An Ongoing Research Project

Illustrative Becoming

Illustrative Becoming is term I coined, as a way of describing an auto-ethnographic practice, of drawing that maps my past for the purpose of better understanding my racial and artistic identity. This drawing process creates a face-to-face conversation with one’s history, allowing an individual to actively address memories through an intimately drawn performance of life. This approach reveals connections and themes that provide a space for identity to be found.

Childhood Memories

Ink on vellum

 

A series of memories showing the effects of racism while growing up in all White spaces. I witnessed my parents' ongoing discriminations and endured plenty of my own while thinking it was acceptable behavior. I felt I was being punished by existing in a Black body.

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Art Education Oversights

Ink on vellum

 

Throughout my formative years I was only taught by White teachers. I also only worked alongside students who did not look like me nor introduced to art created by artists of color. Although I received the grades, I felt disconnected from all the art I created and unsure of how to find meaning and purpose as an artist.

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Parenting

Ink on Paper

Parenting Black children comes with the challenge of balancing the pains of our history with the promises of the future. There's the constant reminding that as we move forward, we also see the ills of history returning.

Masks

Ink on Paper

Whiteness is an unspoken understanding of what is good and pleasing in an effort to maintain social order and ideological acceptance. It's pressed upon us that all that is clean and pure is White while everything Black is dirty, bad and dangerous. At times, I feel consumed and suffocated by the masks of Whiteness I carry to make others comfortable with my presence.

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Hands Up

Ink on Paper

 

After learning of all the police killings against Black people, my 6 year old daughter developed a fear of police. One day a police cruiser passed our home and she ran and hid. When questioned, she responded, "They are police and we are Black."

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Caution

Colored Pencils on Paper

 

My son and a few of his friends met just outside our home to play basketball. Shortly after meeting, a police officer drove up to investigate their intentions after reports from a neighbor fearing Black men gathering near their home.

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Work

Ink on Paper

For many years I worked in the retail industry. My team treated me with respect and value, however, the customers constantly reminded me of divisions of race. Comments such as, “You are actually smart” or “You can’t possibly help me” were spouted often. Some would drop money onto the counter to avoid touching my hands. While I was pregnant, a client even offered words of comfort assuming I was single mother. I shared, “My husband and I are not worried at all.”

Blackness

Ink on Vellum

Similar to a person with a physical disability, my race proceeds me. When I walk into a room, others meet my blackness before they meet me. When someone writes about me or my artwork, they feel it is necessary to inform their audience of my race first.

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Identity

Ink on Paper

I have asked myself many questions while investigating the impact of my racial experiences

seeking strategies from my story that

can build bridges of unity and understanding. What I have learned, is that identity is found within the folds of our stories.

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