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Culture » Photographer Joshua Rashaad McFadden examines conceptions of Black masculinity

Photographer Joshua Rashaad McFadden examines conceptions of Black masculinity

Visual artist Joshua Rashaad McFadden (photo courtesy Joshua Rashaad McFadden)

At a young age, Joshua Rashaad McFadden was introduced to photography by his mother. McFadden fondly remembers receiving his first camera at 7 years old and he’s been an artist ever since.

Originally from Rochester, New York, McFadden is a visual artist and assistant professor of photography at Rochester Institute of Technology. As a form of visual art, he uses photography, portraiture as well as collecting archival imagery to explore themes and concepts related to identity, masculinity, history, race, and sexuality. His work primarily explores African American male identity, masculinity, and conceptions of father figures and compiles them into a photographic archive he’s created.

McFadden has been honored for his creative vision. He received an IPA award in 2016 for “Come to Selfhood,” his series examining African American manhood. In 2017, he was recognized as one of Time magazine’s “American Voices” and received the Duke University Archive of Documentary Arts Collection Award for Documentarians of Color.

McFadden’s’s latest exhibition, “Evidence,” examines conceptions of Black masculinity and race.

Was there a specific moment when you realized photography meant more to you than just taking pictures?
I was in undergrad when I experienced how photography can cause visceral reactions and sometimes empathy.

(photo courtesy Sari Oister)

Who are the great photographers for you and how do they inspire you?
Roy DeCarava, Carrie Mae Weems, and Lyle Ashton Harris are just three of my favorite photographers. Their work changed how I saw and engaged photographs.

Among your works, which one is your favorite? Why?
I have so many favorites, so it’s hard to choose one. Currently, my favorite is my latest exhibition called “Evidence.” “Evidence” begins to reframe societal views regarding Black masculinity. With new portraits and perspectives, this project offers a nuanced exploration around masculinity, gender identity as well as conformity, and resistance, individually and societally.

(photo courtesy Sari Oister)

What advice would you have for aspiring photographers, specifically people of color?
Learn your craft and take it seriously. If you don’t take yourself seriously, why would anyone else? Learn from those who’ve paved the way for you. In this industry, you’ll get a ton of “no’s,” keep going, but remember to listen and learn from your mistakes. Stay true to your vision. And finally, don’t let a lack of finances stop you. Where there’s a will, there’s always a way.

Current city shooting: New York
Social media: @joshua_rashaad (Twitter & Instagram)
Favorite non-work hobby: Hiking
Favorite artist on repeat: Janet Jackson