RAW & Righteous: What was the inspiration behind this project?
Ashani Dunwell: Honestly, at first I wanted to tackle my own relationship with food, which hasn't always been the most healthy. For almost two years I was vegetarian turned pescetarian and have also battled with an eating disorder in the past. Now I am dealing with a stomach dysfunction that flairs up whenever I eat basically anything enjoyable. For sometime, eating only seemed to add stress to my life. So I guess I wanted to kind of embrace food for what it is. The joyful aspects of eating. Of sharing food with others and indulging, nourishing yourself. The color, texture and energy of certain foods that everyone may love.
Jamaica Carter: The idea of how some people use food as a coping mechanism.
RR: Was ethnic and/or gender diversity important for you in this project?
JC: Yes. Always important to me.
AD: Yeah definitely. Admittedly things happen and representation fell a little flatter than we had hoped for but it was definitely our intention going in. At one point we had conceptualized a pregnant woman, a mixed race couple, a full figured woman in underwear, but scheduling conflicts among other things often stood in the way.
RR: How do you feel that your art affects others?
JC: My art shows that individuality is amazing and that people should embrace themselves and strive to be better versions of themselves.
AD: I'm not sure but all I can hope for is that my photos inspire. Whether it be the color grade or the setting or the mood being conveyed; when I'm truly affected by a photo it takes me to a memory, a nostalgic place or gives me an idea. It' like a little light that goes off in my soul. I hope to generate that light for others.
RR: How do you feel that your mediums of art affect the world and it's history in a positive way?
JC: My art is intentionally utilized to heal others. In the beauty industry there's a history of superficiality and excluding people for their differences, so my arts break down barriers for all people to unleash their own inner beauty.
AD: Along with photography, I am a writer and I do believe that both mediums have and will continue to affect society in a positive way. Imagery has become the most universal form in which we perceive and communicate everything around us and words are a bit more complex but are equally dynamic in evoking emotion and personal truth.
RR: What is art to you?
JC: Art is love. If an artist doesn't love what they have created then it's just another capital or another material. Art is all around us. We live too fast to embrace the beauty of what's right in front of us. Art is creation and destruction. We are the creators of our realities and life imitates art.
AD: Art is emotion personified. Giving peace a voice, and fear a hand, and anger a face.
RR: What is/are most important in your life?
JC: Seeking higher vibrations, creating new sacred connections with people, and healing others by radiating positive energy.
AD: Self expression and inner peace are some of the most important things in life to me. I think plainly put, self expression helps get to the point and inner peace makes getting to the point a whole lot easier.
RR: The RAW & Righteous vision is to connect people to a worldwide community. How do you see your work relating to that?
JC: I want to be global. I will make an impact on people across the world, and will be known for creating whatever it is my heart desires to share with others to help them heal and grow themselves as I grow myself as an individual.
AD: I think featuring the Food Fetish series does a good job of connecting people together because everybody has a relationship with food. Many of the foods I featured can be put into sub categories and are also acquired tastes of sorts. Pineapple pizza, sushi, kale. Others are more nostalgic and associated to old traditions such as Dum Dums and fortune cookies. I think my food series makes people smile and think of their favorite foods when they see it.