1. the act or action of representing, the state of being represented
2. the way that someone or something is shown or described
3. the act of including different types of people, for example in movies, politics, or sports, so that all different groups are represented
I have received some very good advice in my life from some very wise people. But this very simple statement that I think of quite often actually came from a television show.
A woman was unsure of whether or not to purchase a dress because she felt it might bring too much attention to herself. Her son looked at her, seeing how much she loved it and said to her, "Be bold."
When I created this series I was uncertain if I should publish them and share them with others. But then this phrase came to me, as it has many times now since I first heard it. "Be Bold."In the spirit of the boldness that those I portray below have lived out, here is my YAS QUEEN collection. I hope you too can find ways to be bold.
WHAT is this?
YAS QUEEN is my continuous small portrait series of women that have made a difference in my growth as an individual & those that I wish I'd known about when I was younger. They are the representation I found for myself because I was rarely shown them by society. They are my expression of longing & pain at the past year's events & my struggle to see being brown as a hopeful & beautiful thing in such a racist world. As I worked & researched more, I extended the Queens later to include all women after I realized what the series could become. Some of them say women, some say black, some say brown, but all of them are Queens.
WHO are they?
Bold individuals that have the potential to inspire others. They are more than their accomplishments as distant individuals shown in history tend to be portrayed as. They are individuals bold enough to display the potential we all have within us. They have shown me that to be 'bold' does not mean loud- it can mean persevere, pioneer, & so much more. Though they originally started out as black role models, they expanded to brown & then all women because all of us deserve representation. I had to narrow it down, so I selected people who were first, who inspired me, or who were bold. These are just a few on a long list I hope never to exhaust.
WHY is this here?
As a society, telling someone they can be anything isn't enough- they need examples. But if the examples of success lack consistent diversity, a uniform & conforming picture is painted. The term ' we don't see color anymore' was often used by teachers to justify the lack of diversity & representation was ignored. I was encouraged to have role models but not provided with any that looked like me. It sent the message to me that success was only for the pale men, but that I should still try- so that they could take my accomplishments & become successful off of them & thus uphold the status quo.
But the truth is role models come in many forms. & these were hidden from me. So I found them & thought I'd share them with you.
WHO is this for?
EVERYONE. These are for anyone & everyone who want to be represented, represent, or show someone that they ARE seen. They are here to remind us of those that have gone before & to speak to those that will go after. These are for me. These are for you. No matter what you look like or who you are, these were created to show you that history DOES include more than just the household names you remember from school. You too can be as pioneering and groundbreaking as them.
I hope these encourage you to be bold. Whatever that looks like for you.
As a child I deserved to learn about more people that have done good in the world who happened to look like me, my friends, my family, & everyone I saw on the street, at the park, in the store or museum or anywhere else. Sadly, school often showed me that successful, historical, & worthy role models usually only look one way & that I had to look up to them. What I know now is that the pool of people presented was highly curated and selective. This was something that did no one any favors.
Representation matters. & if you've never stopped to consider the value of having a hero that looks like you, you may be fortunate enough to look like the heroes we were all exposed to. Sadly, not all of us were so fortunate. Success is not a state of being but a byproduct of diversity. That diversity includes the willingness to hold diverse ideas in your mind- something that anyone of any appearance can do. These Queens aren't meant to exclude anyone, but rather to add to the ranks of those regularly presented.
More Queens coming soon!
Though not yet available, the Queens of the YAS QUEEN series will eventually be available for purchase in sets. Add your email to the list to be alerted when they become available! You'll also be alerted when new Queens are created and packaged for sale.