Christina Coleman is an artist based in Austin, Texas.
This list gives a glimpse into what I read and how these readings have informed my work.
Kobena Mercer, Welcome to the Jungle: New Positions in Black Cultural Studies “Black Hair/Style Politics”
Reading this essay by Kobena Mercer was really important for me. Prior to reading it I had never really considered the relationship between hair and nature. Or that our idea of the hairstyle ‘the natural’ being closer to our African cultural roots, is not based in fact. It begins, “Some time ago Michael Jackson’s hair caught fire when he was filming a television commercial.”
The Holy Bible
This is a book that I have always read, yet it is only recently that I have seen it filter into my work. This has happened mainly through the creation narrative, with its descriptions of objects, place, position, light, and darkness. It begins, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
George Orwell, 1984
This book is so intense it truly is an experience reading it. I ended up reading this book right after I read Franz Kafka’s The Trial and right before I read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. All great books. A couple of visualizations I have been contemplating on are always being watched and the beauty of the industrial. Orwell begins with, “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” Kafka begins, “Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning.” Rand begins, “Who is John Galt?”
Jan Schmidt-Garre, This Not That
When I am not reading I sometimes watch documentaries and interviews on YouTube. I came across this documentary and found that aside from it being a good film on artist John Baldessari it allowed me to think about and frame my work for myself in a very simple way. In the film Baldessari mentions how he is always interested in parts of things as opposed to the whole and so one way he sums up his practice is by saying “this not that.” I think about my work with the following variants, “this is like that” or “this and that are together,” etc.
Janelle Monae, Many Moons
A must have in my studio is music. I appreciate and enjoy the music and visuals of Janelle Monae. Her range of influences is so diverse you really get moments of all kinds of music in her work. At times it can be somewhat difficult to make work while listening to her music because I start wanting to only dance but it’s definitely worth it. She is in my opinion an Afrofuturist, and innovation, new possibilities, re-imaginings, are concepts that I have touched on and would like to consider more within my work.
Ava DuVernay, Selma
A major theme in my work is the body. I often reference the body through scale, materials, or form. The film Selma was really good. One of the things that stuck with me after watching it was an alternative image of a body (bodies) in protest. In most of the protest scenes in the film the protesters were largely silent. Most of the protests were people simply walking from one location to another or standing in formation at a place. There was no dramatic gesture of the body and no chants. It was powerful to see that the sole presence of bodies in a particular place could be a form of protest. This also reminded me of a show I saw years ago by Andrea Bowers, where she displayed these realistic graphite drawings of protesters. There was this video in the gallery that was if I remember correctly, teaching protesters defense techniques for instances where they would be violently arrested by police. The trainers demonstrated how an individual should make his or her body as heavy as possible so that they could not be taken away easily, which would in some cases force the police to drag the person away.
Here are some other things I am reading or have read
Ivan Turgenev, Fathers and Sons
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
Malcolm X and Alex Haley, The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Martha Stewart, The Martha Rules: 10 Essentials for Achieving Success as You Start, Grow and Manage a Business