Not seeing enough representation of powerful Black women’s voices in mainstream media, film and photography, Myrina “Renaissance” Otey-Myton, photographer and owner of Renaissance TJS Studios, was inspired to launch the “H.E.R. Eminent Reign: The Movemint” photo series.
“Mainstream media tells stories of the same Black people,’ Otey-Myton said. “The stories are amazing, but I know there are more stories we need to know and talk about.”
Otey-Myton’s first installment of the visual project started in 2018 while she was studying for a bachelor’s degree in business administration at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. At the time, she was president of the university’s Black Business Student Association, and the organization needed content for women’s history month.
The first three figures’ images she recreated were Leontyne Price, the first African American soprano opera singer afforded international recognition; Florence Mills, a popular cabaret, dancer, and comedian during the Harlem Renaissance era; and Ericka Huggins, activist and past principal member of The Black Panther Party.
“I went on Google and thought about different eras and time periods. That’s when I found women I never heard of who I thought would be great to feature in the series,” Otey-Myton said.
Otey-Myton returned this year with more influential African American women icons, including Debbie Allen, famed choreographer, dancer, actress, and director; Fredrika Washington, actress, and activist are known for her role in the 1930s film “Imitation of Life,”; Hazel Scott, jazz pianist, and singer; and Lois K Alexander-Lane, fashion designer and founder of the Black Fashion Museum. She also included various period pieces with the exhibition, including a Negro Leagues baseball shirt and a long sleeve silk shirt designed and sponsored by The Leading Man store.
She partnered with The Dark Room at The Grandel for her reception. The photo series opened on March 12 and continues to May 27. Film re-enactments of Huggins, Mills, and Price were curated by Camara Cruz, director of photography. A live monologue inspired by Allen, Alexander-Lane, Scott, and Washington titled “I Am H.E.R.” and created by Antwoinette Ayers premiered on The Grandel Theatre’s stage opening night of the exhibition.
Otey-Myton plans to turn the visuals into Non-fungible Tokens (NFTs) in the future. She’s traveling to New York next month to make connections with others to tap into that lane.
“I want to use this as another [avenue] for my art that I could really leverage,” she said. “I want my future kids and the generations that come from them to benefit from it.”
She said St. Louis Lambert International Airport has picked up the exhibition for 2023-’24. She said she does want the series to continue to be a yearly series and continue amplifying stories of those who came before us who deserve to be highlighted.
“The series is an empowerment project that brings optimism for Black women on what’s next,” she said. “We should know about those who came before us to be the change and break barriers like they did.”
To see “H.E.R. Eminent Reign: The Movemint” at The Dark Room, register on Eventbrite or contact email@example.com.
Learn more about the series and purchase one of the pieces, here: https://hereminentreign.art.