by Keylah Mellon
I mostly create as therapy for me, I think. I continually ask questions. I want it to be of self and of the collective. My ultimate goal is for my work to be similar to when you’re reading a really good poem, every time you read into it you find something different which is ultimately a reflection of you moving/evolving through the world.
Marasa, Ouanga Bay Beach Hotel - Ayiti (2012)
Pierre Payen, Haiti - Janvier (2016)
Untitled, Haiti (2012)
Roots | Haitian Flag Day in Flatbush (2015)
Keylah Mellon is Haitian-American photographer based in New York. A certain sensitivity to the human condition pushes her to photograph the world as it reveals its infinite multidimensional quality.
"I remember growing up and just having a certain energy that I needed an outlet for. I stumbled on photography and it was like I had found a new way to talk to myself and to other people. That energy then found an avenue."
on commodification: I feel that capitalism is ready to and does cannibalize anything to keep the people in power in their positions.
on marginalized voices: I think art and culture bind us. The more creators of marginalized backgrounds we have, the more are accessible and have access to being able to be creators, the more vocal we’ll be. The more we pose questions to self/the world, the more important conversations can start. Culture gets strengthened by these convos.
For my work, I try to reflect what I see and feel. It is very much rooted and my different marginalized identities (black/woman/lesbian/immigrant).
a word: Don't give up on your craft and trust process (I’m literally talking to myself through this)
on neglected topics in marginalized communities: Now more than ever it’s important to talk about the embedded structural inequalities in our societies. Moreover, it’s important to take a deep & critical look inwards (meaning in ourselves, our cultures, circles...etc) and assess where these inequalities are taking on accepted forms.
on re-framing the stereotypical identity: My way of doing [reframing and rejuvenating the stereotypical identity of the traditionally marginalized] through my work is trying to show people (especially marginalized identities) as they are or as they tell me they are. I try to prioritize the way the person being photographed chooses to be shown.
on self-care and vulnerability: The only way to make vulnerability comfortable, I think, is to be in that state as often as you can. Self-care is so important and particularly for artists, even more so for artists of marginalized identities. There’s this romanticized narrative of the broken/suffering artist that I believe in for so long. Too long! Last year I decided to take care of myself in a real way: going to therapy, changing the way I talk to myself, shifting my perspectives, thinking critically about my behaviors without necessarily bringing myself down, building a strong support system. It’s been super hard but i feel more free than ever and I feel like I can do anything. I approach my work with such a new lens. It feels more authentic and I feel like tackling things that I would never really dare to.