Post Ferguson: My Son Matters!

Opening Reception April 17 at 6 pm. Solo exhibition runs April 10 through May 31, 2015. Admission free.

Post Ferguson. Denise Allen, photographer, deeply impacted, writes:

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(c) Denise Allen

“I am an African American single mother and I have a son. I have always taught my son to be respectful and to do what is right.  Now I realize that I also have to teach my son how to survive in a world where he will be treated differently because of the color of his skin.  All across this country, this is the heartbreaking discussion black parents are having with their teenage kids — telling them that being black in America means they must watch how they dress, how they move, how they behave. It means being deferential to authority and suffering indignities in silence rather than face the risks of speaking out.”

Quote1Ms. Allen, responds with My Son Matters, an exhibition consisting of 35 portraits of African-American single mothers and their sons, with written declarations by those women. It elevates and honors the relationship between mothers and their sons, while shining a loving light on the young men whose existence is often stigmatized. Not only does this exhibit document the concerns and the struggles mothers go through to raise their sons, but it gives engaged mothers a platform to re-envision their sons’ images. Images, that have been and continue to be portrayed as negative and demeaning.

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(c) Denise Allen

There will also be portraits of young men appearing in hoodies, set in an environment, which rings true to their individual strength and uniqueness. All photography in this exhibition is a response to an epidemic of police violence in the black community, particularly against African-American young men.

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(c) Denise Allen

This exhibition highlights photographic art borne of the love and concern that the featured mothers have for their sons. Join us as we celebrate mother’s voices and hopes for their children and their future. Admission is free and open to the entire family. 

More about Denise Allen…

Denise is a single mother, an Art and Social Change Documentary photographer, and an art teacher. Years ago, she use to describe herself as simply an art teacher, or depending on the year, a photographer. Today her life has come full circle, and she considers herself to be an Art and Social Change Photographer that advocates and celebrates young African-American children and diversity.

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Denise Allen and her son Jordan. (c) Denise Allen

Upon graduation from Columbia College, Denise started her photography career in Chicago as a catalogue photographer and quickly moved to New York as a freelance photographer. Fortunately, she did not have to wait long to receive catalog and editorial work and became emerged in the Fashion Industry. The unfortunate part of this experience was she experienced the death of so many talented and creative people from the outbreak of the AIDS Virus. Denise was devastated and felt her photography was frivolous. She decided to do something that could give her life more meaning. So she went back to school to receive a Masters Degree in Art Education. Denise has worked as an art teacher for 25 years. During this time she developed mentoring and leadership programs for African-American children. She continued with her photography, but it lacked direction.

Denise believes that we are living in a moment where another epidemic is striking and so many of our bright future stars are being killed physically, mentally, and spiritually. This time the epidemic is affecting our African-American young males — Denise realizes that she does have a voice and can do something. This realization was triggered when she learned about the circumstances in the death of Trayvon Martin. The difference between then and now is that she knows she has power and knows her photography is not frivolous. Denise documents and share stories of African-American young men and their parents. She raises consciousness about the stigma associated with African-American males. Denise uses her photography as her tool, her weapon, and PART OF THE SOLUTION!