I choose two 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 include my physical surroundings combined with material objects symbolizing how I see myself. I make myself look different in each work of art by changing facial expressions, lighting, and illusions of different environments. It is important for me to include visual symbols, many self-explanatory and others needing explanation because of their personal nature.
As an African-American woman artist, I trace my heritage to slaves on an Alabama plantation. I have included parts of my ancestry in my artwork. The challenge, as an abstract artist, 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 and patterns common in many African cultures. The authentic African patterns are chosen based on 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.