Photographer, Founder of The Body: A Home for Love
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Deun Ivory’s love language to herself and to Black women has always been photography. So when she was awarded a grant to create a project based on empowering marginalized voices, she was determined to take her work a step further. “I wanted to go beyond just showing Black women’s beauty, I wanted to dive more into the makings of who we are, our resilience, and talk about something that’s been very taboo in the Black community and something that’s affected me personally.” Deun embarked on a 6-month journey around the world for her project The Body: A Home for Love.
“I wanted to go beyond just showing Black women’s beauty, I wanted to dive more into the makings of who we are, our resilience, and talk about something that’s been very taboo in the Black community and something that’s affected me personally.”
“God was calling me to explore a part of myself that I avoided for so long. I flew across the world and interviewed 13 women who had dealt with sexual trauma. For the first time ever, I had to face my own trauma. I couldn’t run from myself or the women who were counting on me. It was a lot of emotional labor, but it was so enlightening. I realized that a lot of my decisions were trauma-informed and that I was still tethered to my brokenness. But I needed that. I use photography as a restorative tool to help Black women, so this experience got me realizing that The Body: A Home for Love was an entity that needed to exist beyond a photo project.”
Since Deun’s photo project, The Body: A Home for Love has become a community where survivors can heal. “I wanted other Black women and other survivors to come into the awareness that they are worthy. I’m not an expert or guru, but I want women to experience what I’ve experienced in my own healing journey. That’s when I formed the non-profit. I was going to use art, wellness and storytelling to help Black women heal and reclaim their bodies with their own narratives.”
"I was going to use art, wellness and storytelling to help Black women heal and reclaim their bodies with their own narratives.”
Beauty and joy play an important role in Deun’s approach to healing. “Your trauma doesn’t make you small. I want to show women that you can still have access to this God-given joy and that it’s your birthright to feel joy, even though you’ve experienced trauma. That goes for the healing process, too. You're not going to heal and then feel joy. You can feel joy in the process, it’s yours, you can access it at any time.”
"You're not going to heal and then feel joy. You can feel joy in the process, it’s yours, you can access it at any time.”
Earlier in the year, Deun was able to have an event that was, as she describes it, “a physical manifestation of The Body: A Home for Love. It was filled with art installations, including a set that was designed to remind you of your grandmother’s living room. Here, we talked about the rituals of Black women. The event also had a history section where we explored things like how the patriarchy has affected Black women, the hyper sexualization of Black women, the story of Sarah Baartman and more. It was amazing.”
Since her event, Deun is also adapting her community to be able to provide online support. “We’re excited to relaunch our digital membership in August. We’re bringing on a lot of big partners who are invested in the collective healing of Black survivors. It’s going to be a journey designed for survivors and I’m excited to see how they respond.”