Living Vicariously with Fine Art Photographer/Artist Lisa DuBois

by Patricia Andrews-Keenan

Lisa DuBois’s photos have the ability to transport you to faraway places, but they also help you see the everyday in a totally different way. Her well-developed eye, along with a passion for cultures, is translated into beautiful sepia-toned black and white photos taken during her world travels. Her virtual exhibition for the Harlem Fine Art Show 2021 Virtual Show is entitled Vicariously and also includes acrylic on canvas and mixed media works.

The former New York photojournalist turned fine artist, art consultant, gallery owner, and curator, says she has an intense curiosity for all people, places, and things. Add to that her passion for preserving traditions and maintaining cultural diversity and the results are photos that literally take your breath away.

Among the photos available to those visiting the HFAS Show are those from her series Holy Water, in which she captures how people use water in rituals, and for spiritual enlightenment. She documents the Siddi, an ethnic group inhabiting India and Pakistan who are descended from the Bantu peoples of Southeast Africa. The Siddi were brought to the continent by Portuguese slave traders. The images capture adolescents as they participate in the ancestral dance called Dhamal, which is performed during their rites of passage ceremony after a successful day of hunting.

DuBois also captures the Firehose Baptismal, a group baptism in Harlem held annually where are of the participants are dressed in white. Each August since 1937, the United House of Prayer for All People, a nondenominational Pentecostal church with three million members in 28 states, has held mass baptisms on 115th Street in East Harlem, using a fire hose to spray hundreds with baptismal waters. Also featured are original works on canvas, mixed media pieces, and collages some of which tell the story of The Benin Bronzes. The works, among Africa’s greatest treasures, were looted in 1897 by the British. There are also some amazing portraits of women from India and the U.S.

“If You Hear the Dogs” is a cyber-painted digital collage showing Harriet Tubman in Kente cloth, wearing rose-colored shades imposed against a full moon, symbolic of the many trips she made under cover of night to free the enslaved. Most striking is her turban made up of pistols, of the type she carried as protection on those trips from the South to the North. She calls Tubman both a fearless outlaw and

a savior. She offers a similar take on the abolitionist Frederick Douglass. This pop art piece titled, A Man’s Character Always Takes It’s Hue” features Douglass’ image on an African print wearing blue shades.

DuBois is currently working on a book that documents African American parades across the world, including the most famous of all Mardi Gras in New Orleans. She captures the Zulu Krewe and the Mardi Gras Indians alongside the Malcolm X Day Parade in Harlem. It’s clear that Lisa DuBois is doing artistically exactly what her hero exhorted her charges to do as they made their way to freedom, “keep going, don’t ever stop. You can view DuBois’ work online in the HFAS Viewing Room.