Meet Andrea Coloma, Creative director behind the photo exhibition Color-ed

Colored, a photo series by Andrea Teresa Coloma Ruiz
Copenhagen, Denmark 2018

Colored is a portrayal of Coloma's personal experience with femme spaces of color. The project features women of color in front of and behind the camera. The titles use double meaning and guide the story to show the dichotomy inherent to women of color, whose existence can be trivial and political at the same time.

 

Images from the Color-ed exhibition.  Image 1.-working- Golda is preparing for her upcoming art gallery exhibit.  image 2,- Listening- Esra, Nanna’s friend, drops by for a chat and some tea.-                             image 3.Intertwining- After dinner, the women get cozy and watch a film.

  • Who is Andrea Coloma? 

I'm someone who loves people, engages herself in interesting projects, is dramatic, talks too much, is loyal, tries to be empathetic, can come across as aggressive but people that know her would agree she is very loving and caring. I am very political and I am sure my friends find me annoying at this point but for some reason, they stick around.

 

  • What inspires you daily?

People. Whether it's strangers or those in my life, I find human beings very inspiring, what they say, what they've experienced, their energy. I love striking conversations with strangers all the time, not because this person might become part of my life but because whatever time we do share has the potential to bring me great joy.

 

  • What is your background both professional and personal?

I've worn many hats throughout my short life. I've been a professional dancer, later a makeup artist, and currently, I am a marketing and customer service professional. My personal background can be described as being a TCK (third culture kid), which in simple terms in a child raised in another culture than their parents' culture. I was born in Ecuador, lived in the US and now Denmark, thus my personal background is rich in my Ecuadorian heritage, as well as Danish and overall the international identity I've developed throughout the years.

 

  • Why the title Color-ed and not Women of Colour in Copenhagen?

Let's start with why not Women of Color in Copenhagen, that name was never even discussed and I do find it too literal. Why Color-ed? The entire photo series was a collaborative project from the beginning. Even though it's my baby and I am the Creative Director, I always brainstormed ideas and searched for input from everyone involved in the project. In short, the name was the product of collaboration as well. I sat with Myah Hobgood and Mette Nielsen and I started brainstorming out loud and playing around with the word "color". Not only does the photo series feature beautiful women of color but colors inspire me, they are inherent to my Latinx and Ecuadorian cultural heritage and my energy changes by the sight of color. After a while, Myah proposed "Colored", which brought up mixed feelings. Colored has a long story of oppression in many countries, such as South Africa. On the other hand, I liked colored because the photo series bears a LOT of colors in the makeup, clothing, and accessories. The clothing was donated by women of color owned brands which take inspiration from their cultural heritage. I  wrote it down on a piece of paper and crossed out the "ed" and I mentioned that it signified how WOC spaces remove oppression and racism and give back women of color their humanity instead of what we normally see. Myah and Mette liked it, I liked it, and when I presented it to the other women, they liked it too. And that's the story.

 

  • What inspired you to start Color-ed Project and why?

As I said, I have a background as a professional makeup artist, however, I now work as a marketing professional and I do not do as many makeup jobs as I'd like to. After assisting a dear friend of mine in a makeup shoot, I was incredibly inspired to just do something and the Women of Color Network Copenhagen had just been established. I made a post in the Facebook group and we had our first meeting. The group of women, behind this project, are political and I quickly understood I couldn't just do makeup and instead had to do something that resonated with them and something they could see themselves represented in. That's when I decided to do a project that could represent the beauty of WOC spaces. I hope I achieved that.

 

  • Tell us about the process ?

Challenging: This was my first time in the Creative Director chair. The work was not completely unfamiliar territory, however, at the end of the day it is the organization and administration of a 4 day shoot with a bunch of women in front and behind the camera. 

 

Collaborative:, I got help from all the women in the project in whatever capacity I needed. I wouldn't have been able to do this without them, just to shout out a few, Manna Tarah, founder of BILAN RK, styled 5 models, Myah Hobgood kept an incredibly cheap meal budget, Teresa Ruiz, mi mami, came and made us food one day! It was beautiful.

 

Overwhelming. The support I received from the community moved me. I reached out to WOC owned businesses and asked if they would donate their clothing/products/time and they all said yes, immediately. The amount of POCs that came through at the official opening left me speechless.

 

  • What do you wish to convey through this project?

My love and admiration for WOC, our communities, our strength, how we grow and learn and support each other. I've always said that you can't control what people take from the work you put out there but I just wanted to represent the women involved in the project and show the immense gratitude I have for WOC spaces.

 

  • Why  was it important to have a project consisting only of women of colour?

Because our stories are better told by us. As someone that has been involved in the fashion and media industry, I have observed the conditioned inclusivity of women of color in white spaces. Most often than not, when femme racialized bodies are included in a white narrative, they are tweaked to fit eurocentric narratives and standards. In other words, racialized femme bodies are included under the condition that they support the already established eurocentric structures.

 

I was not seeing myself, my friends, my family and my overall community represented in Danish media. I was seeing fragmented, untrue, one-sided, stereotypical representation of a twisted and paranoid idea of my community. I wanted to represent my community's beauty and complexity and make it clear that the representation in the photo series is not the only story but one of the many stories. I couldn't do this myself because I do not represent the community nor do I share the experience of other WOC, so for this to happen it had to come from women of color, because we are the ones equipped to tell our stories.

 

  • Is Color-red a movement or just one time project, how do you see it growing into other venues?

I don't know. For now, I have no plans to make Color-ed into more than a one time project but you never know (if you have ideas, call me). However, the women involved in the project are fierce and hardworking and they are in no way standing still, myself included. I know this group of women will produce inspiring things that will support the ongoing movement and I just hope that I will continue to work with them in more projects! That includes you Zozo.

 

  • What is your personal view on creating legacies for future generations and what needs to be done?

Inevitable. WOC have been creating legacies from the beginning of time and it is inspiring and beautiful and motivating. Being examples and creating legacies is inherent to WOC and though history wants to ignore our contribution to the world, we were there, we existed and every generation fights to bring these stories to light and give their lives the respect and attention they deserve. I come from a very strong line of matriarchs and they have always inspired and pushed me. As for what needs to be done... I don't know. All I know is that history has shown that those who don't have a seat at the table, create their own tables, crash the tables and have always done what needs to be done. It's not easy but we got this. To quote Chloe x Halle, the kids are alright.

List of Credits below.

Crew:

Creative Director: Andrea Coloma

Photographer: My beautiful people. Website: https://mybeautifulp.com Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/_mybeautiful_people/

Graphic Designer: Natasha Jessen-Petersen

Key Makeup Artist: Andrea Teresa Coloma Ruiz

Makeup Artist Assistant: Cattaleeya Sirimongkolvanich

Hairstyling: United by Hair

Styling: BILAN RK and Esme Allman

Set Designers: Andrea Teresa Coloma Ruiz and Esme Allman

Assistants: Myah Hobgood and Marylène Esmy Antony

 

Models:Golda Yaa Mamawa,Nanna Mathisen,Stella Ndzoe,Esme Allman,Mette Toft Nielsen,Danny Mariana del Villar,Myah Hobgood,Esra BlackRock

Contributors:

- Wawa Alpaca: https://www.instagram.com/wawa_alpaca/

- Saloon Étoile - United By Hair

- I Love Natural Hair

- BILAN RK

- Cousins - Africanwaxprint design

- 4ur3lia

Images of Andrea Coloma, Creative Director of Color-red by My beautiful people