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Perla Mabel


Black woman. Baad woman.

Wear your bigness on your chest like a badge

cause you done earned it.

Strong woman. Amazon.

Wear your scars like jewelry

cause they were bought with blood.

Excerpt from Rhinoceros Woman by Assata Shakur

My work integrates images of Black folks in my community with visual representations of Black archetypes from historical photographs, literature, and film. The work reclaims and seeks to empower Black folks by weaving the past and present in order to acknowledge that our next moment is our future which has the power to hold all realities. Encouraging others to look inward and question the ways in which we are seen, portrayed and to understand and reclaim those processes and methods in order to practice radical self love and reimagine our society and the world around us. I use portraiture and practices passed down through my family as a way to connect and celebrate people who have been marginalized throughout history and today. The Rhinoceros Armor series is a multi-part project of a collection of portraits and armor. The embedded narratives become the patterns and visuals that illuminate and recontextualize the way all of our experiences correlate and inform one another. Just as Shakur celebrates Eva in Rhinoceros Woman, the paintings and armor perform similar sentiments. “I saw your light and it was shining,” Shakur repeats, articulating a commitment to see your sisters win and shine alongside you. The constant policing of Black folks has created a need for us to protect and shield ourselves from society. I do not want us to hide, but embrace and celebrate who we are. These works challenge the notions and expectations that have been forced on us, and focus instead on the roles we choose to play and how we take up spaces. Portraiture and adornment are means of reclaiming our narratives and identities. The process and practice of creation is spiritual and acts as a ritual for both me and the subject to engage with their identity and create from it as an act of self love and resistance. The same narratives and stories that for so long have been dismissed are now works of art that act as a talisman of protection and reminders of our truths.


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Communal Medicine: Tending Abundance curated by Juan Omar Rodriguez
Gina Goico • Perla Mabel • Rixy
September 2 - October 2, 2022