What do you burn for? Helping others realize how wonderful and loved they are. I feel the need to elaborate, but I also feel that this is the plain and simple goal of all my pursuits.
How do you think about the relationship between aesthetics and social values? My work visualizes the intersection of being both Black and gay; as the two are inseparable as far my social identity is concerned, how do the two inform each other, and what critical framework comes out of their coalescence? My work requires that I be honest about my experiences, no matter how hesitant I may be to share them because of shame or fear. In working with others, it is especially important that I negotiate the power that I have as a photographer with the person(s) I'm photographing. While a photograph is ultimately reflective of my vision and understanding, it is important that the person(s) being photographed agree or at least resonate with my judgment.
Tell us about Date Night... Date Night is a bi-monthly art salon that features artists of varying disciplines and philosophies. The one night only event, which takes place out of someone's home, began as a way for me to honor those artists that inform my life and practice. Is also a way to validate emerging artists. The first iteration featured nine artists, and each was asked to give a short, informal presentation on the work they had on display and its relationship to their practice at large. As many of the invited artists are not familiar with each other, this dialogue creates a respectful learning environment, and one in which sustainable relationships between guests are made. I also ask one or two friends to cook for the evening as another way to make all who participate in the night comfortable. In the second iteration, I featured eight artists and set each of them on a "date" with one another. Each pairing was asked to create a response to their time with the other person and their work. In the spirit of dating, responses ranged from intimate to estranged. The third will take place towards the end of January. I learn so much as I do these and can't wait to show everyone what's next.
Photography is: Photography is a way for me to understand my life; documents of my physical and mental experiences. A photograph may not make sense in the moment that I create it, but I can come back in a year and find that a picture reflects exactly where I was and what I was thinking at that moment. I'm fascinated by how images take on what we bring to it. I usually work with self-portraiture, but I've recently been collaborating with others, particularly my family. Like anyone, I have very distinct, challenging relationships with my immediate family. As photography requires a great deal of communication between the photographer and the participant, photographing my family has made for some much needed discussions and interactions. I'm currently working with my father and in one sitting I asked him to do a simple dance for a video. He found something in his head to dance to and started. I couldn't stop laughing. We have a very trying relationship, so when I realized that I was laughing so genuinely, I realized that something was changing about our dynamic.