Zahira Kelly, better known as Bad Dominicana on the Internet, is a visual artist and sociocultural critic who uses social media forums to help dismantle white supremacy, patriarchy and capitalism.
When the self-described Latinegra mujerista is not busy chin-checking woman-haters and small-minded bigots on Twitter, Zahira – raised between Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic and the Bronx – is steady worrying her pencil, creating graphic material and art pieces dedicated to representing women of color, namely black Latinas.
Her latest endeavor tackles the archaic image of the Virgin Mary, which is rooted in Eurocentricity. While the black Madonna is not a novel idea, with various statues around the world, la Virgen negra is often nonexistent in traditional Latino upbringing, particularly in the United States. Zahira is changing that, after deeply pondering on Latin American anti-blackness and the centering of whiteish womanhood in Spanish-language media.
“The image has been in my head for a while, as I have seen so many incarnations of la virgen, and wondered what one would look like drawing my own [as an] afrolatina [with a] dominican-york background,” she tells VIBE Viva. “There have been many black madonnas throughout history globally, and I wondered how ours would look as a negra. It is not farfetched considering dominican spiritual tradition features india mulata (afromestiza) figures, like anaisa pye and negras like santa marta.”
Zahira used a combination of pencil drawing, watercolor and digital paint to create her latest piece, using her signature bright tropical femme palette, “which reminds me of home.”
For more information on her work, or to purchase any of her original articles, visit ShopZahiraKelly.com.