Myra Greene is a photographer and the 2016 – 17 Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Spelman College. The artist enjoys exploring photographic processes that engage issues about the body, memory, the absorption of culture, and the ever-shifting identity of African Americans. In 2013, Greene started experimenting with African fabrics as a material and pattern to explore her own relationship to culture through the deconstruction and reconstruction of textiles. Her current projects include creating protest quilts as a means to think about the act of sewing and art making as protest.
Character Recognition is a series of ambrotype self-portraits. The intimate portraits, character studies of sorts, tightly frame the artist’s face and, specifically, close-up views of her ears, eyes, nose, and mouth. By employing ambrotypes, which first came into use in the early 1850s, Greene deliberately recalls a medium that has been outmoded for more than a century.
On the series, Myra Greene explains:
Confronted with an upswell of bigotry both personal and public, I was forced to ask myself, what do people see when they look at me. Am I nothing but black? Is that skin tone enough to describe my nature and expectation in life? Do my strong teeth make me a strong worker? Does my character resonate louder than my skin tone? Using a photographic process linked to the times of ethnographic classification, I repeatedly explore my ethnic features in Character Recognition. The lessons learned are haunting and frightening in these modern times.