Saviah Maxwell


Saviah Maxwell’s Adorned project is inspired by the intersection of self expression, autonomy, and the African diaspora, framed within the context of adornment. This project draws reference from Black histories of tradition, migration, design innovation, attempts at connection to ancestry, and rebellion. It is both current and historical, paying close attention to moments in time that communities within the African diaspora pursued physical autonomy through fashion and embellishment. This story of Black expression is a unique one and the discussions around Black fashion history usually end superficially but don’t explore what drove people to create what they did. It often involved a lot of pain, making something out of absolutely nothing just to feel a sense of pride and belonging. Creating communities that did not exist previously. Reinventing ones that did. This project takes form as a four-part series of portrait paintings. Each portrait is reflective of the adornment practices of Black populations in North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa. A major focus of this project is customization. Participants/viewers are encouraged to carefully interact with the paintings by adding and removing magnetized accessories to customize the look of each lady wearing them. Saviah utilizes her interests in jewelry making, textiles, collaging, and sculpture to adorn the pieces with handmade accessories.