about the work
My artwork explores themes of identity and memory, especially in terms of the inter-connectivity of living beings. I am interested in looking up at the infinity of the sky and the vastness of the ocean, each viewed through the lens of the enduring legacy of my people.
On fluid paintings: I began painting in a fluid style after studying photographs of rivers, especially photographs taken by satellite from space. In conceptualizing the work, I consider how waterways have defined the Native American and African American experience, especially for my family: from the numerous Atlantic crossings from Africa and Europe; to the Matta, the Po, and the Ni Rivers, which signal our homeplace as I drive on I-95; to the North Anna River, in which my grandmother was baptized; to the James River, where my ancestors traversed the state of Virginia as enslaved people, from Jamestown and Berkeley to Glasgow and Natural Bridge; to the rapids of the Roanoke River, where my Saponi ancestors were boatmen; to the Mississippi River, on which my fifth great grandmother traveled to her captor’s home in Louisiana. Water has a way of beautifully representing life and the life-cycle, no matter how tragic and bloody the waterways' histories are. I hope my paintings remind you of that effortless murkiness, that subtle beauty. I hope to give my work enough of a glimmer of something more that the viewer looks twice and then a third time.
With rivers and my people in mind, I began consciously layering my work. I stopped painting with opacity as I thought about the overlapping, almost indistinguishable translucency of the present and the past.