TILT Institute for the Contemporary Image

Shana-Adina Roberts

Shana-Adina Roberts is an artist from West Philadelphia. She is a multi-disciplinary artist who continuously explores and discovers new ways to express herself. Her work moves from the figurative to the avant-garde. For Shana, the creative process naturally forms a part of who she is, and always has been. She is an artist who is interested in creating art that speaks to her experience and can speak for her.

Black Incandescence

This body of work is a visual reflection of our turmoil and resilience. It’s hard to remain calm when acts of violence are constantly inflicted upon Black people. When I hear about a Black man being shot, or a Black teen being lynched, or a Black woman being harassed, it feels like it is happening to me because it could be me…‘Violent’ and ‘criminal’ are amongst the many derogatory words we are called too often.

There is a societal pressure on us to be submissive in order to shirk off these caricatures they try to make us out to be. We are repeatedly burdened with having to prove our innocence to our attacker and yet still having the label of ‘aggressive’ placed on us, regardless of our actions. We try to remain calm and find happiness in the lives we’ve struggled to make for ourselves, while these lives are perpetually threatened.

Sleep is an important aspect of this series of photographs. Rest should be a time of peace, but for many Black people in America, the constant threat makes it impossible to feel at ease. How we feel is so often overlooked; I want our feelings to be emphasized. I use direct light, to create texture, reflect on the absence of light, and experiment with shadows to portray our experience.

I have attempted to create an environment where trauma, both emotional and physical, are acknowledged and healed. The trees are guides in the healing process: they allow for a still and meditative space. Trees emit fresh air; breathing is a significant part of meditation. Portrayed almost timelessly, the people in the photos are given an unlimited amount of time to reflect, in a space where they can be self-possessed. The surreal environment I’ve created is a place where Black people are projected as Gods, where they can exist at their own convenience and be appreciated.