My creative process is based on the idea of layering, recycling, reimagining, and mixing methods. Mixed media abstract collaging is at the heart of the process even when doing conceptual work. I am constantly searching beneath layers for hidden messages and light. For example, in some of my work I combine my original work (acrylic and watercolor paintings, silk batik, digital photos, and drawings) with print and digital images found in magazines, newspapers, brochures, textiles, cards, and/or various objects. The image continues to evolve, shifting as the sociopolitical and cultural road map changes.
My work explores the layers of my own identity---blackness, girl/womanhood, mother, wife, and immigrant---in the context of popular culture, power, politics, religion/faith, history, music, social movements and socioeconomics. The work is a commentary on the textured lives of marginalized people. I create pieces as a way of unpacking rage, pain, contradictions, beauty, agency and joy constantly trying to understand the complex history and narrative of blackness in the United States and black the diaspora. Social justice themes emerge in my work. The images invite the viewer to consider the ongoing effects of racism, sexism, homophobia, environmental injustice and xenophobia on humanity. The victim narrative is not my point; rather, it is one of transformation through positive memories of family, hope, education, faith, humor, love and vision. It is through reimagining the dichotomies that we find flowers in urban spaces, children moving and laughing in poverty, women sipping wine with sister-friends loving one another through shared pain, and men boldly pressing forward knowing they are the target of the criminal justice system. Kara Walker, Kerry James Marshall, Mark Bradford, Kehinde Wiley, Billie Zangewa, Faith Ringgold, Takesada Matsutani, Kerrie Mae Weems, Yinka Shonibare, Romare Bearden, Zanele Muholi and Jacob Lawrence all influence and inspire my work. These artists tell stories that challenge me to examine blackness in its blackest black, and surround subjects with rich vibrant colors. I am emboldened to use layers in images to build and celebrate stories. For example, Ringgold’s story quilts are feminist collages—boldly moving women from object to subject. Jacob Lawrence’s imagery of the mundane lives of black people forces me to appreciate the simple things of life. Bearden’s approach to collaging is expressive and spiritual. His technique of layering provides a perfect vehicle of extracting meaning and metaphors. I hope to trigger conversations that help to transform communities, heal, empower and heal people.