"Oppositional Gaze" by Lavett Ballard
6 ft x 54 inches mixed media on wood panel
My process in approaching each story I tell with my fence shrines, is by first researching the subject matter I am looking to visually narrate. Whether it is a conversation of class, racial or gender identity or educating the viewer to a historical period. My main aim is to elevate those portrayed as icons, royalty or even Saints by preserving and retelling their stories of survival, struggle, or achievement with a folkloric twist.
In my work, I have touched on the lost African ancestry of those in the photos by adorning their faces with tribal markings, regal accessories, precious metallic tones, and a color palette that is often associated with royalty in different parts of the world. I let my collages float among shadows and galaxies to regain the power they lost during their past enslavement. To embody the struggle specific to African Americans I often layer, tear and burn to show tension in what is a collection of photos often seen and unseen by the public and as a personal offering I include personal family photos from different periods in a way to not only honor the ancestors of others but my own.
My use of ‘Fencing’ in my work is purposeful because they are a visual reminder of how Fences hold people in and block others out. They can protect and confine depending on one’s intention. By turning them into altars or shrines with the dirt that they have toiled and walked upon, and wood from their lost communities, I am able to create reverence to each forgotten and often ignored histories
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