Body of Work
My bio indicates that I create in words, performance, and visual art and that my work explores the intersectionality of race, gender, and concepts of geographical and spiritual home. Sometimes I look at that statement and question, "Is that still accurate? Or has my work evolved away from any of that?" This summer, I've spent more time focusing on visual art than words and performance -- and questioning to what degree I might continue with each medium in the coming years. Am I phasing out of something? Am I bored with something? Just not particularly skilled in an area? What are my strengths, what should be further explored, and what needs to be put to rest? I am at a transition point, certainly, and clarity is elusive. Like I'm driving through fog and I only know that I'm still on the road, but not sure what's ahead.
Nonetheless, conceptually, I'm excited about what's stirring in my current work. Two themes have been percolating for months and intersect in some ways.
The concept of a "Body of Work" is being explored -- in the sense of the output of a single artist as well as a literal physical body as an instrument of labor and how race, gender, and desire to be seen (or visible) are at play.
"The Miseducation of the Negro" by Carter Woodson as a source that illuminates many issues that still remain for Black Americans in education and in the workplace.
The foundational layer of the above triptych (white paint on white paper on white paint on white canvas) is select pages of written work that I've generated in the last 15 years. Much of that work was commissioned for a primarily white audience, often about race, and with the caveat that I couldn't be "too controversial." I'm interested in the parameters within which we create or work and the compromises we make to "fit in" and progress professionally and socially. Woodson's work and the essay by Anne Anlin Cheng titled "Passing, Natural Selection, and Love’s Failure: Ethics of Survival from Chang-rae Lee to Jacques Lacan" about invisibility/camouflage as survival will likely inform how I choose to move forward with this triptych.
Below is a grouping of bound scraps of deconstructed suit jackets from my personal wardrobe. I'm still in the process of figuring out what these are going to be. Deconstruction of the suits was a putting to bed of a particular professional pursuit (and related to Woodson's text). Then I wanted to reconstruct/transform them into something with connotations of ritual and restraint while being pregnant with possibility.
Also inspired by the Cheng's essay is the grouping pictured below. I blindfolded myself and feverishly scrawled my signature randomly across and around each page without lifting the pastel stick. I'm curious about the concept of the "signature" and how it relates to individuality, being seen, graffiti tags as an equivalent to say "I was here", and the role of signatures in the professional environments.
Finally, I'm considering whether or not I continue to create what I call textile narratives (like the 5.5x7.5 pictured, right). Accompanying this textile narrative is THIS audio file that was originally paired with choreographed dance. I was working within specific parameters for the audio file: I had to use the music provided to me, it needed to be almost exactly 2 minutes in length, and it needed to end with "uprising". I'd like to create more spoken word audio content paired with music like the one included here, but I'm not sure if it would be partnered with visual art or dance. I'd hoped to learn how to record some of my own audio content over the summer as my tech skills are profoundly limited which leaves me reliant on others, but time got away from me.
Above: Uprising Does Not Alway Roar Like Fire; 5.5x7.5; multimedia collage; 2020