This is my artist statement. 


And to elaborate: 

The dry skin flare up around my “Brown Sugar” tattoo usually arises when I want to be kissed the most, these days. The two words lay right in between my breasts and sometimes when I move, the dry parts feel like fire. My skin, maybe like most others, has a language of its own, I’m convinced. And I’m thinking it’s built from a root where my speaking language is from. A root that carries history, the pain and salvation of my mother and her mother’s, learned and inherited habit, desires that I want to say are unfounded, but are truly shameful desires (to me), the way my father would lean over the kitchen sink, my love for knowing Ella Fitzgerald was a quiet woman, hating being a shy woman myself. I find it to be no coincidence that my skin, in the most vulnerable parts, erupts when I seek tenderness from empty places. Or that the blueness that has followed my mother, seems to be of similar hue to the blueness that follows me. Or that my father, a man of just a few words, would nearly put his whole head in the kitchen sink most days, during the moments where it seemed like he had too much to say. The arch his spine made is similar to the curvature of my hunchback–something that manifested from years of pushing my body into quietude, trying so desperately to be unseen (I have since learned how important it is for me to sit up straight).

“Miss Mary Mack”, a hand clapping chant I sang/screamed as a child carries an echo heavy and rich, considering the same words and claps were made by my mother as a young girl 50 some odd years before people would even see my name and pronounce it incorrectly. Somehow, a younger me singing about “Miss Mary Mack” being dressed in black was simultaneously having a conversation with my mother in her younger years. The flare up around my breast proves to me that I will always be in dialogue with my body. My father’s head hanging in the kitchen sink, although a quiet position, remains as an image that speaks loudly as a memory in my mind. The lyrics to “Miss Mary Mack”, imprinted at the back of my brain, ready to sing anytime I see hands ready for clapping, is proof that my being was, is and will always be in dialogue with my history as a black woman.There is storytelling situated in even the most mundane gestures, words that are fumbled over, hands that reach greasy foreheads at the beginning of sighs, or dry patches on the sensitive parts of the body. This is what compels me to make as an artist and writer.

The last, “blue”, Mel Torme let’s out in his live recording of, “When Sunny Gets Blue” is where the root of my cinematic pursuits and concerns sit. It lasts for 15 seconds, begins in a lower register, slowly progresses up three octaves, and ends with an “ooo oo” that is the sort of confused behavior like most jazz melodies I admire. It is somehow self aware, honest, vulnerable and uncertain. My approach to image making and storytelling is something of the same; remain unafraid of exposing the uncertainty. My practice as an artist and writer usually begins from a place that is part autoethnographic and part diaristic, specifically focusing on unpacking the supposed banality of the quotidian. Photography and video are used as both investigative and archival devices. The writing moves from collected field notes to songs, poems, textual companions to photographs, short stories and personal essays. All of this then comes together to become film scripts. I believe there is much to be seen and heard within the quotidian and there are both simple and dynamic poetics of everyday living. Poetics that continue to help me understand the beauty and pain of black womanhood, which in turn helps me understand the world around me. 

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