A Different Kind of Love Story: For Us is a continuing investigation and study of Black women's identity by Chicago-based visual artist Zakkiyyah Najeebah. In the process of discovering and claiming her own identity as a Black woman artist, Najeebah considers the Black women artists, poets, writers, and women in her orbit who have encouraged her own self-investigation.
In her large-scale portraits ( taken on 35mm film ) of Black women/femmes in private encounters and candid interactions, Najeebah embraces the concept of Womanism (coined by author/historian Alice Walker). Walker defines Black womanist theory and a Womanist as A black feminist or feminist of color… Appreciates and prefers women's culture. Committed to survival and wholeness of entire people, male and female. Conscious of how the concept of woman is continuously evolving, Najeebah’s work offers a reflection on both its limitations and expansions.
Situated somewhere between the empathetic, documentary-style portraiture of such photographers like Dawoud Bey or Nan Goldin, and the psychological narratives depicted in Carrie Mae Weems’s photography, Najeebah’s work both offers a glimpse into the lives of Black womenfolk, and wholly identifies with and embraces their complexity. Her engagement with the women she photographs carries elements of vulnerability, truth-telling, and to a wide degree, the erotic. Najeebah considers each interaction as an opportunity to see herself within her subjects, while also lending an ear to their concerns, stories, passions, and desires.
“I am deeply committed to expanding not only how Black women folk are understood through their identity, but more so invested in how we (Black womenfolk) perceive ourselves and the diverse range of Black women whom we carry shared histories and complex bonds with…”