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Conversations with the Inspiring Narkita Gold

Today we’d like to introduce you to Narkita Gold.

Narkita for sharing your story with us Jasmine. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I lost and found myself in Denver, Colorado. I began my search for my true calling, meaningful and purposeful work in October 2015. That was exactly six months after moving to the Mile High City from Nashville, Tennessee. Two years in and two failed attempts to find my professional stride, I was in the midst of a full-blown existential crisis, asking myself questions like, Who am I? What is my purpose here? What does it mean to be me?

Around this time, I was becoming increasingly frustrated with being asked to speak for an entire race, being the only one at almost every business I frequented, othered more times than none, and the microaggressions were out of control. And honestly, until COVID-19 paused life as we know it, all the above was still my existence in Denver. Having no one to speak to who could relate to my experience, I felt isolated and alone. Unable to find connections, I ultimately decided not to allow someone’s ignorance to get to me because what I was experiencing is the Black in America experience. I’ve also always believed that White people need to do the work when it comes to all the above.

I think the most fascinating part about being Black in Denver is the unique opportunity to learn what one is. In my solitude, I began to remove the masks I wore to survive, and a true version of myself began to emerge, just me. I no longer conformed or tried to fit in. For the first time in my life, I was okay with myself. I was more than enough. I miss seeing my people and partaking in our traditions, but the quiet and alone time I found in Denver has been a blessing to my soul because it was truly my first opportunity to unlearn the narratives I had adopted, begin to discover self and ultimately become more aware of who I am. Simply put, I’ve learned what it means to be me and to love myself and the skin I’m in completely. I find it extremely perplexing that of all places I found her in a predominately white city, which is why I decided to create this project.

Black in Denver is a portrait and interview series that takes a critical look at identity. My work explores the question, “What does it mean to you to be Black in Denver?” What I found in my interviews is that the Black experience in Denver is unique and complex. The city’s landscape is changing rapidly and continues to displace families and erase history. Homelessness is on the rise and the cost of living is skyrocketing. However, there is an ever-present theme throughout the series that is valuable. The majority of my participants feel that they can be themselves here and they speak of the benefits from confidence to success to freedom.

Often, within the Black community, there is pressure to subscribe to a certain mold — as to why is a different discussion — but here with so few of us, there isn’t a limited scope of what it means to be Black. There’s space to explore yourself here. Based on community insights, I believe being Black in Denver is an opportunity to be introspective, discover self, and for some, to awaken. In Denver, we have the choice to be whoever it is we are, and that choice is liberating. That choice is authenticity.

Studies also show that there are psychological benefits to voluntary solitude and isolation. It’s an opportunity to have the most important relationship anyone will ever have, the relationship you have with yourself. Some of us are finding solitude in the mountains, some of us live alone, and some of us go without seeing someone who shares our identity for extended periods of time.

In addition, Denver’s Black community is small and many of us can relate to feeling alone, so when we come together it’s notable and sweet and lovely. It feels like home, a family reunion. So next time you see us gathering, don’t be afraid, we’re literally healing! We need each other out here. Our lives depend on it. In my experience, being myself, loving myself, and being loved by my people in return has changed me. I’ve experienced a complete transformation that wouldn’t have happened without the Black community I’m a part of, and the community I have created for myself. That is why I call Black in Denver a visual ode. There are no words to express my gratitude, so I had to create.

Today, I have interviewed more than 50 people about their Black in Denver experience, and what I found, I believe are the steps to freedom. I hope to inspire all people to find out who they really are and be who they are. But right now, I’m here to help my community move forward. How do we thrive? In addition to having community and our most basic physiological needs and safety needs met — that’s also a different discussion — we must know and honor who we are, align our actions and words with our values, follow our dreams, and face our fears. Being yourself is freedom. It’s scary and it takes time, but there’s a treasure on the other side of fear.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I have struggled throughout my process. I hit the typical creative roadblocks, like fear and self-doubt, but I understand that that comes with the territory and keep going. I’ve learned the importance of rest and taking long breaks. Being an artist and a communications professional also calls for a duality that is sometimes challenging. But I have found a way to do both and I want to show people that they can do the same. I also don’t have access to a studio. Rental space is so expensive here!

My advice to women is to be true to yourself and just go for it. Got for it with doubt. Go for it with fear. Go for it despite popular opinion. You may get rejected, but well-behaved women seldom make history, right? Go for it! As long as it’s your dream, manifest that shit.

We’d love to hear more about your work.
I am an artist. I am a contemporary photographer, dancer, writer, painter, and creative behind the portrait and interview series Black in Denver. My own personal transformation sparked the vision for the colorful visual ode to the Black community, highlighting the complexity and depth of the black experience in the Mile High City. The portraits are of unique individuals, both locals and transplants. The background colors are as vibrant and varied as the community. Each color repeats intentionally, representing our unity and connectedness.

My work is inspired by the vision of a world where all people can be authentic expressions of themselves. I believe that photography has the power to capture the human soul of a person, and seen through the lens of those photographed and interviewed, Black in Denver supports and demonstrates the notion that blackness, and identity in general, is not a monolith. In a society where Black people are often stereotyped and seen as homogenous, I hope to change the narrative and raise awareness about the power of being oneself.⁣

As an artist, I am most proud of being in a juried exhibition at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center. I answered the call, and out of 400 entries from around the world a photo from the Black in Denver series was selected. It is a moment that I will never forget.

Which women have inspired you in your life?
My late grandmother embodied love. She gave us so much love. It’s always been something I try to be. When I say be love I mean to be open-minded, less judgemental, practice kindness, and accept one another for who they are and where they are on their journey. Doing so creates a safe space for each and every one of us to be ourselves and grow. Love is a really powerful thing, it’s so powerful that it’s undefinable. Love changes people. I am also inspired by Maya Angelou and Oprah Winfrey’s stories. As a survivor, I admire their resilience and success.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Narkita Gold Photography

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