While preparing for a webinar on colorism, I Am Why’s Racial Justice Team commissioned me to create a painting on colorism and women of all cultures. They asked me to do this after seeing my “I Am Woman” painting that I created while at Artistic Noise, one of I Am Why’s partner organizations.
For my “I Am Woman” painting, I studied the art styles of many artists, such as Mickalene Thomas and Hank Willis Thomas, and then made my own version of stereotypes society has of women as to how they are supposed to look. The Racial Justice Team consultants pitched the ideas they wanted for the painting. I looked up pictures of different women, cartoon versions and all. I put each picture that made the cut in Photoshop and created a collage using only certain parts of each woman, combining features of women from different cultures. I blended colors for softer or darker textures to represent everyone. I tried to represent every hair texture women can have, as well as different hair colors.
At first I felt indifferent about this piece. I wasn’t confident in my work. But after touching up the imperfections it became perfect to me. The finished piece to me was a shocker because I wasn’t sure if my vision for it would come to light. But I made it work and represented everyone, with hopes to display that no matter the color of your skin, or different hairstyles and textures, we’re all the same as women. This connects with women who experience colorism because it represents a woman’s imperfections in society, that it is forced upon us to be a certain way, look a certain way, and even be treated a certain way.
– Briana, I Am Why consultant