Get it and Come Back (ongoing series), 2018 - 2019
"My interest draws into the objects that help to ground our sense of self and perception of a community. I explore the relationship between object and body, encapsulating how it's activated by one's own history, gesture, and cultural ritual. Utilizing photographic techniques, I put my focus on my friends and family of the Caribbean Diaspora. I aim to assemble intimate realities constructed in exclusive spaces while creating work that parallels my own experience of the heritage of a distant home."
Get it and Come Back, 2019
VERONICA ELIZABETH THOMAS in conversation with KIERRA BRANKER
THOMAS: Is there a moment, or series of moments, you can recall from childhood, that has shaped the ways in which you engage with your hair?
BRANKER: Engaging with my own hair when I was growing up meant cooperation and patience. I spent much of my childhood, head bent in the kitchen sink, doing perms with my mom, sitting nearly four hours in the chair getting my hair braided, and burning my ears when the hot comb would get too close. However, while in high school, I began to question my relationship with my hair, and my treatment of it. I realized then, that the many things I was doing to it, to keep it manageable, damaged it in the long run. When I was ready and completed all of the necessary research, I cut all of my hair off and took full ownership. As I was always someone who enjoyed learning new things, going natural brought another level of patience. Through it all, I’ve gained more acceptance in my curls and compassion for myself.
THOMAS: PEASY is an homage to Black womxnhood. What does honoring your Blackness and womxn-ness in your everyday rituals look like?
BRANKER: Saying my prayers, reconnecting with my ancestors in my dreams, remembering to smile, eating ripe mangos at every possible moment, admiring the way my hair kinks, and shrinks. Dancing and singing are both everyday rituals of mine, which keep me grounded. A lot of these rituals are things that have been imprinted on me at an early age, from my maternal figures.
THOMAS: In what ways does your practice elevate your intention?
BRANKER: At heart I’m a storyteller. I lean into individual intimate stories and place them within the larger context of the Black experience. My practice allows me to look closely into memories that we hold, both within our bodies and objects. In doing so, the photos I take become a site for reflection, for both the sitter and the viewer.
THOMAS: PEASY asks its audience to look beyond the imagery and into the soul of what it means to be a Black womxn - what does being a Black womxn mean / feel like to you?
BRANKER: To me, being a Black womxn is to fully embody the sublime.
THOMAS: Is there any message, feeling or intention you wish to communicate about your experience of Black womxnhood?
BRANKER: Myself, or my sitter’s existence, is not tied to the gaze. We continue to exist when no one is looking, and we embrace ourselves as well.