Alayna N Pernell
With Care to You #2, 2020
11 x 8½" Archival pigment print
6½ x 6½" Image size
Edition of 22
Each print includes a certificate of authenticity, numbered and hand-signed by the artist.
About the Image
In the 19th century, photographers began creating daguerreotypes. This is a photographic process that creates a very detailed image on a copper-plated sheet covered with a light coat of silver. It was a very tedious process and while it didn’t require a negative, it did need to be developed over hot mercury until the image was revealed. The images ranged from individual portraits to family portraits regardless of gender, race, and/or socioeconomic background.
A very common, yet unsettling subject matter of daguerreotypes was "nanny portraits". This image, With Care to You #2, which is one of 3 photographs of this subject matter that I photographed, is an example of a “nanny portrait” and there are plenty more where that came from. In these portraits, Black women posed with their slave owner's children. To be clear, the intended subject was not Black women. The intended subject matter was white children. The Black women signified nothing except being a symbol of wealth. This was only for slavers to show other slave-owning families that they could afford a nanny. I wanted to rephotograph the original image in a way that would bring attention to the Black women in a way that was more humane and loving, hence why I use my hands very heavily in this body of work.
Alayna N. Pernell (b. 1996) was born and raised in rural Alabama, USA. In May 2019, she graduated from The University of Alabama where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art with a concentration in Photography and a minor in African American Studies. She received her MFA in Photography from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in May 2021. Pernell’s practice considers the gravity of the mental wellbeing of Black people concerning the physical and metaphorical spaces they inhabit. Her work has been exhibited in various cities across the United States. Pernell was also recently named the 2020-2021 recipient of the James Weinstein Memorial Award by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Department of Photography; and the 2021 Snider Prize award recipient by the Museum of Contemporary Photography.
She is currently the Photography and Imaging Associate Lecturer in the Peck School of Arts at The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.