Black, Queer, and Trans: Photographer Felicita Felli Maynard and the Trauma of Underrepresentation
“Mojuba: an expansive memory refusing to be housed in any single place, bound by limits of time, enclosed within the outlines of a map, encased in the physicality of body, or imprisoned as exhibit in a museum,” writes Afro-Caribbean writer, teacher, and activist M. Jacqui Alexander. This quote lives at the top of Felicita Felli Maynard’s artist statement as the guiding force behind their work.
New York-based artist and activist Maynard’s series Studies on a Fluid Body includes collodion wet-plate photographs, ambrotypes, and tintypes that represent Black, queer, and trans bodies, subjects historically excluded from Eurocentric mainstream media. “From a young age, I was taught a colonialist history that centers on the voices of white, heterosexual men, which is damaging to people who look like myself,” Maynard writes. “Not having representation in the mainstream media, historical narratives, or even within a whole culture creates trauma,” they continue.
Reminiscent of archival footage, Studies of a Fluid Body proudly plants a flag in dehydrated soil, staking a claim for widespread Black, queer, and trans representation. The use of the wet-collodion process—an early photographic process invented in 1851—helps to reimagine the historical visual representation of Black bodies. “I focus on retelling stories that challenge misrepresented histories of people from the African Diaspora, the beauty of the Black body, and investigating [my] own identity as a first-generation Afro-Latinx-American queer.”
In response to the many microaggressions Maynard experiences in gallery and museum settings—both as a member of the staff and an exhibiting artist—they co-created Support Black Art, a digital platform that creates visibility and support for Black artists, collectives, curators, museums, and galleries. “We endeavor to create an interactive digital space that also operates in the physical,” the website reads. “An action that is simultaneously an archival and experiential sharing of the Black art experience.”
All photos published with permission of the artist.
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