I don't talk about my mother anymore. The year after she died, I wrote this long-form reflection on her death and what I learned from it. But words couldn't express who she truly was, only imagery could do that. So, when I first started documenting my life in high school, I wanted to capture everything that I felt represented who I was and what I wanted to become. I wanted to be just like my mother. She expressed her identity through interior design, dressing my home's walls with bright colored paint and souvenirs from her travels around the world. Amongst other rooms in our home, she made it a point to create an atmosphere of awe and wonder through the discovery of culture in the arts - whether through paintings, sculptures, cuisine - she was a master of engagement. Visitors would be captivated by her keen imagination of what the world looks like through the eyes of an old soul nomad.
Last month, I visited my family's house during Open Doors exhibition weekend and uncovered a whole collection of photos from my first few years of making photographs. Of all the scenes I saw, I was taken off guard at the last frame - a picture of my mother smiling into my lens, her essence crystalized inside that authentic gaze I grew up knowing, adoring and inspired by.
These photos represent my story in the age of becoming who I am today. Irregardless of how I've transitioned into this world as an artist, I am thankful for the experiences that have led me here.
Here's a brief, non-linear narrative of growing up Black, Queer and Suburban in NJ from 2006-2009: