Artist and photographer Emma Uwejoma, creates social identity relevant art work in Brighton. She focuses on her own identity as a a source and creates self portraiture which empowers both gender and race.
Hello Emma, introduce yourself and what you do!
Hi!! My name is Emma Uwejoma and I’m an artist living in Brighton. I graduated from Documentary Photography course at the University of Newport. I’m a freelance photo editor and currently the duty manager at Lighthouse for The Sprawl, during the Brighton festival. My photographic practice focuses on self-portraiture based around African culture and female identity.
What is it about your practice that you find so exciting and keeps you hooked?
What excites me about my personal practice and gives me motive is being a black women in Britain. The stereotypical reality of how you’ve been represented on the media and the television are noticed in your everyday life. Knowing one day I will bring a child into this world. In school where you are not taught about black history or to be proud in our own skin.
Forming ideas from personal stories and being passionate about an idea to set up scenes for shoot excites me. Without these experiences there would be no ideas to be excited for. My practice helps me shape who I am and one day I want my story to help younger generations to relate and be confident enough to celebrate their identities by being who they truly are!
The frustration of my journey, wanting to help younger black girls who are oblivious to not being proud in their own skin. This keeps me hooked.
Identity is the most important to knowing oneself. To be black and proud.
What makes you wake up each morning feeling inspired to make work?
In the everyday being aware that you are a black woman it gives me reason and fuel to work! In the past year I’ve attended black activist events and talks about race around the UK. In particular Sarah Reed, a black woman who died in police custody because she was stereotyped. Having that space to talk about issues of race in a comfortable and understanding environment is such a relief. I didn’t have to decolonise what I said about race and my personal experiences I’m able to ensure that the person wouldn’t feel uncomfortable.
Are there any artists/photographers/writers/filmmakers or musicians where you have in mind when looking at creating new works?
Black male photographers such as Omar Victor Diop, Malick Sidibe and Samuel Fosso previously inspired me. Now musicians such as Beyonce inspire me as she is celebrating and expressing her black womanhood. Especially in Lemonade, full of relative references in a visual album.
What’s next for you?
I’m shooting beginning of next month. My own Emma Uwejoma pop up spray tan experiment with both photography and moving image. I’m going to be whitening myself up in relation to skin lightening creams and stereotypes. The idea originally presented from Sara Bartman being forced on stage to be poked as no one had seen a naked black woman before. “The lighter you are the more likely to be hired”.
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