My first memory of enjoying the sun on my bare chest included shame and confusion. It was a Saturday afternoon when my father was washing his car. My brother was 8 and I was 6 years old and playing in the yard while he worked. My father worked up a sweat and took his shirt off. He looked at his muscles rubbed his skin feeling the the sun on it and flexed his biceps for my brother and me. My brother took his shirt off and I followed right after him. Feeling the sun on my skin energized me and I immediately started to dance around in a happy play. This moment of joy was cut short by my father sharply telling me, 'put your shirt back on!'. My brother laughed at me and said, 'girls cant' take their shirt off outside'. It was a sad and confusing moment that brought my 6 year old self to tears. 'But why' I asked over and over. 'Girls don't do that', was the only answer I was given and it was never enough. Something inside of me knew this was pleasurable and wanted more.
In 2020, I am opening my home on Valentine's Day for the premiere of my photography exhibition, Oakland Picture Lady: Tale's of a 90's Girl. This is an exhibit of photographs, collages, and short stories of my days as a Hip Hop photojournalist for 1992 - 1999. As I sorted through dozens of boxes of my photography work, I found images from my modeling career. In building this portfolio I included nudes and worked with many photographs to get these shots. I have photographs from Victor Hall, Keba Konte, Saddi Khali, Jim Dennis, George Pitts, Refa One, Bryon Malik, Alien Ness, and Jamey Stilling. This is part of my photo collection I had not anticipated. What to do with 30 years of amazing nude photos of myself? Well, for one night only they will be viewed at my home and gallery in West Oakland! I will be sharing stories of these experiences and what it means to be naked, vulnerable, free, and empowered in our own skin. I hope to see you there!
A view into the world of Artist/Entrepreneur Traci Bartlow