D’Angelo Williams was born in Jackson, Mississippi in 1992. He is a senior photography major at Memphis College of Art. His work has been featured on The Ones We Love, It’s Nice That, VICE, and in Oranbeg Press Net 8. Images from his series, A Brother Unfamiliar, were exhibited as part of The Ones We Love’s exhibitions and book releases at the Viaduct gallery in Des Moines, Iowa and Atelier De Koekkoek in Vienna Austria in 2014, and the Camden Image Gallery in London in January 2015. He has since exhibited work from his senior thesis, Beauty Kings, at the Black Box gallery in Portland, Oregon and The Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colorado. He recently received an SPE student portfolio award at the 2015 national Society for Photographic Education conference. He will receive his BFA in Photography in May 2015 and will be pursuing an MFA in Photography at Syracuse University in Fall 2015.
A Brother Unfamiliar
As a green-eyed Black male, D’Angelo felt like an outsider when confronting his culture and race. Being raised in predominantly Black environments, school systems, and his family in the South exposed him to a cultural background that was supposed to be his. As he grew older, he noticed differences in his interests and those of his peers. He was not infused with masculine standards of the typical Black male. The physicality of sports did not interest him, and he gravitated towards the beauty of art and music. His father was absent for a majority of his upbringing, but he began to notice the confidence and assertion of dominance exhibited by the Black males that he grew up around. A lack of male connection and the feeling of being “othered” within his own culture caused him to pry his way back into it through an outsider perspective. The goal of his photographs is to associate the Black male with beauty.
D’Angelo has been photographing Black male youths in order to regain a lost connection between subject, environment and himself. He began to create a relationship between the Black male and a minimal form of beauty that would not emasculate them. In the series Beauty Kings, He wrapped a vibrant cloth around the men’s heads. The subjects were all young Black men that he has known for a varied amount of time between 2011 and 2015. He started by finding many of these young men by walking through neighborhoods or communal spaces, such as basketball courts, that he was unfamiliar with. He would wander to these places as he searched for them. He soon began to transport some of these men to more neighborhoods and environments that were foreign to him. The resulting images are a study of the perceived masculinity and attitude of the Black male.
To view more of D’Angelo’s work please visit his website.