In the year and a half since finishing her MFA at Yale, 26-year-old Self has garnered a wide audience for her dynamic representations of the black female body. In addition to solo shows at galleries in New York, Berlin, Naples, and L.A., she’s participated in nearly 30 group exhibitions (among them, showings at the Studio Museum in Harlem and Mark Bradford’s Art + Practice). While foregrounding the way we perceive black female bodies within contemporary culture, Self draws on personal experiences to address issues pertaining to race, sex, and gender.
Self has become best known for canvases sewn with textiles—from denim pockets to fabrics printed with cheetah spots or sunflowers—and filled with vibrant colors (yellows, pinks, turquoise). They picture strong female protagonists who exude power and command the viewer’s attention. In recent works, she furthers these narratives through depictions of couples entwined in sexual acts, which see women in positions of dominance. “Self has that rare and remarkable ability to hit the desired balance between understanding of her subjects, her own spontaneous and confident handling of them, as well as her use of unexpected technique and materials,” says Ziba Ardalan, founder of London’s Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art, where Self kicks off 2017 with a solo show.
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