Dawn Black Bio

Dawn Black

years with Cynthia-Reeves: 7
Curriculum Vitae (pdf)


Dawn Black’s beautifully rendered watercolors highlight the conscious decisions we make around our physical identity, and how cultural influences and circumstances promote or impinge on a true sense of self. Her Conceal Project examines the practice of masquerade and the exaggeration of the persona in relation to this elusive ‘identity’, which, in its entirety, includes hundreds of postcard-scale drawings. Each is a different vignette that elucidates some quarter of contemporary culture, from portraits of Middle America to those on the extreme fringes of society.

I am particularly interested in the various permutations of social practices that engender power hierarchies. The religious and ethnic nuances of power—who are the meek, who are the shameless, and when do the roles interchange? Societal practices of masquerade, uniforms, religious dress, etc. muddle conceptions of power and identity. It is provoking how a disguise (even a uniform) engenders the wearer powerful through his or her clandestine anonymity. Even more disturbing is the disguise’s paradoxical virtue of allowing the concealed individual to be his or her authentic self. Which identity is authentic, the intrinsic self or the identity acquired through masquerade or do they create a third identity through a blending of the two? These questions define my work as I seek to negotiate identity and the power of the individual. –Dawn Black

This project, along with other larger scale works by Black were internationally exhibited at the Columbus Museum (Columbus, Georgia); Marche d’Acqua (Fabriano, Italy); McColl Center for Art + Innovation (Charlotte, North Carolina); The Fundacion Pedro Cano (Blanco, Spain), and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art (New Orleans, Louisiana), among others.