For Du Bois, double consciousness and the veil were interchangeably embodied in the color of African American skin, indicating the differences Black bodies represent from the cultural “norm”—whiteness impairing not only white individuals’ ability to see African Americans as true Americans, but also African Americans’ ability to see themselves outside of race. In Chambers’s series “Wash Paintings,” the veils operate both as visual metaphors and as a way to block out the private worlds his subjects are engaged in, allowing them to enjoy their fantasies unperturbed, fully immersed in literature or in conversation.
While books are featured frequently throughout Chambers’s oeuvre, none of them are identifiable—all of the book covers in his work are blank. This omission is intentional, redirecting the attention of the viewer from a specific book title or point of reference to instead focus on the space the subjects are occupying and the scene as a whole. “The subject is not aware that it’s being observed by me,” Chambers explained. “He’s not bothered, he doesn’t need to care because what he’s doing is engaging in a space where he matters. This is his space.” Chambers stresses stillness as a transformative space where imagination and restoration is created and maintained. As the spectator, one is viewing the psychic activity of a book transporting these individuals, allowing them to transcend.