Tokie Rome-Taylor’s Ghost of Toni

Tokie Rome-Taylor
Ghost of Toni
19×13, archival pigment print, framed
Edition: AP, signed on verso

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Tokie Rome-Taylor’s work laces identity, narrative, and spirituality into her richly designed images. Rome-Taylor is leaning into the iconic work of James Van Der Zee and contemporary photographer Zanele Muholi.


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Tokie creates photography-based works that deliberately counter the stereotypical narratives in Black representation and their erasure within history. Questions that stem from ethnographic and historical research that probe material, spiritual, and familial culture of ancestral descents of southern slaves are entry points used to build symbolic elements that communicate a visual language within her work. She positions Black bodies in spaces that lean into the past, reaching back to address the erasure of worth in how Black bodies are perceived and represented. Denied access to traditional materials and practice in the Americas, a creolization of symbolic elements of European status and wealth have been utilized to visually connect to ancestral practice of adornment and spirituality. Rich fabrics, historical objects and layered directional lighting are inspired by Renaissance paintings that historically did not depict people of color. The use of beading and embroidery are inspired by the materials used in creation and adornment of clothing within traditional West African culture. Tokie hopes that through her work that children may perceive their place in society through a lens of belonging and equality.

Atlanta-based artist Tokie Rome-Taylor examines themes of time, spirituality, visibility and identity through photography, cyanotype and embroidery. She explores self-perception and the sense of belonging as it begins in childhood through constructed portraits of proud Black and Brown children dressed in fine fabrics and jewelry, and depicted with family heirlooms and historical objects. Her works deliberately counter the stereotypical narratives in Black representation and their erasure within history. She is a Funds for Teachers Fellowship recipient, studying photography in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and in San Francisco, California. She is a recipient of the Virginia Twinam Smith Purchase Award, adding her work to the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia as well as the Legacy Award, bestowed by the Griffin Museum of Photography. Her work is held in multiple public and private collections and was recently acquired by the Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African American Art. Tokie Rome-Taylor an educator and working artist.