Artist Darryl Terrell’s Work Explores Gender Identity and Gentrification

The 2019 Kresge Arts fellow uses photography as a form of self-expression.

Darryl Terrell

Darryl Terrell is a multifaceted Detroit-based artist, writer and curator who uses photography to explore gender, identity and the Black experience. Terrell’s practice began while studying photojournalism in college. As he began to explore photography as an artform, his photos moved from documentation to expression.

During graduate school at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Terrell honed his focus on portraiture, particularly in finding “Dion,” Terrell’s alter ego and subject. Described by Terrell as a “fat, Black, femme, non-binary person,” Dion is a vessel for Terrell to rethink gender norms and explore the Black femme experience.

Darryl Terrell
#Project20’s (15 of 200)
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Earlier this year, one of Terrell’s photos as Dion was featured in a billboard erected by SaveArtSpace, the Brooklyn-born nonprofit that works to create urban gallery experiences. His photography also earned him a 2019 Kresge Arts fellowship and a residency at Red Bull Arts Detroit, which has been pushed to 2021.

In the meantime, Terrell is on a mission to photograph up to 200 Black and brown young people ages 20 to 30 from urban areas hit by gentrification, before he turns 30 himself. The goal of the project is to confront the gentrification that amplifies racial disparities and highlight the voices of those pushed aside. Terrell says, “You kick us out the hood, I put us on your white walls.” 

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