These are societies, plural. For Gold, 33, that first meant building a community of women. “Then that meant my yoga community, my biblical community, my artistic community, my dance community, my spiritual community,” she said. “That meant building a community that honors every part of me.”
Gould didn’t necessarily set out to find her black community, despite her discovery of a black-owned health center called Urban Sanctuary that became her entry for all others. Also since its gallery seeks to communicate more, Denver does not have a single black community or black identity. “Black in Denver” is a powerful anthology that seeks to illustrate, in images and words, the tremendous diversity of experiences, professions, attitudes, values and skin color that the black diaspora comprises.
The result is a colorful mosaic that is meant to be counted for both individual 90 pieces and as a single unit. She sets each of her photos against a rainbow of warm and vibrant background colors aimed at accentuating each face in its most cheerful, introspective or experienced way. Repeating these background colors aims to convey both the coherence and independence of each image – and the real person whom each one portrays.
And then, the viewer is meant to be surprised not necessarily by the blackness but by the all-out explosion of color. One enhances the spectrum of Black’s experience, as evidenced by the widely varying skin tones of its subjects.
“I wanted to explore the entire color spectrum because blackness is a spectrum,” she said. “That’s why you have all these background colors that go from cold to warm. There are as many types of black as there are colors.”
For the Arvada Center Gallery, which will be free and open to socially hiking through at least December 27th, images will be shown in a variety of groups, sizes, and formats, including video reel. But Gold has carefully chosen nine large sized raw images that will be positioned so that when you stop, you look directly into the person’s eyes. This is also intentional.
Gould said, “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a white person who wouldn’t look at me when he passed by.” “I hope that when you stop and look into these people’s eyes you will see a reflection. Maybe you will see yourself and realize that we are all connected.”
It is perhaps appropriate to point out here that Gold is not a professional photographer. She said that the camera “is just the tool that I have.” However, the brave amateurs embarked on the most challenging of photography ambitions: “capturing a person’s soul through the lens,” as she puts it.
“I had never planned to take the best photo ever,” she said. “I know I am untrained, and lacking in some areas. But this is how I wanted to express myself.”
When viewing the series as a montage, sharp-eyed visitors may be quick to choose Denver Major Michael Hancock, State Representative Leslie Herod or local activist Susie Q Smith. Gold prefers not to look for recognizable faces, but simply extend to the face panorama and notice the unknown dancer, teacher, model, fraudster, RTD bus driver. (And it’s all just one picture topic – a strong gay black man named Antonio tells Gould he’s happy to feel masculine one day and femininity the next.)
Equally important to Gould’s creative process is the interview that accompanies each image: the stories behind the faces. “My creative process is really done through conversation, especially when it comes to capturing someone’s essence through the camera,” she said. “I usually start with a really big question like,“ Tell me about yourself. ”This starts them on a journey of their own. And then I dig into all these pieces that a human being is made of. What does it mean to be you? You have to ask a lot of questions to make the person, apart from everyone else, finally know himself.
One of her subjects is the Denver theater and screen actress Christine Adele, who is irresistibly drawn to Gould’s artistic intentions.
“Narcita’s work is very important because it connects the present moment with the past and the future in a beautiful way,” said Adele. “Denver’s black community has been vibrant for centuries, and Nargita reminds us that we are part of a continuum of vibrant and sophisticated humans who have chosen to make Mile High City their home over the years.”
Basically, Gould asks every topic to answer the question she also poses to herself: What does it mean to be black in Denver? For Herod, it means the power to bring about systemic change. For a dancer, this means being tolerated. For a travel blogger, this means being in-depth. For a Kabbalah student, it means freedom.
When things get tough for Mayor Hancock, he told Gold: “I remind myself that we as a people have seen worse and we have to persevere. I have to persevere through that. And that does not even compare. “
Black in Denver will, of course, be open to everyone. But gold finds meaning in that it will be on display in the turbulent year of 2020 in a predominantly white city like Arvada. She said that the police killing of Mahmoud Arbry, Briona Taylor, and George Floyd initially made her want to quit. Then they solidified their resolve.
“When I set out to create the series, I was never supposed to share who we are,” she says. I was asking myself, ‘Why am I doing this? “But now, after all that happened this year, it’s like, ‘Oh … yeah. This work must be seen here for potential change. ”Gould came to see the possibility that her chain could be an antidote to some of the hostility that blacks face on a daily basis.
“I have some mixed feelings about it,” she said. “But if it could help in any way … if I could inspire people to do some self-investigation … if I could change the narrative about the fact that blacks are not homogeneous … we are so many different things … it helps you know who you are And you love who you are, and believe who you are, I’m here for it. All day long. “
Gold calls itself a woman by many names. “Narikita Gold” is actually a chosen name. Narita for the sake of the family aunt. Gold, appropriately enough, is a color that you find bold, beautiful, strong, and precious. As her spiritual journey culminates with the opening of “Black in Denver,” she says she has grown and recovered. And she learned some of what it means to be black in Denver.
She said, “I have come to know myself more than I ever thought.” “I found myself in this world that I never imagined I would be in. I truly, fully embrace who I am and love it and hope to inspire others to do the same.”
Black in Denver
Portrait exhibition and an interview with Narita Gould
• 19 November – December. 27
Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd.
• Free and open to the public, however reservation is required arvadacenter.org
Guidelines for social distancing and wearing a mask are required.
John Moore has covered the Colorado art scene for 20 years. He is currently the founder of a press content agency called Moore Media. One of his clients is Arvada Center. He is also the founder of the Denver Actors Fund.
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