Before his career in photography flourished, US-based artist and activist Zora J Murff was a social worker in the criminal justice system in the US, specifically helping young people avoid incarceration.
The two facets of his working life – social work and visual art – first came together in his early project, Corrections, and his background has continued to inform his photography practice, which interrogates the impact of violence, public policy and white supremacy on Black communities in the US.
An exhibition running as part of Belfast Photo Festival is playing host to his most recently completed series, American Mother, American Father.
The body of work weaves family photos and vernacular photography into his original images, as he examines his inner conflict in response to his increasing “desire for status, success, and positioning”, according to Webber Gallery. His work has become more autobiographical as time goes by, so much so that Murff himself appears in the photographs.
“My early images were made when I was experiencing rapid upward social mobility and becoming acquainted with Arkansas and Mississippi, my ancestral landscapes,” the artist said. “Visiting the birthplaces of my maternal and paternal families forced me to reflect on how we build identity, how identity can be created for us, and how those phenomena collide.”
Murff will be participating in an online talk on June 28 about his practice with curator Shana Lopes.