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THRALL (2017-2020) 

About this Project

Integrating the outdoor studio, staged portraiture, still life and family photography, THRALL (2017-2020) is my response as a mother to national conversations around whiteness and the value of Black life. The title for this series references a book of poems published in 2012 by Natasha Trethewey that explores racial attitudes and stereotypes through both a personal and photo-historical lens.

Within this work, I make connections between an African diasporic past and present through the use of ritual yet personal objects like a cowrie shell, coral, and wishbones. Using brown craft paper as a backdrop, I reference the absurdity of historic racial tests and skin-color bias in photography while inverting the binaries of light = life / dark = death.

Many of the images in THRALL were made during the pandemic, when my family moved from Brooklyn to upstate NY, our first experience as landowners. This privilege gave us the opportunity to (re)discover an unenclosed, Black relationship to the outdoors. Collaborating with my children, I allow them to dance, be unruly, wondrous and curious in Nature, moving towards an understanding and acceptance of all things Natural.

With THRALL I endorse the Black Mother’s role as Creator, Author and Photographer. She is no longer hidden as a prop or depicted as forced labor. She is superhuman and in control of the image, utilizing the home and the “open air” as her studio.

What you see here is a selection of the images in this series, please contact me to inquire about viewing more.