I've been listening to Sade's Soldier of Love on heavy repeat, not only marveling at the gravity of the song but how dope the music video for it is. If you've seen it, you can see the connections and how I was inspired by the #grayish ##landscape and the red smoke.
The song is powerful as it speaks to the resilience of spirit in the face of recurrent disappointments in love and the determination to soldier on it spite of it all. I've been clinging to this song in light of all the crazy shit I read in the news, particularly in light of the daily reports of sexual assault/harassment allegations. These are daily reminders of how tough is it to be a women, a women of color, a Black woman in a society that increasingly tries to make you feel powerless. I'm grateful for the reminders of the women who put on a brave face when they are battered and can face the #storm. I say that at the risk of further the perennial "strong black woman" stereotype that is tiresome and unhelpful. There is a power in the willingness to be vulnerable by taking off the mask of invincibility.
Last Tuesday was the premiere of the incredible photography book Mfon at the International Center for Photography in Manhattan. I had been aching to finally see the finished product and I was not disappointed. Editors Adama Delphine Fawundu and Laylah Amatallah Barrayn created a compilation of beautiful, powerful and touching photographs that celebrated black womanhood and the power of Black women photographers. Given the level of talent featured, it would be an understatement to say I was honored to be included.
The book signing event was unlike anything I had ever experienced. It was exhilarating being in the same room with all of this excitement and positivity. I felt like I was swinging between a giddy high school girl and rock star signing copies of the books and getting to know the other photographers and asking them to sign my copy as well.
I finally got a chance to settle down with the book over the weekend so I could study each image and read the touching essays and tributes to Mfon, the book's namesake. I shed tears over the power and intensity of her legacy.
So, please, please, support this book and support Mfon's legacy. Copies are still available for sale by making a donation at http://mfonfoto.org/.
I'm noticing that fire is an underlying theme in this latest round of #Inkscapeportraits. Maybe on a subconscious level, I feel like every woman has something burning within her, be it #desire, rage, #vivacity, etc. I find this especially to be the case with the #women that may seem to be reserved on the surface but if you take the time to look her in the eyes, you see something powerful within.
This is my latest on the series I'm currently working featuring people of the African diaspora, with emphasis on black women. During these increasingly tumultuous times, I find solace on celebrating the multi-dimensional aspects of black womanhood, which has been the backbone of so many social justice movements. Our often celebrated resilience comes at a high price that frequently leaves us feeling depleted, forsaken and overlooked. With this yet untitled series, I endeavor to present images of black women that are soothing and energizing reminder of the importance of self-care, self-love, and celebration of our womanhood. The above image is the most recent image of this series. You can see other portraits that I've done on my online portfolio or Instagram.
I'm currently looking for models who may be interested in participating. No experience is needed and I look want to celebrate a diverse representation of black women. Compensation will be in the form of free head shots and a free print of the final work.
If you or someone who know lives in the New York City area and would be interested in participating, please contact me at email@example.com.
This latest Inkscape portrait is a part of an ongoing project that I want to dedicate more time to. This image in particular was inspired by an old Ramsey Lewis Sun Goddess album, which my dad had a copy of when I was growing up. I used to love studying how wondrous it looked. Similarly, I wanted to created a sense of inner luminescence, which is why I wanted to make sure the face of my muse was awash in #gold.
I want to experiment more as I get more comfort with this series. I tried several different versions of the image, layering the portrait with lots of #Inkscapes but I felt like something simpler was better, so as not to overwhelm people with detail.
Just wanted to drop a quick note to let you know that some of my Inkscape video art will be making appearances in two tap dance dance performances choreographed by Ali "Brinae" Bradley. I got a sneak peek of the one of the performance and it's fantastic! In case you will be in the New York City and Detroit areas in the coming weeks here are the dates and locations:
Beats, Rhymes & Tap Shoes: Morris Chesnut and Friends
April 21 & 22, 2017
Apollo Theater, New York, NY
Beats, Rhythm, and Tap Shoes: Tribute to J Dilla and A Tribe Called Quest
Destination Forever Project workshop: "Beat Makers, Groovers, and Shakers"
Wednesday, April 26th
The Carr Center; Detroit, Michigan.
"The artist must elect to fight for freedom or slavery. I have made my choice. I had no alternative. The history of the capitalist era is characterized by the degradation of my people: despoiled of their lands, their true culture destroyed... denied equal protection of the law, and deprived their rightful place in the respect of their fellows."
In celebrating Black History month, I'm returning to my Black Superheroes series with new portraits of Black civil rights pioneers and wanted to start with Paul Robeson. In what seems to be a moment of synchronicity, I stumbled upon an article today in USA Today that discussed how Paul Robeson's activist legacy is so relevant to current times because it merged art with activism.
Robeson was born in Princeton, New Jersey in 1898 to a father who was a former slave and went on to become an All American football player at Rutgers University and became class valedictorian. While pursuing his law degree at Columbia University, he sang and performed in various off campus productions. As his notoriety as an actor and vocalist grew, he became increasingly interested in civil rights issues of Black Americans. Robeson traveled abroad often and he eventually embraced Soviet communist principles because of its seemingly colorblind philosophy. Unfortunately, his support for communism cost him his career; during the McCarthy era, he was investigated by the US government and stripped of his passport. Unable to earn a income or travel abroad, his career suffered and never recovered. He spent his remaining years in declining health and seclusion but still remained committed to the principles of activism and social justice.
Robeson the athlete, intellectual, artist, and activist, was a renaissance man who's legacy is currently undergoing a resurgence at a time when we need it the most. May his work inspire us to be "the gatekeepers of truth" and to speak up against injustice wherever we see it.