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Black Doll Series sequel: a kaleidoscopic new select from Qiana Mestrich. September 18 2018


Sweet Indian Doll III by Qiana Mestrich
Qiana Mestrich is back, and just in time to wake up our gallery walls for fall. Today’s new edition by the Brooklynite, artist, and educator represents our second select from her photo-based project The Black Doll Series. Like her first edition, Mestrich’s second began as an internet product pic of a vintage Black doll for sale. Through precise digital painting and manipulation, Mestrich transformed the original image into something else all together—an unrecognizable abstracted form made of layered aligned and misaligned geometric shapes in a subdued, earthy color palette, centered in the frame against a solid taupe background. One of only a few scant clues to the image’s past life is the item description Mestrich has retained in the title of her artwork: Sweet Indian Doll III. Just because a past is invisible, doesn’t mean it’s been erased.

Mestrich’s use of abstraction in The Black Doll Series is both deconstructive and generative, dismantling the stereotypes on display in each doll, and enabling her to harness complete control of an image’s transfiguration through sharp lines and angles and a tight composition. (Read more about The Black Doll Series here.) The geometric components that make up the central arrangement in Sweet Indian Doll III are not unlike kaleidoscope fragments—we are looking through a lens of Mestrich’s own making, a narrative she commands. Abstract though it may be, Sweet Indian Doll III is a representation of Blackness brought to life by a Black woman, methodically and decisively decolonized. In this there’s a commentary on the fictionality of the original. Though the abstracted form is nearly as far from figurative realism as one could get, it’s more authentically human than the stereotyped product pic from which Mestrich ministered its metamorphosis ... 

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