Lakea Shepard - “He Loves Me Not” opens Friday, September 3 and runs through Sunday, September 26. There will be an opening reception Friday, September 3, 5pm-9pm.
“He Loves Me Not” started as random poetic sayings I’d drop when my mind started to wonder what proper love felt like. After four years, I finally realized that those quotes were never about anyone else; but more-so about self love. Within the black community; many of us suffer from PTSD, depression, addiction, and suicidal thoughts/behaviors because many of us weren’t taught to love or value ourselves.
This body of work challenges the thoughts our oppressors have instilled in us, affects of pop culture, and even self-preservation. The head sculptures are inspired by slave masks. Slave owners would chain metal masks to our faces; preventing us from committing suicide to escape our circumstances. Although slavery has been abolished; we are still trying to escape current dilemmas with drugs, alcohol, toxic relationships, and even food resulting in our demise.
This series of head sculptures is dedicated to one of the most misunderstood groups of people; black men. Rather than shackling metal to their faces, I’ve carefully constructed masks, encrusted using semi-precious stones with healing properties. One by one, the “seeds” were “sown” not only to protect black men, but to adorn and value them. This is my acknowledgment that it’s time to heal wounds within the black community so we can finally say “he loves me” with surety and confidence.
Lakea Shepard (born/resides in Winston-Salem, NC) is a mixed media designer, sculptor, and milliner. Lakea studied Visual Arts (UNC School of the Arts) and received her BFA in Crafts with focus in Fibers (College for Creative Studies) in 2013. She also attended New York Studio Residency in DUMBO, NYC.
Being raised by a mechanic and textile worker birthed Lakea’s passion for designing “head-sculptures” using traditional African textile techniques including; beading, weaving, and basketry. Her work is submerged in symbolic universal objects speaking to obstacles within Black America. The ideas for her work are developed through dreams, historical traumas, and personal life events. Each sculpture Lakea creates incorporates her signature, red thread, symbolizing vitality and womanhood. The red thread is also metaphorical for veins, which is her effort to bring her ideas “alive”.
Lakea’s work is known in many galleries, most recently to be the Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh, as of September 2021. She currently resides back in her hometown and continues to work in her studio in Greensboro, NC.