Nathaniel (N8) DeVivo

I have been ascending towards becoming myself when I amreal. As a Queer Black artist deeply invested in spirituality, Afrocentricity,and love who was adopted by a white Hindu mother in rural Nebraska, I washanded a contested existence. Finding authenticity in my race and identity isan evolving understanding, often leaving me feeling disconnected fromcommunity. My practice is about the process of learning to love myself,especially in relation to Queerness.

Thisproject shows the story of my identity, the images show the spaces and peoplethat have allowed me to feel safe and beautiful and accepted and loved; inbecoming I have created a language of images and symbology within my practicethat documents myself learning to provide these things for others.

Inconversation with my partner I described a brief experience of enlightenment,“I spoke to myself. Ever since then, I’ve only been speaking to myself. I speakto myself when I speak to others as much as I do when I am alone.”


“Youcannot make yourself feel how you want to feel. You simply, feel.”

Whenthey told me this, I sat for a moment and told them that I wasn’t trying to andthey replied

“Iknow you don’t.”

Thenthey paused and added,

“Youhave no traditions to return to but your own, you’ll just keep moving forwarduntil it’s all over.”

Froma young age I have returned to the motif of my outstretched hands reaching forsomething beyond me, reaching for what I thought was a missing piece of myself.I then began to see myself as a Lightworker, incarnated on earth; covering myBlack Queer body in refractions of light and color to show the divinitymanifested through me. Using my camera as a tool to capture performativeself-portraits that bridge our earthly bodies to higher states of consciousnessall are able to view the duality of this existence. The figure always appearsto be out of place but you are left with a feeling that it has an eternalexistence in that space that surpasses time, materializing the moments of timebetween moments of time, and the balance connecting deep pain and extremebliss. Transforming into the divine, I am omnipresent and make every place myhome, I become god in this space: the pause between the clap. This project isdocumentation of that search; it’s the moments of finding beauty in myself,it’s the times I’ve failed, it’s me reaching for a God and finding them within,it’s the world around me that has curated an experience that I’m increasinglythankful for, and it’s the conversations with me when I’m me.

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