Aerial view of campus with Williamsport, the Susquehanna River and Bald Eagle Mountain as a backdrop

Jessalyn Smith

Artist Statement

Breaking the Chains of Discrimination

The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.

Malcolm X, 1962

This statement still reigns true in 2020.

My art aims to show the struggles, insecurities, and societal boundaries forced upon Women of Color, especially Black Women, in society and the media. Silenced and discriminated against, Black Women are plagued by over-sexualization, starting at an extremely young age. Seeing my struggle and pain in the images promotes empathy and/or discomfort due to the recognition of the pain or the uncomfortability the images cause.

Though these are self-portraits, I am not only commenting on my own experiences but the experiences of Women of Color living in society today.

Wrapped in flowers, you find the flip side of things. Black Women are and should be proud of the curve in their hips, color of their skin, and curl of their hair. Society shoots us down and yet we still flourish, conquering the obstacles one by one.

These images were taken unassisted and in solitude. This encouraged true expression of emotions and reflection on past experiences.

"Invisible" Silencer
Not Your Pawn, Not Your Trophy
Blooming Regardless