Through the unflinching medium of spray paint stenciling, I unearth and examine unsettling but important conversations about the stigma of mental illness, with the goal of normalizing the discussion and treatment of mental health in black communities. To examine Black mental health is to examine the effect of events in both the past and present, socioeconomic factors, how patterns of suffering repeat themselves, and the burden of certain societal expectations. By utilizing repeated symbolism and autobiographical elements, my work not only seeks to address the reality and the reasons that people of color suffer in silence more than their white counterparts, but urges me to navigate my own upbringing as an African-American struggling with mental illness and raised in a predominantly white community.
I use textiles to consider new ways of interpreting my personal world. Subjects include people and things of note in my life; family members, wildflowers, video game imagery, Hebrew, and found natural objects all make their way into my compositions. Using hand-dyed fabric, strategic piecing, applique and embroidery, I bring these elements into unexpected dialogue. This show explores new limits of textile collage at all stages of the process. The gallery includes a series of 8×8” samplers that each focus on a different set of embroidery stitches. These will be presented alongside portrait pieces that combine these techniques to render figures and landscapes on tapestries and garments.
In my paintings I try to balance realistic likeness vs. letting the paint be the center of attention with bold brush marks and colors and other surprises that the messiness of paint brings. When you study faces for a long time you realize there’s something beautiful and interesting in all of them, and I’ve been hooked on painting them since I started about 10 years ago. Many of my paintings are on found surfaces like wallpaper or paint chips which I think, like faces themselves, are examples of beauty in the ordinary.