BAHM: 2.27.17 Erica Deeman
Erica Deeman is a San Francisco based photographer who creates series of large-scale portraits of the African Diaspora (she herself is Jamaican and English). Born in 1977, Deeman grew up in Nottingham, England, earned a B.A. in Public Relations from Leeds University in 2000 and a B.A. in Photography from Academy of Art, San Francisco in 2014. Deeman has been an intern and docent at Pier 24 Photography since 2013, and after sharing her work with Director, Chris McCall, the gallery acquired 10 pieces from her Silhouettes series. Her work has been featured in the juried group show, Heat, at SF Camerawork in 2015, and Collected at Pier 24 Photography in 2016. Upcoming exhibits include Erica Deeman: Brown at Anthony Meier Fine Arts from March 24th to April 28th and the artist’s first solo museum exhibition, Erica Deeman: Silhouettes, at the Berkeley Museum of Art from March 8th to June 11th, along with an Artist Talk at BAMPFA on March 8th.
Deeman’s portrait series, Silhouettes, depicts women of the Africa Diaspora against an illuminated white background, in a limited color palette. The backlighting creates the effect of the features being at once, illuminated and obscured in darkness. There is a focus on the profile, the upward gaze and the texture of the hair. Deeman has noted the influence of 18th c. pseudoscientific tradition of Physiognomic portraiture on modern day readings of these images as well as the privileging of large-scale portraiture not historically afforded to black women. The portraits seem to occupy the physical space between the viewer and the image’s surface. The testament to feminine strength and endurance is immediately apparent, but shortly thereafter comes a sense of fragility, as these figures hover on the boundary of inscrutability. Deeman’s portraits succeed in not only capturing the essence of the sitters, but also the tactile record of the black woman in front of the lens, filling an existing void in our visual literacy.
Lensculture Interview: Erica Deeman Silhouettes, Interviewed by SF Camerawork Director, Heather Snider
Huffington Post Article: Artist Addresses The Racist History of Photographing Men of Color