Crossing the Boundary Maintenance
Definition from Oxford Dictionary of Sociology
1. The ways in which societies (or social systems) maintain distinctions between themselves and others. Many have suggested that, by studying the ways in which a society attempts to define its inherently ambiguous—and hence potentially dangerous—peripheral areas, it is possible to obtain a better understanding of what constitutes its key cultural values.
This series of self-portraits in the High Sierra is my most vulnerable, challenging, and selfish work.
I have been backpacking and creating artistic photographs of Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada since 2011. My consistency is due to my deep connection with granite peaks and alpine lakes found in these areas. However, that deep connection wasn’t enough to shake the inherent feeling that I didn’t belong in those wilderness areas due to the social and cultural barriers I faced as an African American.
Over a decade, I suppressed my negative thoughts and experiences from exploring Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada. One of my greatest fears was allowing them to supersede my deep connection with the granite peaks and alpine lakes.
In the summer of 2022, I had to reckon with my identity and belonging at my place of employment because there was a concerted effort to discredit and marginalize my technical contributions. I learned that the stigma of being Black and intellectually inferior was still very alive in Silicon Valley, and this experience forced me to confront the uncomfortable truth that I did not feel that I belonged in wilderness areas.
In the fall of 2022, I went on a 55-mile solo backpacking trip in the High Sierra - my first solo multi-night wilderness trip. And for the first time, I photographed myself in the landscape - asserting my identity and belonging in the wilderness.
Those self-portraits gave me the power to be comfortable in my own skin in the wilderness, and they mark a pivot in my photography journey from capturing sublime images of the natural landscape to exploring the topics of identity and belonging in the wilderness.
- This series of images are self portraits I took while solo backpacking a 55 mile trail in the High Sierra in October 2022.
- The DSLR's self timer function was used to take sets of 4 images
- Images are in chronological order.
- Text will eventually be included with images to address the various themes.