People, Places, Things: BLK&GLD

Portraits by John Adair

Two black and white portraits, one of an adult Black man and one of a Black child. The photographs have been torn into pieces and reassembled, the tears covered up with gold leaf

BLK&GLD is a series of black-and-white portraits of my family members. Each photograph was taken after a lengthy conversation about their individual experiences with racism. I didn’t want to give the impression that they were haunted or held back by these specific moments. Rather, I wanted to show how they moved on and grew to become stronger and wiser. To visually portray this growth I utilized kintsugi—the Japanese practice of mending pottery with gold to convey its history and increase its beauty—to represent the various racial experiences each family member spoke of. I tore the physical prints by hand so that no tear would be the same, glued the pieces back together, and layered gold leaf on top. This experience has not only allowed me to grow closer to my family, but also reaffirmed my belief that it takes a lot more than hatred, bigotry, and ignorance to break the human spirit or diminish a person’s value.  


Art and Music, Family, Oregon Humanities Magazine, Race, photography, Fear


1 comments have been posted.

I am in awe of John Adair's beautiful portraits, and the story behind them! The lighting and the kintsugi aesthetic are lovely, and the message about transforming negative experiences with racism into healing and strength are powerful.

Marne Lucas | April 2024 | Portland, Oregon

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