Talk to HIM is a collaborative public art installation conceived by the artists Imani Shanklin Roberts & Raya Kassisieh. Confrontationally, the artists explore gender and power by inviting participants to interact with masculinity head-on.
The artist, Imani Shanklin Roberts, recites the unsaid, hidden, anonymous, repressed, and disenfranchised voices volunteered from the participating public. Masculine identifying persons were filmed as they received the words, the camera capturing the physical manifestations of their emotional responses while they remained silent.
The documentation of this exchange resulted in a powerful film that will catalyze its viewers into modes of recognition, rage, reflection, and resonance.
Imani Shanklin Roberts is a Washington, DC native who recently returned to DC after ten years of residing in Brooklyn, NY. Roberts is currently earning a MPS in Creative Arts Therapy and holds a BFA/MS in Art Education from Pratt Institute. As an artist and enthused educator who peels apart topics on race, gender, and identity, she seeks to create and facilitate socially responsive work that encourages ideas of self-realized liberation. Using the traditional mediums of oil paint on canvas, she has entered the realm of the arts once dominated by a ruling minority to express the language of the oppressed and unheard. She draws inspiration from African American artists that have visually explored identity using figures and identifiable color choices in her work to reflect how she experiences the world. She pursues her desire to bridge social change through the arts in her title as the Creative Director for Camp Gully, a business looking to bring diversity to natural spaces.
Roberts most recently executed a mural for Woodhull Hospital as a selected artist by New York Health and Hospitals Arts and Medicine Community Mural Project. Roberts has been noted for her creation in the design and sculpture Lena Horne Prize which is noted to be “which is billed as the first major entertainment award to be named after a woman of color”. Roberts has also been selected for the first Black Lives Matter Street Mural in the Bronx, New York. An esteemed commission of Nelson Mandela by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and a Mural in conjunction with South African Tourism x CitiBike, dedicated to the world-renowned artist, Esther Mahlangu in the TriBeCa neighborhood of Manhattan, New York. Roberts has coordinated Six solo exhibitions, most recently “I AM SHE”, and has exhibited in various spaces including Weeksville Heritage Center, The Anacostia Arts Center, Blue Door Art Gallery, Busboy’s & Poets, Karrot and the eco-eatery and community gathering space, Habana Outpost. The Brooklyn community has also gotten a glimpse of the artist’s work in three recent shows: After Afropolitan, Out of Bounds: Freedom of Expression, and Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnerships Black Artstory Month. Huffington Post recognized her as a “Rising Art Star” and she has been featured in AfroPunk, Artnet, Essence and several other global and nationally acclaimed platforms. Roberts’ distinct aesthetic empowers her viewers to deconstruct limitations and think beyond while embracing their cultural identities.
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Imani Shanklin Roberts, an African American woman, and Raya Kassisieh, a Palestinian Jordanian woman are artists in the 21st century who draw directly from their experiences to create.
Despite the polarity of their identities, they’ve found great friendship and intersection in the commonality of womanhood and vulnerability in their raw humanity.
Though they create independently each piece of expression becomes almost diaristic in their confrontation with race, sex, gender, and culture. Both of their separate identities come with varying relationships to love, glory, power, hate, disenfranchisement, oppression, repression, and judgment. Both artists hope to broker change in a society fueled by misdirected masculine power that places importance on competition, war, scarcity, and haste.
Imani & Raya hope to find more balance between the masculine and feminine by creating healthy confrontational spaces where participants can be unabashedly fearless, open, integrated and present.
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