Tag Archives: emerging artists

Reiterating the Erotic

by Carla Aaron-Lopez


the great protector


Carla Aaron-Lopez writes regularly for Creative Thresholds about the experience of being an emerging artist. Her previous posts are: “Notes from kingCARLA,” “Notes from kingCARLA 2,” “Notes from kingCARLA 3,” and “That Moment When Artists Snap.” “Reiterating the Erotic” is a lecture she gave recently in Atlanta, GA for a Feminist Symposium called “A Bad Question: An Exhibition and Forum on Race + Feminism.”


The devil came wearing white today. And for the next few minutes, I want you to explore what you really think it means to be a feminist. I don’t burn bras. Men are not my enemy. I don’t have Sex and the City moments with my homegirls and I definitely don’t give a fuck about Susan B. Anthony and the suffragette movement. That’s somebody else’s history.

I am the villain who came to make you reconsider sexuality and sensuality using feminism and post-structuralism as my foundation.

Years ago, I wasn’t very moved by those I met that called themselves feminists. Either they were too contradictory, too hypocritical or too radical for my preferences.

Therefore, let me begin this conversation with the year 2012, when it fully clicked that I was going to be a mother to a son. When that realization finally hit home, I knew that everything I had been told, taught and programmed to believe was a beautiful yet hideously disgusting lie.

I truly believe that we live so far removed from truth that I began seeking a new story to tell, a new lie to believe. After my search, I was left with nothing fulfilling and I went into a sort of psychological hiding.

Hiding my thoughts, my fears, hiding who I really wanted to be.

I wanted to walk away from everyone and everything. I began wishing that stereotypes weren’t real because I was planning my great escape from this perceived reality. It was time for me to find a new hero. One that I could relate to in my dark, twisted and morbid little universe. But even that request didn’t hit on what I truly needed.

Ever since I was a little girl, the story of the damsel in distress has been shared again and again. The princess was always so sweet, so soft and so vulnerable that she constantly needed to be saved by a young prince. Growing up black, I also got sold that I needed Jesus to save me from myself and from the sins of the world. Yet another white man who needed to come save my ass.

As I became a young adult, magazines, music and movies told me that I needed to be saved still but in different and daunting ways. If I wear these clothes, he will be attracted to me. If I were this make-up, I will be cute for spring and winter. If I’m like this or that in bed, then I will drive him crazy.

To be honest, I’m still wading through the mess of my life but I’m here now. And to be even more honest, the power of motherhood and exploring the erotic has changed how I see and interact with everything around me. Our collective journey begins with that statement.

I began looking at myself differently from that point. I realized that nothing I learned was going to help the new journey that was unfolding before me. There was no man or woman who would be able to help me in the way that I needed. I could follow a classic framework knowing that I would be more broken on the inside than ever before. Some women aren’t meant to settle down but instead are meant to pierce the taut fabrics that make up your individual perception.

You will not find me in a church. You will not find me in a book club. You will not even find me at a Beyonce concert.

When the feeling came, that moment of clarity, I was standing in my room. The beginnings of my downfall from reality started right there.
And it was glorious.

It wasn’t late into the night but it was winter and it was definitely dark outside. I like the dark. I found myself in my favorite place at that moment. Sinking deep into my thoughts which is similar to navigating through a large warmed vat of thick, luscious, viscous Vaseline. It’s just as comforting as sunny Southern skies with lingering humidity in the air.

I knew this feeling very well and I automatically felt what it wanted to do with me. It started deep down low and seductively moved its way up to my brain sparking a quiet chaos throughout the rest of my body.

The feeling began to inform what I should do next with my life. At that moment, I could either be self-destructive, self-pleasuring or take that energy by its curly rolls and push it into another direction.

One text conversation with a friend later in the night brought back me to the mind of Audre Lorde and introduced me to her views on eroticism.  My friend sent me audio of Lorde sharing her essay, “The Power of the Erotic” (a recording can be found at the end of the essay). I pressed play but I wasn’t listening. Her voice was mesmerizing because I had never heard a woman speak with such confidence and comfort. I wanted to be like that. I wanted to inhabit that energy and share it with the people.

I needed to find the thing itself and print it out. The next day, I found her essay because I needed to hold her words and take them in while draped in silence. I needed to touch the papers and strike it with my pen jotting notes all over its margins. I needed a moment with those words and hear them with my inner voice for it to become one with my personal dialogue.

My reason for being so obsessive is because I needed for someone to put into words what I had been feeling naturally and solidify my reasons for working with such hypersexualized imagery. She flipped over and turned out everything that I knew about erotic and I, in turn, reconsidered how I defined the term. The exact same thing that I do with my personal work whether visual or written.

I enjoy looking at classic power structures and dismantling them in a way that I think is an improvement. I choose erotic imagery only because of the amount of negativity that surrounds being a sexual woman.

What if I flipped the perception and turned the eroticization of women into gods and titans? Who would they be to you then? Would they become something else? Would they influence a docile woman to become more than what she is? I don’t know but we’ll see as time passes us all.

I’ve learned that the erotic is a feminine energy and any person can come into the folds of that energy if they are seeking to re-establish his/her individual identity. For many years, I’ve gone on rants and lamented in many essays about the hypersexualization of women of color. Black and Latino women are often seen as aggressive enforcers of sexuality while white and Asian women are docile and submissive. Altogether, people will take advantage of a woman’s appearance, love and experiences. What I’ve learned is that if you just ask a woman what she likes, she might tell you. However, I’ve also learned that many of these same women don’t even know what to do with their sexuality because they are scared of it.

I don’t know why but I think I know a point of relativity. Most women refuse to examine the power within themselves because society says a woman should do and be whatever has been previously established of them from a patriarchal perspective.

For a long time that scared me to the point that I didn’t want to be anything like any woman and I refused to be seen as feminine. I preferred to be dressed in masculine energy and keep rappers as my alter ego to protect myself from critical world views on femininity. If you wanted a woman, don’t come to me because you were going to get a nigga in a dress. This is destructive thinking as a result of a sensitive soul reacting to mainstream images around me.

Ads tell me that I need to use certain products or else I will not be beautiful. I have never really been comfortable with agreeing to such a notion. They also tell me that I need to buy certain products or else my vagina will not be clean and it will smell. That’s scientifically dumb as fuck.

If advertisements aren’t telling me what I should do as a woman, then there’s entertainment showing me how I should act as a woman.

According to what we currently watch in movies, television and the internet, I should be a whore whose feelings are always abused because I’ve opened my legs to the wrong man throughout my adult life.

I should be taken advantage of due to the incredibly high amount of moving images that contain rape scenes and its various circumstances.

Or I should live my life docile and continue to wait for my fictitious white or light skinned knight in a well tailored suit because I am a good girl.

Fuck being a good girl. I don’t care about that anymore unless you want to re-enact a role play scene with me because you love me.

When women are denied the unlimited power and pleasure of being a woman, we create severe deficiencies within our quality of living and when she begins to accept denying herself as a result of our classic gender structures, she becomes the bitter bitch.

We all die a little bit when that bitch comes around.

Life without embracing the erotic is a life that is unfulfilled and obligatory, kind of like the bitter woman. To embrace the erotic is to examine a very wide spectrum of feelings emotionally, mentally and physically. We don’t even know all the words that we could use to describe these experiences.

From sharing joy with a loved one in complete silence to how we interact with the world around us. Have you revisited walking barefoot on wet grass after a fresh rainfall? Have you ever taken a deep breath of crisp air on the Blue Ridge Parkway in the fall? Closed your mouth and stared into the eyes of your lover? If not, I suggest that you do.

Free your mind and your ass will follow. Famous words by some very famous non-binary black people.

We need not confuse erotic any longer with female hypersexuality but give in to ourselves in order to enrich our human experience as a whole. I am a mother and there’s a woman halfway across the world whose language I cannot speak who is a mother, too. We can share in the joys of that experience. We can definitely laugh at its frustrations.

Embracing the erotic can bring life to our senses if we understand it as an extension feminine energy. It isn’t a sexual energy but a chaotic one that deserves our attention. From being constantly surrounded by sexual imagery, we confuse what that feeling is deep within us. Confusion leads to erratic thinking, poor decision-making and psychotic actions all blamed on the power of erotic.

If someone chooses to break the structure of what they have been taught as normal for their entire lives for the sake of their sanity and happiness then that is a person choosing power over oppression.

Politically speaking, right now, we, as global citizens, are in a stage of redefining and restructuring how we see and approach gender identity. Those lines have always been bent and crossed for a long time with no one voice as representation until now. Questions are being asked from all corners in regards to what defines male, female, man and woman. Of course, there is opposition and hatred to individuals that are creating new social binaries to define their sense of belonging.

It seems silly for me to live my life just for marriage and a man. Is that all my life amounts to because I am a woman? Shall I be in constant competition with another woman over the affection and attention of a man? Or shall I become the bitter woman spewing nonsense about being independent and not having a need for any man? NO. I just want to live my life. My life is not controlled by or in need of saving by any man (or woman).

I’m human and dysfunctional because everyday my heart and brain go through mini battles in the same manner that belief and reason do. All of those points lead to roads of abuse whether the abuse comes from the self or another person. There is no logic to that. There is no defending, upholding or supporting that. And because of that, I support embracing the power of erotic. I want it to drip from my skin, make a woman question her attraction to me and a man feel like I’m something to be cherished. All because I just want to be comfortable in the skin that I’m in and shine as brightly as I can until Death come to give me the sweetest, deadliest kiss I’ll ever encounter.

I find that exploring your own eroticism will lead to the identity and belonging we constantly search for as humans. To be erotic doesn’t mean that we do as want whenever we want. It also doesn’t give anyone the right to become sexually aggressive as a response to growing up in a Puritan patriarchal western society.

Being erotic is as simple as touching the skin you were born in and not having harsh criticism of its imperfections. Just touch it. Being erotic is finding joy and pleasure in things that make you peaceful mentally. And last, being erotic is taking the chaotic energy you were born with and manipulating it in order to enrich your above ground human experience.

Reading Audre Lorde’s essay has helped turn something that I thought was completely abstract into something that is concrete and tangible. She has given me a new life, new direction in defining how I can begin to comprehend my time on Earth because being erotic is in everything that I do.

From the air I inhale to the words that come out of my mouth.
From how I embrace my hair to how I enjoy a hot cup of coffee.

How I see my life’s work.
How I embrace my child.

I am no longer afraid to simply embrace my femininity. I think it looks great on me.

Any questions? Didn’t think so.



carla aaron-lopez 4Artist: Carla Aaron-Lopez

Instagram: @iamkingcarla

Twitter: @teachkingcarla

That Moment When Artists Snap

by Carla Aaron-Lopez

Carla writes about the experience of being an emerging artist. Her previous posts are: Notes from kingCARLA, Notes from kingCARLA 2, Notes from kingCARLA 3.

Kevin Bongang, Mural in Edgewood neighborhood, Atlanta

Kevin Bongang, Mural in Edgewood neighborhood, Atlanta

“Kevin just snapped,” said Corey. And he did.

One year, his drawings looked a certain way and the next year they were on another level. They took on their own whimsical nature unlike the controlled squiggles that Kevin was known for drawing. His color palette no longer looked like someone studying color but of a man that had created his own world and the colors informed the mood of the characters that inhabited this make-believe space. I was blown away by someone that I felt had potential but wasn’t sure where he was going with all that. Half of the time I don’t even know where I’m going.

I had this conversation about Kevin with Corey, an artist friend of mine, a few years ago before I left Atlanta. Corey is another person that also snapped when it came to his art. It is his series of female portraits that are just striking. At the time, I didn’t really understand the ramifications of Corey’s statement about Kevin or what it meant to truly snap artistically. Years later on a spontaneous trip back to Atlanta, I saw one of Kevin’s newest public art murals and began to understand the power of snapping as an artist.

As much as I’ve studied art, there is a legit moment when the artist snaps. The work changes and evolves to an actual visual statement versus a singular creative object. Hobbyists make creative objects. Artists make visual statements that force viewers to think and see the world differently . As cliched as it is to use Picasso as an example, he snapped the day he walked into a museum, saw some African masks and changed the direction of Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. That same painting changed the entire direction and nature of modern art in the late 20th century. Picasso makes art history and we all know the rest of the story from there.

What went through his head the moment he saw those masks? We can speculate but we weren’t there nor can we go back in time to have a Being John Malkovich moment and crawl into his mind to see what he really thought.

We just know that it was at that moment, he snapped.

Honestly, I’m waiting for my moment to snap. I’m in awe and envy of my friends that have had their moment. I want to evolve but I have let fear get in the way. Fear of not making something mind-numbingly great. Fear of not hitting the black intellectual nail on the head. Fear of getting fired for making super controversial feminist (yes, I’ve finally admitted that I am a feminist) work because I’m a middle school art teacher and the list goes on. It’s these types of fears that keep me from progressing the way I would like to as an artist and I don’t know when or how I’m going to get rid of them. I’m on the side of my proverbial mountaintop but scared to continue.

Eventually, I’m going to snap too. Or just be stuck in waiting until I quit making art.

I look up to many artists that have all had that moment somewhere in their career. Sadly, majority of them are men due to the art world’s lack of compassion for all women artists. Even more sadly is that if those same women artists have never had children and it wasn’t because of a biological reason (see Frida Kahlo), I lack total respect for them. My life doesn’t align with theirs. They will never understand the beauty and harsh reality of motherhood. They will never understand the intense paranoia of doing something that could possibly take food off your table and clothes off your child’s back. Face the facts, I live in the South and Southerners don’t do controversy very well. That’s a reality for me while others can get away with it. I stand in the wings of life’s grand stage secretly applauding their controversial actions.

I’ve lacked in producing any work this past year because I’ve finally achieved the goal of getting my career as an educator and financial life together. Not only have I been concerned with making my art but seriously, how was I going to pay for this? How were supplies going to get into my home? These priorities force me to think and see art differently. Encounter new ways of executing old ideas. Boldly steal concepts from my favorite artists and force them into my fold. I figured out a long time ago that if I wanted to make the bold, controversial art, I needed for it to be large, attention-getting and everything that I feel I cannot be in public.

I want the work to be disgusting and unladylike. I want to do it under a pen name of a white man and totally fuck with the perception of gender and power because why not? White men rule the art world. I want the work to have everything that you hate in it. Pictures of outer space and shit. Big, fat ass strippers because why not? Throw in little nods to slavery and the black experience here and there because black and white people love that shit.

Maybe I have snapped and I don’t know it yet.

Maybe I’m fantasizing again.

Or maybe I’m bored and unchallenged because I am a middle school art teacher who spends nothing but time sharpening my foundational sword.

There’s only so much I can do right now in this moment.

–    Ms. Lopez


Carla Aaron-Lopez photoArtist: Carla Aaron-Lopez

Instagram: @iamkingcarla

Twitter: @teachkingcarla


Notes from kingCARLA 3


In Post-Partum Document, artist Mary Kelly explores the mother-child relationship.

In Post-Partum Document, artist Mary Kelly explores the mother-child relationship.


By Carla Aaron-Lopez

kingCARLA  writes about the experience of being an emerging artist. Her previous posts are  Notes from kingCARLA and Notes from kingCARLA 2.

Last time I was in this space, I was complaining commenting about being an emerging artist. I made statements about getting over rejection and pushing to make more work instead of being such a procrastinator. I’m still a procrastinator actually but soon after, I began working two jobs and my tune has changed a bit transforming into something else. At this point, I’ve joined the American workforce as a middle school art educator while I work the retail slave ship on the weekends slinging slacks to 40-year old men that wish to look younger. It’s a heavy load to work seven days a week constantly but I’ve got a child that needs stability. I’m a parent, yo. An artist and a parent. Add in the fact that I’m a woman and you’ve got a black unicorn on your hands.

And how is this possible, you say?

Like this.

Art is my life but my son is bigger than art. Sometimes, art has to be put on the backburner staying warm for him to have a home to live in, proper clothes to wear and yummy food to eat. I’m not breaking up with art. I just have to take long pauses here and there. Recently, I came across an article that I actually agreed with on Hyperallergic. It was a weekend long-read titled The Problem of the Overlooked Female Artist: An Argument for Enlivening a Stale Model of Discussion written by Ashton Cooper. Hell of a title. I commend Cooper or the copyeditor for thinking of that.

I became enlivened by her perspective on the redundant language used to talk about women artists. Cooper sourced numerous articles released about women artists throughout 2014 in which the language used to speak about them was either truly stale and unimaginative or spoke about a woman artist in a rediscovered fashion as if she was a fly on the wall during big historical moments in art but really she was an active and vocal artist the entire time the big historical moment in art was going down. Check out this excerpt from the article about Phyllida Barlow in which the author quoted an article from The Guardian circa March 2014:

She’s taught everyone from Martin Creed to Rachel Whiteread, but it’s only now, at 70, that Barlow is getting her dues as an artist.

Barlow, who turns 70 this week, has spent her adult life making sculpture, enjoying her greatest success by far over the last 10 years.

She went on to the Slade until 1966, and then began teaching, and having children; she and Peake have five in all. […] In those days, she was working in total isolation.

The part I highlighted in bold stood out quite strong to me. Especially the part that says she was working in total isolation. I guess when you have five children, everything is all about your children. Hell, I only have one! My guess is that art never went onto the backburner for Barlow as it has for me but I know it wasn’t always on the forefront either with her being a teacher and a wife. My other guesses include that she was never in isolation with five children and she eventually had to learn how to become an effective teacher. I may not know much about Barlow but I can relate to her story if those are the only tidbits I ever learn about her.

The article comes to an apex while speaking about Barbara Hepworth, her married life and her cavorting with the international art world and comes to close with fascinating information around Judy Chicago, Isa Genzken and Sarah Charlesworth’s careers with some strong questions: What was she doing then? Where was she showing? Who was she in community with? How did her practice change? What forces of exclusion did she face?”

I don’t know. The information just isn’t there. What I do know is that if reality showed up at any of these women’s doors looking like maternity then it is my hopes they assumed their new roles as mother to a child (or more) and truly began a new adventure, chapter, section of their lives. We already know the art world is notoriously white, male and sexist as well as racist. We also already know that many people believe that when a woman gets pregnant, her life is automatically over. That’s not necessarily true. If the lives of the women outlined in this article were over I think we wouldn’t be talking about them. There wouldn’t be a Tate retrospective on Barlow or MoMA’s current exhibition on Sturtevant (who’s completely new to me).

In essence, I believe they sharpened their metaphorical swords in the hours after the children went to bed or over to grandma and grandpa’s house for the weekend because that’s the only time I get to do anything regarding art. Everything becomes a juggling act that you just work out over time. I hope to make work as profound as these women but I don’t want to be 70 years old to get my recognition for it. That’s that bullshit if I have spent a lifetime possibly struggling to support my family on teacher pay. I’d rather take the recognition money now and create a trust fund for my son because that’s my reality in addition to art.

Too bad I wasn’t born with a dick because I wouldn’t have the ability to give birth and be weighed down with the overwhelming responsibilities of having child. Everything always falls on the mother whether a father is or isn’t present. While I care so much about art, I’ve learned that the art world doesn’t care about my child. Making the decision to sacrifice my love for art is constantly on and off the table. Every moment becomes a moment to create or think about art differently. I’m constantly sharpening my metaphorical sword as an art teacher to a group of students who could honestly give a fuck about art in the first place.

It’s hard out here for a pimp!

Based on that article and these words I’ve written, I guess I’ve got to pimp harder.


Artist: Carla Aaron-Lopez 

woke up with my horns on. fell in love with a cadillac. born/raised in charlotte, nc. baptized in the dirty south also known as atlanta.


Notes from kingCARLA 2

By Carla Aaron-Lopez

kingCARLA  writes about the experience of being an emerging artist. Her first post was Notes from kingCARLA.

carla aaron-lopez 1

Ever heard the saying: You get a lot of NO’s before you get to YES?

I hate it. Drives me insane. Especially when I get turned down for exhibitions when I know my shit is tight. But alas, life moves on… because it has to. Doesn’t it?

Recently, I introduced myself to Charlotte, NC to a small crowd of people that I knew and people that I didn’t know. I’m quite into creating my version of Southern culture therefore I served everyone cherry moonshine. By the end of the night, people were happily drunk and into the works that I put on the wall. Now that that night is over, I find myself back in the mundane motions of an everyday routine. And today in email form about a juried exhibition in DC, I received my last no. Like, seriously folks, the shit is really beginning to piss me off so bad that I don’t know what my next move is but when I get there I’ll let you know what I did.

carla aaron-lopez 2As an emerging artist that is trying to take my professional life seriously, I’m working through these issues all artists have. Some of us will be able to get over them. Sadly, most do not. If I continue to have a temper tantrum or fall into depression every time I get a no then I’m not really living my artist life to the fullest. Therefore, when things like this show up… I review my resume.


Because I can remind myself of all the work I’ve put in over the past 10 years as an artist and to see where I would like to be for the next 10 years. Life steadily evolves without our permission. If I spend all my time concentrating on the bad/negative/upsetting parts I will miss my opportunity to shine. And that moment is coming up soon in the form of a panel discussion at Georgia State University on blackness as aesthetics. Bruh. I know that shit so well for the weird negros, white folks and people of color in America. I’ve chosen that event at this moment to be that professional artist I see myself as when no one is around. That campy motherfucker with a Southern twang dropping sweetly ignorant yet highly intelligent verbals from her mouth. A modern day Zora Neale Hurston.

My fantasies. They’re huge. Tengo grandes cojones… metaphorically speaking.

Back to the resume review.

In order to play the character I’ve created, I need to review what I’ve done and what it means to me. I think that from there I’ll be able to have a stronger basis for my aspirations as an artist and begin boiling down who my audience is. And I know my audience is small. I believe them to be a perverse group of humans that are rather bored with mediocrity and normalcy of American culture. They hate what’s perfect and enjoy the seedy underbelly of popular culture. It’s dangerous grounds to lurk in those spaces but to an outcast (or marginalized person) it is home and peaceful. For years, I’ve created works that attract this group of people. That is, within reason because the rabbit hole of human oddities runs very deep and very scary. I’m fascinated by the relationship of what’s considered normal in societies and what’s marginalized in terms of the human experience.

carla aaron-lopezMaybe that’s why I get so many no’s. I’m black woman but don’t really care to produce works again and again on the gaze/masculinity of white and black men. I’d rather empower a bitch and keep it moving but don’t call me a fucking feminist. And because I’m black, I’m bored with the constantly reproduced slave narratives. The content needs to be really fucking fascinating or else I forget about it. I know my history very well therefore I seek to produce works that challenge the new contemporary ways in which racial/sexual contracts are upheld in American culture. Now, that shit can go somewhere over hill and into outer space. Maybe I need to be a male artist.

Maybe then I’ll get noticed.

Nope. Fuck that.

I know my day will come when I stop getting Wangechi Mutu references. Until then, fuck these no’s. I’ve got more exhibitions to apply to, a new body of work to establish, a panel discussion to prepare for and a baby boy to raise in America.

I ain’t got the time to be in my feelings over a damn no.

And neither should you.


kingCARLA with friend Solomon at "Who is King Carla?"

kingCARLA with friend Solomon at “Who is King Carla?”


Artist: Carla Aaron-Lopez 

woke up with my horns on. fell in love with a cadillac. born/raised in charlotte, nc. baptized in the dirty south also known as atlanta.



Notes from kingCARLA

by Carla Aaron-Lopez

They call this the beginning of a career. Even though my resume is already a mile long, I believe it to be the start of getting to that “emerging artist” label. Somewhere in grad school, I attended a lecture from an artist who asked my class what we were going to do once we graduate. We all agreed that he was crazy and answered that we were going to get jobs and go to work. At the time, it seemed like it made sense and that’s what some of us went off to do. We graduated, got jobs and became professors at respective universities.

However, for some of us, those cards didn’t stack that way. In my case, I was an adjunct at a historically black university for three years until I was cut. I still don’t know why. My unemployment says I was cut because of low enrollment and since then I haven’t been able to pick up another job. I had no choice but to do what I had been trained to do which is be an artist and when I look at the art world in motion I see less of me and more of those that taught me.

Lots of old white men and women. Ain’t nothing wrong with that but it forces me to wonder if I should do this at all. My ego is too big to let appearances cause me to quit. Therefore, I can’t help but to ask and investigate what it takes to be an artist of color in the 21st century. It’s 2014 and I find I still have to play cute little games to get accepted into this centuries old world. I come from a different place. I call it the dirty South, others just call it Atlanta. I’m not much into creating works that examine the place of black women in America or the African diaspora. I’m also not interested in making works that dog the sh*t out of men. I prefer making works that reflect my Southern background just like the ignorant rap music I love listening to while I create works. If you want a postcolonial discussion from me, I’ll direct you to my homie, Christopher Hutchinson, because he has the words you can’t run from.

In the meantime, this post is being created to help you (and me) explore what it takes to be an artist. And here’s the first step. Explore your influences. It doesn’t have to solely be artists. It can be writers, thinkers, dancers and/or rappers. As much as I love rappers is as much as I love Jean Baudrillard and Michel Foucault. It could even be television characters like the great Doctor Who. Examine why you are drawn to these influences. Is it the confidence you’re attracted to? Is it theories that you’ve read and you want to create something that reflects what you’ve learned? Is it history of a person, place or thing? I don’t know. It’s your world coming to life as an artist. We all have a world we live in that separates us from the next person. I believe that’s how we all keep our sanity. Don’t believe me? Check my next paragraph.

When I graduated with a MFA in photography in 2009, I ended up with a crappy job at TSS Photography transferring children in sports photos to products like keychains, dog tags and mugs to name a few. I hated it. I also didn’t have a camera and I was driving myself crazy. One day, I came across Romare Bearden again and remembered how my favorite black artists could only work using few materials because they had regular crappy jobs and families to feed. I looked around my apartment and saw that I had scissors, glue and plenty of collected magazines. If I couldn’t shoot the photograph then I figured I could make a new image using ones I found in magazines. It was at that moment I realized that I was more than the photographer that some cute little sheet of paper declared. I realized that I needed to investigate image making. In 2011, I started a new body of work that has taken me in a direction that I never anticipated. I dropped a baby from the womb in 2012 which led me to think about the nature of creation. OF COURSE, I knew NOTHING of what it meant to be pregnant. Let alone a mother of color in a world that believes itself to be post-racial. No. I began to think about what images and influences I will be bringing around my son based upon the things I had grown to like. None of them were very pretty, soft or becoming of a woman. They were quite hypersexualized, crude and rude. Just how I like my life.

That woman you see in strip clubs laughing with the dancers? Yeah. That’s me. I love being your family’s worst nightmare walking through your house for dinner. A dirty intellectual. The work I created ended up being bodies that were imbued with power because they appear to be powerless. What happens when you flip a world upside down and inside out?

You get the beginnings of an emerging artist. Take a look and tell me what you think. If the work makes you feel uncomfortable then my job as an artist is complete because those are the images I have to deal with on a daily basis.

– Carla Aaron-Lopez

original mother, 2011

original mother, 2011

biggie alone, 2011

biggie alone, 2011

black girl jesus, 2012

black girl jesus, 2012

queen vanessa, 2011

queen vanessa, 2011

duality, 2011

duality, 2011

garvey fart, 2012

garvey fart, 2012

zombie shaman, 2012

zombie shaman, 2012
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