That Shadow My Likeness
Archival Pigment Prints, variable dimensions
In the photo series, “That Shadow My Likeness,” I present my subjects, Alexandria and Melissa, in harmony with and in contrast to the natural landscapes surrounding them. From dappled light to iconic palm trees and rivers and verdant terrain, the characteristics of the scenes underscore the meaning of the figures in each piece. Through diptychs, triptychs, groupings of five images and a selection of single images I compose a non-linear narrative that forms constructs of black female beauty, femininity, and identity. In the juxtaposition of images of these two women and their environments, I create a third space that suggests my own subjectivity as a black female artist, in between these constructs of identity and place. I borrowed the titles of the series and individual artworks from poems by Walt Whitman. I use these titles to emphasize the poeticism of the work and to suggest how “my likeness,” my persona is a key dimension of the form and content of the work.
I am interested in the distinctions between the moments in the photos when my subject’s gaze meets the viewer’s and the instances when her head is turned, her back is to the viewer, or her eyes are averted. These moments express the oscillation between power and invisibility and her status as subject or object. In the photos of Melissa, she appears to be an anomaly- unique and alone in her own space. Dressed in combat boots, she is unexpected in this place, wearing a tshirt that asserts “REFUSED/ Can I Sceam?”. Both Alexandria and Melissa are invisible women- invisible due to their gender, race, beauty, and youth. Outside of the shelter of these parks, aspects of their identities are alternately interrupted from being accepted as whole or fully human by the everpresent “mythic norm” of American culture.