The large-scale of these paintings promotes the honorable recognition of black women. The medium contributes associations of social value as well as posing the opportunity for material meaning by taking advantage of a medium from which black women have been nearly exempt historically and even more infrequently found as the focal respected subject. Each woman is larger than life, unsmiling, and stares directly outward toward the viewer, denying ideas of expected submission, anonymity, and invisibility by this group of women within American culture.
The hanging textiles are paired with the paintings. They bare symbols and customs of Mali mud cloths and give insight into the painted women’s individuality. They symbolically protect the woman being portrayed, whose actual body faces daily threats in America. With protection from both their mothers and the motherland, the cloths emphasize the unifying patterns found in Black American culture while highlighting the differences amongst black cultures in America.
This series of paintings investigates the struggles of emerging from stereotypes by using unrecognizable figures bound in clear plastic. The figures emerge from black backgrounds which represent stereotypes about Black people in America.
Demur. 2014, Oil on canvas, 54” x 42”
Combat. 2014, Oil on canvas, 42” x 54”
Avow. 2014, Oil on canvas, 52” x 76"
Strange Fruit Series
The Strange Fruit Series is inspired by the poem “Strange Fruit.'' Popularized by singer Nina Simone, the poem speaks about the horror of the historic American practice of hanging Black people. The series visualizes the quote from the poem “Southern trees bear a strange fruit...”
The original 2017/18 Strange Fruit series are oil paintings on canvas. The paintings reference the history of hanging by filling the backgrounds with monochromatic forests. In stark contrast to the almost colorless backgrounds, the figures, aka strange fruit, fill the center of the canvas and are placed either fully or partially in the foreground. Always in full color and realistic representation, they look directly ahead towards the viewer. The muse’s only requirement is to be Black in America.
Strange Fruit I. 2017, Oil on canvas, 44” x 50”, (Private Collection)
Strange Fruit II. 2017, Oil on canvas, 36” x 48”
Strange Fruit III. 2017, Oil on canvas, 24” x 30”, (Private Collection)
Strange Fruit IV. 2017, Oil on canvas, 24” x 32”, (Private Collection)
Strange Fruit Series
“Self-Portrait” looks at my own genetic history divided by social experiences. The mannequin, collected from a popular sportswear chain. The throat decorated with beaded patterns and strips of the Declaration of Independence. One arm is covered in patterns containing recycled brown paper bags, small broken switches, and shiny beads while the other, also beaded, hides indigenous tribal names amongst its wild-cat patterns.
The torso of this portrait is outfitted with small sections of the American Declaration of Independence. These sections have been highlighted and annotated with my own points of interest about what had been written then and what we experience now. The base of the mannequin is covered in a map. The map displays the long story of what happened to the lands of the Kumeyaay Nation.