Payton Harris-Woodard’s (b. 1996, Chicago) earned her BA from Columbia College Chicago, and her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Recent exhibitions include Women one the Verge at Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago,IL; Ground Floor Biennial at the Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago,IL; Golden Ratio, Mapping Self, Space, and Other at Art is Bond, Houston, TX; Generations at Woman Made Gallery, Chicago, IL; The Bronzeville Trolley Tour at Gallery Guichard, Chicago, IL; and Ultra Local at Van Der Plas Gallery, New York, NY. Her writing and artwork has been published in Hyperallergic Magazine, F News Magazine, Stellium Literary Magazine and Hand papermaking Magazine where she published an interview with Howardena Pindell. Awards include the New Artist Society Full Merit Award at School of the Art Institute of Chicago; the Black Writers Fellowship with Hand Paper making Magazine; and, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts Fellowship.
In a larger societal and historical context, Harris-Woodards work investigates the complexities within the autonomy of the black female body through an autobiographical sense. She observes photographs of herself, and fantastically invented spaces to explore/create a personal catharsis that exists within both a historical and personal past, of being inside the body, and simultaneously reconciling with reflection, isolation, and difference in the physical plane Through transformation and control, the works celebrate the sticky bits of finding one’s own voice, and existing across virtual, real, casual, and academic spaces. Through the medium of paint and paper, she navigates various colors and patterns, and sinuous matter to create a personal symbology that highlights a selective convoluted narrative. The partially slit brown figures incompletely expose the most humanistic aspects of the body, while placing emphasis on the monstrous qualities of one’s psyche. In the viewer’s face, she juxtaposes ideas of beauty, while reclaiming a self-consciousness journey of self-examination.