I look at Black* and queer identity with a lens of interiority. My work is primarily inspired by Black folks’ history with moisturizing products for the hair and body, and my being conditioned to hold value in my hair, skin color and the necessary tools for care. Being considered physically ashy (white and dry skin) or socially ashy (wack, lame, ignorant) are lingo among Black folk. As a result, products like lotion or coconut oil have become a staple in the Black community, so I create objects that concretely elevate and highlight this relationship unique to Black culture. I employ zoomorphic forms inspired by African American folktales and west and central African sculpture. The buffalo represents masculinity, the gazelle represents femininity, the sheep represents queerness and the rabbit represents Blackness. I take these forms and also create hybrid forms to represent the unique identities of what it means to be Black and queer. My art narrates how I engage with my Blackness and queerness in private, through culture, and how these identities inform how I engage with the world.
*Black is used as a way to be inclusive of the Black experience in case anyone who is not African-American finds relatable moments within my work; however, when making my work I am primarily regarding my experiences as an African-American. The same applies to the use of Queer as I am speaking from the perspective of a gay man.