“In Mistaken Identity, Amber N. Ford focuses on the everyday items that have led to the deaths of people of color at the hands of law enforcement officers. Much like how the absence of the orange safety tip on Tamir Rice’s toy gun became part of Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann’s justification for shooting within 2 seconds of arriving on the scene, here we are reminded that sets of keys, wallets, and mobile phones have all been mistaken for weapons across the United States. The extension cord, taken from the artist’s studio, is her personal contribution to the monochromatic orange display in A Color Removed.”
Wall text label information for A Color Removed at SPACES Gallery.
By Force & By Choice
America, known as the “land of opportunities”, is often a destination for those in need of a new home. Some need it more than others but not everyone has a choice. While immigrants are individuals who choose to live permanently in a foreign country, refugees are forced to leave their land to escape war and persecution.
In the exhibition, By Force & By Choice, I turn my lens to focus on immigrants and refugees. These photographic portraits let you see a glimpse of the individuals who live in urban areas of Cleveland. Barriers such as language can make integrating into the community difficult but not impossible. Thanks to dedicated organizations, individuals can receive vital education and job training that help them adjust to their new lives in the United States.
This work was created in the effort to educate my own ignorance on this very important topic. I began reaching out to local organizations and Cuyahoga County residents to retrieve more information and connect with immigrants and refugees who have moved to and been resettled in Cleveland, Ohio. These portraits are an ongoing response to the idea of identity. By using photography, I can partake in a collaborative engagement that allows me to interact with others. Here I show you some of the beautiful faces I had the pleasure of meeting.
From Yasmine to Yassin
Fitina? No, Bicwake
Up the Stairs and to the Right
A simple goodbye no longer sufficed. Instead of his farewells consisting of “peace” or “see you later” he tells his friends “be safe”. He knows as a black male there’s a stronger possibility he won’t see them the next time he comes home. He also understands there’s a possibility that one day he might not make it there himself. It was this change in language that triggered my curiosity in the idea of the black male identity. What does it really mean to be young and black and male in America today?
In the series In-Between, photography is used to question what it means to be young, black and male in America today. The color portraits take form of inkjet prints are a response to my perception of how he sees himself. To photograph someone is often a collaborative engagement that allows one person to interact with another human being. At the very least, both sides of the lens and the typical proposal of “the truth” are changed in the event of taking these photographs. Because these photographic portraits are generated out of a collaborative effort between photographer and sitter, these photographic portraits confront the viewer not with ‘the truth’ but ‘a truth’, one that is an alternative view of which we generally see in the media. These photographic portraits set aside familiar stereotypes of black men and put forward the individual by giving him a platform to present himself through the collaborative engagement of photography.
Only one thing has been discussed prior to the photographing, the location. When attempting to give the person who is being photographed a platform, allowing him to control the location, becomes an essential roll in the creation of the image. He is comfortable to not only get his photograph taken but to also have a conversation in this space.
Too often on the front page of the newspaper, are black males depicted as a threat to white society and criminalized. On the back page, they are heroes and lionized. This work is portraying neither the criminal nor the hero; not the mugger nor celebrity. Here we see the males that are found in-between.