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Jessica Bastidas

My series explores the psychology of the sitter and the quiet dignity present within each person despite a history of oppression through colonialism, slavery, and socio-economic disenfranchisement. As a fine artist and illustrator working alongside papermakers, woodcarvers, and other craftspeople in São Tomé, Africa, I was inspired by the manner in which art can act as a healing force that has helped to motivate the most recent generation of entrepreneurs and innovators within the capital of São Tomé. In my experience as an artist/researcher/educator, ethical visual ethnographic practices can encourage learners to bridge distances between cultures, experiences, and geographies by utilizing research to acknowledge, analyze, and reflect on power, politics, and diversity. Therefore, my hope for myself, as an artist is to develop a working process that honors complexity and challenges cultural and individual assumptions in order to encourage greater awareness and acceptance of ourselves and others.

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