I was nine years old when Aunt Aida passed away; Aunt Aida was actually my cousin and lived up the street from my grandmother. She collected dolls and I would go and sit with her every day during the summer. When I went into her home after she passed I sensed energy so strong that I felt as if I was suffocating in her existence. I think of that heavy energy as the layers of her experience in that house; her meals, her sleep, her laughter, her crying, and her ritual. What I felt upon walking into her home is what drives my work, which is how varied histories and stories create layers of energy that are embedded into the memory of spaces. I question how these stories get passed on, and how it is that some are silenced. In my Black on Black series I explore layers of experience and memory through photographing women of African descent and their hair in profile and in low light settings. In my work I explore daily sacred ritual.
Charmaine Bee (b. 1982) earned her B.F.A. from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2007. She has been funded by the Brooklyn Arts Council and the Puffin Foundation to support The Stoop Gallery a traveling pop – up gallery installation project that takes place on Brooklyn Stoops. And What was Once Still Here, a mapping project that delves into the history of residential and commercial spaces in Brooklyn to facilitate a community engaged conversation about gentrification.