We created Graedance with the idea of creating a symbol of unity, of shared experience - that could help people connect and grow together away from isolation. It's through togetherness, that we can embrace confidence and assurance in our identity. At its heart, Graedance is about strengthening community through expressive design, and to inspire you to be the best version of yourself - one that embraces all your intersectional identities to create majesty as the gradient you take up in this world.
For the second interview our ‘grey area’ series of interviews, we step out of the Detroit kitchen of Chef Jon Kung and bring it back to a warm light filled studio space, in Naarm (Melbourne). This space is owned by photographer-creative director, Jessica Brohier, whose striking images of women in various gradients have adorned the fashion industry, not just as beautiful creations but as catalysts for visibility.
1. Jess, what ‘grey area’ do you embrace in your identity?
Growing up in Australia in the late 90s and 00s, as a PoC of mixed Anglo-Indian and Burgher (French-Sri-Lankan) race, I was aware from an early age that I wasn't the same as those around me. Back then, only white features and appearance was celebrated as beautiful and worthy of visibility. The rest of us found comfort within our own communities, and for 10-15 years as a young tween heavily consuming Australian media, even though all my friends were PoC, I rarely saw anyone who looked even remotely like me. This led to much internalised racism, as I grappled with self acceptance and self-love whilst feeling for the most part, invisible in the country I was born.
I was lucky to have visited both India and Sri-Lanka in my twenties, in hope of gaining an understanding of the true nature of my background, and in essence, my people. I came to witness the beauty of these cultures firsthand and to find a sense of pride within my heritage, however I also came to understand that I was again, an outsider.
I fell into this 'grey area' between my Australian nationality and my cultural heritage, seemingly belonging to neither.
2. How did this influence the way you approached your creative practice and work?
When I began taking pictures 10 years ago, I set out to photograph and centralise beauty that I understood well - yet never saw. The intricacy and uniqueness that is diverse cultural heritage in this country. Themes of shifting the conservative Australian beauty narrative within my work derive directly from my own personal lived experience, as I seek to carve out a place for others like me, who also reside here, within the 'grey area.' I have learnt to embrace it in later years, and am slowly learning to love it.
3. What lessons or advice could you give to those trying to embrace their difference / grey area?
The grey area is a source of strength and beautiful uniqueness. It has its challenges, but I feel as though for me, they add a richness of character that can't be fabricated. Practicing self-love and being kind to yourself is so integral, as is community. I feel my grey point of difference adds something distinct and underlying to my work that I can't describe, but I hope can maybe be felt. My advice would be to find the strength in your difference, and allow it to work its magic.
You can find more of Jess' work here.