The [Black] Madonna/Whore Complex

Qualeasha Wood American

Not on view

In a brash mashup of Catholic iconography and webcam voyeurism, Qualeasha Wood has woven an online avatar that offers one-click salvation. Bearing stigmata and a Sacred Heart, this "young hot ebony" presides over access to the camera responsible for the glitchy, screenshot selfies behind her. By presenting herself as both holy icon and object of desire, Wood rejects the racist, sexist stereotype that views Black women solely as promiscuous commodities; she accomplishes this move by enshrining and controlling her own image. Beyond the haloed portrait, which reads as both religious tondo and gilt mirror, Wood can be seen snapping selfies and selecting thumbnails: "If I’m going to get fetishized out here," she says, "I’m going to fetishize myself." For Wood, self-reference is self-reverence.

The [Black] Madonna/Whore Complex, Qualeasha Wood (American, born 1996), Jacquard-woven cotton, glass beads

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.