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Elizabeth Sarpong
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AP 2-D
Bolingbrook High School|Bolingbrook, Illinois
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“Black Girls Must Die Exhausted," Dimensions: 11” x 15”|Material(s): Panasonic Lumix GF1, Adobe Ps, Camera Raw Filter, Color Grading, Blending Mode Toggles, Layering.|Processes: Manipulating blending channels to create glitch like effects and scattered color blocks|Curatorial Note: The color movement in this photograph is outstanding and cool in its emotional state.
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Student statement

“Black Girls Must Die Exhausted” is a photo I took in the summer of 2022. I didn’t edit it until later, but when I finally did, I had no name for what I’d created. Initially, I chose the name “Scatter,” truthfully not for any reason. When I select names to give my pieces, it is usually on a whim. And by my usually scattered and frenzied thoughts, working overtime, and connecting life instances to the things I absorb and see, the name “Scatter” just prevailed. It wasn't until sometime later that I re-evaluated this piece and chose to change the name of it. In making “Black Girls Must Die Exhausted,” by evidence of the events happening around me and the world, it seemed like the message that was being unearthed adjacent to Black Women was that Black girls must die exhausted at the hand of the perilousness of society. From the continuous violence perpetrated upon Black bodies and the continual lack of dismay of brutality against them, I decided to name this piece just that, as a reminder of how society regards Black Women. Thus, this would begin the process of my sustained investigation.
Society's exclusion of Black women from all facets of womanhood has long turned a blind eye and, for centuries, placed us on the back burner, deeming us insufficient. With this has come a daunting prescription that has been ordered to be taken by society, with the abject of no resistance. In my sustained investigation, I ponder the thoughts of my blackness and how I view it. With this, I juxtaposed my question: What are the ways in which I incite my blackness within the intersecting identities of being Ghanaian-American, identifying as a woman, and how am I regarded in society? Delving in deeper, I pinpointed this inquiry on how society is curated and entrances Black Women in a realm where our growth/maturity has been conceptualized and preyed upon. In highlighting the ways societal pressures and perceptions subjugate Black bodies and ensure Black Women's affliction, the underlying message suggested the varying topics that were built upon in my portfolio, from the adultification and demonization of black women to how we are perceived, or the lack of, in the face of society.
Adjacent to this realization came forth the visual “Tremble.” The long exposure-styled, purply-silver-hued visual is one of the many creations within my portfolio that positions itself under the same realm of “Black Girls Must Die Exhausted.” Having been the first time I ever engaged in self-portraiture, paired with the apprehension of having the camera on myself, knowing I’d be viewed, I recognized how the basis of fear has been instilled by society upon the Black body, call for Black women to be in a standstill of the affliction of how society will view upon them. The tremble of my heart in making “Tremble,” in hindsight, served as the crux of my investigation and pondering commentaries that were brought forth in my portfolio and set the tone for the basis of my inquiry.
In seeing how my thoughts came to fruition, I hold these pieces as significant to things that I care about deeply. Black women and Black bodies should be regarded with respect and love because our existence by default is worthy of space on our accords, free from malevolent entities that build upon their foundations and perceptions in bigotry. The contemporary fine art pictorialism that garners my visuals holds as an objective to these ideologies and, with this, helped create a formidable environment for creativity and truth within this portfolio.
It's an honor to display my artwork as an AP 2-D Art and Design student, and I hope to continue my craft forever.
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Inspiration from Jayne Allen's book, "Black Girls Must Die Exhausted."
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Mind mapping, Materials: Notebook & Pen|Process(es): Mind mapping ideas, topics, and themes relating to my Blackness.
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“Tremble”, Dimensions: 22” x 16”|Materials: Panasonic Lumix GF1, Adobe Ps, Camera Raw Filter, Blending Modes, Color Grading, Gradient Tool|Processes: Manipulated blending modes for overlay effect and shutter speed for long exposure.|Curatorial Note: The figure feeling slightly disfigured by the light has a ghostly effect that is quite powerful.
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The vitality of black women and having to "look up" or "look over" the things that cause affliction.
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Sustained lnvestigation, 14” x 21”|Materials: Panasonic Lumix GF1, Adobe Photoshop, Ta-Nehisi Coates: Between the World and Me.|Process(es): Utilized quotes from Ta-Nehisi Coates BTWM, to juxtapose individuality and centering black excellence.
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Elizabeth Sarpong