Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Girlblue Project: Sara Hart
Can I photograph by Sara Hart
Sara Hart is a talented young photographer based in New York City. Her work addresses issues of identity and race. Read on for an interview with Sara.
What do you love about being a Black woman? What's challenging about it?
Being a black woman makes me feel connected. I feel that being a black woman is a visual representation of the connection I feel I have with the earth/universe, with the women in my family before me, and to history in general. My skin, my hair, my shape, even the food my grandmother feeds me gives me a sense of pride in who I am as part of a people.
The challenge is knowing what it really means to be a black woman and stay connected to my history of my family and culture, and feeling like no matter what I do someone will find fault in that.
Who has been most influential in your life?
The people who have been very influential in my life have been my parents. My father showed me from a young age expression through art. He introduced me to the camera and I eventually took that as my form of expression. I used it to tell my story about how I felt as a woman and about being a black woman. And my mom influenced me by being an amazing, strong, educated black woman. And I still strive to be as amazing as she is. She is my hero.
What's most important to you in life?
It used to be being understood by others...now it is understanding myself.
What inspires you to create art? And what are some of your favorite mediums to work in?
Life inspires me to create. My experience as well as the experiences of others makes me want to pick up a camera and take pictures. Photography is certainly my favorite medium. I feel that for me it is the best way to capture/create and express how I feel.
You did a powerful series of photographs focusing on issues of racial identity within the Black community. What inspired the series? How have people reacted to it?
It started as a series to address how I feel about being biracial. Then it morphed into the perceived tensions between dark and light skin women of my generation.
It is a response to American culture and the categorization of people, particularly black women here in America. The reaction to the series has been very positive. My models are eager to participate and share their stories, and people who view my work are prompted to share or take the time to research the history of categorization. And this is what I wanted to do, make people think just a lil' about their ideas of people.
How have stereotypes about Black women affected you?
Well, given my response to stereotypes in my work I would say it has affected me a lot. I was raised (coming from a mixed family) to not see color as a way to isolate or blame but just as something as simple as the clothes you wear or the way you style your hair. It is the character of the person that really matters. Then as I grew up and was more and more out into the world I saw and felt how I was judged by my skin color, hair, who my parents were. Personally since I am mixed, I was said to not really be black since my dad is white. I was said to be more white since I spoke properly and didn't live in the ghetto. Then if I did or said anything that was seemingly "black" I was told I was trying to be black. I felt that stereotypes of black people and white people were/are attributed to me and for the longest time that confused and hurt me a lot. I felt like I wasn't accepted anywhere.
What are your dreams and aspirations?
I dream about just creating my art and having my voice heard. And not being labeled trivially into "black women's art" but as Sara Hart, the photographer who has something to say. I also aspire to be a mother and to raise my family in love and to love themselves as my mother did.