With all the images of brutality, racism, inequality, violence and any other negative ‘stuff’ we are bombarded with on a daily basis it helps to just stop and get inspired sometimes.
I came across ‘Blackbyrd’ by Cassie Renee by chance, or maybe it was on purpose because I am always actively looking for art, editorial pieces, photos that spark my interest.
‘Blackbyrd’ is a photo series inspired by slavery and black struggle presented in a way that represents or highlights the beauty of black women all at the same time. Cassie will have to forgive me if I butchered the description, because the truth is I cannot tell it like she does.
I was captivated by her pictures I saw her message but I really loved how she described the reasoning behind the photographs. The idea that something so beautiful can come from something so grotesque (using her reference) is all but inspiring.
Pulling entirely from a historical era that gets typically overlooked or shunned throughout American culture and society, ‘Blackbyrd’ came to be. You might say— “How can you be inspired by slavery during the pre-civil war era for a beauty shoot?” As Alexander McQueen said, “I find beauty in the grotesque, like most artists. I have to force people to look at things.” …and if it weren’t for, D’Jango Unchained and 12 Years A Slave hitting screens in recent years, I probably wouldn’t have been so thoughtful.
Her series got me to think about how we all can find beauty in our troubles, even the big ones, that if you can somehow turn your hurt and pain into something beneficial then maybe the pain might have been something worth going through once you have gotten through it.
Do not get me wrong, this isn’t an excuse to look for trouble, but just making the point that you can hold on to the fact that you are always a better person once you emerge from the situation. You gained a stripe!
How she did it?-
I studied photos of slave quarters and the faces of the people. I also reviewed imagery of those enslaved all over the world today, to contrast facial and body language in helping me direct my model. I read books, studied paintings, watched films and listened to musicians who were known for combining many influences into their work with a result that broke out from traditional molds.
All of these materials helped me to put myself ‘into the shoes of’ and experience a new vision. I concluded that the human race ought not to overlook these ‘scars’ because by doing so, it will allow ‘slavery’ to persist — albeit not only like we’ve come to know it today — but in much less repulsive manners that take on more sophisticated and secular forms.
Cassie dedicated ‘Blackbyrd’ to “#SandraBland and all people of color everywhere in the world whose lives are stripped and taken at the cost of unsolicited biased aversion, brutality, inequality and terrorism.” Read the entire piece here.