Endia Beal (American, b. 1985) is a North Carolina based artist, educator, and activist. She is internationally known for her photographic narratives and video testimonies that examine the personal and contemporary stories of women of color working within corporate offices and environments. Beal is the director of Diggs Gallery and is an assistant professor of art at Winston-Salem State University.
Her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries such as the Columbia Museum of Art (Columbia, South Carolina), the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Art + Culture (Charlotte, North Carolina), and Aperture (New York, New York), and she is a recipient of the Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund grant (2016). The Open Society Moving Walls Grant will support an exhibition, book, and new experimental video, as well as diversity and inclusion programming.
My work uses photographic narratives and video testimonies to examine the personal and contemporary stories of women of color working within corporate spaces. As a Black female photographer, I have also witnessed the underrepresentation of stories by and for people of color within fine art circles and photojournalism.
My own experiences and struggles as a woman of color in office settings have inspired the projects shown in this exhibition. Am I What You’re Looking For? and 9 to 5 provide vehicles for women to share testimonies and speak on issues that normally go unheard.
Many of the women who participated in Am I What You’re Looking For? were my students at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina. They disclosed personal difficulties in securing employment after graduation.
Employers would tell them that their natural hair was unprofessional or their name was too difficult to pronounce and would suggest they alter themselves for the job. These stories are all too familiar to my own struggles, but are rarely shared with colleagues or management due to fear of rejection or lack of opportunities to address these issues.
9 to 5 is a composite narrative comprised of clips from five-minute interviews with Black women about their experiences with prejudice and racism within corporate culture. The similarities between their testimonies is remarkable. Woven together, the stories of multiple women become one voice and create a single, common narrative.
—Endia Beal, October 2017