Culture Pie: Tanekeya Word’s Self(ie) Portrait

To celebrate the upcoming trunk show for The MCB Shop at Sir & Madame (see details below), The MCB Project asked a handful of women in creative fields to submit their photographs  along with their stories for our Self(ie) Portrait series.

I first became aware of Tanekeya Word‘s work through a friend living in Philly at the time. Tanekeya reminds me a lot of myself because she wears many creative hats. As a painter, an editor of her own magazine (NeonV), creative director and contributor to Solange‘s SaintHeron, she manages to explore various areas of her artistic goals and desires all while staying ahead of everyone else. Tanekeya is wearing the Tropicana x Alicia P. turban.

This is her story.

Tanekeya Word for The MCB Shop

Tanekeya Word for The MCB Shop

Over the past year, I’ve re-introduced myself to me. Life after receiving my Masters degree wasn’t exactly how I pictured it. This “art world” wasn’t as utopian as my dreams. I’d seen the “striving to be a represented artist” side as well as the arts management side, and it seemed as though I was duped into flipping a two-headed coin—I was the tail—and we all know unrequited love is overwhelming.

Exhausted, I decided to take a break and get back to the very things that gave me peace in the beginning. After eleven years, I moved from the East Coast back to my hometown in the Midwest and voluntarily moved in with my parents. My mom and I talked about art and she mentioned my love of portraiture as an adolescent. She thought like any true love, I could go back to it, no matter the distance between the break and we’d pick right back up where we left off; so, I went back.

My first portrait in fifteen years was a self-portrait. I daringly looked into my own eyes and pulled everything I had inside of me out on the paper and left it there. I entitled it “Home Court Advantage,” consider it foreshadowing. I turned 30 after I completed the painting and felt renewed. I opened up like I never had before and so many wonderful possibilities and opportunities aligned in my life. It didn’t come packaged quite like I had imagined, but it is peaceful and fulfilling!

I find portraiture to be authentic; it documents the vulnerable space where a person lets their guard down. Having experienced the supernatural sensation of being the subject, portraiture has forever changed the way I perceive the people I encounter on and off the canvas or paper.

If I may offer a bit of wisdom: time travel back to your youth and rediscover the very things that brought you peace and joy, return to it, and there the love will also be returned.


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