Keisha Scarville

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Artist Statement

Photography is a mode through which I satisfy my desire to deconstruct reality and connect to my past. I engage in a process of visual excavation, exploring both landscapes and the body to address questions of belonging in the midst of negation. My work speaks to how these devices activate the imagination, inscribe our identity, and trigger what is hidden in memory.

The series, “Passports” is an ongoing project where I repeatedly reinterpret my father’s earliest passport photo. I am interested in the aesthetics of a passport photo as a signifier but also the guidelines that inform how one positions and presents oneself within the frame. Through an interrogative process, I re-imagine the image of my father to forge a dialogue with the image. I use collage, paint, and other materials to transfigure and dislodge the unmoving stoicism of the printed image and create an alternate spatial narrative. In each piece, I respond to the shape shifting effects of immigration and my own personal history.

In my current project, “Mama’s Clothes”, I explore the camera’s role in visualizing what cannot be seen but felt. In the series, I photograph myself in my deceased mother’s clothes. The clothing is transformed into a residual surrogate skin.  In the series, I create a visual space where I can conjure her presence while using my body as a medium.



Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, 2016
Parsons/The New School, Certificate in Creative Arts Therapy, 2010
Rochester Institute of Technology, BS received 1998

“Unfixed Homeland“ Aljira Center for Contemporary Art, Newark, NJ, July 2016
“Inherited” BRIC Arts Media House, Brooklyn, NY 2015
Addis Ababa Foto Fest, December 2014
“Dark Desires” Center for Sex and Culture, San Francisco, October 2014.
“Housewarming: Notions of Home from the Center of the Universe” BRIC Arts Media House, Brooklyn, NY 2013.
“Timheri Transitions“ Wilmer Jennings Gallery, New York 2013.
“The Bearden Project“ Studio Museum of Harlem, New York 2012.
“Forever Forged. Forever Becoming“ Bargehouse, London September 2011.
“The Black Portrait“ Rush Arts Gallery, New York May 2011.
“i am here.” African American Museum, New York March 2009.
“The Black Madonna” MOCADA & Skylight Gallery Brooklyn, New York February 2007.
“Regarding Intimacy” Hunter College Art Gallery New York March 2007.
“Committed to the Image” Brooklyn Museum of Art February 2001.


Oxford American, Fall 2015
Vice Magazine, 2015 (Volume 23, Issue #2 & Volume 22, Issue #10)
“Beautiful Ambiguities: The Photography of Keisha Scarville” Small Axe Journal, February 2015
Contact Sheet: Lightwork Annual, Fall 2015
Nueva Luz Photographic Journal, Fall 2013
The Bearden Project, The Studio Museum of Harlem ©2012 p. 192
Transition Magazine, 2012
ARC Magazine, 2010
Committed to the Image: Contemporary Black Photographers, Merrell Publishers ©2001 p. 194.

Brooklyn Arts Council Regrant Program 2006

Vermont Studio Center, August 2017
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace, 2015-2016
Lightwork A-I-R Program, Syracuse, August 2014.
Center For Photography at Woodstock, August 2003.

Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Syracuse Lightwork, Center for Photography at Woodstock & private collections.

International Center for Photography, Bard Early College, The Studio Museum of Harlem, The New Museum of Contemporary Art, Arts in Motion Africa, The Children’s Art Carnival, Sioux YMCA (South Dakota), Young Audiences, and Dream Yard Project.