I choose two very different approaches to defining myself visually; one in a naturalistic way using recognizable symbols and the other abstractly using patterns and colors. All of the self-portraits that depict my physical appearance include my physical surroundings often with material objects symbolizing how I see myself. I purposely make myself look different in each work of art by changing facial expressions, lighting, and illusions of different interior or exterior environments. It is important for me to include visual symbols many self-explanatory and others needing an explanation because of their personal nature.
As an African-American woman artist, I can trace my heritage to slaves on an Alabama plantation. I have included parts of my ancestry in my artwork. Since I have always been an abstract artist, the challenge was to do it in a nonrepresentational manner using the power of light, color and structure.
Building the image through the perception of layering is important. I start with black and white triangles that are common in many African cultures. The authentic African patterns are chosen based on creating a contrast between geometric shapes and curvilinear. They are designed to repeat on both the black and white parts of the paper. Colors chosen for the central area are the colors of the rainbow, red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. The transparent illusion of horizontal bands covers the entire painting and unites the layers.
Everything in the paintings has social and political connotations. The inclusion of black and white and the use of rainbow colors cover many symbolic race and human rights issues.