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Malayah by Delita Martin, 2021
Lithography with collagraphy and hand stitching | 29” x 41 ½” | Edition of 20
NB: Due to the hand stitching process, there are occasional soft creases in the paper most evident in raking light. They are considered acceptable and welcome by the artist as an intrinsic part of their creation.
Keepsakes is a series of prints that look beyond the surface of objects at the memories they hold. Their purpose is to preserve the childhood of young Black girls and act as mementos of innocence. In this way, Keepsakes is a direct act against “adultification”, a perspective where adults view Black girls as less than innocent and more adult-like, ripping away their innocence and replacing it with labels such as “disruptive”, “loud” or “manipulative”. These labels often result in their mistreatment.
This series shows portraits of little Black girls peering from the folds of vintage christening gowns. Such gowns, typically a shade of white symbolize innocence and purity in the Christian doctrine that teaches all men were created blameless and free of sin. However the dresses in these works are slightly yellowed signifying the passage of time and suggesting that perhaps such notions are not equally applied.
Personal objects have long been a reflection of memory, personal and cultural identity. The dresses in this series act as repositories for both memory and identity.