MS.RPRSNTD: Putting Women at the Wheel

What started as a photography exhibition, featuring skateboard decks adorned with portraits of women of color, turned into a movement – an intersectional response to exclusion.

Ever since the inception of the subculture, skating has by large been for and by men, most commonly white ones. Adrienne D. Williams, struggling to feel like she belonged in this scene, found a different avenue to access the culture: by working in skate shops and taking photographs of skaters. This lead her to display her work last month, through a four-day gallery exhibition in Los Angeles, MS.RPRSNTD, that celebrated skater girls beyond the stereotypical hyper-sexualization photos they’re typically presented in.

One of Williams’ goals was was also to shine a light on women of color. As a self-proclaimed intersectional feminist, Williams believes that equality between all genders is critical, but she also made an effort to be cognizant of the disparity in opportunity for women across multiple intersections like ethnicity, age, orientation and ability, bringing them to the forefront as well. As a black teen girl growing up in the white suburbs of Detroit, Williams had always wanted to skate, but didn’t know how to articulate why she felt out of place or unwelcome at the time. Through MS.RPRSNTD, she wants to inspire other young women to conquer that fear of not fitting in, and instead doing whatever they want.

MR.RPRSNTD became more than simply a pop-up exhibit, as it offered a day of panel discussions, a skating tutorial and live sessions to further motivate girls who are interested in the sport. The merch, mostly in the form of art on decks and streetwear apparel, was sold on-site and the proceeds benefitted Inner-City Arts, a non-profit organization dedicated to engaging young people in the creative process in order to shape a society of creative, confident and collaborative individuals.

Photography by Adrienne D. Williams

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