Location: New Haven, Connecticut, United States
Arielle Gray is a photographer from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and a recent graduate of the
School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Alabama. For the last year, she has taken
time to reflect on her creative process and reassess her intentions and purpose behind her work.
The Black Lives Matter protests that took place during the summer of 2020 were a heavy
influence that further shifted her perspective of the world around her. The events surrounding the
protests, and the events that took place during this time left a lasting effect that affirmed not only
her ideologies about race and society but her idea that the world we live in needs to see more
visual work made by Black people, for Black people.
Currently, she is creating portraits that explore themes of the shared Black experience, she is exploring themes of building an identity in a southern landscape as a Black person that is both communal and an exploration of selfhood. Gray is expanding her reach into the northeastern region of the world while she is obtaining her masters. Overall, she is looking to dive deeper into narratives of the Black female experience and Blackness as it pertains to afro-surrealism.
With this work, Gray has been able to build the start to an ongoing, seemingly lifelong project. She is looking to negotiate the rest of the nation’s perception of Blackness in the south but also what it means to be a Black woman in the south and how that relates to her sense of self and her community. While creating these portraits, she is also looking to create a written component of this project through mediums such as poetry and narrative essays. While this is still a work in progress, Gray has resolved that the Black experience is ineffable in its nature. It is unspeakably beautiful, yet there is tragedy still riddled in its being. With her work, she will expand on the narratives that have come before it and break new ground.