In my work, I want to expose beauty and femininity within men and women of color. We live in a society where the media often paints black bodies as harsh or overtly sexual and Eurocentric forms as something desirable. In my paintings, I took features that magazines and television have conditioned us to reject (full lips, kinky hair, and brown skin) and portrayed them as something delicate and beautiful.
Artists like Kehinde Wiley and Margaret Bowland have helped to shape the direction of this series. The posing of my subjects is influenced by the Grand Manner style in which elegance is used to communicate class and grace. I used flowers for the head wear because of nature’s fragility. Society often associates people of color with masculine energy so I thought that using elements of nature could help in softening this image.
With these paintings, I wanted to show that femininity is a source of strength in black culture. It was important for me to paint people of color because of the lack of diversity in representation we receive in television, books, and on the news. I was captivated by the idea that I could walk into a space and see people that look like myself portrayed in art in such a unique way. With my paintings, I aim to create a space that I can feel comfortable in.
Photo by Reychelle Villar