In the summer of 2015, I almost drowned. Inviting this life changing event’s influence into my studio practice, my recent paintings and sculptures focus on the African American experience of navigating public spaces while remaining buoyant within them. This work contributes to an important conversation, as African Americans in public space are consistently threatened, now more visibly and openly with the evidence and sharing offered by social media. This barrage of images simulates an experience of drowning under the heavy weight of ten thousand pounds of pressure while being held to the ocean’s floor.
The work incorporates the visual language of naval flags and nautical wayfinding, combined with romanticized objects of the American South as a means to communicate the psychological and the physical. These references signal the warning of a threat or the possibility of safe passage. Working beyond the physical image of the body, objects of buoyancy and navigation become metaphors for selfhood, resilience, and the sanity required in the turbulent oceans of contemporary America.
The use of navigation is one of the skills required for any journey. At a youthful age this knowledge is taught through oral history and becomes the framework for understanding a past and a present mobility. It is the necessary visual device for future expeditions and one's survival.