David Durham

I Am Black and Beautiful, Not a Slave (2019), mixed media on paper-maché dress forms.

     The handcrafted piece entitled, I Am Black and Beautiful, Not a Slave, is a fibres installation that imbues both conceptual and aesthetic qualities of the nineteenth century vogue across the scope of slaveholders. This dynamic piece comprises a series of constructed apparel, combining cotton lace and twine on handmade dress forms, whereby serves as a composite framework of pre-industrial labor akin to the pernicious conditions that pervaded the slave trade.


     The installation reflects historical contexts and stereotypical undertones infused in pre-and-post transatlantic slavery craftsmanship. Whilst stripped away from their identities, slaves were limited to the attire of great quality. In fact, these seemingly tawdry, degrading uniforms, forced upon a slave to wear, unquestionably emphasized poor labor conditions of servitude, thus objectifying the modern black woman and man. The piece centrally strives to reinforce new meaning of black beauty through the study of colonial vogue by debunking stereotypes and colonial narratives that perpetuate misrepresentations of the black woman and man.

About the Artist


     David Durham is a Montreal-based visual artist (born 1997), whose works explore materiality and subject matter of the black experience across interdisciplinary practices. Such chief practices entail drawing, painting, fibres art installation, and animation. In his oeuvre, he intertwines dichotomous narratives - both familial and historical, through various mediums to investigate and celebrate the lens of black history and identity. Durham has pursued a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) at Concordia University and is currently pursuing a Minor in Film Animation at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema.

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