Alumnus’ photo exhibit emphasizes and celebrates Black beauty


Photo courtesy of Jake Northington

CSUSM alumnus Jake Northington’s exhibition “Chasing Andromeda” is now on display on the library’s website.

Jaelyn Decena, A&E Editor

Although access to campus is limited due to COVID-19 restrictions, local artists such as CSUSM alumnus Jake Northington are able to display their work virtually. 

Northington’s latest work, a photo exhibition called “Chasing Andromeda,” is on display on the Kellogg Library’s website during the fall 2020 semester.

“Chasing Andromeda” embraces and celebrates the beauty in Black people rather than allowing others’ prejudices to gain the upper hand. The exhibition recognizes the invisibility that Black people often face in media, and creates a photography exhibit to allow for ample representation of the Black community.

Northington graduated from CSUSM in fall 2019 with a bachelor’s in visual and performing arts with an emphasis in arts and technology. He is currently a first year graduate student at CSU Fullerton studying higher education. 

Northington’s interest in art began at a young age. Throughout his life, he has always used art as a creative outlet and a means of self-expression. However, Northington said, “It wasn’t until I got to San Marcos that I took a real interest in art, which was in 2016.” 

While Northington’s current exhibit focuses on his photography, he has experimented with other mediums as well. 

Photo courtesy of Jake Northington

His interest in photography began in fall 2016.

 “The photography class [I was taking] requires a final [where] we had to create a book that could be on any topic we wanted to do,” said Northington. 

While some other classmates focused on superficial topics, Northington knew he wanted his book to focus on social issues. 

Photo courtesy of Jake Northington

The inspiration behind Northington’s first photography project, Hueman, stemmed from “a Supreme Court ruling saying that employers could in fact discriminate using a policy of hair. And this was particular to a case from a black woman who brought it to the Supreme Court in the year 2000. And [the case] kept getting kicked back and they finally made a ruling on it in 2016. [The ruling stated] you can’t just show up with your hair one way when we hire you and then switch it into a way that we don’t consider appropriate for business,” said Northington.

Using photography with the goal of exhibiting Black beauty, Northington’s exhibition “Chasing Andromeda” combines mythology with social change. Northington said that the inspiration for the exhibition’s name stems from “an African frame of reference. [Andromeda] is a princess of Ethiopia.” 

Adding on to this, Northington said that Andromeda is “seen to be one of the most beautiful people [and] a great leader. When she died, her image, her light, what she was and what she stood for, was to last forever, so a constellation was named after her to honor her in perpetuity.” 

Photo courtesy of Jake Northington

Northington’s use of mythology and social change unfolds the narrative behind the discrimination of Black hair. 

“Andromeda, astrologically, is built in a cluster which circles and coils, like a double helix of DNA, or like the coil of Black people’s hair. The idea of chasing Andromeda is looking for the beauty in Black people,” said Northington. 

Northington has three books of photography projects that you can borrow from the library: Hueman, Solar Amalgamation and We Are.

You can see “Chasing Andromeda” at