The Prologue and Captivating Artistry: Exploring Black Identity through Jerrell Gibbs’ Polaroid PortraitsThe Prologue and

Welcome to our column of creative pieces! Here, you’ll find a variety of works that we’ve written, including continued stories, poetry, and short stories from start to finish. With us, you can always expect the unexpected and be ready for anything. In today’s installment, we present a prologue to a captivating storyline that will continue in the future.

Today, we are excited to feature the incredible artist Jerrell Gibbs. Based in Baltimore, Gibbs creates poignant portraits from polaroids, delving into Black identity through intimate moments and empathy. Through his work, he retraces family memories, exploring the origins of his own life. His art captures intimate and instantly joyous moments, affirming the rich and multilayered experience of the African-American diaspora. In his immersive pieces, Gibbs invites viewers to delve into his childhood realm, providing an emotional experience that resonates deeply.

To learn more about Jerrell Gibbs and his captivating artwork, we invite you to visit his website at Explore the profound stories he shares through his paintings and discover the power of his artistic expression.

Stay tuned for the next installment of our column, where you’ll find more creative pieces and captivating narratives. Get ready to be inspired and surprised by the diverse range of works to come.

In 1995, Joy came into the world in Berlin, Germany. Her parents, Yemaya and Ezekiel, married at a young age and stayed together until Joy reached the fifth grade. During her early years, their household was marked by frequent arguments. Joy’s father, a free-spirited painter, felt confined in the traditional setting. He constantly sought inspiration from the city and its people, often spending hours in his studio located in their spacious four-bedroom apartment.

When Joy turned 11, her father vanished one night. He silently packed his belongings, moving through the darkened hallway. This was unusual, as he would typically wander around with the lights on, making noise without a care. But not that night. The apartment was shrouded in darkness, including his studio. Joy’s mother was out of town visiting her sister and wouldn’t return until the following morning. Intrigued and suspicious, Joy rose from her bed, hesitantly opening her door. Her parents had been engaged in relentless arguments for weeks, leading her mother to seek refuge at her sister’s place.

As Joy opened the door, she discovered her father carrying a full backpack and a mysterious gym bag. “Did I wake you, sweetie?” guilt washed over his face, though Joy knew it wasn’t due to her awakening. Shaking her head, she silently implored him to explain. But no explanation came. Instead, he offered her a metal pen with the words engraved, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” He smiled, but it felt forced to Joy. “Early birthday present,” he said, then turned and left through the front door, never looking back. Restless and fearful, Joy spent the night plagued by imagined sounds, shedding tears until exhaustion eventually closed her swollen eyes. The next morning, her mother returned, filled with anger and anguish to find her daughter alone. In the following months, she cycled through anger, depression, and fleeting moments of happiness. Yemaya, a full-time nurse, worked tirelessly and would weep silently in her room, thinking Joy couldn’t hear. But Joy did. With her daughter’s support, Yemaya recovered more quickly than Joy anticipated. Despite everything, Joy never held any resentment toward her mother, never placing blame. Her mother had been good to her, loving and appreciating her for all she had done.

As the years passed, Joy viewed her father’s departure as a sad, empty, and almost cliché goodbye. She buried her anger and never used the pen he gave her. Joy understood she was her mother’s sole pillar of support, her only hope to stay afloat. She became her mother’s rock, allowing her to lean on her emotionally while disregarding her own feelings. Joy believed her mother’s well-being mattered more than her own. This selfless approach permeated many aspects of Joy’s life. Whenever sadness threatened to engulf her, she refused to acknowledge it, escaping to a world where everything was perfect, determined to maintain the joy she radiated. Her ability to uplift others earned her love and adoration. She was the ray of sunshine that brightened dark days, fulfilling the expectations placed upon her—to bring joy.

Check out more of Gibb’s work:

Instagram: @jerrellgibbs

(Header: I Wish I Could Give You This Feeling’ , 2020 by Jerrell Gibbs)