“Art is one of the most powerful weapons we have against violence perpetuated by the media and the government,” artist, activist, and Art Hoe contributor Jheyda McGarrell told Dazed in its 2017 activist issue. It’s a powerful and piercingly relevant belief, and one that echoes throughout McGarrell’s career across photography and film.
Born in California but based in New York, the artist uses her camera as a fearless weapon against racism, sexism, and misogyny. In 2017, she self-published her first photobook Becoming the Woman, You’d want me to be, which chronicled the turbulence of coming of age. In 2018, she participated in her first group show, before having her first solo show Dolce Far Niente, the sweetness of doing nothing, curated by Art Hoe contemporary and 2018 Dazed 100-er Sage Adams. The exhibition explored the importance of dreaming and introversion in the PoC community.
“I'm so inspired by the stories that I've existed between in my life,” McGarrell reflects. “To live with such a contested experience, just by the nature of being born black, Mexican, and queer, has created my desire to really evaluate my movement through the world… For the longest time, we were silenced, now is the time to normalise our existence and build a generational cultural wealth using our art.”
Beyond creating and exhibiting, McGarrell has worked with the likes of Google, Nike, and NBC Universal, and has given talks on black solidarity at Yale. This year, the image maker plans to have more exhibitions, and to travel to Mexico City to continue a series about Afro-Mexican culture through the diaspora.