I am a photographer, interested in ethnography, identity and representation. My multimedia practice is grounded in the understanding that one’s self perception and sense of belonging in a society begins in childhood. Children are the subjects I use to speak of a sense of belonging. These images of Black and brown children re-examine history and tradition, through photographic portraits that counter the propaganda of inaccurate stereotypical, subjugated, and inferior historical depiction of people of color. They represent a visual elevation that had been omitted from mainstream "western history".
The Canon R5 digital camera is both my method of creating raw material, the photograph itself, and my method of creating frozen moments in imagined historical time. In the studio, I compose the photograph to capture layering of person, textures, and objects. I am currently working on a body of work that integrates the sitter’s family heirloom, and its symbolic meaning to the family. By centering this heirloom the imagined histories and the real histories of these children's families collide to parallel the material wealth of the past with the more obscure wealth of the present.
The photographs are created with children exhibiting wisdom and self-awareness beyond their visible years, conjuring notions of passed down ancestral knowledge. I incorporate found items that contain a history of people in the past, that are domestic, and somewhat nostalgic. Family heirlooms of the sitters are also incorporated, adding their historical meaning and value to the images. The objects are literal family heirlooms or selected items by me that are reminiscent of them, evoking familial connections and the memory. The sitter, in combination with the objects, creates a dialogue regarding their dynamics in history. The use of fabrics and rich materials, as well as the layered directional lighting are inspired by renaissance paintings, who historically did not depict people of color. If they were included, they were typical only as background elements within the works. In this way, I continue to combat the erasure and omission of black bodies,framing them in a position of elevation. After creating the images in camera, they are further manipulated digitally. I use multiple layers, painting in light and shadow, as well as color grading, to create a painterly image. Further manipulation may come in the form of archival images digitally collaged within the piece, using the image as a digital negative for cyanotype or as the base image for physical manipulation via embroidery, beading, gold leafing on vellum or encaustic. The use of beading, embroidery, gold leafing, and wax are all inspired by the materials used in creation and adornment of clothing within traditional West African culture. I explore mediums and layering in order to grant myself freedom from the expectation of how a photograph should ultimately exist.
Questions that stem from ethnographic and historical research that probe material, spiritual, and familial culture of ancestral descents of southern slaves are entry points for me to build symbolic elements that communicate a visual language within my work. My work positions black bodies in a space that leans into the past, reaching back to address the erasure of worth in how black bodies are perceived and represented. These traditions that we were able to preserve- such as the passing down of objects, making offerings to ancestors, and the use of material objects as spiritual devices, allow the resurrection of power and autonomy once denied. My work stands in direct defiance of that erasure. Denied access to traditional materials and practice in the Americas, a creolization of symbolic elements of European status and wealth have been utilized to visually connect to ancestral practice of adornment and spirituality. I make no attempt to recreate the past, rather to create images that combine elevation and connection to diasporic practice. They stand strong, weaving together adopted western trappings of wealth and status with symbolic representations of their cultural, historical, and spiritual connections.
2021 Dalton Gallery, Agnes Scott College Decatur, GA
2021 Marietta Cobb Museum of Georgia
2021 Lyndon House Arts Center, Athens GA
2021 Stella Jones Gallery, New Orleans
2020 Gallery 1202, Gilroy, CA
2020 Dalton Gallery, Agnes Scott College Decatur, GA
2020 Artfields, exhibition in Lake City, South Carolina
2020 Masur Museum, Monroe LA, curated by Allison Glenn, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art,
2019 “The Function of Freedom” A Dedication to Toni Morrision, Auburn Ave. Research Library, Atlanta GA
2019 APG Hartsfield Jackson International Airport Exhibition,Atlanta GA
2019 The Highrise Show, Atlanta GA
2019 Exhibition: Remembrances Beyond the Veil- Auburn Avenue Research Library on African Culture and History, Atlanta GA
2019 Sinclair Gallery, Atlanta, GA
2018 Photo Buckhead, Atlanta, GA
2018 Zuckerman Museum, Kennesaw, GA
2016 Honoring Morris Brown College Apex Museum, Atlanta GA
2021 Arthur Griffin Legacy Award- Griffin Museum
2020 Top 50 Critical Mass
2019 Virginia Twinam Smith Purchase Award
2008 Funds For Teachers, Photography Residency, Sante Fe, NM and San Francisco, CA
2021 "An Offering" Griffin Museum of Photography
2020 "Our Value> Cotton and Gold" & "Grandmother's Bowl" acquired by The Petrucci Family Foundation
2019 "Our Generation" acquisition of Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia
2019 "A Story Unfolds" acquisition of the Fulton County Arts Council
Art-diction Magazine September 2019 Issue
Behind the Shutter Magazine, June 2019 Issue
1995- Book- "The Many Faces of Auburn Avenue", George Mitchell and the Students of Grady High School (Spread of Coretta Scott King)
Atlanta, Ga. based artist, Tokie Rome-Taylor, explores themes of time, spirituality, visibility and identity through the medium of photography. Portraiture, set design, and objects all are a part of Tokie’s photographic practice. She uses digital photography as her foundational medium, while also exploring cyanotype, and embroidery as a means to explore the layered complex relationship African Americans in the diaspora have with the western world.
Rome-Taylor’s series, “Reclamation”, was selected for PhotoLucida Critical Mass top 50. Her work has been featured in What Will You Remember and Feature Shoot Magazine. Additionally, Tokie is a Funds for Teachers Fellowship recipient, studying photography in Santa Fe, New Mexico and in San Francisco, California. Rome-Taylor’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Her work has been a part of exhibitions at The Griffin Museum of Photography, Marietta Cobb Museum of Art, Stella Jones Gallery, SP-Foto SP-Arte Fair, São Paulo, Brazil, Gallery 1202, the Masur Museum, Zuckerman Museum of Art Lyndon House Art Center and the Dalton Gallery, Agnes Scott College, among others. She is a recipient of the Virginia Twinam Smith Purchase Award, adding her work to the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia as well as the Legacy Award, bestowed by the Griffin Museum of Photography. Her work is held in multiple public and private collections and was recently acquired by the Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African American Art.
Rome-Taylor is a 20+ year veteran educator and working artist. She is open to opportunities that relate to artist talks, visiting institutions, residencies and workshops.