Far too often African American men live and identify with an idea of “blackness” that is imposed upon them, rather than created by them. Their sense of self worth and identity has primarily been defined by external forces. What happens when an African American man self interprets his own identity based upon ideology, reality, memory, and experience? This body of work is confronting the issue of how an African American male “comes to” a sense of agency or “Selfhood” within a dominate culture that does not fully support the physical, physiological, spiritual growth and well being of African Americans. Composed of two components, this series explores and examines the qualities that constitute one’s individuality.
“Come to Selfhood” is an important and “I-opening” project! I am excited to see how Joshua Rashaad McFadden used ‘The Family of Men Photographic Archive’ to extend his own conversation about visualizing masculinity. This book will be viewed as a corrective as well as a fascinating collective story about imaging the black male portrait from the turn of the 20th century to today. McFadden is a masterful photographer-biographer who has unveiled a thoughtful and dazzling visual narrative of the ‘self’.
Deborah Willis, Professor of Photography & Imaging at New York University, Tisch, author of numerous books including Posing Beauty.
In “Come to Selfhood”, Joshua Rashaad McFadden creates a moving record of young African-American men as they reveal how their lives have been defined by race and gender. We connect with the knowing gaze of the men in McFadden’s dignified portraits, each paired with a snapshot of his subject’s chosen father figure, who often looks touchingly innocent by comparison—and almost always the strong physical resemblance between son and mentor makes the relationship feel even more meaningful. These connections are deepened even further by the words of the sons, who often pay tribute to the legacy of these fathers who have shaped their views and bequeathed to them the confidence to be themselves.
Elizabeth Krist, former Senior Photo Editor, National Geographic.
“Come To Selfhood”, is, to me, is a resistant gesture, a dismantling of an embedded history and narrative of Black Masculinity which writes Black men as without fathers, without history, without softness. Simultaneously it is a constructive act: a building of a visual history and archive of Black intimacy.
Lyle Ashton Harris, world renowned visual artist, his work has been exhibited internationally, including at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the 52nd Venice Biennale.