Naima Patrice (aka Naima Green) is a Brooklyn-based photographer and art educator. Some of her previous projects: Go West, Joshua Tree, Go South. She has brought her contribution to international known publications, such as The Atlantic, BKLYNR, City Atlas: New York, Interni Magazine or Harper’s Bazaar and has been featured in other several art webzines. Perhaps, though, her most important accomplishment so far is ‘Jewels From the Hinterland’.
She started the ongoing photo-based project back in 2013 as an experiment with social impact, an attempt to arise questions of how cultural identity is being perceived within the African Diaspora. In a recent interview for Black Girl in Om, Naima reveals the true purpose of the series:
“I absolutely seek to celebrate and honor the beauty and power of Black people”, she says. “I also try not to limit myself in my own definition of Blackness. Those who participate identify themselves as belonging to the African Diaspora, and there is a beautiful range within that. I have photographed people who identify as: Cuban and Jewish, Jamaican, Black, Dominican, African American, Antiguan, Puerto Rican, Nigerian, and the list goes on. This project seeks to be expansive in its visualizations of Black and Browness and that is not limited to one particular place. When asking individuals to participate I am drawn to their sense craft, their aesthetic — people who I find to be visually stunning — and those who might support my intentions behind the series”.
In other words, when Naima says hinterland, she aims the secondary meaning of the term, which is the area lying beyond what is visible or known; the deep-down place inside people that identifies them as who they really are, rather than the mainstream meaning of the word (“region lying inland from a coast”).
“[Jewels from the Hinterland] is a photo-based series that investigates questions of place, belonging, and perceived cultural identity within the African Diaspora. I make portraits of creative individuals in and around New York City, where figures anchor overgrown fields with abstract forms and vibrant colors”, Naima explained for Cultartes Magazine.
For the purpose of the project, Naima photographed exclusively African American artists, city dwellers who are commonly identified with the urban environment, but who self-identify with the nature and green-space. Naima says: “Those who participate find comfort in lush, green environments. As nature grows around the individuals, so does the city landscape, like a continuous grid.”
As the artist gorgeously joins colors like green and brown to refresh our mindsets concerning ideas like beauty or youth, the true grace of the photo-project lies partly in the way Naima brings us closer to what she calls “the urbanites”, people who live behind metropolitan noise and traffic to reconcile with (their true) nature. A stunning visual story of ‘where I am is not who I am’.
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