We’re proud to welcome Brooklyn-based artist Frances Bradley to the Collective. Honoring the charge of art as she shines light on a dark topic and speaks about expression so honest it has life of its own—Frances eloquently tells us about her work, including her current project entitled Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt?. Another humbling feature, undeniably powerful and sincerely purposed.
Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?
FB: I am from Flint, Michigan and I am currently in Brooklyn, NY.
What does Reflection and Response mean to you?
FB: To me reflection means recalling past memories and events and response is simply addressing and reacting to those events.
How does your project Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt? fit in with that definition?
FB: The artwork of Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt? are perfect examples of reflection and response.
Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt? is a 12-piece autobiographical art series that illustrates my experience as a victim and survivor of sexual violence. The series was conceptualized during therapy and each piece is a portrayal of what I was feeling while I was being raped and the experiences that followed. Every piece requires reflection.
Only four out of 12 pieces have been completed, titled Broken, Zip, Unzip and Transformation. The life-size artwork is painted with traditional mediums such as oil on stretched canvas and features collaged poetry taken directly from my therapy journal.
Broken is an illustration of when I was sexually violated. It’s titled Broken because I was a virgin when it happened – thus being physically, mentally and emotionally Broken.
Zip portrays my feelings of isolation and fear of telling someone about being violated due to shame and the potential of being further victimized.
Unzip depicts what happened when I decided to speak up and shows the collective response from my family members.
The last piece of the series, Transformation, portrays the pieces of me that were shed as a direct result of my healing and the new person that has emerged from this experience.
This project is so important because it is my personal response to a traumatic experience and creating it is a part of my healing process. And now, I am using it as a tool to empower other victims who have suffered from similar experiences and who also need to find a way to heal. I truly believe artistic expression is a means to heal and I am working to promote the Art of Healing with Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt?.
What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?
FB: I have experienced so many emotions – including sympathy for Trayvon Martin’s family, sadness, hurt, pain and surprise – following his murder and George Zimmerman’s acquittal. My natural reaction as an artist is to express my emotions through art.
So, I’m currently working on a piece that conveys my feelings about Trayvon’s murder. This piece will actually be a part of a developing mixed media series that addresses social injustices that have been “justified” by America’s “justice system.”
I’ve already created a piece titled, “Oscar Grant” that addresses the murder of Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day in 2009. The first time I watched that murder on YouTube I was moved to tears and, much like Trayvon’s murder, an outpouring of emotion turned into a palate for expression.
The second piece is titled, “Bang-Bang” and was created during last year’s national protest that took place all in the name of Trayvon Martin. It’s a mixed media piece that not only touches on the injustice of Martin’s death, but also illustrates the fatally repetitious acts of racism and devaluation of the lives of melanated people in America.
There is also a commissioned work titled, “I Am A Man” that speaks to the value of the lives of melanated men.
As far as what’s next for me, I plan to tap into the film world and release a few short documentaries that I’ve been working on. So please stay tuned.
Who or what inspires you?
FB: I’m inspired by life, the struggle, politics, history, spirituality, culture and the world. I find inspiration from people of all walks of life. I think living in Brooklyn, New York and being raised in Flint, Michigan has helped me to understand what struggle really is and I’ve witnessed first-hand, poverty on many levels. I’m so inspired by life’s lessons, and it drives me to use my gifts to empower, educate and instill hope and strength.
Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?
FB: I am currently raising $25,000 to complete the Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt? series. The purpose of this work is to create conversations about sexual violence, its impact on victims and to promote healing through the arts. This is my experience but its every victim’s story and it needs to be told through the universal language of art.
I invite the Collective to learn more about the Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt? project by visiting www.womanhoodorwomanshurt.com, contribute to the campaign at www.gofundme.com/womanhoodorwomanshurt and Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/womanhoodorwomanshurt. If you’re interested in viewing my other artwork please visit www.nielahstudios.com. All of my art is available for purchase at www.etsy.com/shop/nielahstudios.
I welcome your thoughts so please feel free to contact me at email@example.com
Shout out to…?
FB: The Lifestyle for being interested in my work and providing me with the opportunity to share it with others. Thanks to all the victims and survivors of sexual violence who have shared their stories with me. This work is for YOU. Special thanks to my creative team, Tanya Jackson (videographer/editor) and LaToya English (public relations representative) for their dedication and for believing in my project enough to have sacrificed long hours to see this project come to fruition. THANK YOU. Thank you to my friends, family and supporters who continue to support my dreams and have contributed to my campaign, and to those who have helped me spread the word. I appreciate all of your positive responses and support. Thank you.
Reflection and Response.