Press PLAY, ladies. We're vibing in this post.
Black culture is undoubtedly at the forefront of what makes up every aspect of American culture. We are magically resilient and fierce conquerors, overcoming obstacle after obstacle and proving triumphant in many of the seemingly insurmountable oppressive systems that are very much in place to this day. And over time, we have discovered that art and creativity are some of the only outlets that we have to capture our unprovoked beauty; or that nuance of derivative pain.
Someone who has taken leadership in expressing that pain through creative avenues is photographer Joshua Kissi, one of the faces and voices behind popular men's lifestyle website, Street Etiquette, which showcases style using a cultural, historical and urban perspective. Recently, Kissi co-founded See in Black, a project initially created to act as a personal network of black photographers. But his vision soon evolved into a full-on movement of industry peers giving their work to contribute to an immediate cause that they all could relate to: being black.
This particular art collective captures the black experience via the lens of 81 trailblazing photographers, through highly-curated original images—and with all proceeds being donated to 5 pioneering organizations, including Know Your Rights Campaign, the Youth Empowerment Project, and more. In an exclusive with The Cut, Kissi shared:
"It started out very touch-to-touch, like 'Hey, how are you doing?' [to fellow photographers] and then, from there, because I'm an empath and was probably suffering from my own depressive episode through all of this, hearing people's stories was really inspiring. What does it even look like for us to be in the same room and empathize and understand each other's individual journeys and our similarities when it comes to the collective journey? What can we do together?"
Thus, the conception of the See in Black exhibit.
From images of contrasts with an expressively colorful young man, to black-and-white profiles of the honorable John Lewis, this virtual phenomenon collectively and brilliantly expresses...us.
"What happens when the white gaze isn't at the center of [our work], but instead we're at the center of it? More truth telling, more storytelling, and to have us not only be the people within the frame in the photo, but also be the ones photographing and telling our stories. 'See in Black' is one of the first ways that we're trying to do the work on accomplishing that. Our goal is replenish those we've been nourished by."
We've decided to share some of our favorite photos available for purchase through this exhibit. So, come on into this art gallery, and take a journey through a virtual exhibit that captures the essence of simply being Black in America.
Vol. 001 Black In America
Featured image via See in Black/Christian Cody