Black Girls Series:
The Black Girls series examines the ongoing relevance of racial and gender stereotypes in a “post-racial” America. Recently, public discourse has considered and questioned the ongoing relevance of race in the United States. In Black Girls, I examine the contention that race no longer matters by appropriating images of the jezebel stereotype in African American culture.
I am appropriating images of black women who are on the covers of erotica advertisements and sexual gadgetry, listed under the term “black girls”. I have removed their skin color, which now allows the women to pass as any race. Most of the humanizing qualities of the women are replaced with a strong neon outline against a black surface. The black surface replaces the skin tone literally making these African American women “black girls” devoid of tonality, imperfections, and personality. These women become empty, sexual teases that could be from any race or culture with nothing left but gesture and posing to communicate to the viewer.
Heather Johnson is currently working on her MFA in Photography at The Rhode Island School of Design. She received her BA from Columbia College Chicago in 2005. Her work has been exhibited nationally, including shows at the Orleans St. Gallery in St. Charles, IL., Muse Gallery in Prescott, AZ., Peninsula Open Studios in Mountain View, CA., the “Working” Gallery and Studios, Schenectady, NY., and the Washington Gallery of Photography in Bethesda, MD.