Envy of the World


I had an image of a man in a suit and his shadow, swimming around in my head for months before I shot this series. It took me some time to conceptualize what I wanted to do because I only had abstract imagery and colors in my mind, but no real way of verbally expressing what this project really meant to me. Just a feeling. If I’m being honest with myself, I carried that abstract feeling through the shoot and still didn’t know what it meant or how powerful it could be until I scanned the negatives into my computer.

Envy of the World is a study of how black men are perceived in America. These images represent his strength, his roots, and the history of envy surrounding him.  The black man already has three strikes against him when he steps outside his front door, but still manages to be in his bag. He still manages to show up for himself and his loved ones while healing from generations of trauma placed upon him at birth.  Trauma that he carries with him in times of distress, when he walks into a grocery store, when he wears a hoodie at night to keep him warm, when he goes for a run, walks through an airport, or in the driver’s seat of his own car. He still manages to forgive, laugh, smile, create art, and do everything with style and passion.

The styling of this shoot is inspired by Basquiat, the man who wore Armani suits to paint, but kept his feet bare. I tip my hat off to Basquiat’s play on the stereotypes of black men in the entertainment business. I also thought it would be cool to put a twist on James Taylor’s album cover for Gorilla. The concept of “black roots, white fruits” is evident in the shadows. Shadows can’t do anything but mimic.