Kay Hickman Q&A
Kay Hickman talks photography with TheBlkGaze.
The Black gaze is simply the perception of the Black person(s). It’s a view of the world from a voice that has long been silenced and as such, forces a target audience to engage true Blackness, dismantling the privileges in their perception.
How does this relate to your photography practice?
Growing up as a kid, the lack of true representation of everyday black people was largely skewed. Focusing my art on documenting their livelihood in different communities, became a passion. We are so diverse and multifaceted that Black gaze only adds to the monolithic narrative more so when expressed through photography.
What do you want to say or address with your photography?
I want to highlight the diversity and the genius in our everyday living.
I want to keep documenting, in hopes that the next generation of black people will get inspiration to be audacious and to be their authentic self, the Black culture is truly a rich culture.
What influences and inspires you? How is this reflected in your work?
I am greatly inspired by the things I consume, music, literature or just observing everyday people. Photography on the other hand, freezes the story of a person or subject on a timeline and forever, to be appreciated and valued for generations to come. The art of making photographs, challenges and broadens my perception of how they might be used to shape the future.
Who are your favourite Black photographers from the past? Why?
James Van Der Zee, he lived and created most of his work in Harlem which is where I grew up. He is known for his portraiture during the Harlem Renaissance.
Ming Smith, Who largely does street photography. She made history being the first African American woman whose work was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art.
Gordon Parks, because he is so multifaceted. He worked in so many different genres of photography: Street photography, fashion photography, photo-journalism as well as being a composer, pianist, writer and director.
Please describe the highs and lows of your experience as a Black photographer?
I am beyond grateful to get paid for doing something I absolutely LOVE to do. I hope that I am recognized for being a great photographer as it is something that I am actively seeking to achieve. However, I do not wish to be hindered or amplified because I am a Black photographer.
What work are you producing and what more would you like to do?
Currently, I have been working on personal projects that are tailored more to the visual art form. Additionally, I have been documenting the culture and changes happening in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, New York. I hope to keep pushing the envelope to create new work.
About Kay Hickman
Kay Hickman is a New York City based documentary photographer and visual artist. With an inquisitive eye, she offers a unique and empathetic perspective into the everyday lives of the people she photographs. Her work largely focuses on documenting the human experience as it relates to identity, human rights and health issues.
Kay’s work has been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Vogue, Utne Reader, Ms. Magazine, OkayPlayer, Coeval, Jazz Halo and Photographic Journal: MFON Women Photographers of the African Diaspora. Hickman also Joined the Everyday Project’s Advisory Board where she works on various initiatives, as well as helps curate Everyday Black America’s instagram feed.
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The Q&A is an ongoing discussion open to Black photographers of all ages, genders and genres.