As a person who lives at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities as a fat black queer femme, art has helped me contextualize how I navigate this world. Art has become a documentation of my transformation into my own sense of godhood, or what I call my “god ecosystem”. I extend my energetic reach into realms beyond this physical dimension, pulling it back down into my artwork and public dialogues. Ultimately, I’m moving towards the center of my own universe, as a god in the margins, refusing to die physiologically, metaphysically, historically, or spiritually.”
The themes of my previous work from the exhibits Overload and It's About Time dealt mostly with myself, understanding my body, the clichés surrounding it, the political language it holds and the violence inflicted upon it. Dust II Onyx uses tarot divination to merge the multitude of intersections within black culture. Using multi-media collage, I explored the archetypes within tarot while imagining an ancient civilization that carries all of our history within it. A world beyond this dimension, yet intrinsically connected to our own. This has evolved into research into different divination technologies and using them as tools of story-telling. I’m interested in how my work and stories can be intentionally rearranged by the viewer, inspiring a deeper self-reflection.
I’ve been on a journey from the opaqueness of my identity shaped by my history and the history of my communities to one of translucency where a new world held and ruled by my own hands can now shine through. How do I merge my current reality with new possibilities? Where do I pull freedom from in a world that never wants to see me free? How do I experience the magic of my existence? How do these multiple realities and timelines intertwine into what makes up who I am? Most importantly there is a new sense of my own sacredness that has emerged and is now reflected in others. The more of myself I see and hold, the more I see and hold you. I believe, in this way art becomes a tool of resistance and transformation not just politically, but at the root of one's spirit.
Courtney Alexander is a multimedia artist, writer, publisher, and public speaker. Her artistic practice is an ongoing ritual of expansion and emancipation. Through her self-portraiture she challenges the politics and narratives of her identity as a fat black queer femme. Moving beyond just the exploration of her physical reality into expressions of herself as a timeless spirit. Less than a year after graduating with her BFA, she developed her series of paintings, Dust II Onyx, which she crowdfunded over $30,000 to self-produce and publish as a tarot deck (and later raised $50,000 for a second printing)—making history as the first black person to create a widely distributed deck and selling 3000 copies to date. The series is made up of 78 mixed media paintings depicting the complexities of blackness as humanity, as a race, and as a color story. It also includes a hard-cover 200 page monograph that serves as a catalogue as well as guidebook.
Her work has been featured on PBS Arts Plus, Teen Vogue, Huffington Post, and Bitch Media. She has also been invited as a speaker to the 2018 Memphis Literary Arts Festival, The Black Girl Project Sisterhood Summit 2018, and the 2019 Occult & Humanities Conference NYU. Her deck was acquired by MIT Library Distinctive Collections. In early 2019 she organized and self-funded an impromptu 10-city tour, “Dialogues on Free Existence”, a series of talks and workshops that posed important questions about what existence and freedom means and how it connects to others. In 2020 she was invited to be Artist-in-Residence at the Lower Eastside Girls Club where she taught an Art and Literacy Tarot workshop to middle and high school girls. She also completed an altar installation for Art on Paper Fair 2020 to honor the young women of the LES Girls Club as sacred powerful beings, shifting the environment of saviorism pervasive through many nonprofit efforts for youth of color, into one of reverence and honor. It was listed as one of the fair’s most insightful moments by Hyperallergic. She is also featured in the 2020 release of The Black Futures Project: A visual anthology edited by Kimberly Drew & Jenna Wortham, coming soon from One World, a Random House imprint.
Courtney Alexander was born in Pahokee, Florida, a small town off the southeast shores of Lake Okeechobee in Palm Beach County. She is a graduate of the University of South Florida with her BFA in Studio Arts, now living and working out of Indianapolis, Indiana.