Adobe and Black Archives: Living Archive Series
Announcing a six-month partnership with Black Archives, highlighting emerging Black artists through short documentary profiles and providing grants to continue their work.
By Polly Irungu
Posted on 04-06-2021
As part of our ongoing mission to spotlight the stories, artwork and perspectives of Black creators around the world, we’ve kicked off a six-month partnership with Black Archives, highlighting emerging Black artists through a series of short documentary profiles and providing grants to continue their important work.
Now, we’d like you to meet the artists and share in their stories.
Halline “Haylow” Overby
Videographer, photographer, graphic designer, DJ, and musician
Los Angeles native Halline “Haylow” Overby is the quintessential multi hyphenate creative. He is a videographer, photographer, graphic designer, DJ, and musician, carving out multiple lanes while using a multi-dimensional blueprint.
When Haylow began exploring different fields, his goal was to represent hip-hop culture. He credits his mom as the most important person in his life, for allowing him to express himself freely along every step of the journey. “She always supported my creativity, and in many ways, I think that was as valuable as her being an artist to learn from,” he says.
Haylow has been living with Alopecia for the last five years, an autoimmune disorder that causes hair to fall out. The noticeable loss of his hair and eyebrows over time has heightened his sense of creativity and has helped him sharpen his mental focus. “From an artist’s perspective, when you lose something that is part of your physical identity, it helps you focus on the true essence of what you’re producing,” he says. “Faced with the idea of losing something personal to you, the output becomes more keen.”
He draws inspiration from any and everything. In particular, throughout South Los Angeles and in his neighborhood of Leimert Park, the combination of pastel palettes, hand painted signage and mid-century architecture are what he loves. Preserving, presenting, and documenting Black, Indigenous, and people of color stories is the core of his work.
For Haylow, being included in this series serves as a humbling reminder that he is worthy of recognition. “There is so much incredible competition as an artist, but I still have confidence in my work because it comes from a perspective that only I can present,” he says. “Black Archives is just amazing, an incredible curation of photography, and Adobe is like the gold standard of creative application. It’s a huge deal for me,” he adds. “I really want to use this platform to encourage others to tell our stories through documentation, because if we don’t tell our own stories, someone else will tell them for us.”
Filmmaker, photographer and editor
Brittney Janae’s love of film and creating content fueled her passion to create a path to showcase Black women in the world of film, photography and production. She co-founded LoreneJanae, with her best friend Erica Lorene, which is a makeup and photography company highlighting women of color. It has featured celebrities like Tiffany Haddish, Eve, Common, Snoop Dog and Yara Shahidi. Growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, and later attending college at the University of Missouri, “I’ve always been creative,” Janae says. Shortly after graduation, Janae took a leap of faith and moved to Los Angeles, but often found herself questioning her decision in an industry difficult to break into.
“My advice to other Black women who want to get into this field would be to find a team and surround yourself with people that believe in you and truly want to invest in you,” Janae says. “Whenever I try to do anything important to my career, I try to bring a friend with me who wants to break into this field,” she adds.
Janae is passionate about imploring other Black women creatives to use the resources available and to simply, start creating. “I’m inspired by the natural urge to document my daily interactions through social media, which is an opportunity we didn’t have when we were kids.” Her message highlights that contrary to popular belief, it is the mutual sustenance of skill and practice that makes filmmakers, not gear. “Most people underestimate how much documenting we do daily. When we record something on our phone and upload it to Instagram, that’s a digital archive. So you don’t necessarily have to have the right equipment to feel like you’re a successful photographer. The most important equipment in your tool kit is a creative eye.”
Collagist, writer and graphic designer
Shefon Taylor is a self-taught collagist, writer, and graphic designer whose work is a culmination of the intersections of memory, history, imagination, and the futuristic revival of Black womanhood. As a retired musical theatre performer and creative writer, her craft has evolved into the realm of digital artwork and visual storytelling.
Her latest project as part of the “Living Archive” series, in partnership with Black Archives and Adobe, started with a 1967 photo of her grandmother, and ignited a spark, to turn family photos into her signature statement.
When people inquire about her identity as an artist, Taylor feels like the work she designs feels like a continuum. “I’d never really imagined or saw myself as a visual artist. In some ways, my art is just a collage of my life experiences dating back to my childhood and the memories of being raised by my grandmother and her seven sisters. That’s how I define my identity as an artist at the moment.”
The opportunity to collaborate with Black Archives is a service to everyday Black people who have been erased under the gaze of mainstream contemporary art. “You know I’m a Renata and Black Archives stan,” Taylor says. “I felt a real sense of affirmation because I wanted to highlight the importance of vernacular imagery. More Black artists need these kinds of opportunities to receive the legitimacy that we seek.”
“To emerging Black artists I would say, trust your obsessions and most importantly, don’t enroll into art school (laughs). No, but seriously, trust your obsessions. Do as much self-exploration as possible.”
The limitation of current discourse around Black excellence and representation is that it eclipses everyday people’s uniqueness doing everyday things. “My grandmother isn’t the first woman to go to space, but her story is worthy of being shared. Black girl magic is the women in our families existing and keeping our ancestry alive.”
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