Richelle Kota is the Lead Teaching Assistant for the Teen Photo program at Philadelphia Photo Arts Center. She is also an immigrant, writer, nature enthusiast, and recent graduate living in Philadelphia. In 2017 she released her first self-published work, Where There Were Roses: A Memoir Through Poems. Her work has been published by Yes Poetry, Peach Mag, Breadcrumbs Mag, Cordella, Visual Verse, and Recenter Press. She aspires to live a very simple life on a farm with many pigs, goats, and dogs.
As an immigrant, Home has never been an easily identifiable space for me. So, at a young age, I found Home in words and the worlds they could build for me. Fostering generational, personal, and religious forms of art is incredibly important, not just to my personal life, but also to the work I intend to develop in my lifetime. It has been part of my artistic process for as long as I have been intentionally making work that inspires me.
Creatively, I focus on my inability to communicate how I visualize and experience reality. For me, writing (and other mediums) attempt to dialogue and delineate the dissonance between form, consent, and the dysfunctions of communication. I investigate and experiment with syntax, semiotics, and phonetics to transform profound emotions and experiences into written language. The realms of memory and experience in my work contest division within the logical person I know I can be, and the emotional person that I am always fighting against. My work challenges the binaries we continually reconstruct between Self and Other while reflecting on what we can accomplish through communities, work, and reflection.
Newer work has been rooted in guilt, the processes of it, and the manifestations it can take while transforming or refusing to transform. I aspire to form cohesive and textured images of regret, guilt, and the eventuality of self-forgiveness from traumatic events.
Works by Kara Walker, Toni Morrison, Sonia Sanchez, Federico García Lorca, Maggie Nelson, and Salman Rushdie inspire the work that I am creating. Their honesty, sensibility, development, and dedication to their craft are unparalleled. My two greatest inspirations in modern and contemporary literature are Audre Lorde and Claudia Rankine. They have redefined the perception of the Black Woman with their expressions of pain, joy, and unbounded magic. The art world is continuously evolving and shaping itself into every moment, producing work that shifts the human gaze into a form of escapism. However, through artistic efforts like the Black Arts Movement and the written work of authors like James Baldwin and Ta-Nehesi Coates, Black produced work reaches somewhere that work produced by White artists cannot. The intent of the work is rooted in the confrontation and discussion of the rage and pain that comes from Blackness as Otherness, while also positioning the narratives within the parameters of an oppressive white system and history.
In the matrix of the contemporary art world, I exist to continue to draw lines in the sand about what it means to exist with pain that others do not want to hear. I create hybrid and experimental poetry, photography, fiber work, digital work, and collage that base themselves in the vivid way that my mind can precisely record memory and feeling, transforming them into external pieces of work. I am invested in continuing the tradition of storytelling and transforming the past into a daily practice. An important meditation of expression is the personal and expressive work that delves into the core of identity and lived experience.