Ricky Weaver

About the Artist: Ricky Williams is a Michigan based Artist working out of the Metro-Detroit area. During her undergraduate studies at Eastern Michigan University (Ypsilanti, MI) she became enveloped in the idea of a “double-consciouness”. She began to scratch the surface of her identity issues and questioning her own subjectivity. She created work based upon personal experiences hoping to generate a greater dialogue concerning race and gender. She graduated from EMU April of 2014 with her BFA. Between then and now she had 2 more children. As a mother of three she began to connect more intimately with the mothers that raised her. Ricky became interested in the shared narratives that exist within her community of black mothers. She is now working with similar themes at Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI). Where she expected to graduate with an MFA In May of 2018. Her work is evolving into a more interdisciplinary media while functioning in a similar realm of thematic concerns.

Artist Statement: In this new body of work I have begun photographing intimate fragments of a psychological space that I imagine exist between the taking off and putting on of a code. This body of work explores the inherited collateral damage of using codes to navigate the perpetual wilderness of white supremacy and patriarchy at the intersection of being a black woman.

Read below the interview our Art Director, Finn Schult, had with the artist!

What brought you to begin making the work for "Somebodies Got To Do It?"

I was about 8 weeks postpartum after a c-section. I had just returned to Cranbrook after having my youngest, Kameron. I had 2 other little ones, Karter and Kylie, 1 and 7 years of age. My partner went back to work in North Dakota 7 days after Kameron was born, right before I learned he had viral meningitis. The stresses of having a new baby, healing, Grad school, and a precarious relationship with my partner had begun to envelop me. I remember sitting on the couch in my living room wanting to have some “me time”. The silence was swallowed by echoes of the different codes I deployed throughout the day to help ease me through certain situations. I walked over to the mirror and tried to get a glimpse of myself. I had disappeared. I questioned where I went, how I went, and why I went went? I knew that existing in a specific intersection and navigating that in a specific way was taking a toll on my subjectivity. I then wondered if the subjectivity was ever there and if that’s something that was was stolen from us too? So I began to explore this space that existed between the shift.

Can you talk to me about your use of a visual code and how you implemented that code into this body of work?

My strategy with this body of work was making seductive images that allowed the audience to access a heavy narratives. I was thinking a lot about the commercialization of black culture and more specifically Black Girl Magic, aesthetically. What that looks like as a campaign and also in reality. I’m defining what that means for me and also critiquing the pop culture definition. I felt the color palette was also important for imagining this hyper real space and alluding to the psychological impact of navigating white supremacy and patriarchy through code switching. The costuming represents elevated expectations,he legacy of the black women in my family, and shared narratives. The sharp nails are symbolic of resistance and homage to African American Women's culture.

How do the lemons play into the code as a signifier?

Lemons are a sensory grounding technique used when one is disassociating. They are metaphorically representing dissociative identity disorder, which I felt created an entry point to understanding code switching. The various ways in which the lemons exist come back to my questions about subjectivity. Am I really grounding myself, what is there after I’m grounded? In a more simplistic way “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, I’m critiquing the possibilities that exists given those resources.

How do you feel this work relates to our current social and political climate?

This work feels so relevant to our social and political climate. Images of black women shown in the media are very stereotypical and exaggerated. Code switching is a form of stigma management. White nationalism is growing, the political climate is very tense. Black women, at large, are still very invisible in most arenas. Inside and outside of our communities, we are constantly organizing and advocating for social justice for EVERYBODY. Somehow still ignored by major organizations. Black women are known to tote the emotional and physical burdens of everyone around them and receive no praise for it. That goes for political and social. Black women’s cultural identity is stigmatized until its purchased /stolen  by a white socialite like Kylie Jenner. Then everything about black women, except the black part is not only praised but also commodified. This work is celebratory of our strength and resilience while simultaneously seeking visibility.

What's next for you?

The featured work feels like there is video work to be made and a few more images that I’ve been thinking about. However, In this moment I’m still thinking about the commodification of black girl magic. I’ve been playing with that concept and working on some digital sketches.

If you would like to see more of Ricky's work check out her website here, and if you would like to follow Ricky on her adventures follow her on Instagram at _rickyweaver

Diana Schenkel

Read below the interview our Art Director, Finn Schult, had with the artist!

1. What lead you to begin making this body of work?

I really enjoy the changing textures of decay.  From fruits to animals I think there is something beautiful about the enrichment of all this energy going back into the earth. I find it incredibly odd that people don't take the time out to even notice the things that are continuously fading away. Our families, our food, our resources, all of our comforts. The only thing constant about life is change in my opinion.  I consider myself a photographer. I've been shooting since I was a young teenager.  Doing the #rotseries gives me a reason to take a photo everyday and also forces me to slow down, document the process, and remember that not every picture has to be so thought out.  

2.  How long do you see yourself continuing to create images for Daily Rot?

I plan on doing the daily rot series for as long as I can.  Meaning I'll probably eventually move on to vegetables and other things.  I'd be seriously interested in watching meat fade away into the dirt.  I bet the colors are striking.

3.  Does the concept come from a more scientific or aesthetic-based point of view?

The process and concept definitely comes from a few places.  The nature of documentation like I mentioned and definitely for aesthetic reasons.  I think it's soothing to watch a watermelon disappear or blood oranges change into all these fascinating colors before it takes on the color of the Earth in the dirt.  

4.  I know that you're also a model. What prompted the switch to the other side of the camera?

A model?  Thank you!  I wouldn't call myself a model per-say... I've been a photographer for so much longer.  All of my photography is by me unless otherwise noted.  I consider myself more of a self portrait Artist than anything but I still like photographing close friends.  I used to be really into creating art nudes and I still love doing so but I only work with those I know.  I prefer to keep my art work mainly myself.  Panic disorder is something I struggle with on a daily basis and self portraits and other art is how I deal with life.  I am not sure I'd know what to do without a camera. I also write poetry and you can find my one and only book I self published on Amazon by looking up my name.  

5.  What are you thinking about starting as your next photographic project?  

Since Spring has started and all of these beautiful flowers are out and growing, I have been dripping different things onto flowers and photographing people's hands with them.  My favorite so far has been a peach iris with dripping whipping cream on top and photographing the cream as it's splashing out.  I've also used syrup, honey, paint, and anything I am interested in seeing drip.  I also post those on my Instagram if you're interested in seeing them.  I feel like I don't necessarily have series, but things that are always consistent in my work.  Decay, flowers, nudes, scenery, taxidermy, handmade masks, dreamy like surreal vibes, and I hope a realness that shows how close I am to my subjects.  When you view my work you'll see the same people over and over again.  I have over 200 publications on vogue.it as well and I think that is one of the best places to view some of the best of my works from over the years. 

6.  What was your favorite moment photographing and why?  

I have so many favorite moments... Here's a few:

One time I caught a vulture taking off the side of a building right when it's wings spread with a polaroid land camera on expired 669 film and it came out perfect.  

On my Birthday a few years ago I wanted to take a self portrait with my friend (nude). I wanted to photograph it from the top of a bridge.  This was also a busy area.  My girlfriend of 10 years held the tripod over the bridge with the camera attached and the timer going.  I think I ended up with maybe 20 shots before the Park Rangers caught us.  We almost got a ticket but didn't.  That was stressful but the outcome was amazing and worth it.  I just sold a print from this particular day and it always makes me smile if someone purchase it because whew it was hell to get.  

By far though the most memorable for me was a few years ago we had birds migrating through Ohio and they were going to one spot to congregate .. They were there at the same time everyday for 3 weeks and I went everyday to see them swarm.  I got some of my most favorite images I've ever taken in my life.  I felt like I witnessed an event so rare and so perfect that it was only luck and the Universe that allowed me to have that moment so many times during that month.  

7.  What would you like people to feel from your work?  What do you hope to convey?  

I want people to feel anything.. feel something when they look at my work.  I do self portraits often because I feel like that is most real.  I'm not planning, I'm not behind the camera, it's just me in all it's honesty and imperfection.  I feel like if I take photos somehow I'm proving that all of this was real and ensuring a way for people to never forget me when I'm gone and I hope that is felt.

If you would like to see more of Diana's work check out her website here, and if you would like to follow Diana on her adventures follow her on Instagram at dianamsphotography