My name is Francena Ottley, I'm a third year Photography and Video major at School of Visual Arts in NYC. My work consists of poetry, installations, photography, video, embroidery, sculpture and more. My goal is to always make work that speaks to people, empowers people, and shares knowledge. Some of my previous exhibitions include the Posture x Ello Issue 04 release party, Whitney Houston Biennial at Chashama, The Future is Femme group show at ATYPE, Genius Loves Company at the Art Gallery of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Building, the Juried Exhibition at SVA Flatiron Gallery and many more. I've also been published several times in SVA Visual Opinion and recently been featured on Bedford and Bowery, theFourofFive, Bust, Timesledger, Hyperallergic, Village Voice, and more.
The photos are part of me series, The Rewrite, an installation meant to focus on the lack of representation of black women in history. It’s meant to focus on gender, identity, and race. Elevating the ideas around black femininity and identity while defying typical stereotypes and biases. An individuality of each woman is revealed that is often denied. It is believed by many in society today that there is a certain persona or expectation that is suppose to come with being a black woman. People begin to see a black woman only for the color of their skin rather than the traits that make them an individual. This project focuses on the repeated history of how black women are treated and is set up in a way to make the community more visible.
The portraits give it this old timeless feel, bringing it back to the roots of where it all started, the South. The installation of sculptured books on the shelves are all titled with names of important black female artists, doctors, inventors, dancers, singers, warriors, leaders, etc that aren’t taught as part of America’s history. The sculptures are sized in a way to represent a graph illustrating the income black women receive today and back then. The shorter books represent those who’ve made under $15K a year, the larger books represent those who’ve made anywhere from $15K to $100K a year, and the thin books represent those who’ve made anywhere from $100K to $200K and over a year. The sculptures speak to a history of enslavement and blacks being denied the right to an education. Now here on display is a library ready to flip the script on what society has forced upon us. This body of work is an opportunity for the viewers to learn about the black women that have paved the roads for us and to inspire the future generations that no matter what obstacles you face, no matter how many nos you receive, you can achieve greatness.