ST. LUCIA - Portraits for Self Determining Girls
Sojourner Truth was the first African American woman to use photography as a self-determining tool in how she would be portrayed and seen. She sold her carte de visite with the text "I sell the shadow to support the substance." Her revolutionary photographic portraits shifted the gaze from the standard slavery images of blacks of the 1800’s to a vision of black feminine power.
Portraits for Self Determining Girls continues Sojourner Truth’s legacy of creating visions of feminine power. Teenage girls of heritage will be offered a transformative workshop experience exploring photography, poetry and personal power. Together we will investigate photography’s history, the significance of Sojourner’s legacy, the “imagined” and “real” in the portrayal of women/girls in the media, and how to use photography and writing as empowering tools for social change and individual+community engagement.
I facilitated photography and poetry workshops at Flanbwayan Haitian Literacy Project in the Flatbush community of Brooklyn, NY and Soufriere, Saint Lucia at the Soufriere Public Library. Each girl created her own “carte de visite poster” from portraits taken at the workshops with an original poem that she has written, redefining herself through the gaze of strength, beauty and endless possibilities. Portraits for Self Determining Haitian Girls seeks to stoke the collective imagination and keep new ways of seeing alive.