Cheyenne Julien grew up in the Bronx in New York, which significantly influenced her creative practice. To describe it, the artist uses the term ‘environmental racism’. Cramped flats in multi-storey, brutalist blocks of communal housing estates create experiences different to those available to the white community living in villas in the suburbs. ‘From a young age, I realized that [these] parks were meant for white children. I quickly learned to find the beauty I longed for in the place where I lived — in the flowers that sprouted through the cracks of the sidewalk’, she will say in an interview. The protagonists of her paintings are most often African-American women captured in portraits or genre scenes in their domestic surroundings. Their faces are painted in a characteristic style that references the aesthetics of comic books. Large exaggerated eyes and prominent lips are marked with strong emotions: surprise, resentment, anxiety, anger, or extreme melancholy. They combine pathos and kitsch, but also evoke associations with the racist way of representing black people. One critic has described Julien's characteristic style as ‘comic formalism’.