The portrayal of Black men in society has haunted Black culture for decades. USC Alumna and photographer Jaimie Milner is ready to push pass the myths and paint an image of truth.
Milner was first introduced to photography by one of her high school teachers. As she grew up, a family friend continued to nurture her talent.
Later, she attended USC where she graduated with a degree in Communications. There, she learned about the way race, gender and sexuality are portrayed and how it is currently affecting the world.
Today, the photographer is celebrating the beauty and genius of Black men with her latest project entitled “Gifted.” The project which was launched in 2010, is a photo and interview series conducted by Milner focusing on the hidden truth of Black men.
“I started this project because I wanted to show people how I saw Black men and as I continued, the project evolved into a platform for the voice of Black men today,” said Milner.
And so the quest began.
“I began photographing different men to show how I see them,” said Milner. “I wanted to provide a platform for men today, how they felt, what they were trying to do with their lives and what was important to them.”
As the project progressed, the photographer traveled from home-to-home interviewing over 50 men. The five interview questions varied from who they are to how they feel about the state of Black men today.
“I wanted to find a way to bring the viewer into the space that we had,” said Milner. “All of the questions that I asked during the shoot, I wanted to share with the audience and other Black men on a larger level. I really wanted to bring it down to what are our myths, what are our truths and how can we take action on this.”
Milner has one goal, which is for men to be reminded of their greatness, and to become leaders in the community.
“I would love to see strong Black men leading our community,” said Milner. “As much as this project is about celebrating Black men, I also wanted to show and remind Black women the array of talent that Black men have.”
Although the “Gifted” project is on display, Milner states the series will continue and become a traveling exhibit as well as a published book.
“Right now, I am looking for a publisher to publish it as a book. It might be something that has multiple editions,” said Milner.
The book will consist of the photographs and the full interviews of the men Milner interview during the project.
What’s next for Milner? Aside from working on the traveling exhibit, she is also working on a conceptual project series involving the symbolism of cotton.
“This project will focus more on women and what cotton symbolizes in this country and the negative meaning it has in this country,” said Milner.
Throughout Milner’s desire to work on the “Gifted” project, her family has been extremely supportive.
“I feel so blessed to have a family that cares about my dream and vision,” said Milner. “They support me in my rough moments. They have been everything in terms of this project being where it is today.”
Break down the myths of Black men and experience the photographed truth through the “Gifted” exhibit at the Residency Art located in Inglewood. Art lovers are also welcomed to attend the photographers closing reception Saturday, November 5 from 6pm – 9pm.
For more information on the “Gifted” project visit http://thegiftedblkmen.com/