Parvathi Kumar, Portrait of Whitney Smith, 2020
Beginning in June 2020, Parvathi Kumar interviewed and photographed twenty-five Black women in the New Jersey area to showcase their collective courage and resilience. Responding to the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests as well as the global COVID-19 pandemic, the New Jersey–based photographer wanted to document and share the vast goodness she observed in this group of women—a goodness that prevailed over the pain people were feeling. Her efforts resulted in the book Everyday Blackness: Celebrating Exceptional Women, published in 2021.
Through networking and research, Kumar identified women leading ordinary, “everyday” lives, who were also exceptional in their own ways. Ranging in age from 19 to 86, they represent a broad array of professions and experiences, including author, educator, entrepreneur, activist, CEO, doctor, disability advocate, attorney, environmentalist, student, and others. Acknowledging the individual challenges they face, Kumar also observed a common thread binding the group together—a selflessness and commitment to service that makes them the backbones of their families, communities, and country. She sums it up in the preface to her book: “In a world that continues to marginalize and judge people based on physical appearances, these unwitting heroines persevere for the greater good.”
The exhibition includes portraits of all twenty-five women and features quotations from, and brief biographies of, each sitter.
For more information on the artist, visit here.