• Art and Design History and Theory, Photography (BFA)

    A. Retina Stewart

    The Underground Project

    The Underground Project, 2015Digital Video; 9 min. 45 sec“I’ve watched black men in the hip hop industry be condemned for their intelligence. People tend to use words like ‘conscious’ in a negative context when a man understands his worth. As if the world doesn’t present enough obstacles just to survive in society. Sometimes, without realizing it, people within our own culture undervalue us. In return, we don’t treat ourselves like the kings and queens that we are. We adapt to practices that label us as ‘less than.’ I love black men. I live for hip hop. Sometimes, the only thing missing is a platform for the two to be showcased and understood in the highest regard. I feel it’s important for the culture to see my film because so many black male artists feel they have to put on a certain façade to be accepted. However, if authenticity was accepted as much as materiality and hyper-masculinity is encouraged, our culture would be good.”— A. Retina StewartThe Underground Project consists of two components: video and photography. Paired with dialogue, the flow of the film and subsequent photographs are carried by conversation between me and the artist. Entering the homes of the artists and engaging in in-depth conversations, a relationship is formed. Furthermore, the intent of these images is to serve as visual documents that depict the representation of the authentic person behind the artist on his or her journey.