Land of the Free by Miranda Barnes
“I learned quickly that I was a minority in this very white, male driven art world, even America’s most diverse city (NYC)! And that can be challenging. That’s why I feel the need to highlight people of color in my work. My style might change, but I know it’s important to always keep that as the focus.”
“Land of the Free is an on-going project I started back in 2014. The project itself was a reaction to the murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson that past summer. Growing up in New York, I knew about police brutality, but I didn’t understand the magnitude till the rise of social media. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, especially, has changed the way we view and are talking about the police force in America.”
“The inequality that exists in the art world is a reflection on what exists in society. I just read an inspiring interview with the legendary Carrie Mae Weems on Lenny Letter. She talked about a Georgia O’Keeffe painting, the most for a piece by any woman, went for $44 million and the highest paid price for a male artist went for $178 million. But until recently, the highest paid price for a black artist was $300,00-$400,000. I believe that there was been more awareness about black and brown representation in art and it’s lead to more opportunities for artists of color to receive exposure, but numbers don’t lie and a disparity is still happening.”
“I refer back to photo books of Dorothea Lange, Eli Reed, and Robert Frank’s work for inspiration. Photo books are a great tool in seeing where you want your work to go. Those three photographers all documented the unseen America and were able to photograph subliminal (and sometimes not) messages of social issues in America. I attend a college for criminal justice and find myself constantly connecting art and justice together.”
“I think growing up, many (especially in Caribbean culture) black children are told by their family that they can’t be artists. We aren’t supposed to be “creative”, that nothing comes out of it. I was fortunate to have the complete opposite with my parents, but I know many fellow West Indian peers that have experienced this. I hope with more awareness of representation, also brings up the discussion of being creative and black, especially with young black women.“
Thanks for reading this interview with American photographer Miranda Barnes.
Originally published on Art Narratives