defined by others-for their use and to our detriment” - Audre Lorde
The only thing worse than being misrepresented in your culture, is being disappeared from it. Imagine having to vacillate between the two. If you can, you know what it is to be a Black woman in America. Not Oprah, not Michelle, not Halle. But the "everyday" Black woman being followed by the store detective. The "everyday" Black woman straining to see herself on TV or in the magazines. The "everyday" Black woman wondering where she fits in this society.
The reImagining is a photography exhibition conceived out of frustration. Frustration born out of not seeing myself, and those that look like me and have lived my experiences, adequately represented in mainstream media, culture, and society. How do you begin to talk about an identity that is placed on you? For Black women, that has always been the question. The reImagining is a visual arts project being created to give Black women the right to determine for themselves the images they want representing them, and thus establish and distribute their own identities. The photography created for this show will be the opportunity for 100 Black women to reclaim their identities not just from the world, but for themselves.
This project will bring voice to 100 "every day" women of African descent. Each woman will answer three questions: Who are you? (representing the stereotypes society has placed on her thus far), Who are you, really? ( representing the labels she chooses to adhere to), and finally, How do you want the world to see you? ( representing the identity she wants to project to the world). The answers to these questions will be represented in a series of three photographs of each woman. These images will be creations based on her words and my experience as a visual artist. Each woman will be represented in triptych form in response to her answer to each question.
These 300 images and the corresponding texts will be curated into a solo exhibition to be presented in formal gallery settings. This project will also be used as a teaching experience for community outreach organizations dedicated to fostering the building of self esteem for high risk adolescents with a focus on young Black women. I also plan to create gallery tours and a series of lectures on the Black female identity for these at risk young girls so they can start formulating their own identities at an early age. I am also planning a nationwide exhibition tour in partnership with local organizations that work to bring the arts to underrepresented communities. It is my hope to make the reImagining a larger force in the Black female cultural representation by turning the exhibition into a book format that can have a larger reach as well as creating a dedicated website that will eventually let more women not only go online and respond to the themes raised by the exhibition, but to also connect and become a support system to help foster deep connections within the Black female community as well as the world at large.