Rooted Within

Rooted Within explores themes of race, gender, and sexuality through a combination of oil paint, pastel drawing, and other mixed media. These works open up a conversation on how whiteness grants superior access in America by challenging gender and race ideologies. I engage with these issues while questioning the societal norms imposed on biracial and queer persons by utilizing a personal perspective. I object to the pressures of thin bodies, long straight hair, and a heteronormative lifestyles through my work. For example, I celebrate the Afrocentric culture of braids, texture, and color within natural hair. These works are a testament to fighting back against the restraints put on me for not being entirely black or white. The series also includes the expectation to perform strict feminine gender roles, such as high feminity or having a petite body. In my artwork, I depict frilly sheer undergarments that serve as desirable tokens of femininity despite the fact that they are uncomfortable and do not serve a practical function.

When approaching the theme of race within my work, I express the complexities of colorism, which creates a sense of disassociation. For example, a combination of Pantone swatches of skin tones communicates a story of color/race, and a self-portrait sits atop the collection of colors to symbolize a disconnect. The white background references Nora Neale Hurston’s How It Feels To Be Colored Me. In Hurston’s piece, she refers to how she does not always feel colored until she is thrown against a sharp white background. This particular artwork utilizes a combination of color and texture techniques to initiate a synesthesia experience. This technique serves as an agent to engage the audience in these challenges through multiple senses.