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Artist Statement

I create works that provide social commentary centered around how history and race relate to the power of the black body. My work unites symbolic historical imagery and ideas found within the Euro-American canon to the dynamism, or lack thereof, associated with the black body in modern times. I aim to combat false narratives and explore new ones by deciphering the dehumanizing historical representations of black people while simultaneously emphasizing symbols of pride found in today's Black American culture.

My oil paintings highlight associations of social value by engaging a medium from which black women have largely been excluded as makers and in which they are even more infrequently found as subjects. The large-scale realistic paintings deny the expectations of submission, anonymity, and invisibility typically associated with this group of women. The bold, isolated figures convey a sense of exposure or vulnerability through their bare skin, like that historically found in reclining nudes, which is ultimately defied by the lack of frailty in the figures' direct gazes. These paintings deploy symbolism like that found in both the social representations of baroque paintings and the still-life paintings of the Dutch golden age. By limiting distractions, these images enable the viewer to focus more intently on what is presented.

My sculpture combines the controlling imagery of the mammy, the prideful patterns of African mud cloths, image-transforming black women, and the elaborate delivery of modern drag/ballroom culture.

Instagram: @marlamcleodart

Website: marlamcleod.com

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Artwork by Marla McLeod - Anonymous Woman Diptych
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Oil on canvas, Textile. 2020.
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Artwork by Marla McLeod - Aquila Yannic Diptych
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Oil on canvas, Textile. 2020.
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Artwork by Marla McLeod - Adriah Forest Diptych
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Oil on canvas, Textile. 2020.
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Artwork by Marla McLeod - Erica Ancrum Diptych
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Oil on canvas, Textile. 2020.
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Artwork by Marla McLeod - LaKisha Langley Diptych
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Oil on canvas, Textile. 2020.
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Artwork by Marla McLeod - Perla Mabel Diptych
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Oil on canvas, Textile. 2020.