2015 Art: Stories of Existence
I don't usually share any of the projects I have in mind before they have an opportunity to come to life but there is one itching at me for 2015 that I will work on in my spare time:
I would like to create a series of 3 art pieces using make – up, Kanekalon hair and Mounted Black Gesso. I will blend together make-up on the canvas to tell a story. This aspect of the piece represents self-love and adornment as an art form. The ways we paint our faces like canvases is a form of love and equivalent to art. I will incorporate words representing our stories and our voices that are erased. I would like to also use multi coloured braided hair and beading. This represents the struggles and survival of generations of Black women. Each hair represents an individual Black woman, each braid the collective communities of Black women that are stronger together then a part. Ultimately the backdrop of the canvas represents self-love and survival stories through the use of art as resistance. The added layer of braids and beads represents a network and community of Black women teaching survival to each other through out generations. We survive individually and collectively and this piece tells that story. Black womanhood is often denied the expression of being multifaceted. It is juxtaposed against vulnerability and femininity. While being positioned as strong, we are robbed of dynamic and full expression of our identity. The struggle to completely exist while being given limited definition and force-fed negative ideals makes self-love an active process of resistance. This self-love is expressed through adornment of our bodies and hair. We actively choose to love our full selves as acts of survival. We pass down these skills of self-care and love generationally through things like hair braiding. It may seem like simple hair styling to corporate media and the beauty industry but in our communities it is an act of love. Our grandmothers and mothers teach us to braid as early as seven as an act of defiance and love. With very little respect for Black women our cultures, our roots, our Blackness, our survival strategies are co-opted and sold for consumption. Our experiences and voices are erased from the conversation of beauty, womanhood and self-love. Femme identity is consistently positioned as not real. As a construct of society that is inherently confused or disillusioned. When seen or respected as real -it is positioned as weak, vain, or overly vulnerable. The paring of femme identity as not real or weak positions it as one not worthy of respect or inclusion. Femmes have adapted and creatively found ways to show each other love while building inclusivity in survival. An example of this would be “femme flagging” which uses nail polish as an identifier of femme identity. Corporate mainstream beauty was able to capitalize off of this trend but the root of this survival tact never acknowledged. When Femme identity intersects with Black Womanhood individuals are completely erased. The refusal to see Black women as multifaceted, vulnerable and human, presents Black Femme as a phenomenon. The belief is that these identities cannot exist together, which completely erases stories and identities. With the addition of the racist construct that all Black people are homophobic the identities of Black femme women are marginalized in all aspects of community, whether mainstream or queer. Even with this being the case, Black femme communities thrive and survive, using creativity to build community and empower self-love. My concern and questioning is how this survival is sold back to those who created it. Our stories are co-opted, modified and stolen for mass consumption, with out acknowledgment or respect that these are stories of survival and love.
What art projects are you working on? What would you love to create if you could?