Tokie Rome-Taylor

Tokie Rome-Taylor

Atlanta-based artist Tokie Rome-Taylor examines themes of time, spirituality, visibility and identity through photography, cyanotype and embroidery. Tokie explores self-perception and the sense of belonging as it begins in childhood through constructed portraits of proud Black and Brown children dressed in fine fabrics and jewelry, and depicted with family heirlooms and historical objects.  Tokie’s perception of self and belonging as a youth were formed by experiences with textbooks, media and institutions that contained representative images of people of color that were subjugated and consistently placed in inferior roles. “I can remember going to museums as a child and not feeling any connection to the faces that peered back at me, because they bore no resemblance to me. As a child of the south, a daughter of the diaspora, I am rooted in a place that taught me a slanted view of African Americans in history - one that has focused on a literal and visual erasure of empowered Black bodies,” says Tokie.

Tokie creates photography-based works that deliberately counter the stereotypical narratives in Black representation and their erasure within history. Questions that stem from ethnographic and historical research that probe material, spiritual, and familial culture of ancestral descents of southern slaves are entry points used to build symbolic elements that communicate a visual language within her work. She positions Black bodies in spaces that lean into the past, reaching back to address the erasure of worth in how Black bodies are perceived and represented. 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. Rich fabrics, historical objects and layered directional lighting are inspired by Renaissance paintings that historically did not depict people of color. The use of beading, embroidery, gold leafing and wax are inspired by the materials used in creation and adornment of clothing within traditional West African culture. Through these elements, each sitter’s beauty and worth are translated, conveying an elevation of the Black body. Tokie hopes that through her work that her children and those that come after will perceive their place in society through a lens of belonging and equality.

She is a
Funds for Teachers Fellowship recipient, studying photography in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and in San Francisco, California. Her work has been a part of many national and international exhibitions, including at the Griffin Museum of Photography, Marietta Cobb Museum of Art, SP-Foto SP-Arte Fair, São Paulo, Brazil, Masur Museum, Zuckerman Museum of Art, Lyndon House Art Center, Agnes Scott College, amongst 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. Tokie Rome-Taylor an educator and working artist.


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