In her portrait work, Georgia photographer Tokie Rome-Taylor focuses on African American children, staged in regal dress and refined settings, to explore layered themes of culture, identity and history.
Artist: The Atlanta native received a BA in art education from Morris Brown College in Atlanta. She also earned EdS and MAEd degrees from Lesley University (MA). In addition to having been a photographer for more than 20 years, she is a visual arts teacher for the Atlanta Public Schools.
Company/studio: Tokie Taylor Studio, started in 2017, in the artist’s Marietta home.
Art: Photo-based, multimedia portraits of children in a staged and imagined historical time ($600 and up). In the portraits, which range from regal to ethereal, the children exhibit wisdom and self-awareness beyond their visible years, conjuring notions of passed down ancestral knowledge
Family ties 1: The artist’s five children have enjoyed being her muses on occasion.
“The younger children’s (ages 5 to 10), don’t fully get what I am creating,” said Rome-Taylor. “However, they do understand the artmaking process and enjoy being a part of my work.”
Family ties 2: Her twin sister and fellow artist is Sachi Rome, known for her abstract figurative work (@sachistudioart). The sisters collaborated on two works for an upcoming exhibition (opening Feb. 3) at the Hammonds House Museum in Atlanta.
What’s popular: Works from Reclamation, her new photography-based book, celebrating Black Southern children as conduits of history, culture and family connections.
Other favorites: Cyanotype printing and commissions of families and children.
What is cyanotype: A (camera-less) photographic printing process that produces prints in a blue tint, often associated with blueprints. In Greek, the word “cyan” means dark blue substance.
Favorite tool(s) & props: Canon R5, a computer with Adobe Photoshop, plus vintage objects, family artifacts and some velvet.
- In the studio, she photographs the image.
- Then digitally manipulates it, adding multiple layers, painting in light and shadow, plus color grading, to create a painterly image.
- Further manipulation may come from archival images digitally collaged within the piece, using the image as a digital negative for cyanotype or as the base image for physical manipulation via embroidery, beading, gold leafing on vellum or encaustic.
“The use of beading, embroidery, gold leafing, and wax are inspired by the materials used in the clothing of traditional West African culture,” said Taylor
- Readings of historical documents and authors, such as Toni Morrison and Octavia Butler.
- Family stories.
- Work of old master painters.
- Harlem Renaissance photographer James Van Der Zee, known for portraits of black New Yorkers.
TV time: Two of her works were featured on TV’s “This Old House,” (Season 44, Episode 8) in 2022. The episode focused on the renovation of a 1890s Victorian house in Atlanta that was once owned by Luther Judson Price, South Atlanta’s first black postmaster.
“It was exciting to be a part of a show that I had grown up watching,” said Rome-Taylor. “And to have my works in a home filled with so much history.”
- Penland School of Craft (NC), Distinguished Fellow, 2023.
- Fulton County (GA) Arts and Culture Grant Awardee, 2021
- Finalist, MINT + ACP Fellowship, 2021. Atlanta-based MINT is a non-profit arts organization and gallery.
- Legacy Award, Griffin Museum of Photography, Winchester, MA, 2021
Recent project: Reclamation, her photography-based book (2022), which is pictured below. The book is $80 and available at: www.tokietaylorstudio.com/product/pre-order-reclamation-book.
What’s new: A body of work that integrates the sitter’s family heirloom, and its symbolic meaning to the family.
- Solo exhibition, “Insight: Body as Artifact, Archive and Memory” at Hammonds House Museum, Atlanta, Feb. 3-April 2.
- Teaching a cyanotype workshop at Penland, NC, May 28-June 2.
- Solo exhibition at Austin Peay University, Clarksville, TN, Fall 2023.
Where to buy:
- Tokietaylorstudio.com (also for commissions).
- Spalding Nix Fine Art, Atlanta (spaldingnixfineart.com)
- Arnika Dawkins Gallery, Atlanta (adawkinsgallery.com)
- Gallery1202, Gilroy, CA (gallery1202.com)
- Facebook and Instagram: @tokietstudio
- Linkedin: Tokie Taylor