Ancestors and Relatives
This series of mixed media paintings collectively entitled Ancestors and Relatives, questions the effects of colonization, oppression, and ongoing racism, especially how the past informs the present complex relationship between blacks and whites and between third-world and first-world countries. Based on my own experience of creating a cross-continental, inter-racial family by marrying an African man, here I ‘introduce’ my European ancestors to my African relatives by uniting their images. While the ugly history of colonialism puts my European ancestors and African relatives at odds, fabric is used as a reminder of our shared humanity and the human connection. Figures are used to scrutinize gendered and racialized identities, while multiple layers of collage in the panels correspond to multiple layers of experience and meaning. Perceptions of color and power are human constructs like fabrics and houses, which endure and make negating the past impossible. Notions of “Whiteness” and “Blackness” require each other for their existence. This work is rooted in biography, politicized by history, and energized through personal encounter.