Clementine Hunter (detail)

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Portfolio: Portraits of Visionaries

My work explores subjects that have been marginalized in canonical history and art history. Committed to the notion that experiences of art can elevate the human spirit and offer catalysts for transformation, I make images that assert women’s authority of voice, whether artistic, political, or otherwise. My practice is rooted in a feminist outlook akin to that which bell hooks expresses in Art on My Mind: Visual Politics, that “we must feel empowered to vigilantly guard the representation of the woman as artist so that it is never again devalued.”

Influenced by artists such as Alice Neel, Marcia Marcus, Kerry James Marshall, and Lubaina Himid, I use color, form, texture, and relationships between flatness and depth and movement and stillness to make portraits that probe tensions between my subjects’ outer and inner worlds. This particular body of work spans several years and includes sculpture and paintings of a range of visionary women, from writers and artists to lawyers and politicians.

I recently began a series of portraits of women presidential candidates with the centennial of the ratification of the 19th amendment (and 2020 election) in mind. Among the many intersectional visions and voices that helped blaze trails to the 19th amendment were those of Victoria Woodhull and Belva Lockwood. Woodhull was the first woman to petition Congress in person—to argue for women’s right to vote—and to declare herself a presidential candidate, doing so in 1872 with Frederick Douglass as her Vice-Presidential nominee. Lockwood ran for president in 1884 and 1888.

Portraiture transcends historical eras and upholds the notion that the personal is political. With this work I aim to facilitate meaningful encounters with these women and shed light on historical antecedents reverberating in our present cultural and political moment.