"Because the Sun Hath Looked Upon Me" is a photographic project examining identity construction on an individual, society, and cosmological level. It is a response to racial limitations and judgements thrust upon the African diaspora. I reimagine my identity through Afrofuturism by intersecting cosmology, philosophy, and spirituality. Using digital technology, I composite photographs to create new landscapes and self-portraits. The landscapes are my vision of the promised land; the ground references the physical world, the sky becomes a canvas for projection and imagination, and the horizon acts as a symbol for the liminal space between the physical and ethereal. The portraits introduce a new way to envision my Black identity through the power of the universe. The theoretical concept of “liquid blackness” allows Blackness to be as fluid and unbounded as the cosmos. I construct a space where Blackness is immanent and expansive, using the Yoruba cosmological concept of ase and connecting it to the idea of dark matter; the force that holds the universe together. I look beyond the separation and limitation that occurs in racial stereotyping, positing that identity is more complex than just our physical representation.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Photography, Artistic; Photomontage; African Americans--Race identity; African diaspora in art

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Photography and Related Media (MFA)

Department, Program, or Center

School of Photographic Arts and Sciences (CAD)


Joshua Thorson

Advisor/Committee Member

Willie Osterman

Advisor/Committee Member

Angela Kelly


On thesis page 4, paragraph 2, the sentence should read: "The title of the project is inspired by the biblical book, Song of Solomon (1:6)." A typographical error had incorrectly listed the quotation as "(6:1)" -- Correction submitted by thesis author, July, 2020.


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes