Flight, mural, Philadelphia
It was told that enslaved Africans could take flight, liberating themselves by flying back to their homeland of Africa. Though, the folklore of Black people being able to take flight extends before the period of American slavery, and far beyond it. Toni Morrison writes in Song of Solomon “…if you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.” She, Octavia E. Butler, Virginia Hamilton and other Black writers and artists have often referenced this idea found in Black mythology, and are large inspirations and references for this project.
Flight is a series of life-sized and large scale murals that feature realistic paintings of Black people floating in the air. For the series, I talk with groups and individuals about the idea of flight — what it means to them and how we relate to it today. These conversations are followed by photo sessions, from which the murals are based. Each mural is accompanied with text that references Black authors and the subject's own words.
In this series we see Black people suspended in the air, floating above societal violences. I do not often revel in fantasy or escapism in my work. But what of the Black experience in America does not have some sense of the supernatural? In my work, I look at how people experience specific environments based on their identities. In this project, I am exploring the air as an environment, a space that we might occupy or traverse.