feature: “black lives have mattered for thousands of years” – kehinde wiley’s papermag photo story

November 4, 2015

Take a look at Kehinde Wiley‘s photo story for Papermag, “Black Lives Have Mattered For Thousands Of Years”. The powerful images, lensed by the prolific artist and styled by Shiona Turini, were published with Wiley’s following words: “America is a country in transition. So much of the American mythos is the notion of the city on the hill — that we are a beacon of light for others to see our greatness, our social justice and equality. In the end, though, there have to be moments in which we step back, examine ourselves, and police our own actions. We have a black president, and that is a sign of progress in many ways, but we still read in newspapers every week about young black men because their bodies are in our streets. There’s significance in that and, as an artist, I have to negotiate a response that is at once critical but also curious about how this could change. These photographs move in the direction of my aesthetic, which is decidedly art-historical, while exploring the strange intersection between that history and this particular moment in American culture.” He also writes, “Black lives matter because it’s a prescient thing to highlight in this moment of cultural evolution. But black lives have mattered for thousands of years. My interest is in the now — what does it feel like to be black in 2015?” Explore the photo story below.

By Alexander Aplerku, AFROPUNK Contributor



Makeup by Kim White at Artists at Wilhelmina
Grooming by Fran Freeman

Hair by Nikki Nelms
Set design by Von Fedoroff, Matt Maher and Jane Mai
Casting by Roger Inniss for Boom Productions Inc., Kehinde Wiley Studio: Amy Gadola and Brad Ogbonna
Stylist assistants: Ofunne Okwudiafor, Kristina Brown and Shanell Scott

Special thanks to: Tiffany Reeves, Mekdes Mersha, Kimberly Gedeon, Aisha Awadallah, Ajang Majok, Shantavia Beale, Darren Willis, Antoine Boardraye, Atiba Newsome, Darnell Ross, Alaska Gedeon, Tyler Duverne, Ava Lee Carter, Bryse Steward, Nola Denby, Jaielle Alejandro Welch, Craig Fletcher, Liam Daniels and Omar Elwadi