The New Black Vanguard: Quil Lemons
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The New Black Vanguard: Quil Lemons

So I think I started doing photography because
I wanted to document my existence. I felt like, at some point, we’re going to
die, and I wanted people to be able to look back, and be like, “wow, this was his life,
this was really cool.” I’m Black, and Black history has not been
properly documented, especially photographically, there are not many photos of Black joy, and
the average Black experience has not been properly documented. I wanted to change that. In my family, we’re missing a lot of family
photos. We don’t really take enough of them. The women in my family work so hard, literally
verbatim told me when I was shooting them, they don’t have time to do that, because they
have to go do work, like actual things, and run a family. So when they did take the time to take the
photos that I took of them for the Purple series, it was really cool to allow themselves
to see how beautiful they are, and to let them understand that, and by shooting them
that way, it was something that would relate to any Black person. When you see Black people doing amazing things,
you feel this innate connection to it. Being part of The New Black Vanguard is like
literally finding a new family, from all around the world, and we’re all contributing to a
conversation that’s needed to be had for so long. The whole point of this is just, for so long,
Black people just weren’t properly photographed, there’s not that many photos. I want people to look back on the early 2000s
and see these pictures and be like, “wow, they were really going off.” Because we’re also all shooting everything
for major publications, you can see the industry changing so much by all fifteen of us having
touched certain things. Going into these institutions and literally
like cripwalking and shaking it up. I think I have a lot of goals with my work. If I’m like, combatting the idea of queerness
in masculinity, or I’m tackling the big thing of Black femininity, and tackling things of
those natures, I think ultimately, I’m just trying to show Black kids that we can do anything
we put our minds to.

About Ralph Robinson

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