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Synonym for Mother

Jazzmin Imani

44” x 69” Charcoal Drawings on Paper

"Narrative Diptych" VISA 0100 Final Assignment



Synonym for Mother seeks to dismantle negative narratives about Black mothers seen in the media and broader social attitudes. Black women are often seen as unfit to be loving and capable mothers, even though during enslavement they were established to be nothing more than vehicles for childbirth. As well as these notions of Black motherhood, there is an inherent politicizing of Black artists’ work. To combine these two themes, I created a piece that focuses on Black mothers as just that—mothers. The woman in the diptych, before (pregnant) and after (with her child), is supposed to be part of an aesthetically beautiful and respectful representation of the beauty in motherhood. The background has ethereal appeal, and the solemn expressions imply regality. However, the piece is designed to put these aesthetic and motherly qualities ahead of her identity as a Black woman. In this way, the piece suggests that “Black mother” should be synonymous with “mother,” rather than its own category that is disrespected by narratives rooted in prejudice. Hence, Synonym for Mother is an apolitical piece that inherently becomes political, almost mocking the question: “Must Black art always be political?”

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© 2019 Jazzmin Imani Cox-Cáceres 

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