Tokie Rome-Taylor “Reclamation”
My work centers children, creolization--a hybridization of African cultural traditions and spiritual practice with those of the new world of the Americas, and the integration of objects as artifacts and conduits of memory. I show how creolization was a means of survival, allowing subversive rebellion and autonomy from those that would otherwise oppress them. The creolization of common western symbolic elements of wealth and status; jewels, lace, velvet, etc. psychologically shifts the internal narrative of the viewer towards elevation, acceptance, expanded perception, and expectation of the subjects.
Created out of necessity, these images use creolization to counter the narrative that people of the African diaspora had all signs of their history, status, spiritual and cultural practices erased when they were brought to the Americas. This portrait based work shifts the visual narrative of Africans in the diaspora while also exploring the spiritual connections that were subverted in plain sight through syncretic rituals.
Subjects are inserted into the past of an alternate reality, creating a narrative where they are ancestors in the present for their heirs to see in the future. These ancestors embody power over destiny, representation, and spirit, influencing the viewer as their descendants.
The children in my works act as the conjurers, welcoming with their innocence and purity, a spirit open to ancestors and a rewriting of their history. Offerings of artifacts were all ritual means of conjuring and connecting to spirit and ancestor, as well as a means of passing on tradition and status in plain sight. I make no attempt to recreate the past, rather to connect to diasporic practice. Through cultural material within the work, such as pearls, lace, cotton, bowls, feathers, old world artifacts of spiritual practice become a new world means to have some control over body, mind in spirit in a hostile new world. Feathers act as foils, for flight and freedom, passed down as factual fable between Africans trapped in the Americas. Mirrors and visual magnifiers are used to look back at the past but to also confront the present and future. The heavy use of pearls, replaces the traditional african beads used to anoint, represent status and wealth. Lacking access in the Americas, the hybridization of European status and wealth have been co-opted in to connect to spirit and ancestral tradition of lavish adornment.
I am connecting to my own personal history as a southern girl, taught nothing of her history. Longing to understand my place as an daughter of the Diaspora, my journey to connecting to home has been guided by me paying attention to energy, signs, and intuition as ancestral guidance to create works that explore race, history, spirit, memory and material culture as a means of connecting to my past. This connection is one the south has not taught its children, so I grew up with a void. The conversations around my artwork strive to explore these rituals, material artifacts as a means of channeling our history.
2020 MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora, SP-Foto SP-Arte, São Paulo, Brazil
2020 WOMEN (UN)SILENCED A Survey of Contemporary Black Artists Gallery 1202, Gilroy, CA
2020 Dalton Gallery, Agnes Scott College Decatur, GA
2020 Artfields, exhibition in Lake City, South Carolina
2020 Juried Exhibition, Masur Museum, Monroe LA, curated by Allison Glenn, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR
2019 New and Emerging Photographers Exhibition, curated by Michi Meko, Atlanta GA
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 Art Of Values- Sinclair Gallery, Atlanta, GA
2018 Photo Buckhead, Atlanta, GA
2018 Future Dead Artists, The Future Gallery, East Point, GA
2018 Our Other Lives, Fulton County Central Library, Atlanta GA
2018 Leading By Example- Zuckerman Museum, Kennesaw, GA
2016 Honoring Morris Brown College Apex Museum, Atlanta GA
2020 Top 50 Critical Mass Photographer
2019 Virginia Twinam Smith Purchase Award
2008 Funds For Teachers, Photography Residency, Sante Fe, NM and San Francisco, CA
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)
Tokie’s exhibition and awards record includes international and national exhibitions; ArtFields 2020 and 2021, SP-Foto in São Paulo, Brazil, top 50 PhotoLucida Critical Mass 2020, WOMEN (UN)SILENCED A Survey of Contemporary Black Artists Gallery 1202, Gilroy, CA, 37 Juried Exhibition, Masur Museum, Monroe LA, Zuckerman Museum of Art GA, Dalton Gallery, Agnes Scott College, “APG- Alan Avery Selects” Atlanta, GA. among others.
Tokie is a Funds for Teachers Fellowship recipient, studying photography in Santa Fe, New Mexico and in San Francisco, California. She is an Honorable Mention recipient for the International Photography Awards (2019) sponsored by the Lucie Foundation. She is a 2019 recipient of the 2019 Virginia Twinam-Smith Purchase Award. Her work is a part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, government public collections, and private collections. Her work was recently added to the Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African American Art.
Additionally, Tokie devotes her time to her 5 children, as well as teaching and inspiring young artists as an arts educator in Atlanta, GA.