Charlee Moss is a photographer hailing from the United States, currently residing in New York. Her artistic endeavours delve into the themes of self-love, the tenderness inherent in relationships, and the vibrant tapestry of everyday communities within the African Diaspora. As the driving force behind Pengblackmw, she leads dynamic initiatives that encompass a spectrum of activities, including photo walks, collaborative meet-ups, and exclusive gatherings designed to foster the growth of creative practices.
Tell me where creativity started for you and at what point in your life you wanted to express your creativity.
Creativity started for me at a very young age. My mother, a semi professional photographer herself, equipped me with film and digital cameras in elementary and middle school. I would take photographs of my dolls, family members, and friends as a constant pastime. As I grew older, I leaned on my family and friends even more and would use them as my muses, throughout my high school and college career.
How has the place you grew up inspired your work?
My take on beauty and love all started within the home. How I see myself, my family members, my friends started from the love my parents showered me with as a child in helping me realise that I am beautiful just as I am. In me just being.
Your series titled Real Love documents beauty, blackness and love. Can you tell me what led you to wanting to create a series surrounding these themes?
“Real Love” came from looking at what one would consider date night to be in a time where COVID was at its peak. A love showcased between two individuals in their home, where tension arises, as they are continuously enamoured with one another's beauty. It serves as representation for my people within the African diaspora that a soft love can still exist in the height of toxic relationship culture.
In what ways has the project grown in the time you’ve been making it?
Real Love has evolved to, love of self and love of community. Embracing every environment surrounded in black culture, community, and joy.
If you could change one element of society with your work, what would it be?
I always aim to show the softer side of my people within the African diaspora. Showcasing the simplistic beauty of us just being, whether it’s within our home or outside in our communities. I want to give the semblance of softness to not only those who look at us outside of the diaspora but also to those within the diaspora. Showcasing that we are more than the negative stereotypes pitted against us.