New Photography Exhibit Highlights Joy and Pride of Black Bodies

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Jan 24, 2020

On January 25, the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York City will launch Tyler Mitchell: I Can Make You Feel Good, an exhibit from 24-year-old Brooklyn-based photographer and filmmaker Tyler Mitchell. It’s one of four inaugural exhibitions in ICP’s new home.

Beyoncé fans may recognize the name from September 2018, when Mitchell photographed the superstar and made history as the first Black photographer to shoot the cover of American Vogue. Now, in his first U.S. solo show, Mitchell "aims to revitalize and elevate the Black body in his work by representing people in his own community as joyful and proud. Characterized by a use of natural light and candy-color palettes, his work visualizes a Black utopia contrasting with representations and experiences of reality, while offering a powerful and hopeful counternarrative," says ICP in an announcement.   

"I think bringing this show to the ICP is important just because of the ways Black folks have been depicted in images prior to this moment," Mitchell told the The Wall Street Journal.

Mitchell seeks to depict photographic slices of Black reality, alongside Black joy. “I also occasionally weave symbols into my portraits, such as water guns and plastic chains—symbols of repression as a subtle reminder of the ways in which the Black body is still politicized, and sometimes unable to move through the real world as freely as I would like,” Mitchell says in the announcement. “I feel an urgency to visualize Black people as free, expressive, effortless and sensitive.”

 “Tyler Mitchell: I Can Make You Feel Good” is on view at ICP from January 25 through May 18.