Artist's Statement

I investigate psychological states, intimacy, and rites of passage from a variety of sensory perspectives. My subjects represent a larger human struggle, often drawing upon historical contexts. I take inspiration from textile patterns and embellishment, and African dance rhythms. As a synesthete, I employ color and pattern to communicate emotion. My paintings, prints, and fiber works use gesture and iconic imagery to convey the inner potency and tenacity of my subjects.  In recent works, I visualize a space of sanctuary, where one can find respite from the endless conflicts and struggles of life. 

My Ophelia Rising series shows women in water, whether in states of despair, reverie, relaxation, self-soothing, or grace. In a series of photopolymer intaglio prints, I portray my body and that of young collaborators in my bathtub adorned with flowers. I invited these collaborators to contribute written statements that reflect experiences of their bodies and states of mind. The bathtub symbolizes a locus of safety and self-care in the current political climate of the United States our administration that is stripping away the tenets of American democracy.

The submersion in water speaks to purification rituals from many religions and cultures, as well as the nineteenth century interest in the theme of bathers favored by many early Modernist artists. I took original inspiration from the representation of Shakespeare’s character Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais, which forecasted the tragic death of the artist’s model, Elizabeth Eleanor Siddall. The women in my images, in addition to myself, possess physical qualities quite opposite those of the pale-skinned models favored by nineteenth century European, male artists. I celebrate the beauty of brown, ochre, and olive skin against porcelain.

The name Ophelia derives from a Greek word ophelos that signifies "help”, and I am interested in creating a space of sanctuary that can help us in a time of crisis. My video, “Ophelia Buoyant,” presents three women engaging with the ocean and it references a cycle of generations. Water on earth gave birth to life, and some scientists claim that this same water emerged in the universe before it even came to our planet. Shifting from the intimate bathtub space to the Atlantic ocean, the need for self-care extends to the larger environment and the preservation of our waters that give life and healing. 

Age of Reason is an ongoing series that identifies the end of a fragment of innocence in a child’s life as he begins to be increasingly aware of racism and the gender-identity pressures of growing up as a black male in the United States.  Blue Brains (2015) assembles images of Albert Einstein’s brain, historic engravings, and MRI imaging to investigate anatomical relationships to consciousness and intelligence. The skulls are appropriated from Samuel G. Morton’s Crania Americana, in which he characterizes the different races based on cranial capacity, and argues that the skull size is a measure of intelligence. His theories, as well as the idea of polygenesis (that the races were created as distinct species by God), have impacted the racially hierarchical tendencies present in science and medicine ever since.

Using Format