Behind The Lens with Tawny Chatmon

Go behind the lens with Tawny Chatmon who shares the inspiration and making of Inheritance, an exhibition encompassing three bodies of work: The Awakening, Byzantine Contempo, and The Redemption. In these series, Chatmon celebrates the beauty of black childhood, African American culture, and the delicate intricacies of protecting and raising a black child in today’s world. Each series is a conversation on love, nurturing, and the familial bond; a commentary on the politics of blackness; the historical portrayal of the black body; and an investigation of Renaissance and Byzantine portraiture. In combating the negative stereotyping associated with natural hairstyles and adornments that are distinctively likened to black people and culture, Chatmon glorifies these various styles: afros, locs, twists, and barbershop cuts revered in black communities. Embedded within the works are messages of embracing one’s beauty and cultural pride.

Video created to be featured on’s “One to Watch” series
Song 1- Fallen by Lina Pastel
Song 2- Bedroom Eyes by Jason St.Thomas/Audiobinger
Courtesy the artist and Galerie Myrtis

Click on the photos below to view selections from Tawny Chatmon’s exhibition Inheritance, which was on display December 14, 2019 – March 22, 2020 at Fotografiska New York.

Reflection/Crowned from the series “The Awakening”

Reflection/Crowned is a portrait symbolic of a mother and daughter. The daughter sees herself in her mother— a vision of beauty and inspiration.

She Promised… Don’t Cry for Me from the series “The Awakening”

She Promised is a portrait of Tawny Chatmon’s son, daughter, and their Godmother, who is Chatmon’s close friend. The emotional depiction of the Godmother shows worry about what her godchildren will experience in their future. “Don’t Cry for Me” in the title symbolizes the children’s hope. The crown, inspired by Crown Jewels of Ethiopia and headdresses from the Byzantine Empire, represents a symbol of deep honor, trust, and love that the artist has for her friend.

Beloved from the series “The Awakening”

The caring between mother and child is the subject of Beloved. The woman in the portrait is Chatmon’s cousin Chelsie breastfeeding her newborn child.

Covered/Vienna? from the series “The Awakening”

Covered depicts a mother protecting her child. The mother shares a strong, penetrating gaze with the viewer. Chatmon deliberately places a question mark in the title of this work to indicate the portrait’s inspiration from Gustav Klimt and the Vienna Secession.

The Second Sunday from the series “The Awakening”

Second Sunday is a portrait of Chatmon’s niece. Previously in her work Chatmon used antique batik patterns on portions of her subject’s clothing. For Second Sunday Tawny Chatmon drew the pattern with a tablet and gilded over the pattern after printing.