I empower women by portraying them with power, determination and focus. Many of my images feature women in confident poses, taken from a heroic angle. In For My Girls, I explore how 1990s female hip-hop artists inspired me to be proud of my African-American lineage, unapologetic for my liberated behavior and forceful in my approach to the culture at large. To translate this into photographic form, I start by creating highly active studio portraits of young black women, style them appropriately and ask them to strike specific poses. Then I paint and draw on the actual photographic prints, producing a one-of-a-kind image. Each subject determines the way I apply the paint, some strokes are aggressive and others are fluid.
Hip-hop has been the source of many role models for black youth in modern America. During the 1990s, black women were a dominating force in this genre of music. Artists such as Missy Elliot, Da Brat, Queen Latifah and Salt-N-Pepa had boisterous voices and styles to match. All of these women had unique musical sensibilities, fashion choices and physical attributes. None of them were limited by the stereotypical roles that are still imposed on young women today. As a girl growing up in the 1990s, I viewed many of these artists as role models. There was an element of sisterhood among them that I admired, and which I feel is missing in today’s hip-hop culture. I hope that For My Girls will empower women as a whole to honor themselves as well as the women who inspire them.
Nichole Washington is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and is known for her powerful portraits of women. Her images feature subjects that are elevated to heroic stature through confident poses. Nichole’s latest work combines photographic portraiture with bold paint strokes, bringing depth and action to each one-of-a-kind piece. She is based in Brooklyn, New York.