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Through Domia’s Lens

first_imgAfter the Roski School of Art and Design awarded her the Macomber Travel Grant, she was able to travel to her mother’s hometown of Ardmore, Okla. as a continuation of “Journey to Salvation.”  “It was a really important thing to make sure that they would come each day and be excited that they would have something to do,” Edwards said. “Also, we tried to keep it enriching … Because a lot of the public schools in that neighborhood weren’t the best.”  “The ocean has been a really repetitive thing in my work because it’s just this unending space of just uncertainty,” Edwards said. “I find the ocean so beautiful, and it’s been a comfort for me.”  “I feel there’s no better way to really make an impact other than really investing in the future, and that’s our children,” Edwards said. Edwards’ art is mostly personal, as she incorporates fights that she considers worth fighting for. There is also a motif of water present in her artwork. “Once they get to that age … children think they’re too old [for camp], so we wanted to push them and be like, ‘OK, if you’re too old for camp, you don’t want to be with the little kids, what do you want to do in your life?’” Edwards said. The photographs themselves were images of softness brought by the presence of the ocean, waves and flowers that showcased the sensitive side of masculinity.  “I first had her in a moving image film class—that’s where you shoot analog film—and she immediately made a very beautiful and intense piece about African American kids,” West said. “The images were incredibly well-shot and composed and it was very moving … Her work is very personal and that piece was a little bit more about larger notions of the world and her community and her specific point of view and experience.’’ “I became a counselor when I was 14,” Edwards said. “I started as a site director with my older sister but [when] she graduated college … more responsibility fell onto me.”  “That town raised four generations of my mother’s family,” Edwards said. “My great-great grandparents traveled from Georgia to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears, so representation is really important to me.’’  Despite being away from her hometown and Camp Village for most of the year, Edwards manages to incorporate her history and personal causes into her art and school projects at USC.  Being raised in such an environment not only allowed Edwards to express her creative side but also nurtured her leadership skills at a young age. Through photography, Domia Edwards has found a comfortable place to share her perspective on uncomfortable issues. The artist uses her photographs as a way to open up discussions on causes she personally believes in, such as increased representation of African Americans. That affection shows through the other side too. Caleb Griffin, a senior majoring in art and one of Domia’s closest friends, was one of the models in “Boys Don’t Cry” and considers working with Edwards an experiment in mindfulness.  One of the main aspects of her photography is the effort she puts into making her models feel at ease.  Over the last 17 years, the camp has served thousands of children between 5 and 18 years old. Beyond her friendships, Edwards has left a mark on professors like Jennifer West, an associate professor of the practice of fine arts. West, who is internationally recognized for her explorations of materialism in film, was impressed by Edwards’ artistic productions when she taught her for the first time. center_img Representation is the subject of some of her other projects as well. During her freshman year, she worked on a piece called “Boys Don’t Cry,” in which she photographed three of her best friends at USC, aiming to expose a more controversial aspect of masculinity. “I think it had a huge influence on how I was raised and just being able to be around that type of education,” Edwards said. “I’m from the southwest of Atlanta, and it’s a pretty much all-Black part of the town. There wasn’t a lot of programming that was really all-encompassing for these young Black children in our neighborhood. We just grew and grew, bigger and bigger.” “My freshman year, I started this project that’s been continuously going throughout all my years here,” Edwards said. “I call it ‘Journey to Salvation,’ where I started more of an internal practice of documenting, just questioning being away from home, moving to college.” West said Edwards’ unique perspective and artistic talent, makes her a major contribution to the USC community. Her photographic expertise or with thoughtful insights during discussions inspire her peers, West said. Edwards has already established herself as a prominent photographer and artist, and although the future is uncertain, she believes she’s meant to give back to the world. “Black men are really expected to act in a certain way,” Edwards said. “They’re not expected to do certain things and the tension on their masculinity is a lot tighter. I feel they don’t get to love as freely as they want to, even in friendships.”  “Our shoots are really casual even though sometimes they’re centered around weighted topics, but the casualness is a result of our friendship,’’ Griffin said. Our relationship is really special to me because we bounce ideas off of each other a lot and push each other to new different heights.” “She holds a very strong and important role in the Roski community,” West said.  “I always try to make sure my subjects are comfortable with me having a camera, with me being in their space,” Edwards said. “Really immersing myself into that community, making sure they feel comfortable with me and I feel comfortable with them to be able to really capture what I feel like they are.”  After that, Edwards created the Junior Apprentice Program, designed for teenagers between 10 and 18 years old who are no longer excited about children’s activities.  (Photo courtesy of Domia Edwards) “People were really diving into really disbanding, ‘What can masculinity be like?’” Edwards said. “If we really just let the reigns loose, what can all the beautiful forms they can really manifest in? … To be able to see them and have such a free and loving friendship, and them having such a loving friendship with me was really inspiring.” Edward, a senior majoring in art, has known she wanted to be an artist for as long as she can remember. Born and raised in Georgia, Edwards grew up as an active member of Camp Village, an after-school extracurricular program founded by her mother when she was 3 years old.  Edwards said she realizes that being an artist is not easy, but she is a strong believer that doing what one loves is absolutely worth doing. “Art can be stressful and hard,” Edwards said. “You gotta love it. I love this … I dream about making art. I dream about making the world a better place … That’s my No. 1 mission.’’last_img read more