Photographer, Phobymo, Creates Safe Space for Women Artists

Photographer Morgan Smith, or Phobymo, 28, curated her fifth installment of the all-women and women-identifying showcase entitled Time To Pretend in Philadelphia, Pa.  

Located at Circle of Hope gallery—which is in a charming,contemporary part of South Philly. At the venue, vodka lemonade (or wine, if you’re feeling sophisticated) flowed endlessly, and there was freedom of expression. The space was filled with an eclectic guest list: Fellow artists and creatives, supporting family, or people who genuinely wanted to indulge in art. We perused through the diverse artwork while hit music created by women played in the background. 

There were a few artists whose pieces immediately caught my eye and pulled me in: MC Bailey, Patricia Renee Thomas, and Briana Assington

All three of these ladies showed a unique interpretation of the black experience through their art. “Even the way a lot of greats depicted black people, it was kind of this romanticized way. I’m really investigating, understanding myself, that black is beautiful—even in its purest form—and we shouldn’t be afraid of it and we shouldn’t shy from it,” Patricia said. 

Whether it was a hobby, lifestyle, or side hustle that’s transitioning into a lifestyle, they each had a story to tell. And a common theme was to show accurate representation of black people, and humanizing black people. “For me, it’s really important to offset some of the negative narratives that are around blackness. So, whenever I create something, in the back of my mind, I want to show the beauty of blackness the way I experience it. And I hyperfocus on dark skin, usually women.”, MC said. 

Even though the focus of these women’s artwork were black people, they simply wanted a platform to not only to identify with, but to invest power in to their work. “In my work, I try to show my identity because, who else will,” Brianna said. She participated in this art show to not only expand her clientele—and continue to put herself out there—but to be the example she needed when she was younger.

Phobymo was intentional when she created A Time to Pretend. And she was intentional with who she asked to showcase during the event. Morgan says that her mission is to empower women, who are so-often overlooked in the male-dominated art world and to bring the female gaze to the forefront. She wanted to create an inclusive space for women to be seen authentically, and it definitely showed. The camaraderie between women, during the show, was the perfect bow to wrap up International Women’s Day. 




By Chinazo Enigwe 

Chinazo Enigwe