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PASTORAL SCENES
2022

Artist Statement: 

During a recent discussion with journalist Jenee Osterheldt, I was asked if I view my work as a beautiful resistance. I considered the question for a moment, and then I answered, "my work is a beautiful resistance simply because it exists." Existence, by definition, is the state of being alive or being real, and despite early depictions of Black bodies as background or “other” in Western art while primarily centering whiteness, we are real; we always have been. 

When I think of the future, I think of my children, and I have become intensely aware that the future does not belong to me; it belongs to them. As I look toward their tomorrow, I am seeking to demonstrate that we exist beyond the untruths; we exist beyond the atrocities afflicted upon our ancestors; we exist beyond the pain. Concurrently, as I step back and reexamine my past works, I aim to illustrate that we also exist beyond the white backdrop. We live beautiful lives deserving of celebration. We laugh, we love, and we always find a way to reclaim our joy. 

In this series, I have juxtaposed my subjects into historical landscape paintings constructing visual proclamations of our beautiful existence. While I do not attempt to convey an exact depiction, I was influenced by Italian artists of the 15th century who practiced Pastiglia, a technique in which the artist sculpted gesso in low relief, emulating the texture of decorated metalwork. Additionally, I drew influence from majestic gold and bronze inscribed relics of the past, transforming my subjects' once ruffled dresses and button-ups into gilded garments donning abstract representations of patterns and meaningful motifs.