I have no personal connections to being African and Native American. I have little knowledge about the histories and backgrounds of my cultures. I grew up being Black and referred to as African American. This is how I’ve seen myself for years. First, I am Black. My color my culture, my belief system is from being Black American, not African or Native American. Therefore, I don’t have a sense of truly belonging to either of these cultures.
Due to the displacement of history, objects, and stories I have few connections to my roots. Because of this, I’m not “Native American enough, or African enough.” I’ve struggled with the sense of belonging. Yet, I can’t deny the fact that I am both Black and Native American. This work is a representation of these identities. There is confusion, conflicting, and overwhelming feelings connected to my roots. I use the skin, application, and the building of structures to come to an understanding of self. While utilizing found material, and objects that I felt connections too, created cultural meaning, or simply didn’t read too much as one culture or the other. I didn’t have heirlooms passed down to me from ancestors that I could have used, looked to for understanding, or connected me to my roots. As all of this was lost to my people. I started longing for a place, connection, and understanding. I created my cultural meaning, my heirlooms, my own space and place where I could truly exist as I am and who I am.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Shaqui Reed is a Chicago-based artist and designer. Reed studied fine art at the Chicago High School for the Arts and received her BFA in Fashion Design in 2018 from Columbia College Chicago. Reed is currently studying at the School of the Art Institute Chicago, where she will receive her Master’s in Design(2022). Reed has exhibited in numerous galleries throughout Chicago, including shows at The Hyde Park Art Center, SpringHill Suites, The Harris Theater, The Chicago Cultural Center, Columbia College Chicago, and the School of the Art Institute Chicago.
Her work has won awards through both the Scholastic Art and Writing awards and All-City Art exhibitions. In 2016, Reed took part in a group exhibition with Sculptures Objects Functional Art and Design, also known as SOFA art exhibition in a show titled, “Four years later.” Recent exhibitions include the School for the Art Institute Chicago “New Work” (2021) and Homewood Arts Council Virtual Gallery Exhibition (2021), Mixed Mag Magazine feature (2021), the School of the Art Institute Chicago, “Embodied Histories: Reconstructing the Present” (2021), and the Museum of Science and Industry, “Black Creatives”(2022).
© Shaqui Reed