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Aisha Jemila Daniels

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Aisha Jemila Daniels

"My now seven year old niece Aziza, who was then four years old told me the most disturbing thing. She said that she didn't like her hair, which was an afro, and wanted to have hair like Cinderella. I believe the cartoons are teaching black children white supremacy. There aren't many good images of black people in the media, which I aim to change. Through my project Afrikans I want to show more positive images of us. For the black youth especially, I will photograph us in our traditional clothing, confident and proud in efforts to stress the vitality of self-love, culture and identity to them."

"My name is Aisha Jemila Daniels and I’m a visual artist from Miami, Florida going into my final year at Howard University, where I am studying Fine Art Photography.My first award was given to me back in 2013 by Scholastic, I received their Gold Key award for my ceramic work and was given an exhibition in the Miami Art Museum. During the same year I received my first photographic award, an Honorable Mention award from the Young Arts Foundation. Later in 2015, I received my first award for my project Afrikans, the Shutterstock Award from Worldstudio AIGA. In 2016, I honored with the Creative Conscience Award from London, United Kingdom for Afrikans. The award is given to projects that bring social impairments to light through artistic mediums in hopes to rectify them."


"While studying in the United Arab Emirates, I was fortunate to intern at Art Dubai, which is a leading international art fair for the Middle East, other parts of Asia, and Africa. Also, I received the Student Photographer of the Year Award by Martin Grahame-Dunn, one of the leading professional photography trainers of the United Kingdom. He was a judge for Photography Live Dubai, which is an international photography & videography event that serves the Middle East and North Africa. Very recently, I was fortunate to have an article written on my Afrikans by Gulf Photo Plus, which is a well-known photography center of the Middle East.My mother’s best friend, Toye - may she rest in peace - was a gelatin silver photographer. She photographed Black people on her travels as an AIDS /HIV doctor. Her impressionable photographs are remarkable in that they capture Black people in their most natural settings. Her lovely photographs inspired me to take my first photography class at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, FL back in 2008. Once Toye died, I decided to enter a fine arts program at Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High. My years at Krop resulted in my aspiration to prepare for and become a professional photographer."


"Besides Toye’s influence, inspiration also comes from Seydou Keita. He was a Malian photographer, a portraiture master, from the 1940s to ‘60s. He documented the people of Mali so beautifully, showing them as people who take pride in their appearance and are regal. I wanted to take his project further and document the authentic beauty of Afrikans throughout the continent and in her diaspora. That’s when I created Afrikans, which is an extensive photographic documentation of black people on the Afrikan continent and transplanted blacks throughout her diaspora. The purpose of the project is to unify us one people through revealing to us our aesthetic and cultural similarities, along with restoring the authentic and regal Afrikan image in retaliation to white supremacy in the media. My now seven year old niece Aziza, who was then four years old told me the most disturbing thing. She said that she didn't like her hair, which was an afro, and wanted to have hair like Cinderella. I believe the cartoons are teaching black children white supremacy. There aren't many good images of black people in the media, which I aim to change. Through my project Afrikans I want to show more positive images of us. For the black youth especially, I will photograph us in our traditional clothing, confident and proud in efforts to stress the vitality of self-love, culture and identity to them. I made a vow to myself three years ago to no longer purchase western clothing and put my money towards black clothing may it be on the Afrikan continent or her diaspora. Today most of my clothing is Afrikan—when little girls see me, they see how proud I am, how important my Afrikan roots are to me and they begin to rethink themselves. They get inspired by me and want to do the same. They grow eager to educate themselves on our people, they grow thirsty for knowledge and curious about the riches of Afrika. Others that inspire my work are Kehinde Wiley, Lorna Simpson, Frida Kahlo and Malick Sidibe."

"From years of working on my photography project Afrikans I decided to work on more personal work, realizing that I too am a great subject. I began with a body work entitled Acceptance which focuses on my internal being, allowing self-revelation, which permits an understanding of my own reality, giving me options of ways to move forward.My initial training in photography was in silver gelatin process, which I love tremendously and I believe is a great foundation for photographers. A lot of my work is in gelatin silver, but I grew to appreciate the digital process, and working in color and not just black and white. I still incorporate a feature that one gets in the darkroom in my digital photographs. The full-frame negative carriers that create a black border around the actual picture, I still use that. I scan a print and crop out the border around the picture via Adobe Photoshop and incorporate it in the my digital photographs. A photograph isn't complete without it and that's what it means to me: completion."


"Furthermore, I love black people, I love to capturing us in our traditional clothing with a profound sense of identity and culture. Since I progressed into photographing myself, there's still those vital element of self-discovery, identity and culture. Not only do great artist inspire my work, but my experiences, I document how I'm effected by my surroundings, and feelings, bad and good-- they all play a great part in the building of my work. Much of my photographs began as a drawing or painting which I then decide to create into a photograph."


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