MFA Thesis

2020 Thesis Work 

I create works that provide social commentary centered around how history and race relate to the power of the black body. My work unites symbolic historical imagery and ideas found within the Euro-American canon to the dynamism, or lack thereof, associated with the black body in modern times.  I aim to combat false narratives and explore new ones by deciphering the dehumanizing historical representations of black people while simultaneously emphasizing symbols of pride found in today’s Black American culture.    

 

My oil paintings highlight associations of social value by taking advantage of a medium from which black women have been nearly exempt historically and infrequently found as the focal subject. The large-scale realistic paintings deny ideas of expected submission, anonymity, and invisibility by this group of women by focusing on the subject which renders them miniscule in American society; their skin, hair, and features.

 

The paintings are paired with cloths, inspired by techniques, symbols, and traditions of Mali mud cloths.  The cloths demonstrate symbols of black pride and culture in textile formats popular amongst Black cultures.  By incorporating messages of protection from the mothers of the paired, painted individuals, the cloths also work to expose the differences within Black cultures often overlooked in overarching representations of Black people in America.

 

My sculpture combines the controlling imagery of the mammy, the prideful patterns of African mud cloths, image transforming black women, and the elaborate delivery of modern drag/ballroom culture to create a garment for an imaginary ballroom category entitled “Black Pride”.  

 © 2020 by Marla McLeod

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