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Behind the art: Baby milestones backdrops

I am a grand gesture kind of person. If I'm going to do something, I go all the way or not at all.

When it came time to decide whether or not i would do the cliche, monthly baby photos for my daughter, I couldn't give into the thought of turning to Pinterest for cute and corny ideas. If I were going to do them, they would have to be unique, charismatic, and truly something of my own. The day before her first month I happened to be in Marshals. I gravitated towards the baby section and there is was, the cutest little unicorn tutu set right next to the milestone blocks. I couldn't help myself. I bought both, got home, and painted a matching backdrop. Over the next year I painted more backdrops and bought more outfits for the monthly photos.

The backdrops themselves are just large acrylic paintings on unstretched canvas. I had a lot of leftover pieces from a previous roll of canvas. The idea for the photos came to me when I thought of the term "Black girl magic." I've always been a fantasy lover, a believer in magic, mystical realms, and celestial mysteries. But when I looked around, I didn't see many examples of these spaces for black girls. So I channeled that same energy into my daughter, transforming her into a unicorn or a fairy, a mermaid, or a flower child. As time went on, her personality began to shine through in the photos, adding a new dimension to the series.

As a new mom, at first I felt like 2 versions of me now existed: Bri the artist & Saniyah's mother. My work has been a reflection of me as a woman, I felt a little resentful at the thought of making "child friendly" work. Painting this series allowed me to not only bond with my daughter as both her mother and as an artist, it also allowed me to conquer my fears of being limited with my work. That I can make art that is still me in style and can be enjoyed by new groups.


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