My work revolves around W.B. Dubois’ theory, “ The Veil.” The Veil refers to African-Americans inability to clearly see themselves outside of white America’s prescribed narrative. The transparent fabric drapes over black Americans, inevitably obscuring their vision and image. Rather than distort my sitter’s sight with the veil, I grant them clarity. Pulling back the fabric from their eyes, my figures discover they are on display. Unfortunately, the history of slavery and the predominantly white art canon forever ties the black image to the past. Black portraiture is commonly associated with abjection, struggle, and otherness. Aware of this notion, the sitters resent the uneasiness of marginalization. To their dismay, portraits find the original forms they imitate are also objectified.  Similar to the confines of a canvas, African-American’s must contend with stereotypes and stigmas. Instead of conforming, the figures of my portraits find agency through defiant attitudes. My sitters rebelliously refuse to acknowledge their audience or glare back indifferently. Despite the models efforts, the veil will always loom in the background. 

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All images copyright © 2020 Q'shaundra James. All rights reserved.