This series began with my visual interpretation of Nina Simone’s “Four Women.” I had been listening to the song daily on my trips to the Bronx on the #4 train. Sometimes, I get into a mood of just listening to the same song repeatedly for months. When I was asked to submit works to a show “GIRL TALK” curated by Dr. Deborah Willis and Liz Andrews, I knew I wanted to do something related to this song. The idea immediately came to my mind to create “Nina’s Four Women: A Visual Interpretation.” Time constraints and confusion in deciding who to use as a model, somehow made it easier to use me. It was a little scary because this would be the first time that I would exhibit photos of myself in this way. Although, I’ve taken numerous self-portraits, I didn’t really see these photos as a total reflection of my personal experience. I did however see them as a part of my universal experience as a woman. In creating these women I was confronted with the judgements that I have of certain identities. It makes me look at my perceptions of identity in a new way.
Nina Simone’s Four Women speaks to the legacy of slavery and it’s transformation into four archetypes of black women.
Nina sings… My skin is black. My arms are long. My hair is wooly. My back is strong. Strong enough to take the pain. Inflicted again and again. What do they call me? My name is Aunt Sara.