“Thus, when her enemies came to kill her, she knew more about surviving than they did about killing.” —Octavia E. Butler, Wild Seed
In Wild Seeds of the Soufside, photographer Dee Dwyer takes us on a visual journey into the heart of Southeast DC, a “hidden gem in the nation’s capital” also known as Soufside. Inspired by the book Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler, Dwyer connects the Soufside community with the book’s main characters Anyanwu and Doro, immortal beings with supernatural powers who are misunderstood and feared by those unaccustomed to their style of living. Dwyer’s photographs are evocative, sensuous, exude power, and serve to demystify an area that has been misconceived. As Washington—which was nicknamed “Chocolate City” in the 1970s due to the high population of Black people—experiences more gentrification, Black natives are being displaced; as gentrification moves into Southeast, Dwyer’s photographs seek to preserve the soul of the community she calls home. “Southeast is a low resourced area that has a reputation for being treacherous and filled with warrior spirits like Doro. But it is simultaneously healing with an extraordinarily long life like Anyanwu,” the artist explains. “Soufside is the ‘wild seed’ of DC that remains grounded in its Black roots. Its original people are fighting to survive the destruction of their homeland. This exhibition is an opening to our soul for the world to see how magical we are. Like the lotus flower, we will survive through the mud and bloom when the sun appears.”
About the Artist
Dee Dwyer is a photographer from Southeast DC, anointed by her community as “The Visual Voice for the People.” Her goal is to show all aspects of human life—to “show the world what it’s made of”—through her raw and compelling images. A lifelong lover of photography, Dwyer earned a BFA in filmmaking and digital production. In 2021 Dwyer gave a TEDx talk in collaboration with the University of Washington titled “Putting Humanity First within the Media Industry.” Her work has been shown in exhibitions at PhotoSCHWEIZ, Photoville, Catchlight, Reginald F. Lewis Museum, The Martin Luther King Jr. Library, among many others, and featured in publications such as Vogue, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, BET, The Guardian, Bloomberg Businessweek, Rolling Stone, NPR, DCist, WAMU, National Geographic, and more. Dwyer was one of i-D magazine’s “20 photographers who defined 2020.” She received the Society of Professional Journalist Dateline Award for an online feature and a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for feature reporting. Dee Dwyer lives and works in Washington, DC.