Do Not Bleach, is an interactive work that provides people of color a public opportunity to advocate and affirm themselves. The shirts are screen printed with the familiar laundry symbol for “Do Not Bleach” on the chest using discharge paste. This campaign is documented with portraits of individuals in the shirts. The work is displayed co-opting the language of department stores and fashion ad campaigns. Large scale photographic collages of these portraits showcase the breadth and variety that people of color live in everyday and challenges the “box” some prescribe.
I ask my impromptu models to put on a shirt and provide a facial expression and/or body language that reflects how they feel about their skin. People advocate for their melanin by wearing the shirt and in turn take a step toward resisting the inferiority of brown skin, no matter the shade. The shirts become a message against colorism, against whitewashing of cultures and ethnic histories.
This work explores the relationship between the act of laundering, their associated symbols, and the historical inappropriate use of Black figures in cleaning product advertisements.
In this work, I subvert the laundry care symbol for “delicate wash”. In silhouette the embossed symbol reads like a crown and is painted in gold on each natural hand-crafted 3 inch soap.
Problematic advertisements in regard to people of color are not only historical but contemporary. Choosing to redirect the conversation and highlight positive advances in representation in advertisements and the beauty industry, the soaps were created to mirror the 40 varying shades found within the Fenty Beauty line by artist Rihanna.
Turn me up and turn me back, first I’m white and then I’m black
What is black?
For a matter of fact we’re shades of brown all around.
Stand me tall to face them all or hide me down like they do now
From sea to sea my brown is black; no matter where I lay my hat.
I am no more, I am no less
Stolen potential like the rest.
Just as beautiful
Just as bold
Turn me round to see what shows
Shades We Wear
Shades We Wear explores the perceived desire to change your skin whether temporarily or permanently for the sake of happiness, attention, popularity, or even safety to name a few reasons. As a child I wished I was white and could not bring the wish to reality. The work calls to questions the forms in which we seek such a change by “passing” or in our physical dress and mannerisms.
Within the wardrobe hangs pigmented silicone skin-like suits made from a mold of my body. The suits are sewn by hand and designed to be a visual representations of the desire to wear a different skin rather than the actual ability to achieve such a transformation.
Mulatto: Fast Tanning Lotion
Mulatto Fast Tanning Lotion is a satirical commentary artwork on the problematic industry of sunless tanning products as a contemporary form of blackface and cultural appropriation.
The bottles exploit the marketed style of sunless tanning products so that they may pass as just another product on a shelf.
Bottles of the product may be purchased for distribution in your local beauty supply stores. Please inquire via email.
Return the Melanin
Return the Melanin is a grant funded public art campaign that challenges the whitewashing of religious historical figures and seeks to replace their misleading images in the public. Buttons and stickers are distributed for free and may be requested while supplies last via Instragam @returnthemelanin
The project is currently on Phase 1: Project Yashaya.