Artist based in New Haven, CT
Arielle Gray, Portrait of the photographer
Tell us about yourself, what's your background?
I am a Black female photographer from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I grew up with my twin, my grandmother, my aunt, and my mother and have lived in Alabama up until now. I went to the University of Alabama for a degree in music performance and ended up leaving with a B.A in studio art with photography as my concentration! I knew I wanted to be an artist and photographer when I got a Tumblr account back in 2011, but never fully acknowledged it until college when I took my first darkroom class. I am now an MFA candidate ('23) at the Yale School of Art for photography.
"Ideas begin in my daydreams and dreams. I think it comes from the subconscious mix of pop culture, overheard conversations, conversations with my grandmother/mother, and from my writings."
Girls In The Yard, 2021, digital photo, dimensions vary
What are you currently working on and where did the inspiration for it come from?
I am currently exploring themes of matrilineage within my family. Specifically and not so specifically, the Black woman's experiences and ways of moving through this world. I am also looking to explore various modes of representation in visual media.
Shadows I've Nana in Shaper, October 2021, digital image, dimensions vary, my grandmother wearing a shaperSeen 2
Nana and Bed Post, October 2021, Digital Photo, dimensions variable
Innovation does not only happen in the field of technology — it occurs everyday in an artist's practice. What do you do for inspiration?
I read daily. bell hooks, Wanda Coleman, Hilton Als are current favorites. I also watch many films on the Criterion channel and I love photo books! My top three are the Deana Lawson monograph, Women by Nadia Lee Cohen, and Lorna Simpson's publication with The Friend's of Photography (Untitled 54).
The Green Velvet Couch, December 2021, digital image, dimensions vary, a self portrait of myself reclining on my couch
Describe your practice and process. Where do ideas start for you? In the studio or being in the world?
Ideas begin in my daydreams and dreams. I think it comes from the subconscious mix of pop culture, overheard conversations, conversations with my grandmother/mother, and from my writings.
Welcome to the Garden, 2021, digital photo, dimensions vary
Jada in Purple Robe, November 2021, color film image, dimensions vary, a beautful Black femme model wearing a purple robe with braids in their hair
Who are your biggest influences?
My biggest influences are my mother, bell hooks, Lorna Simpson, Renee Cox, Diane Arbus, Tyler Mitchell, Allison Grant, my sister Iyana Gray
Iyana in Mom's Jacket, October 2021, Color Film Photo, dimensions variable
What books or films are an important source of inspiration?
All About Love, Hood Feminism, Giallo films, and Sofia Coppola films
How will Innovate Grant contribute to your practice?
The Innovate Grant will help me further my practice by allowing me to obtain resources for raising the production quality of my work.
Paired Visions, November 2021, Color Negative Film Photo, dimensions variable
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Never try to outsmart your classmates.
What is the best advice you would give to other artists?
Stay focused but remember that not all of the best images have to be in focus.