As a kid in Macon, Georgia, Jessica Rycheal never imagined she’d become an artist. It was something to do in her spare time.
She was the first in her family to go to college and she felt the unspoken pressure to be a professional.
“Fairly low-income families don’t have any idea of how to make an artist career without being the starving artist,” Rycheal says.
She enrolled in business classes and was miserable. A counselor suggested she try graphic design.
Now, at age 29, a continent away from her hometown, Rycheal has established both a successful commercial design career and a reputation as a fine art photographer.
Her recent work reflects her experiences as a person of color in a predominantly white community.
“When I moved to Seattle, I was like, ‘I can count on one hand how many people of color I see around me,'” she says.
Now Rycheal uses her art to explore what it means to be black in 21st century America.
“A lot of times blackness is viewed as a class of people. It sort of strips the individual black person of their humanity,” she says. “That is the most important thing for me as an artist, to reassert the humanity of black people.”
Click on the top photo to see some of Rycheal's work.