Stillness in Motion
As the founder of the Instagram platform, @ablackhistoryofart, my aim is always to highlight and celebrate the practices of Black artists, both from the past and in the present. Looking through the work of this year’s graduating cohort, I selected works that I was instinctively drawn to, then I discovered a pattern in my selections, which is summed up by a phrase in the alt text of one of Shaquelle Whyte’s paintings (Wataya’s Back but the Umbrella is Missing); it reads ‘figures sat on the stairs, still but still in motion’. The sensation of moving stillness is present in the works of all of these artists. In Hettie Iniss’ paintings, figures melt in and out of space, while in Okiki Akinfe’s paintings, areas of exposed canvas allow her figures to both inhabit and embody their space. Cece Philips’ I spy a Stranger, shows a figure static on the stairs of a house, while those in motion in the background, are engulfed by yellow light.
Daisy Jones’ artist statement, in which she described ‘viewing blackness and black identity as something that is constantly in motion’, speaks to a broader notion of identity – something which is too-often viewed as fixed and still – as being fluid and in motion. Alyse Stone synthesises Black histories with the present, bringing the past, frozen in time, back to life in her mixed media works. Aisha Seriki uses digital manipulation to create cinematic photographs of figures, posed, but in motion and Katrina Nzegwu merges the realms of the physical and digital to create prints of “glitching hands”, inspired by those of her grandmother. Roisin Jones presents a bust commemorating the Black women ‘lost to the annals of history’, her figure is placed on top of a mound of dark sand, both sinking and emerging, still and in motion.