An Encounter with Carlaful Magnificence.

Ran across some dope photographs by Carla Williams. I was on the hunt for some black and white photography when I discovered Ms. Williams’ haunting self portraits.

Her photos sustain an eerie delicate balance of life and death, of torment and tranquility. There’s an unflinching honesty about her work, an unapologetic praise of true natural beauty and the “unconventional” body type.

Be sure to visit her site . These photos were taken from her self-portrait collection: Pleasure and Beauty; Self Portraits 1985-1990


“I recognize in these photographs an exploration of one’s physicality, beauty, sexuality, power, and pleasure through humor, seduction, and performance. As much as my older, wiser self would like to claim otherwise, what I know is that there was nothing deliberate or political in their creation—that came later—I was a young black woman exploring the way I looked before the camera. Their directness and honesty and playfulness were only possible for me before I knew the degree to which any of it ‘mattered.'”- Carla Williams

In these photos, taken “roughly between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four”, Carla captures her coming of age both as an artist, a woman and as a human being. Her photos are raw yet surrounded in a shroud of anchored mysticism. And at the same time they are awashed in a brash youthful arrogance.

The California native started Carlagirl Photo on St. Valentine’s Day of 1999. She says of its purpose:

“It was established with two goals: to be able to make my own work widely available for free, and to make accessible my research about artists of the African Diaspora, especially photographers, and in particular women. As it developed it grew to also include GLBTQ artists.”

For me, these photos represent the immortality of art and self.  As mentioned earlier, these photos have such a warm haunting quality about them; almost as if they were taken 40 years ago in the future. Whether you are a pre or post adolescent, they trigger you to reminisce on the years passed and on the years ahead.

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