Finding inspiration

May 17, 2016

This weekend I found inspiration – in friends, in work and in art. It has been a long time since I have written anything on this blog. At the beginning of the year, I decided that in 2016 I was going to return to some semblance of work/life balance. It was two years into my job as executive director at Baltimore Clayworks and it seemed like if I never made it a goal it would never happen. The fact that I found inspiration in so many things this weekend and that I have time to sit here now and record them on the page makes me think that I am on the right path.

My first inspiration came from my job. Two visiting artists, Jill Foote-Hutton and Kevin Snipes joined us at Baltimore Clayworks for workshops both onsite and in community and for an artist talk. Spending time and hearing these two creative individuals share their thoughts on their process, inspiration, the role of the artist in connecting people across difference, social practice and equity was an honor. These two artists although incredibly different in their work and experience have connections in the way they use their craft to make sense of the world, use imagery as a means of storytelling and simultaneously leave room for the viewer to interpret and create stories of their own.

Having the opportunity to spend time with these two artists and the chance to sit in on one of their workshops, left me refreshed and excited to return to my own artistic practice. This was lucky because the morning following the artist talks, I attended an Indigo Tie Dye Workshop offered as part of “Indigo Magic”, an exhibition curated by Kibibi Ajanku. The workshop was led by Cheryl Hinton and brought together an incredible group of people that created tie dye squares that will become part of a collaborative quilt to be shown at the closing reception of the exhibition. The exhibition uses indigo as a lens in which to view the ways that indigenous African traditions show up in contemporary African American Art forms. I have not yet seen the full exhibition, but after the tie dye workshop, I will not miss it. It was incredible to hold the fabric in the buckets of deep greenish/blue and to watch when they were laid out to rest how the bright green deepened into indigo. The transformation was magical and the facilitators' emphasis on the community built during the process added to the confirmation, which was voiced several times in different ways: that art is healing, that art is connecting, that art brings communion, that art brings transformation – to ourselves and to our community.

The knowledge that came out of this making seamlessly tied back to some of the themes of Kevin and Jill from the night before. I found myself inspired by all that I had experienced when my phone buzzed with a reminder that the Creative Alliance was holding its first Activist Speaker Series. I continued my journey across Baltimore to the Patterson and arrived a bit early. This gave me the time to view the main exhibition, “The Simurgh”, which references the mythological creature of transformation and rebirth from Persian folklore and features four contemporary painters from Iranian background. This too is an exhibition not to miss. The intricate drawings of Cameron Shojaei and the large scale painting and collage on mylar, “Time will glide you away, but you will always remain, for nothing is as pure as you are” by Hedieh Javanshir Ilchi both asked the viewer to spend intimate time looking over and through the detail and expanse that were contained in the composition. The gallery was empty as I walked through and I was glad, as it gave me the freedom and space to wander back and forth between the paintings, gazing with fresh eyes time and time again, revealing new details and marks unseen upon previous viewings.

More transformation, more rebirth. It was then time for the talk. Juan Ortiz facilitated the conversation and was joined by Parag Rajendra Khandhar and Dominic Moulden. Juan began the conversation by reflecting on how young people of color need to see their reflection in those offering solutions to the challenges around them. Dominic and Parag then shared some about the work they have done and continued to do both in Baltimore, DC and beyond. I found myself nodding the entire time, the talk covered a variety of topics from equitable development to the demographics of non-profit leadership to the layered issues of power that are inherent in any and all work with people. It was an inspiring talk and I encourage you to attend the next in the series. For me the conversation brought up the continued theme of creativity and transformation, how we struggle to do it as individuals and in our institutions and larger social structures. I am truly honored to have been there and everywhere else that I traveled during the weekend and inspired to continue my own creative journey and transformation.

If you are interested in any of the above, check out:

Baltimore Clayworks – Kevin Snipes has an exhibition in the solo gallery on view until July 2

Indigo Magic – on view at the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park and Museum until July 28

Creative AllianceThe Simurgh on view until May 28 and check their calendar for the next Activist Speaker Series



 

Leveraging Political Power as Artists

January 10, 2016

“BALTIMORE’S CREATIVE COMMUNITIES ARE COMING TOGETHER TO INCREASE ACCESS TO AND SUPPORT FOR THE ARTS, CULTURE AND THE HUMANITIES IN BALTIMORE CITY. SHARE YOUR TOP PRIORITIES, GET INFORMED ON THE MAYORAL CANDIDATES, AND VOTE IN THE PRIMARY ELECTION ON APRIL 26, 2016.” - Citizen Artist Baltimore

On January 5, I had the privilege of attending the first listening session of Citizen Artist Baltimore, an initiative looking at motivating artists to get out and vote and leverage their ...


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Fists in the Air: Creed

November 30, 2015

I am grateful to have spent some of my holiday weekend in the theater watching the film Creed. It floored me. I expected the exciting build up of a young boxer fighting for more than just a win. I was excited that Ryan Coogler was directing and Michael B. Jordan starring. The impact of Fruitvale Station has stayed with me and I know that both would bring their skills and genius to this film. It is a beautiful film. It is a powerful film. It is a film that addresses more than just box...


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A Question for Andrew W. K.

September 5, 2014
I attended the first talk in the season of The Contemporary's CoHosts Speaker Series last night. In collaboration with Current Gallery, Andrew W. K. was brought to Baltimore to speak at Baltimore School for the Arts. I did not know much about Andrew W.K. I remember seeing the photo of him with a bloody nose at a gallery in New York years ago, but did not have much other context. Another person in attendance thought he was on the Real World, it turns out he did have a show on MTV. I decided th...
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Inspiration

July 13, 2014
Thinking this morning about inspiration. I came across this Maya Angelou quote (thank you Nona who posted it to Facebook):

"My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart."

And in this I found the inspiration to write this post. In these words, I found the love needed to open my heart and record words on the page. It is funny how great an impact a fe...
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Four Years

March 12, 2014
Wow! It has just occurred to me that I have been writing this blog for four years.

Time, which has seemed both condensed and expanded recently never ceases to amaze me.

Four years blogging, in two weeks thirty three years living.

All I can say now, is thank you to all of you that have been a part of it.



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On Tim Wise

January 12, 2014

Recently at dinner a friend asked what I thought of Tim Wise. I knew he had gotten into trouble for his reaction to critics who questioned his speaking at a Teach for America event. The arguments he made pretty much sounded like he was saying, I'm on your side so I can do what I want.

After this dinner, another friend shared this: http://www.blackgirldangerous.org/2013/09/no-more-allies/, a Black Girl Dangerous blog from September which mentions Tim Wise in an argument about "allies"...


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Gratitude

November 8, 2013
As I venture into a new opportunity and my next big endeavor, I find it necessary to pause and give a moment of thanks. This gratitude must be shared for it is the love and support I have felt over the past several weeks (and before) that has made the next step in my life's journey one that I am confident in taking. It reminds me that anything is possible when we work together. I feel extremely lucky to be in such an amazing city, full of people working hard to make it even better and that re...
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Skipping the Hardest Part

September 11, 2013
This past weekend I finished reading a book by Thea Goodman, The Sunshine When She's Gone. I came across this book while perusing the new releases at the library. It is about a young couple living in New York with a new baby. Clara, the baby, has slept through the night for the first time in her short life and her father John decides to take her to the diner down the street for breakfast so that her mother may sleep in. The diner is closed and instead of returning home John heads to JFK airpo...
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Fruitvale Station and the Voice of Oscar Grant

August 8, 2013
One of the greatest successes of an artist is to provide a platform for voice, especially if that voice has been suppressed, oppressed or silenced. In Fruitvale Station this is exactly what Ryan Coogler accomplishes. In the first moments of the film, the audience is confronted with cell phone footage of Oscar Grant being shot. Silenced. And yet from the darkness of the screen we hear his voice, discussing his new year's resolutions with his girlfriend Sophina. From the darkness of the moment ...

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This blog will address issues of communication, art, and life from my point of view. It is a means for me to keep writing, thinking critically, and finding meaning in my life and work.

 

 

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