UN-SILENCED: Liberating the Black Female Body through Self-Portraiture
“Anytime you speak truths that are uncomfortable truths… and truths that you have been taught to be silenced about in order to survive, people don’t like that sense of speaking up.” (Are You Still a Slave: Liberating the Black Female Body: bell hooks in conversation with Shola Lynch, Janet Mock, and Marci Blackman)
We live in a culture where the black woman’s body is silenced. Historically, we have been silenced, simply due to our existence as a woman and being black. We are rarely encouraged to voice our true honest feelings regarding our position and place in a society that isn’t made for us, let alone be honest about emotions that are harbored deep within our hearts. We rarely share our deepest darkest emotions with our loved ones, closest friends, or even ourselves. What does it look like when a woman exposes all of those emotions for the world to see? As a young black woman, I am using my body as a means to place those emotions/issues in the forefront in order to liberate myself and hopefully empower other women to do so.
Don’t Steal My Sunshine
24” x 24”
Paper and Oil on Canvas
Description: Don’t Steal My Sunshine displays my body in this most vulnerable and exposed form. Influenced by Stephen Cranes poem, “In the desert”, and the following lines: I saw a creature, naked, bestial/ who, squatting upon the ground/held his heart in his hand/ and ate of it/ I said, “is it good, friend?”/ “it is bitter—bitter,” he answered/but I like it/ because it is bitter/and because it is my heart, I address my struggle with letting others, people, past experiences and places define my existence and worth. The position of the hands, covering my breast, and the hand that emerges across the body that can be real or imaginary and both elusive and stark, shows the dichotomy between self and the world.
c. 2014 performed, photographed & edited by Tiffany Latrice
Woman vs. Depression is depicts the tensions, stresses, anxiety, which often leads to depression for many women of color. Often times we shield and hide these emotions to save ourselves. However, I want to expose these emotions as an attempt to find peace and to initiate the process of self-healing.
48” x 72”
Acrylic and Glass on Canvas
Description: Naomi Blaise is inspired by a photograph I took on the beach in Portobelo, Panama during my summer 2014 artist in residency. I saw the bed of rocks and immediately wanted to lay across them. The juxtaposition of my body on a bed of rocks seemed jarring, as rocks are rigid, but also peaceful at the same time- as if I washed upon the shore, either alive or dead. The glass frame adds tension and intensity to the piece- enclosing the body and locking the body in space and time. The body is painted in blue hues to show the lifelessness of the body where the rocks around it come alive through vivid colors and composition.
48” x 48
Oil on Canvas
Description: A raw and bare self-portrait of myself crouched on a pier immersed in my environment, as flesh meets pier, but also removed from my surroundings. The pier being a place of intimacy and longing, as I spent many days alone there, is the only physical space that I feel the most vulnerable and afraid of myself. Painted with broad and intentional brushstrokes, the painting opens up a space where the conversation of place, purpose, body, and nature can take place opening and honestly.
$600 - SOLD
36” x 36”
Artificial Flowers, Oil on Canvas
Description: The painting is a self-portrait using flowers as literal representation of a woman in full bloom. The body sits at the bottom of the painting while the flowers flow outwardly, consuming the majority of the canvas to show movement, growth. I paint only a small portion of the body to invite the viewer to insert themselves in the space, to become a part of the conversation and not just play the role of an onlooker. I use vibrant colors, orange, red, and yellow to represent strength and certainty in my growth and evolution into womanhood.
What Women Want
48” x 48”
Oil on Canvas
Description: An unapologetic self- affirmation portrayal of my own sexuality and claiming women’s right to sexual pleasure and desire. As a southern woman that grew up in a Baptist church, sex was not discussed in my household. In an effort to liberate my body and empower other women, this portrait is a declaration of independence, confidence, and womanhood. Using light and bold colors, adding splashes of glitter and emphasizing the word sex in my portrait, the composition takes you on a visual journal of empowerment and sexual liberation.