Marcela Adeze Okeke

Region: Midwest

 I strive to dissolve the association of Black bodies with brutality by highlighting Black individuality and interconnectedness. I explore the intimacy of understanding oneself and others through painting several nude figures that are connected, intertwined, or physical reflections of each other. I do the same when depicting human beings’ relationship with the environment, creating subjects that appear to be at the intersection of human beings and flowers or trees.

As my work is a reclamation of the intersectional Black body, it is fundamentally about acceptance. I mix the abstract and realistic in a single piece to push the boundary of what we categorize as completion and perfection. By concealing parts of figures behind thick layers of color, I reflect the known and the unknown parts of the self and the constant development of self-discovery.

This is how I know Black bodies to be: not defined by harm and death, but by beauty and growth.