I want to start by stating that I personally feel that my work is not and never will be finished, because I am never satisfied with how I have made any of my works. My work is not complete until it inspires conversation, conversation on race, gender, sexuality, normalcy. One would say that it is impossible to tie down art to a necessary global conversation, but I cannot take that mentality away or those thoughts and connections away from my work. The process is one that is simple: Tramika putting a conversation into image. As hard as that may be with multiple voices debating their own opinions, I still try to convey that importance of the necessity of dialogue into the works I create.
I can say “Oh I’ve been making art since I was younger,” but that would be inaccurate because there is a large difference between art and Art . Before I start anything, I read, a lot, and write, jotting down notes and ideas. I do this because I very much believe what Kandinsky says in Concerning the Spiritual and Art, he says “And so the arts are encroaching one upon another, and from proper use of this encroachment will rise the art that is truly monumental.” So I read, from rereading Foucault’s History of Sexuality, Discipline & Punish, and The Use of Pleasure to bell hooks’s, Colonize This!: Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism and Mia McKenzie’s Black Girl Dangerous, to many others. I also look at other artists, not only those in the medium or theme I explore, such as race, sexuality and gender and silkscreening, but those in graphic design, painting, sculpture, and ceramics, those who make art not for art's sake but art that broaches wider conversations to be had.
I cannot say directly what my message is. I aim to start a conversation on race and not let fear stop it. The message is for conversation on race not just to look at the history of what has been done and what has happened to PoC, but to ask what we do next and how we begin to change how we think about race.I agree art does speak, and although many may not understand or they might misconstrue the message that is being seen, it does have volume that ties it into our emotions. My self-portrait is my attempt to breach the race wall, and I am inviting the viewer to participate in a conversation about race and intersectionality. I began with my image, a blank canvas with no emotions and a stare that does not speak power. I turned that into the Uncanny M. Mask, which presents the viewer with the possibility for various responses. A viewer might ask, “If I see this image as being a primate/monkey, then am I racist?” “Am I viewing her as a black person in light of her race and not her intellect or what she may bring into the world?” Viewers may also fear that if they judge this image as a primate/monkey, then the artist is judging them as ignorant, closed-minded people.
As well as furthering my research and producing more works on sexuality and gender, I want to understand better why heteronormativity is a norm in our society, and is not questioned or looked into as rigorously as it should be. As well as being an activist for transgender rights, I will continue to work with the LGBTQIA+ community in challenging normativity, whitewashing, and the overall suppression of individuals who are queerly awesome.
My Racial Portfolio