Melodie McDaniel’s work is rooted in understanding identity and experience through a nuanced and respectful exploration of her subjects over time. With a deep interest in discovering telling signs of humanity that unite us all, it makes perfect sense she was drawn to Compton Jr. Posse as an epic subject to tell a compelling story. 

Founded by Mayisha Akbar in 1988, Compton Jr. Posse is an equestrian program in Compton that empowers neighborhood kids by teaching them competitive equestrian skills and horse care and maintenance. By “Keeping kids on horses and off the streets”, this youth community outreach program develops and nurtures self esteem, responsibility and discipline. 

In 2015, McDaniel was introduced to CJP by her equestrian friend and writer, Amelia Fleetwood- who knew she would be an inspired match for the organization. Since then, McDaniel has immersed herself in the CJP community to capture its mission and day to day spirit with dignified portraits and powerful reportage.

By choosing to shoot in all black and white, McDaniel’s rich and elegant photographs quiet any pre-conceived notions of the contemporary inner-city kid’s experience. Her aesthetic approach elevates and equalizes the story to one of a classic and timeless nature. What the viewer sees and feels anew is the universal truth that so much more is possible when love is in the picture. 

Daring to Claim the Sky is proud to exhibit a selection of thirty-six  archival edition prints that honor and illuminate the experience of Compton Jr. Posse.

Curated by Audrey Landreth
Organized by Amelia Fleetwood