Town of Talkers, 2019. Hemet, Ca
Order, 2019. Hemet, Ca
The Negro Speaks of Rivers, 2019. Hemet, Ca
The Diasporas Pain Sags, 2019. Hemet, Ca
Freaked it, 2019. Hemet, Ca
My name is Mariah Green and I live in the Inland Empire of California. My mediums are acrylic, oil, watercolor, paper, and fabrics. My work expresses the state of the deferred African American dream. My identity and my art fight against the state of being deferred at every turn in the Eurocentric dominated art world. I translate my life experiences, of being a young black women, through the beautiful textures and objects relating to the African diaspora. I advocate for people of color to have their work be seen as valid and not looked at as “exotic” or otherized. I aim to change the art world as a gateway towards institutional and social change for African American dreamers.
Can you describe yourself or your personal identity with a five-word story? Why did you choose those words?
The Invisible Black Feminist
I chose these words based around the book Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. That book is based around the life of a black man who is invisible to society. I thought to myself that if the black man is that invisible to white people, how much more invisible and unseen is the black woman, me, in America.
How does this series, as a whole, or each piece individually, represent the idea, embody, or visualize the essence of identity for you?
All of my art gives visual to two essences that make my identity what it is.
One is the different stages of being otherized artistically, socially, and institutionally. When trying to express my individuality it soon meets barriers. Barriers that have affected me personally are institutions of education and art galleries. Both of these places have outwardly expressed how I am not good enough to succeed in their spaces. These barriers are places dominated by those who would rather capitalize off of my pains than to see me and my art as valid.
The other stage is the fight against conforming and assimilating to the white dominated roadblocks people of color face. If I were to do as told and create what is appealing to the white gaze I would feel no sense of self. My blackness and how me and my art go around these roadblocks is how I avoid assimilation. I do art to shed light on my life and my story because it adds to the bigger narrative of black life in America. A "My black is black enough" self expressed narrative.
It is far more important to have marginalized and otherized folks know they are valid enough to take a stand against those barriers socially and institutionally by simply telling your story.
In what ways do you think your identity has been shaped by mass media and society?
Media makes people think that blackness is acted out one way and neglects the actualization of all black folks. Within the black community people often think my black is not "black enough". Mass media gives false imagery of black woman and when people play into that they assume their biases onto you. Because of media society assumes black women are loud, hyper sexual, and care takers. I am definitely none of those things but have gotten assumed to be all three of those false accusations. People even go so far as to get offended when I do not act out the medias
roles for black women.
Why do you create?
Creating is how I stay away from depression. It is proactive way for me to express myself and engage in activism.
Who do you create for?
I create for myself first because it is how I communicate with myself. I know my story and my truths before anyone else . I decide how my story will be told and created.
How has your locale informed your identity?
I live in Hemet and it is a small city that most people have not been or heard of. Hemet lacks resources a lot of creatives need and does not provide livable wage jobs. As much as I do not enjoy living here it shaped me to be persistent and has me challenging the notions of what prestige art truly is.
Have you been able to find or create a physical community where you live?
I am fortunate to belong to a program through my local community college in Riverside California called The UMOJA Program. The program is catered towards African American students and provide many resources and personal/ academic counseling. They have a Artist Showcase every Black History Month and this was the first platform I had as an artist to showcase my art. I am highly thankful for this program.
How has the Internet expanded or changed your idea of and involvement in community exchanges?
The internet has gave me the platform as an artist and gave me the tools to make a website. It exposes to me to a lot of artist and their art which inspires me. I try to use the internet mostly to obtain inspiration.