Based on the readings, and my own experience, I believe that "telling" is transformative. Naming an experience and sharing it with others changes the speaker as well as the listener, both personally and culturally. I keep coming back to the feeling that this is all about power and space. Adding unheard voices to the mix disrupts master narratives, and demands space to present personal, lived truths. The viewer is informed, and thus, changed by viewing the art, as is dominant culture. In this chapter, artists were drawing on the collective power of their histories. They are telling their own stories, but are backed up by their culture, communities, and shared values. For John Outterbridge, the connection to his ancestors is a source of courage and intent in his art (pp. 59). This chapter truly highlighted the way that transforming experience into art can re-write dominant histories.
As I was reading "Telling", I was looking for connections to my self-portrait project, but there didn’t end up being any pieces that spoke to my process directly. The identity that I am highlighting in my portrait is not something that is communal, or that has any ancestral history. Though there wasn’t a specific work, there was a theme throughout the chapter that has definitely influenced my project: Stories can heal, and empower. Darlene Clark Hine accounts, “They believed that somehow you could change your present circumstances if only your history was told. Then they would finally be accorded recognition and legitimacy” (pp 92.) I strongly connected with this, and it brought up my struggle to reconcile the experiences of my life thus far and the wholeness that I want to invoke in my life moving forward. “Telling” is the key.