Redefining Themes Of Legacy, Love, and Labor

Q&A: Ouigi Theodore
Photography: Myesha Evon Gardner

Myesha Evon Gardner (b. 1994, Cleveland, OH) is an art director and photographer based in Brooklyn, NY. She moved to New York to pursue a BFA in graphic design and photography at Parsons School of Design. Her work examines cultural, social, and personal experiences while redefining themes of legacy, love, and labor within underrepresented communities. It is important for her to tell stories of the communities which have been historically left out of the conversation.

We recently featured Nana Yaa and saw your collaboration with her, how did that collaboration come about?

A very good mutual friend between Nana and I, named Tamu. She's the founder of a platform called "All the Pretty Birds" where she spoke to Nana for a written and photo piece. I was commissioned to capture the imagery to compliment the words written by Tamu. Nana was an absolute dream to work with. It was such a special shoot for me because I started off photographing ballet dancers.

How did you get into photography? A bit on your journey.

I attended an arts high school back in Ohio where I majored in photography for four years. I had an incredible teacher who gradually taught me the basics of photography–starting with a box camera, then to a film camera, and finally a DSLR camera. My very first photo shoot was of my good friend who was a dance major. I would spend so much time in the studio so fascinated with how much dancers moved and posed in general. She really inspired me to work with ballet and modern dancers throughout high school.

How important is photography in your eyes to history? Do you think about your work from an historical perspective?

It's the most significant medium of our human existence. Historically, photography has given us a tool to capture unique moments in time and visually document the world we live in. There's so much power in looking at a photograph from 20, 50, or 100 years ago and feeling like you're going back in time. My work is my visual documentation of how I see the world which is my historical perspective and unique experience.

We’ve noticed an influx in Black female photographers, or is the world a lot more understanding of their importance in the narrative. What’s your take on that?

Black woman photographers have always existed; I think we're just now being recognized.

What photographers past and present are you inspired by and why? The why is important.

I am inspired by the works of Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, Latoya Ruby Frazier, and Deana Lawson. They are all Black women image makers who have documented narratives of the Black experience in the most beautiful, intimate, and delicate ways. I also love Jamel Shabazz for his timeless street portraits, Gordon Parks for his social realism and film work, Dana Lixenberg's black and white portraits, Garry Winogrand's street photography, and Francis Wolff's photographic contribution to The Blue Note's legacy (jazz is my favorite genre of music).

Any young photographers or creatives you’d like to highlight and mention. Name as many as you see fit.

Absolutely, there are so many talented people out there that I adore. Here are a few that truly inspire me:

Nadine Ijewere (Photographer)
Ibrahem Hasan (Creative Director & Photographer)
Travis Matthews (Photographer)
Ashley Pena (Photographer)
Jeremy Grier (Photographer)
Nailah Ali (Designer)
Ain Eccles (Artist)