How I identify as a young African-American woman is an experience I am compelled to examine through photography, craft and installation. With a child-like desire for an imaginative landscape I weave cultural mythologies of my African American experience throughout an interdisciplinary practice that touches upon class, gender & race theories.
Documenting vulnerable family moments where the camera is not welcome, my photographic work teeters between the private familial space (Ma, Da, lil Bro, Sis and Me) vs. imaginary visions of fantastical adventures with objects from my community (Dioramas). Locational identity is explored throughout the urban prairies of Metro Detroit where my family has resided for 15 years. The cultural significance of Blackness and the heritage within that context continue to be an isolated experience for my family as the population and economic conditions of our community continue to decline. Post-industrial cities like Detroit become rural and urban simultaneously. My sister and I stand amongst miles of cornstalks and through the trees, we see skyscrapers on the horizon.
I am inspired by the legacy of African American photographers from 1850-1950 and this history has given me the confidence to explore the medium as a main focus of my practice.
Through positive publications like W.E.B. Dubois’ “Crisis” and 1940s portraiture from photographers like P.H. Polk and James Van der Zee, African-Americans have utilized photography as a means to counter negative mythologies promoted by the status quo.
Mundane objects represent memories of distance within my family, totems resting upon shelves until the next time we see each other. This activity is something that still runs deep through many African American families connected to the Great Migration (1910-1950). The outer world of woods and forests creeps closer to the doors of our house. Through my art practice, I seek to negotiate these spaces.
My most recent series of family photographs took place between 2011-2013. Immediately after completing my MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, my Father (Da) became very sick and this required me to stay home in Michigan for some time. I’ve since relocated to New York, NY. Residing in Harlem, I am focused upon the external world and how other communities experience diaspora, race & gender conditions. I continue to develop interactive public art with my colleague Silvia Vasilescu of Public Opinion Projects, an art collective that develops site specific works across cultures.
In January of this year we exhibited an interactive print edition in Chicago at the It’s a Pony Projects: 24hr Arts Festival.
Christina A. Long is an African-American artist (b.1987) raised in Canton, MI and born in Chicago, IL. Long lives and works in Harlem, New York.
A 2012 MFA graduate of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, her family moved often to cities across the Midwest and upstate New York experiencing a variety of both rural and urban communities. Each of Long’s siblings were born in a different State, all of whom experienced different kinds of race & class environments.
After completing her MFA, Long’s Father became very sick and she chose to stay closer to home and teach art classes to young children in Detroit neighborhoods. She began conducting self-portraits with 35mm film cameras while assisting him with hourly dialysis treatments at home.
Long has had 2 solo-exhibitions in Chicago (2010-2012), including Gallery X at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her prints and books have been collected by the Joan Flasch Artists Books Library in Chicago (2012), and the U.S. Embassy of Costa Rica (2012). In 2013 her stop-motion animation Troublesies, Eloqueries and Other Things, was featured in an exhibition at the Chicago South Side Community Art Center and public art events like the Detroit Design Fest. Long’s hand made artist book, titled Cohnifestige Lake has been exhibited at Columbia College Chicago (Marvelous Freedom, 2013) and Sullivan Galleries (Mythologies, 2013).