In this series of self-portraits, my intent was to convey my subjective
experience as a black woman living in a predominantly white, rural town, and my personal relationship to the natural landscape as a site of healing
and home. By making these photographs, my intent was also to call attention to the representation of black persons in wilderness, and the natural landscape, as an ironic anomaly in contemporary American culture.
The landscape of Sonoma County, in northern California, where
these self-portraits were made has a diverse picturesque beauty
-- rolling hills abundant
with cows and sheep; farmland; majestic redwoods; abundant vineyards; numerous
ranges; a large river that empties into the ocean; and miles of
untamed coastal beaches, all within a thirty minute drive of each
The county had a demographic that included wealthy
wine growers, upper middle, middle, working class and poor people,
farmers, and migrant farm workers. Racially, with the exception
of a large immigrant Mexican and Central American population consisting
primarily of laborers, and a very tiny southeast Asian community,
there were very few other people of color. The black population
(consisted of African American, Eritrean and Ethiopian immigrants) was
less than 1%.
Living as a black woman in this rural area one hour away from
San Francisco and Oakland, CA was an experience rife with contradictions.
While making the photographs in these beautiful natural settings,
I was forced to confront my fears, and was acutely aware of a very real element of danger and risk involved
a hyper visible
targeted 'minority' and multiply marginalized person.
The ten original pieces are 16x20 black & white, selenium toned
and mixed media prints. This work-in-progress has expanded
to include a more comprehensive exploration of black people's
and environmental justice