Women's Activism NYC

Ayana V. Jackson

1977 - Today

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Ayana V. Jackson is an American photographer and filmmaker. At a young age, Jackson was fascinated by the formal portraits of her relatives in her grandparents’ living room in East Orange, N.J. Her grandparents made sure she knew who each relative was. Jackson said, “The beauty of these family portraits ... is that when we stepped into that portrait studio, even with a white photographer, we decided how to present ourselves.” In her most recent images, she assumes the role of historic black women from the 19th century, including her own relatives. Her work uses self-portraiture to consider the false description of black people's role in constructing identities. She relies on extensive research and often bases her images on historic photographs — some of which had been used to subjugate or stereotype black people. Jackson’s way of using her body as a visual instrument is essential for how those in the black community view themselves.

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