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YAHTANAE MILES


She Who Watches, 2020

Digital Painting (2000x3000 pixels)



Feeding Hour, 2020

Digital Painting (2000x3000 pixels)



All Things Must Come To an End, 2020

Digital Painting (2000x3000 pixels)



Let it All Burn Down, 2020 
Digital Painting (2000x3000 pixels)



When These Worlds Collide, 2020

Digital Painting (2000x3000 pixels)



As a child, I often retreated into my mind, using my imagination to create universes and realities where I could freely express myself. I spent a lot of time daydreaming, and the time I didn't spend daydreaming was spent escaping in other ways, namely through the internet. Specifically, I frequented two sites that were at their peak in the early 2010s: Tumblr, a blogging platform, and Deviantart, an art site. Through my many hours of scrolling on Tumblr, I found myself nestled into the American and Japanese alternative subcultures that inspire my work today, most notably, American Kinderwhore, and Japanese Lolita. While these subcultures have different aesthetics, they have much in common, such as women's empowerment in amisogynistic world. American alternative subcultures are mostly based on music and politics. For instance, Kinderwhore is a microculture born from Grunge and Riot Grrrl, a subset of the Punk scene. While the political stance of Riot Grrl includes feminism and the anti-establishment views of Punk, it doesn't have a significant identifying aesthetic, which is where Kinderwhorecomes in. The Kinderwhore aesthetic deals with the infantilization of women and the sexualization of young girls by using aesthetics attributed to them such as babydoll dresses and mary janes and then mixing them with alternative clothing features like combat boots, heavy eyeliner, and fishnet tights.

On the other hand, the Lolita style from Japan does not have a music culture; however, it also has similar feminist roots as that of Kinderwhore. Influenced by Victorian and Rococostyles, Lolita fashion resists the over-sexualization/commodification of women's bodies through modesty. There are rules to dressing Lolita, from the makeup to the dress clothes' layering, while  Kinderwhore is more chaotic and has no limitations. I find myself drawn to both of these aesthetics as I could not fully be a child for the very reasons they are fighting against. Their appropriation of child-like aesthetics without the shadows of patriarchal standards has been overwhelmingly helpful with my self-image as a young woman. Additionally, they have an element of fantasy and whimsy within the aesthetics that I find myself drawn to as they allow for the corporeal manifestation of one’s daydream states. The intricacies of these styles work in unison in my art, becoming a vehicle that grants me the ability to place myself into my daydreams.

Although alternative spaces allowed me to express myself better, it was daunting when I found that these spaces had anti-blackness issues. The existence of alternative communities  began as a means to subvert society's harsh norms, yet white supremacy has reared its ugly head, calling even these political playgrounds home. This project is expressly limited to the representation of Black Women, for we are often left out of these spaces and are only allowed a limited amount of depiction in media. The lack of representation in these spaces always saddened me, as it was rare for me to see girls that I looked like, causing a lot of issues with myself-confidence. It's common in our society to portray Black women as only capable of being strong and independent, leaving out any room for the ability to see ourselves as demure, whimsical, and mysterious. Young Black girls must see themselves in the things they consume, and in a way that allows them to feel like a complex being. With this being said, a lot of the art I make is explicitly created in the hopes that other Black girls see it and find some solace in knowing that there is nothing wrong with them, and they should express themselves in whatever way they want as well. Black girls can be fantastical, whimsical, modest, innocent while, and it'stime that we are portrayed in our personal complexities.