Born in Alabama and raised in Mississippi, I lean on my southern experience to paint contemporary life, including the social unrest and violence around me— from witnessing the turmoil when James Meredith entered Ole Miss in the 60s to the 2020 insurrection at the US Capitol, just blocks from my home. To address these issues, in addition to creating large-scale installations, I have developed the self-portrait-as into a distinct genre of figure painting that embraces the complexities of contemporary life.
My self-portraits-as First Ladies, which I have been making since I moved to DC in 2000, are, perhaps, the best known. By dangling between the images of First Ladies and my own reflection, an inherently performative act of painting, I explore the American riddle. Subsequently, I have added other personae to my self-portrait-as portfolio including Christine Blasey Ford, Frida Kahlo, Greta Thunberg, and Kamala Harris. Through these self-portraits-as, I explore hot-button topics such as social justice, handguns, extreme weather, and abuse of power.
More recently I have included portraits of others, generally painted from video to give a sense of movement to the paintings. These include paintings of actors as their characters in The Line by The Public Theater, and portraits of mystery guests on the 50s tv show What’s My Line?
Self-portrait Drawn Blindfolded
charcoal on paper