Opening reception: December 14, from 6–9 pm
A Different Kind of Love Story: For Us is an investigation of Black women’s identity by Chicago-based visual artist Zakkiyyah Najeebah. In the process of discovering and claiming her own identity as a Black woman artist, Najeebah considers the artists, poets, writers, and women in her orbit who have encouraged her own self-investigation.
In her large-format portraits of Black women/femmes in private encounters and candid interactions, Najeebah embraces the concept of Womanism (coined by author/historian Alice Walker). Walker defines a Womanist as A black feminist or feminist of color… Appreciates and prefers women’s culture. Committed to survival and wholeness of entire people, male and female.1 Conscious of how the concept of woman is continuously evolving, Najeebah’s work is a reflection on its limitations and expansions.
Situated somewhere between the empathetic, documentary-style portraiture of such photographers like Dawoud Bey or Nan Goldin, and the psychological narratives depicted in Carrie Mae Weems’s photography, Najeebah’s work offers a glimpse into the lives of Black womenfolk while wholly identifying with and acknowledging their complexity. Her engagement with the women she photographs carries elements of vulnerability, truth-telling, and to a wide degree, the erotic.2 Najeebah considers each interaction as an opportunity to see herself within her subjects, while also lending an ear to their concerns, stories, passions, and desires.
- Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens
- Audre Lorde, Uses of the Erotic: Erotic as Power