Jesse Howard

Region: Midwest


City / State: Oak Park, IL

African Americans today are faced with centuries-old myths and misguided perceptions perpetuated by the dominant culture that have reached a fever pitch across the country. At times, the African-American male is a prisoner within himself and his neighborhood because of his race or circumstance. One could argue that he was dead before birth.

I often return to my old neighborhood to record images of the people there. My figures are typically distorted to reflect the pressure and anxiety individuals feel and the perceptions and expectations imposed on them by society. These images illustrate the most pressing issues of contemporary life.

Recent street demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland, following the deaths of Black individuals at the hands of law enforcement officers are depicted along with men who have cigarettes stuck in their noses to block inhalation of tear gas and figures entangled with their hands bound to illustrate the concept of Black men trapped within their conditions.