One of the most intriguing photographers of her generation, Deana Lawson’s subject is black expressive culture and her canvas is the African Diaspora. Over the last ten years, she has created a striking visual language to describe black identities, through figurative portraiture and social documentary accounts of ceremonies and rituals. Lawson works with large-format cameras and models she meets in the United States and on travels in the Caribbean and Africa to construct arresting, highly structured, and deliberately theatrical scenes animated by an exquisite range of color and attention to surprising details: bedding and furniture in domestic interiors or lush plants in Edenic gardens. The body-often nude-is central. Throughout her work, Lawson seeks to portray the personal and the powerful in black life. Deana Lawson: An Aperture Monograph features forty-five beautifully reproduced photographs and an extensive interview with the filmmaker Arthur Jafa.
“Outside a Deana Lawson portrait you might be working three jobs, just keeping your head above water, struggling. But inside her frame you are beautiful, imperious, unbroken, unfallen.” – Zadie Smith