James Baldwin in 1962(“And Then My Dungeons Shook”), Javon Johnson in 2013 (“cuz he’s black”), Ta-Nehisi Coates in 2015 (Between the World and Me) all visit the idea of maps—telling black boys how to navigate to protect themselves from the circumstance wrought of their blackness. Ultimately they come to a conclusion that is apparently timeless: that there is no map one can successfully navigate; no way to protect oneself against the abuses a black body will encounter by virtue of its existence. In Cartography I use mapping as a way of entering the Black Lives Matter moment, joining the continuum of these voices with an eye to the woman of color’s body as well.
Breathing Lessons 101 is a multi-genre project examining the application of the “good girl” stereotype to women of color.
Where stereotypes typically applied to brown girls reveal them as sexual outliers (jezebel = hypersexual; mammie = asexual), the good girl, a sexual outlier herself, is a stereotype; indeed an identity, typically denied brown girls.
Using as a loose theoretical framework the final girl of horror flicks, the project uses photography, visual art, and text to explore how brown girls negotiate their virtual erasure and moreover their sexual agency in denying or ignoring their existence.
TROPISM: The Good Girl’s Journey is a collection of multimedia collages examines the journey of the “good girl,” especially “good girls” of color. Tropism is a biological phenomenon of growing in response to, specifically in the direction of, external stimuli. These multimedia collages continue the exploration of Breathing Lessons 101 as it also explores how females of color navigate the role of the “good girl” despite the title rarely being applied to them.
Often, the event represents the dead as the event of their death. This work attempts the reveal them as hopeful, willful, imperfect humans of their time and social and personal circumstance.
Poems from the manuscript have appeared in ITCH, the jonestown report, Connotations Press, and the Baltimore Review. The manuscript was a semi-finalist in the 2013 Crab Orchard Review First Book Award.
How the Body Remembers is a series of poems and visual art about Alvin Ailey’s choreography in his seminal work Revelations. The project examines how the body performs its traumas.
Ailey performs them as art, something aesthetically pleasing, even in the hard stories it tells. I am interested in how we perform trauma in our daily movements, those not designed for aesthetic pleasure yet they tell the same hard stories with aesthetic awareness.
My ekphrasis on the dance is about this reciprocity. Each artifact requires the other to exist but even without the manipulation, ekphrasis seems a natural performance in which we daily participate, responding tangibly (albeit unconsciously) to circumstance and responding in a deliberate performance to reveal the essence of the the “thing,” as Plato defines ekphrasis. Our very movement through the world–our walk, gestures, etc. are all to some degree performances of our trauma and triumphs which is what Ailey attempts to reveal in the choreography of Revelations.
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