This past week marked a lot of firsts for me in my art career that have been some of the most gratifying moments of my life.
On Tuesday, the National Black Theatre presented their production In Perpetual Flight: The Black Body in Motion at the Schomburg Center. Their event was part of the New York City wide festival theme on migration which was developed by Carnegie Hall. NBT had commissioned me to create artworks that marked the four critical stages of Black migration within the United States: The Transatlantic and Domestic Slave Trade & Runaway Journeys, The First Northerm MIgration, Back to Africa: Colonization and Emigration and The Great Migration: Redefining Cities. Each era was celebrated through dance, spoken word and song with the works I created serving as an introductory backdrop for each performance. It felt incredible to be part of something that was bigger than myself and that celebrated the migratory experiences of Black people in such a powerful way.
After the program ended, I was invited onstage to join in the panel discussion that featured all the commissioned artists for the production. This was the first time in a very long while since I’ve been on a stage for a live show so leading up to it, I was kind of nervous but once I got out there, it felt good. The energy of the audience was so positive (replete with finger-snaps and affirming “mmm-hmmms”), and the camaraderie among my fellow artists was so strong, that it felt like I was having a conversation with people I had known for a long time.
You can watch the livestream entire program here.
Then the next day I traveled to Newark to hold my artist talk for my exhibition Fluid Resistance: Heroism in Two Acts. The best part of the talk was getting a chance to answer questions and explain my process to the students in an introductory photography class. For many of them, it was the first time they had gone to an artist talk so it was refreshing to see my presentation and the art world through new eyes. After answering questions about my process, inspiration and my thoughts on current social issues, we all walked over to the exhibition to view the works in person. One of the greatest parts of this experience with Rutgers was getting to see how committed Paul Robeson Galleries to the grassroots art community, which is a refreshing change from New York’s art scene, which at times can be too elitist and competitive. In addition to hosting exhibitions and artist talks, they also run workshops and classes so I’m hoping to work with them in the future about possible workshops regarding legal issues for artists.
So that was my week! It feels so good to see flowers blooming where I’ve been planting seeds for all the years. It gives a whole new meaning to the rebirth of spring.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting the much anticipated Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. I'm so happy to have the time off so I could absorb the show because there was so much care put into showing the many facets of her life. I wish I could share pictures but out of respect for the Museum's no photo policy, all I can say is be sure to see it as soon as you can!
Like most people, I had read and seen movies and documentaries about Frida's life but it felt so different to see the parts of her life that she lived with in person, which even included the medicine bottles that she used for her chronic illnesses.
It took me a while in the last several years to really appreciate her paintings. At first, they seemed too surreal, so full of pain and even gruesome at times. Over time I came to appreciate the raw honesty of her work and her willingness to speak of her hopes, pain and disappointments through her work. I imagine that had to be like journaling for her.
I was so inspired by what I saw that I created this quick Inkscape portrait of her. I I thought it apropos to have her kind of softly disintegrating (or integrating, depending on how you look at it) considering her painful and complicated relationship with her body. She spent most of her life in pain but I wanted to show that even when it seemed like she couldn't come together physically, there was still fluidity...some softness to it.
Anyway, don't waste another minute and get your ticket to see Frida in Brooklyn.
Hey all! I finally have the date for my artist talk at Rutgers. On Wednesday, April 17, 10 am, I will be holding a discussion with one of the university professors. In addition to talking about the current exhibition, we’ll also discuss how my work in relation to Audre Lorde’s book, Sister Outsider. I’ll be following up with more details as we get closer to the artist talk date!
Just wanted to drop a quick note to let you know that my work will be featured in an upcoming solo exhibition at the Center for Law and Justice at Rutgers University, courtesy of the Paul Robeson Galleries. Fluid Resistance: Heroism in Two Acts will be featuring selected works from my Belle Noir and Black Superheroes projects and will be a celebration of heroism, resistance and Black joy.
At this time, there will not be an opening reception but I'm looking at scheduling an artist talk at some point during the exhibition which runs from December 20th, 2018 to May 24th, 2019. If you are interested in attending an artist talk, please drop me a note via my contact form.
I'm looking forward to sharing this experience with you all and as always, I am grateful for the love and support that you have shared with me throughout the years.
"rise up fallen fighters
unfetter the stars
dance with the universe
& make it ours"
~ Ntozake Shange
Thursday's reception for the Artist Co-Op Exhibition was a success. Thank you to everyone who came out and supported me and all the other exhibiting artists!
The exhibition will be on display until November 11, 2017 at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning.
A few weeks ago I had a chance to go down to Charlotte to attend the opening night reception for the 80x80 art show at the Mint Museum Uptown where my piece, Spinal Column of a Kaiju, was featured along with 79 other artists from across the country. The whole evening was amazing! I can't even begin to describe what it feels like to be part of such a major event in such a beautiful museum such as the Mint. The venue is enormous, which allowed the artists to stretch out and share their creations. The range and the diversity of contemporary art was fantastic and being there among the people and getting a chance to describe my work and my process felt pretty surreal.
I was touched that I had a group of supporters come out and show me love, including one of my high school friends who I haven't seen since college, and friends who I only had a chance to interact with on social media came through and I could finally hug them in person. The media reception reserved for the artists and the press before the public opening allowed me to meet all the other exhibiting artists and swap stories with them about their works and their backgrounds.
Today is the last day of the 80x80 exhibit so if you happen to be in Charlotte until then, please be sure to visit the exhibition!
So tonight was the gallery opening at Azart and I figured I should still write about it while I'm still wired off of white wine and the good times I had..
Gallery receptions are euphoric and wonderfully hectic at the same time when you're an exhibiting artist. Most of the time it feels like a whirlwind and I wish I could be in several places at once. You find yourself trying to catch up with your long-time friends and supporters but want to make enough time to answer questions about your process to people who are new to your work.
Tonight was no different at Azart. The crowd quickly swelled and I had met so many new faces that were enthusiastic and curious about my Inkscapes. I love listening to people's perspectives and I always come away learning something new from my audience. Tonight, several people told me how the art looked so three dimensional that they wished that they could crawl inside each piece. People also had a strong response to the amount of color, especially my Inkscapes speckled in yellow and they were soothed by the blues of my Steely Gray
Azart Gallery is a beautiful space, so if you are in the NYC area from now until the 19th, please do go by and check out the show. I feel privileged to share the space with such talented photographers. The gallery is located at 51 Orchard Street in NYC.
I'm pleased to announce that one of my works, Spinal Column of a Kaiju (pictured above), will be included in an upcoming group exhibition at the Charlotte Mint Museum Uptown in North Carolina. The show, entitled 80x80, runs Friday, June 10th through Saturday, June 25th, 2016 and celebrates the Museum's 80th birthday and will feature the works of 80 artists selected from across the country.
With this being my first time exhibiting in a major national museum, I'm extremely excited about this opportunity and can't wait to attend the opening reception in Charlotte on June 10th (from 6-10pm). If you'll be in the area during that time, I'd love to see you but if not, I will be sure to take pictures and share!
I'm so happy and proud to say that Harlem for Flint was a success. We met our fundraising goal of $10,000 and there was an excellent turnout of so many people who wanted to support Flint, Michigan.
As an artist, I was thrilled to be able to use my work to help spread the message of determination and hope. I met such incredible people in the process; all of the volunteers had such positive energy that it felt like a family get-together. There's nothing that compares to people coming together in the name of compassion. The performances were tremendous with each artist bringing such passion and beauty. The end of the evening culminated in a troupe of tap and African dance against a crescendo of song.
Of course it was a tremendous thrill to have a video installation of my Inkscapes to serve as a backdrop for the whole night at the National Black Theatre. It added so much to the mood and so many of the spectators were really impressed by it. This is something I definitely want to do more of in the future because I love how the motion of the Inkscapes can create serenity and infuse tremendous energy at the same time.Please be sure to check out the Youtube video featuring Ali Bradley's rehearsal performance against my video installation (it was actually one of my favorite moments of Sunday afternoon).
A big thank you to all those that attended and contributed! I'll be adding more video over the next few days so be sure to subscribe to my Youtube channel to see more.
I'm pleased to announce that I am working with the fundraiser Harlem For Flint which will present a one day event of artist performances, speakers, a silent auction and poetry readings to raise money for children adversely affected by the water crisis in Flint. Proceeds will be donated to the Flint Child Health & Development Fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.
I'll be donating a print of my work to the art auction and my new videos of my Inkscapes will also be part of the event too.
Harlem For Flint takes place on Sunday, March, 6 at the National Black Theater in Harlem. For more details, please visit the fundraiser's website at http://harlemforflint.com