Tokie Rome-Taylor “Reclamation”
I am a mixed-media, photo based artist. I examine the creolization and hybridization of African cultural traditions, and those brought to the New World through portraiture. My work provides a space for subversive rebellion and cultural autonomy. Found objects act as, and are repurposed as artifacts and conduits of personal and cultural memory. Common Western symbolic elements of wealth and status like jewelry, lace, velvet, etc. are interwoven but repurposed to cause a psychological shift within the pre-existing internal narrative of the viewer. The work inverts perception and expectation. I am driven to challenge the narrative that descendants of the Diaspora are only resigned to distorted histories of subjugation, suffering and second-class humanity. Despite having most signs of their history, status, spiritual and cultural practices erased when they were brought to the Americas, Africans in America endured. My offering to our collective history is to explore the spiritual connections, the imagined status, and the dreamed humanity that was denied us but that we kept alive - in plain sight.
Offerings of artifacts were part of ritual means when conjuring and connecting to the spirit and ancestral world. Artifacts are also means of establishing and passing on traditions and status to the next generation. As artifacts, they are used in my work to create a kind of factual fiction. My art is the mirror being used to capture and reflect back the soul of my culture as society, and within the larger society where we exist but are very often not seen. Mirrors and visual magnifiers are used to look back at the past and to also confront the present and future. Embedded cultural materials such as pearls, lace, cotton, bowls, feathers, along with old world artifacts of spiritual practice become a New World means to have some control over the elevation of the Black body, mind and spirit. Feathers in my work for example, are foils for flight and metaphors for intelligence and freedom. The heavy use of pearls, replaces the traditional african cowrie beads used as currency and to anoint status and wealth. European status and wealth are being used literally and symbolically to revisit cultural and ancestral traditions of lavish adornment.
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.
2020 Lyndon House Arts Center, Athens GA
2021 Stella Jones Gallery, New Orleans
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 (Rome) Taylor Artist Biography Tokie (Rome) Taylor is a native and resident in the suburbs of Atlanta,GA. She received her BA in Arts Education with a focus on Photography and Drawing from Morris Brown College, In Atlanta and a M.Ed, and Ed.S from Lesley University. Tokie's work explores themes of time, spirituality, and identity. She often integrates found objects as artifacts and conduits of memory.
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.