"But she could be anyone."
I use my art to explore equality, immigration, migration and culture. I delve into various themes, including the relationship between humanity, nature and a history of cultivation.
In one of my early paintings, I set out to convey growth, progress, and resilience. To achieve this, I incorporated foliage and greenery into the painting, covering up fully rendered sections. However, some viewers interpreted the work differently, projecting their own biases and colonial stereotypes onto it. It made me wonder how we can reprogram society and modern ideas of beauty and progress, filter out bigoted views, recognize the value of our cultures, and understand the beauty of growth and Toronto multiculturalism.
My creative process involves exploring contemporary research and theories on various subjects, including the Mitochondrial Eve Gene Theory. According to this theory, some modern humans can trace their ancestry back to a Mitochondrial Eve, a number of women who lived over 200,000 years ago.
It is thought that their mitochondrial DNA survived through their daughters, contributing to Africa's genetic diversity, considered the most diverse on the planet. Some studies suggest that this genetic diversity led to the formation of a subset of that genetic pool among people from different parts of the world.
The painting covers several themes, ideas, and intersections, including motherhood, offspring, daughters, nature, and beauty. However, such imagery may also bring up sensitive topics like "partus sequitur ventrem," which refers to the offspring following the mother's status as a slave. This concept was unique to the particular evil of chattel slavery and the rapid expansion of colonialism. The work poses thought-provoking questions about equality, immigration, and what it means to be Black in North America. I use images to challenge the mass public perception of Black people and People of Colour, which history, entertainment, media, and pop culture have shaped. The compositions are filled with references to media, popular culture, music, and art history. The work aims to add beauty to the world while invoking the ongoing social responsibility to capture thought.
"Mitochondrial: The Eve Gene Theory," is part of a continuing series and will be showcased at this year's Project 31 hosted by OCAD University. The artwork was created using inks, acrylic paint, and gouache on wood and measures 30" x 30".
The Project 31 event at OCAD University will showcase the work of many talented artists, including Natia Lemay, Ness Lee, Gary Taxali, Shea Chang, JJ Lee, Sarah Letovsky, Rajni Perera, and more.
Proceeds from this unique fundraising event will be used to support programming and bursaries for students of OCAD University who belong to the Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour communities.