Trailblazer (A Dream Deferred)
Inkjet print, 2017
Collection of the artist, courtesy of Vielmetter Los Angeles
The multimedia artist Genevieve Gaignard has used self-portraiture to explore race, cultural identity, and femininity. Referencing regional historical events, she creates and performs characters that are partly symbolic and partly autobiographical.
Trailblazer (A Dream Deferred) presents a woman in nineteenth-century clothing walking with purpose through a lush tropical landscape. She carries a portrait of two men: John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. Gaignard imagines Traiblazer as a woman from the past who has found an image of racial solidarity and is bringing it back to her contemporaries as a sign of hope from the future. In her own words, “The trailblazer is setting the path for something new to move forward.” Gaignard borrows the phrase “A Dream Deferred” from Langston Hughes’ poem “Harlem” (1951), a meditation on hopes that have not yet been fulfilled.