arielle gray


As a queer Black femme living with a mental illness, I grew up not knowing much about my ancestry, about my family's lineage and about myself. My artwork is a ship I've built to return to the shores of my identity. In the African Diaspora, so much is lost because of a lack of documented archival presence—names and stories are lost, on sea and on land. My work centers my experiences, in the here and now, while also reaching a hand back to the those who've come before me. The importance of documentation is paramount to passing down essential information, stories and narratives—I aim to do that with both my visual artwork and my writing. We are the things we leave behind and I do this work in the hopes that my art speaks for both myself and my people.

Project Summary

"Fringes" is a multi-media project that aims to document and archive the experiences of queer and trans folks of the African Diaspora living here in Boston, often on the fringes of hetero-normative society. The archives on QTPOC experiences in the city are threadbare and sparse—this project aims to mitigate that by creating a written, artistic and visual stamp of our existence.

"Fringes" will take shape in two main ways—an installation and a one time literary magazine. I will interview and take photographs of queer and trans folks from the African Diaspora, documenting their experiences here in the city, along with some of their family's history. These photos I will use for reference for creating textile portraits (made from embroidery thread) of ten of the interviewees, calling on a long line of African ancestral tradition of working with thread and fabric. These hanging tapestries will be a part of an art installation—digital versions of them will also live within the literary magazine. For the photos not turned into hanging tapestries, I will use digital illustration to transform the photos into ethereal portraits, which will be printed and also hung in the installation.