Celebrating the Fullness of Black Lives

The New York Times, August 9, 2020

"For T’s #TBlackArtBlackLife Instagram series, we ask prominent Black American artists to share a work of art, whether their own or one created by another, that shows Black people in moments of joy, hope, dignity, pride, sorrow or agency — in other words, in the fullness of life. Below are five works chosen by the artists Ayana V. Jackson, Sadie Barnette, Kwasi Boyd-Bouldin, Dawoud Bey and Eli Reed, along with what each had to say about the selection. Follow @tmagazine for future installments.

 

Ayana V. Jackson

On her work Moments of Sweet Reprieve (2016)

 

In this image, part of my series “Intimate Justice in the Stolen Moment,” my body is represented twice — seated and lying in my own lap, providing comfort to and for myself. It is a depiction of self-care. I chose this image because, historically in times of extreme distress, it is the Black community that finds itself coming to its own aid, providing and advocating for its own needs. Much of this happens behind the scenes, out of view from others. These two women dressed in 19th-century clothing occupy a historical moment that suggests they may be in servitude or bondage. However, to depict this stolen moment of leisure allows us to consider other aspects of their realities. Even an enslaved woman might share a moment of escape with a mother, a sister, a lover — or she might choose to be alone with herself. I made the work in South Africa the day Trump was elected. Going into the studio was the best way to care for myself on such a disturbing day."