Ladene Clark, from “Brown Bo’hemians” by Brown Bo’hemians, published by powerHouse Books. (Travis Matthews)
Photo Editor

A new book by powerHouse Books highlights works by creative people of color. “Brown Bo’hemians” (powerHouse, 2020) is curated by Vanessa Coore Vernon, Morgan Ashley and Wendy Pruitt, owners of the Bohemian Brands online clothing and home-goods store.

In an introduction, the curators tell us more about the book:

“Brown Bo’hemians is a photo book that captures the essence and stories of an otherwise underrepresented demographic.

"Pushing past the stereotypical ideals of clothing, or a particular form of artistry, this book is about bringing a vital and virtual movement on social media into a tangible format.

"It is inspired by our own individual lifestyles and showcases collectively what we have experienced as creative people of color.

"Originators of all things, yet given the least amount of credit, this book reclaims a very, very small piece of space that has always been rightfully ours.

"Each of our stories is unique, yet adds to the rebuilding of communities after colonialism, narrowed media representation, non-inclusive beauty standards, and a lack of recognition for our contributions. Influenced by our deeply held belief that images and stories sculpt our collective narrative, we literally took matters into our own hands …

"Unlike some traditional forms of publishing where you send it off, and it comes back in ‘their’ vision, we had full creative control to curate and conceptualize the book we wanted to see.

"So, to the underrepresented, to the undervalued, to the creative spirit who needs to see this — this is for you.”

In the book’s 224 pages, the portraits by various photographers are accompanied by personal stories from around the world. For example, Shanaz Hughson from Mumbai talks about the difficulties she has faced as a creative woman in India.

Hughson says: “We are shamed for having a free spirit, we are shamed for not wanting ‘the traditional family,’ we are shamed for thinking outside of our own realities, and we are shamed for being artists. … But the change is coming — artists are empowered now more than ever. To make their voices heard through political art, marches, and more is, in the words of Rana Ayyub, ‘a change that feels like nothing short of a revolution in our culture.’ ”

Hughson finds her creative outlet in making jewelry inspired by her travels. Her inspirational story is just one of the many highlighted.

“Brown Bo’hemians” found its genesis in the digital world. It was born through social media where like-minded individuals created a space to share interests — in fashion, lifestyle and art, a place they felt was denied to them through traditional means. After coming together through virtual spaces, they have made that gathering more concrete and enduring through a physical object.


From left: Monykuoch Deng, Deng Deng, Hayet AJA Duot, Athiey Duot Deng, from “Brown Bo’hemians,” by Brown Bo’hemians, published by powerHouse Books. (Shamaal Bloodman)

Deng Deng, from “Brown Bo’hemians,” by Brown Bo’hemians, published by powerHouse Books. (Joshua Kissi)

Gouled Ahmed, from “Brown Bo’hemians,” by Brown Bo’hemians, published by powerHouse Books. (Gouled Ahmed)

Sunshine Baker, left and Noon Baker, from “Brown Bo’hemians,” by Brown Bo’hemians, published by powerHouse Books. (Olalekan Abou Baker)

From “Brown Bo’hemians,” by Brown Bo’hemians, published by powerHouse Books. (Maya Chakravarti)

Shelley Mokoena, from “Brown Bo’hemians” by Brown Bo’hemians, published by powerHouse Books. (Themba Mbuyisa)

Amah Ayivi, left, Shaka Maidoh, behind in suit, and Sam Lambert, from “Brown Bo’hemians” by Brown Bo’hemians, published by powerHouse Books. (Niklas Nyman)

Tatianna (Tarot) Morales, from “Brown Bo’hemians” by Brown Bo’hemians, published by powerHouse Books. (Nikki Gurvin)

VV Patchouli, from “Brown Bo’hemians” by Brown Bo’hemians, published by powerHouse Books. (DP Jolly)

In Sight is The Washington Post’s photography blog for visual narrative. This platform showcases compelling and diverse imagery from staff members and freelance photographers, news agencies and archives. If you are interested in submitting a story to In Sight, please complete this form.

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