Black Picket Fences
Black Picket Fences is a photographic series encompassing environmental portraiture and documentary photographs of contemporary black households and the everyday lives of those who inhabit them. The project manifested through the examination of the importance of representation and exposure in relation to the formation of black identity, the performativity of blackness, and the ways in which the home transforms into a place of familiarity and/or unfamiliarity depending on who enters the space. In turn, this body of work aims to highlight an often overlooked group in contemporary American culture: the black, suburban middle class. While this group has not been entirely forgotten, it is hard to define. For some, these photographs might be the first and most intimate form of contact or interaction they might have with a black household.
The work is largely inspired by one central question: If the ethos of the suburban landscape is largely understood as an ideologically “white” space, how do we begin to discuss the paradox of the black suburb and the ways in which it challenges to concept of whiteness? It became important to think about the suburban landscape, not simply in terms of a continuous area, but as an object that has the ability to be altered and shaped to benefit those who inhabit it. The photographs allow us to begin to ask: If the culture of the suburban landscape shifts based upon those who inhabit it? Are there similarities between the homes of African Americans within a certain socioeconomic and geographical demographic? Black Picket Fences seeks to highlight, dissolve, and reject the racist construction of the suburban landscape by showing blacks who now inhabit the suburban landscape- a space that was never intended to benefit them.