Intoxicated by Self

Greetings, fam! I'm pleased to show you some artwork from Texas-to-NYC transplant Dawn Okoro, from her aptly (and cleverly) titled Selfsploitation Project.
This series drawings seeks to address the psychology, history, and consequences of sending sexually suggestive photos of one's self by cellphone or posting them on social websites Long-time GhettoManga readers may already know that I'm a big fan of Dawn's work, because she puts black women in the spotlight, and without being pretentious or boring, knows how to show them in a light that they want to be seen in.
The funny thing about this new thought-provoking series is that it manages to do the same thing, whether viewers want to admit it or not. In the excellent essay Dawn has written accompanying the project, she explains how she came to start Selfsploitation, and her apprehensions about doing it, since she thought some of her fan/patron reaction might be negative.
I agree with that prediction 100%... The post-feminist concern about the objectification of women leads to lots of knee-jerk reactions to art... for some people, there is just no good reason to show nudity (or even partial nudity), and that's all there is to it. nudity = porn = exploitation = bad, bad, bad. I've experienced that backlash to my own work, and Dawn shows forethought to expect it here. Because her previous work could be seen as celebratory of women (and specifically black women), I'm sure there are people with that point of view numbered among her patrons, followers, and fans. Once an artist is identified as 'positive', 'conscious', or whatever... what started as a compliment can easily become a box that the artist can step out of only at his/her own peril...
But EFF you AND your box! Being an artist is about (among other things) taking risks, especially to advance important ideas. The quality of Dawn's work ought to AT LEAST get her the benefit of the doubt, right? And the totality of what she's saying with Selfsploitation is worthy of exploration. A close examination ought to satisfy at least those critics who liked her previous work that she isn't trying to bring her sisters down, or whatever...  Anyways, do yourself a favor and click here to head over to Dawn's newly reorganized and relaunched website and get familiar with Selfsploitation and her entire body of work!

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