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.
Every day it's a new scandal with the new regime in The White House. I don't know we are going to get through the next four years. In the mean time, I'm just offering this small commentary on his latest disaster...this one involves him leaking classified info to the visiting Russian ambassador.
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.
This past weekend, my cousin Ali Bradley performed her piece Beats, Rhythm and Motion as part of the American Tap Dance Foundation's Rhythm in Motion showcase at the Duke at 42nd in New York City. Her performance was a tribute to the Flint Water Crisis as well as an homage to J-Dilla and A Tribe Called Quest. I was pretty psyched that my Inkscape video work as part of the performance.
I wasn't able to record the performance but thanks to a kind soul that was able to snatch a little snippet, I had to 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 proud to share with you my newest Inkscape video entitled "Sky". It was inspired by and created in conjunction with the song "Skye" by one of my favorite bands, Groove Collective.
I've always been enthralled by the song recording because it has such a spectacular cinematic feel to it; it starts out slow and tranquil and then gradually builds into guitar-rimmed crescendos. After listening to it several times I could visualize how the song would sync beautifully with my Inkscapes. I was fortunate to get my blessings from one of the Groove Collective musicians, Genji Siraisi, to use the song and the video was born.
I decided to call the video "Sky," even though that is also the name of the song (with a different spelling) because the flow and movement of the inks in water resembled the moods of Mother Nature; calm and soothing in one moment and tempestuous and ferocious the next. Either way, I wanted to reflect the mood of the sky. I hope you enjoy.