Over the past months, I've been experimenting with photography and film manipulation through optics, something I had started back in Spring 2015 when I arrived here at CCA. I took a making hologram course with Prof. William Alschuler and he was very instrumental in pushing me to use other means to telling my own story within the medium of animation. I also looked at the work of Prof. Chris Johnson's project Question Bridge to find a narrative approach towards addressing the issue of fatherhood within the African-American community.
As a Blackman, my peers often assumed that I was separated from my wife or figured I had taken the stereotyped role of being a sperm donor, since when asked "where do they go to school," I would respond with "they live in Texas." Not the case at all. There's this mythology that black fathers are pathologically prone to desertion of their offspring. I'm the product of the Huxtable Effect, coined by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, which focuses on the social norms of a population are generally formed through its popular culture. In this case, the impact that the fictional character Heathcliff Huxtable of the Cosby Show provided for me, as the father figure I looked up to and wanted to become when I had children.*
My wife and I had our first child when I was thirty-three and our second when I was thirty-seven, a moment in my life when I acknowledged that I needed to become a better provider for my family and begin looking towards the future for those answers, rather than being marginalized by the effects of my current employment opportunities.
I began developing this project back during the second week of this semester of my senior year, in conjunction with my Storytelling class taught by Taraneh Hemami. I wanted to create a documentation for my three daughters about my choice to move to Oakland to pursue my childhood goals of working in animation, and to show that through persistence one can control the outcomes of theirs.
My aim was to take everything I captured with my camera over the past two years and truncate it down into a visual collage that would act as a flashback. I began with photograph manipulation by layering moments that I've shared with my daughters that speaks to their personalities. I then began to formulate and string these photos into sequences, as a means of creating the illusion of life. The video took two months to create using this technique and I plan on continuing to experiment with these ideas in hopes of building on my practice while educating on the meaning of being an African-American father.
"Mihaish heychahfaytz chayyim"