There were four Black photographers featured in How Black Photographers Are Shaping the Movement for Black Lives in yes: Solutions Journalism. All of the four photographers’ images are well worth checking out. karen marshall’s work spoke to me very strongly.
As someone who has predominantly been a black-and-white photographer, I see how the way she is thinking in black and white is intensely original. She takes a “classic” style of photography and transforms it into a personal vision that includes her political vision as well.
Photographer karen marshall is also the Executive Director of Rethink, a New Orleans-based organization that challenges 12- to 25-year-old Black youth to think critically about their social and political identities and to shift power in their communities. She inherited the craft of photography from her father and started taking photos at age 14.
She had a vision for documenting Black joy that led her to Mardi Gras and the streets of New Orleans—spaces “where we get to be real.” So often we have to be vigilant, she said—a sentiment echoed by Ferrell: “Radical joy—the cookouts, the smoke session, or whatever it is—is necessary for our revolution.
But in her role at Rethink, marshall has also had to think critically about the role of culture, photography, and radical imagination as part of a strategic movement. Artists need to put in the work, she said, not only to become better artists, but to be better revolutionaries.
Her take on black-and-white image structure is beautiful, without taking away from the vivid portraits and reality of the people she photographs. I know from my own experience that this is both difficult and essential. Her work succeeds on every level and leaves me impressed.
The goal, marshall says, is to bridge those visions of art and revolution and reconstruct a cohesive narrative that enables artists to bring their full selves.
There are lots of examples of her exceptional work on her Instagram.