As a person who lives at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities, art has helped me contextualize how I navigate this world. Mixed-media collage and sculpture has become the way that I can tangibly arrange these different aspects of my existence into a whole. As my practice has expanded, I’ve arrived at a place where I desire to explore those intersections communally.
The themes of my previous work dealt mostly with myself, understanding my body, the clichés surrounding it, and the violence inflicted upon it. I looked to art history to explore how being a fat black woman and being inserted into common narratives brought new context to them. Now I have turned to systems of divination as a medium through which I can not only explore my own perception of self, but the interconnectedness of my experiences with others. I was inspired by my own spiritual journey deconstructing, decolonizing and disconnecting from my Christian heteropatriarchal foundations.
My current series of paintings "From Dust to Onyx" uses tarot as an avenue to visually explore the rich and complex layers of Blackness. The series contains 78 paintings created through mixed media collage, layering materials from paper clippings to sand and glitter. These applications are a way of exploring the intersections of Black identity while featuring historical facts, cultural myths, traditions, symbolism, and icons throughout the Black Diaspora. I collect the shards of my own identity as a black/fat/queer woman and piece them into a mosaic of works that present blackness as universal spirit—in contrast to the idea of whiteness and light that formed a wedge between my personal experience of higher consciousness and ancestral connection. Using mixed media collage, I explore the complexities of blackness as a human experience and as a color story wrought with negative connotations. In turn, I re-imagine a timeless world that feels deeply ancient yet intrinsically intertwined in this modern realm, birthed from a a place of nothingness that is also simultaneously everything. A non-binary world where I see myself, reflections of blackness, and darkness, as powerful and eternal.
It is important to me that the experience of this work extend beyond gallery walls so viewers are able to re-visit and re-experience the artwork in multiple contexts. This also challenges the accessibility of contemporary art and it’s ability to create conversation not only within white walls, but continuously in personal and intergenerational exchanges of vulnerability. Through tarot cards, viewers can explore the infinite ways this series can be arranged and rearranged, building and changing the interrelationships between each card as a compelling tool for healing, community empowerment, and social justice. Using divination systems as a vehicle makes this work a tool of resistance and transformation not just politically, but at the root of one's spirit.
Courtney Alexander is a multimedia artist, creative director, and writer with a Bachelor’s in Studio Art from the University of South Florida. In her past work she dug into issues of duality, hyper sexuality, and self-awareness; a much more personal dialogue which served to create vulnerability and explore the complex nature of her existence. Her paintings and sculptures are abstract and experimental, allowing for a more tactile sensory experience. The Dust II Onyx Tarot Deck is a natural progression in her exploration of identity and her largest project to date. Her next mission is to create a publishing platform that caters to minority and marginalized artists who desire to create uplifting and educational products for their communities.