"You Are Me" [art]

{photos by Toyin Odutola}

I've been following the work of illustrator Toyin Odutola (whom we featured here before) for a while now and I've been absolutely fascinated by her progress as a visual artist. Her writings about her own work have actually been an inspiration for my own artistic practice and her blog serves as a rich resource on the latest in contemporary art as well as its context in art history.

"You Are Me" is a project Odutola has been working on as an MFA candidate at the California College for the Arts. It incorporates illustration, text, and video art. She describes it in her own words as such:

"My plan is to have a linear presentation of these portraits (which I have explored in exhibitions before, not too long ago). They are intentionally portraits of classmates (and others as this series expands) who are or aren’t necessarily Black. The idea is to transplant my skin along with my experience with said skin onto them. A string of these will be mounted, all side by side. The objective, at least I hope it is at this point, is to break down this infernal idea of the blackness as subject at get at the subject himself/herself. What is this subject doing? How do they seem to be feeling? What is really driving the portrait? By distracting them with this idea of what they think blackness is they miss the intention, which is to portray a self, a person, underneath it all -- NOT A CONCEPT. The blackness informs the portrayal -- that goes without saying -- but the person, the individual being portrayed, should not be overtaken by it (as so many Black individuals are in reality, daily)..."

(Emphases mine.)

Odutola is working with so many different concepts -- race, identity, the specific history of race relations in America, the legacy of that history, how skin informs our day-to-day experiences -- that aren't talked about in too many spaces, the nebulous art world included. I'm glad she's tackling this issues in such an engaging way and looking forward to seeing how she continues to push these ideas and concepts. Be sure to read her blog, which she updates frequently with useful information, thoughts, and her works in progress, at tobia.tumblr.com.