Richard-Jonathan Nelson

Region: Pacific Coast


City / State: oakland , CA

My work expands modern definitions of Black existence through the boundless imaginative possibilities within speculative fiction. Through textiles, video, photography, and makeup, I reinterpret the Black body not as a simple caricature of identity but as an undiscovered impetus for cultural evaluation. By reconstructing Black bodies, culture, and experiences through the prism of science fiction I make apparent the diversity and nuance that Western culture so easily ignores. By referencing the Southern gothic roots of my upbringing to create Afrosurrealist realms where the Diaspora’s relationship to reality isn’t limited to a faulty Western gaze. My work, through the conceptualization of hoodoo as a forgotten technology for cultural defiance and escape, reclaims the influence and beauty of forgotten traditions. By integrating the symbolism, metaphorical material sleight of hand, and herbal knowledge of hoodoo I create a visual language that speaks to Blackness but also its concerns regarding freedom, emotion, and sexuality.