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Cultivate Featured Artist: Alfield Reeves

The Cultivate Curatorial Board is excited to share the work of Alfield Reeves, a photographer based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Alfield shares his work and process in our interview below.

Learn more about the Cultivate Featured artist series below.

Learn more about Alfield on his:

Briefly describe your work or share your artist statement

My work not only captures the complexities of people, but encourages self-reflection and expression. It promotes equitable action and showcases the identity and culture of black & brown people. The images created are warm, quiet and bold. They bridge traditional divides between photojournalism, portraiture and fashion.

How do you go about beginning a new piece? Do you have it planned or is it more spontaneous?

When creating something new my process has been both spontaneous and planned. As someone who is very organized, that is my default way for starting the process of planning and creating a project. To this point of creating, most of my favorite images and those that others have told me they love, have been from photo shoots that were more spontaneous than planned.

I have an ongoing photo series entitled “Experimentations”, where I gather other creatives together where the main goal is to just create. Some planning is involved but it's mainly spontaneous and unstructured.

When Africans Meet. Photography. 2019. Image courtesy of the artist.

What is a barrier that you, as an artist, overcame?

A barrier that I am overcoming and something that I feel like I will always be overcoming, because I'm human, is doubt and belief that my work is good enough. That usually stems from comparison with others. But I think especially as an artist with desire to grow & be better it's definitely prevalent.

What is your go-to music when you're working on art?

I have three types of music that are my go-to based on how I'm feeling or the zone that I am in or trying to get into. Christian Hip-Hop when I'm hype and super excited about an idea or concept or in the process of creating images. Gospel/worship and lofi instrumental music when in my creative zone and come up with ideas for a concept or project.

What do you strive for as an artist? What form of recognition is important for you?

I think my artist statement perfectly answers the first question. But to add creating work that I love and images that have depth and causes others to think deeply.

There are three forms of recognition that are important to me. First, my own. Being able to not only recognize the gifts & abilities that God has given me but to appreciate & affirm them myself is key for me. Secondly, my parents. Hearing they’re proud of not just of the artist and creative i am but more importantly the man i've become means the world. Lastly, others. As a creative, especially one in the public domain, getting encouragement, affirmation and love for those I do and don't know about my work adds fuel to my fire. It is also a reminder to take time to celebrate how far I've come & the work I've out in!

What advice would you share for artists? Share something that you have learned along the way.

My advice for other artists would be first take care of yourself. Take care of your mental, physical and spiritual health. Doing that allows you to not only be a healthy human first but a healthy artist and creative as well.

Create for yourself, Work that brings you love and enjoyment, not what others want you to.

Find a community of creatives and artists like you that can not only affirm and encourage you but challenge you to be better as well.

What is a work of art that is an inspiration to you?

Honestly my favorite photography piece right now, entitled “Take Space”. It's an inspiration for a few reasons. The photo session was spontaneous. This was the best shot that came from that session. Sometimes you can create greatness from the spontaneous. Most importantly, the meaning behind it. Being that at one point and time, because of my skin tone, I and people that look like weren't allowed in certain places & spaces, this piece is a reminder to take up space. That my presence, voice, thoughts, ideas and entire self deserves to be there.

Who are three working artists that you love and would recommend?

This is a tough question because I have so many that I love and have become fans of but right now it would be the following three below.

  • Octavia Mingerlink aka Octavia Ink aka Pretty In ink Press (Printmaker and Illustrator). Octavia because her work not only unapologetically continues to evolve.highlights black & brown people but she and her work

  • Anyrah Moffett aka Shavéh (Poet, Storyteller & Author). Anyrah because of the profound and courageousness of her words and voice.

  • Ashley “LA” Ragsdale (Dancer. Actress, Choreographer & Singer). LA is super hilarious, a ball to be around, and extremely multi-talented.

"Walls" Photography. 2020. Images courtesy of the artist.

Take Space. Photography. 2020. Image courtesy of the artist.

"Untitled (No Label Lipstick)" Photography. 2021. Images courtesy of the artist.
"Take Space II" Photography. 2017. Image courtesy of the artist.

"Don’t Touch My Hair (DTMH)" Photography. 2019. Images courtesy of the artist.


Cultivate Artists

A curated collection of emerging and midcareer artists. The featured artist program at Cultivate serves to share the artist's work and process with the community, inviting them to understand how and why an artist creates the work they do, to market and promote artists, and to connect artists to each other and to our network of curators, artists, and gallery owners.

These artists are curated together and represent the work that we exhibit at Cultivate. The artists are selected in January and June, and scheduled out for the six-month period. If you are interested in being one of Cultivate featured artists, please visit our open call for submissions.

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