Tag Archives: art

M.G. Interviews: Yasmine Lancaster and Ida B. Wells for President Posters


Today is “Columbus Day,” and as you all may be well aware of there is the growing controversy of whether to keep or remove statues of Columbus and other problematic white figures of history. There is also the growing conversation of replacing these statues with statues of civil rights heroes and other notable black figures. Instantly, I was 1 Yasminereminded of my good friend, Yasmine Lancaster, who recently did an afrofuturist-inspired project where she imagined what it would have been like if Ida B. Wells had run for president. Begun as an earlier project where she hung smaller signs around the Bronx, she eventually evolved them into a larger poster-length size.

Recently I did an interview with Yasmine so I could share with you the backstory on the project! Here it is:

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The bottom of the poster reads: Supported by Chicago Conservator and the Republican Women’s Club

1) What was the inspiration behind your Ida B. Wells for President Posters?

The inspiration behind the Ida B. Wells for President poster was the current political climate in the United States, particularly in New York City. It was the election of 2016 and there was this intensity in the air on who would be the next president of United States. We were leaving the Obama era of politics and heading into uncharted territory with either a woman who would be president or Donald Trump. There was a buzz in the air. I had spent the summer doing interactive art projects asking the public to take what they need. I was inspired by another artist who had did something similar but in my case I replaced the take what you needs. Instead of “Joy” and “Happiness,” I replaced them with very “Black Girl Magic” things like “Perfect twist out,” “Melanin Filled Day,” and of course, “Black Girl Magic. “ Folks responded well to the post and most would be gone by the end of the day, so feeling encouraged by the response I decided to expand and I began to imagine what if someone else was running for president. So I put up little signs in Harlem around 125 street saying “Ida B. Wells for President” and it felt subversive because unlike the other take what you need posters, this was a little bit more politically overt and it was exciting! I also posted different “Black Woman for President” — some names controversial. I was asking my community to reimagine a new possibility, a different reality.  And it continues to be exciting!

mary_garrity_-_ida_b-_wells-barnett_-_google_art_project_-_restoration_crop2) What were some of the books and other sources that you researched to help flesh out the project?

I read some biographies about Ida B. Wells and I watched some documentaries that focused on her life. A Passion for Justice was the main documentary I watched along with several others as well. It was necessary to do the research to figure out what year she would have ran for President, who would have endorsed her, etc., etc. That part was fun and fascinating, and in the course of my research I found out some interesting facts about Ida that I was not aware of. For example, in the course of doing the research, I found out that she ran for Illinois State senate. She came in third, which is amazing, and so here I am thinking that I am reimagining some far out future when the truth is actually I wasn’t too far off at all — she did run for public office. It makes you wonder what other hidden histories are not known about Black Women in America.

3) What was the process like for creating the posters?

The process of creating the actual posters was a collaborative effort with Meghan Forbes (of Harlequin Creature) and Romeo Silvero*. Meghan Forbes did the research on finding the proper visual representation for the time period, which was important we wanted it to feel like something that you could have accidentally come across in history that you didn’t know existed. We wanted it to have that feel. The first printing we weren’t able to get the paper to look processed and old but we hope to have future presses have that feel. Cost was a huge part of the process and getting clearance for her visual image so what was done was a drawing was made of her likeness by Romeo Silvero.  Romeo is a pre-teen and so it was amazing to have youth be involved in the process as well. 

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Yasmine with Romeo and his mother

4) Do you plan on doing other black women as part of a series or expanding the project in another way?

I do plan on expanding the series and including other Black Women into the series. I also could see this branching out into merchandise that folks could purchase as well. The women that I am choosing to highlight are heroes and we each have our own personal hero that we will respond to. Black Women are the backbone of this country; its about time that we be seen as such.

5) How do you see your project as afrofuturistic?

I foresee this project as being Afro-Futuristic because we are imagining the past and creating an alternate reality in which these amazing black women were stepping up and tossing their proverbial church hat into the ring to run the United States of America, a country that historically has treated Black Women as a community that can be ignored and disregarded, as unfit to be leaders because of their race and their gender. However, in this alternate reality, they make the choice that their vision is exactly what America needs. That leadership is both black and woman and perfectly aligned to make this country step into the future.

6) Since this is Futuristically Ancient, how are you and your work both futuristic and ancient?

Well the future aspect I already discussed because I am reimagining an alternate reality in which these women ran for President of the United States. How my work is ancient is that the idea of a woman as a leader is something that was quite common in the ancient world. Black Women were leaders of nations during antiquity, and so I am paying homage to that, but also reimagining a different America in which this happened. What would this future look like? Feel like? How would it be like our current reality and how would it be different?

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7) Where can the readers find out more about your work?

Readers can find my work on line on Instagram @youwannatellher. They can follow me on that page — that particular page is a visual expression of a collection of poems that I wrote that all begin with the title “You wanna Tell Her.” In addition, the Ida B. Wells posters are being sold at Sister Uptwon Bookstore, which is located at 1942 Amsterdam Avenue. It is a black woman-owned bookstore in the middle of Washington Heights. It was the perfect home for the posters.

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Thank you Yasmine! And please do head to Sisters Uptown Bookstore to get one of your own Ida B. Wells for President posters!

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Art of This World: Tarot/Oracle Cards


Last week Sunday, I met with some members of the Black August Cocoon Collective that Ola Ronke of Free Black Women’s Library started for the month of August as a way to bring together a community of black woman to do a series of activities and rituals that will later result in us creating a zine.

Since the Sunday coincided with a new full moon in Leo, Ola had each of us pick a card from Earthlyn Manuel’s Black Angels Card deck. The card I got was the Joker. At first I thought that was strange because I don’t think I’m much of a funny person or a jokester, but I have been studying trickster archetypes and gods like Eshu/Elegba, I do love word play when it comes to my writing practice and as the book explanation says, I seem to have a liveliness that attracts others to me.

Take a look at the card and read the description for it (click on the pictures for full size):

 

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Astro-Caribbean: Return


The last post for Caribbean Heritage Month is a mix between Space:Queens and Art of This World segments, featuring three visual artists whose work I’ve seen in Queens — Reginald Rosseau and his exhibition, Unmasked — Embodiment of Spirits, at Seed Capital Cafe; Nari Ward and his G.O.A.T., Again exhibition at Socrates Sculpture Park, and Fritz St. Jean who lives in the southeast Queens area and whose daughter I met a few months ago at the Queens Council on the Arts grant awardees ceremony.

Reginald Rosseau

“Reginald “Big Art” Rousseau is a Haitian-born and Harlem-made working artist whose artworks are generating a lot of buzz, in the hood and beyond. In addition, he is the founder of the Reginald “Big Art” Rousseau: Harlem Art Projects, a creative space located in a funky storefront which serves as part working art studio, part art gallery and part retail art store, for him to create, promote, exhibit and sell his artworks. The creative space also serves a physical space to connect with the community, collectors, curators as well as galleries.

His artistic style, which he affectionately, coined “Neo-Haitian Expressionism”, is derives from a radical fusion of Haitian Art, African Art, Street Art, POP-Art, Folk Art, Stained Glass, Pointillism, Art Nouveau and Modern Abstraction. His work, which explores multi-ethnicity and multicultural identity, are based on his own personal experiences as a Haitian, a Blackman and an Immigrant with a Haitian heritage encompassing a unique blend of African traditional customs, mixed with contributions from the French, Caribbean, Latin, American and indigenous Taíno culture. His signature work, encompasses curvilinear black lines, vibrant colors, flatness of forms, jeweled pointillism, multi-layered textures and bold patterns.  On a recent interview, when asked to describes his working process, Reginald responded ‘My working process, is like jazz, with an eight-bar theme, you start it by the “T” and improvise as you go to generates rhythmic accents and beats as well as conveys emotion and power’.”

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Nari Ward

Via Socrates Scuplture Park: Jamaica-American mixed-media artist Nari Ward “recasts tropes of outdoor structures – the monument, the playground, lawn ornaments, architectural barriers, and the advertising sign – into surreal and playful creations. Nari Ward: G.O.A.T., again examines how hubris creates misplaced expectations in American cultural politics. This exhibition also brings new insight into the artist’s exploration of identity, social progress, the urban environment, and group belonging.

G.O.A.T. is an acronym for Greatest of All Time, a phrase commonly used in American sports, made famous by Muhammad Ali, and in hip-hop, most notably, as the title of Queens native LL Cool J’s best-selling album. The title alludes to the African-American experience and political theater – common themes in Ward’s work.

The figure of the goat features prominently in Nari Ward: G.O.A.T., again as the artist’s articulation of social dynamics, conjuring the animal’s attributes and symbolic connotations, from an ambitious climber of great heights to an outcast. A flock of goats cast from lawn ornaments traverse the landscape, both in groups and as solitary individuals, manifesting the show’s title. The appropriation of the word goat, turning an insult into a moniker for excellence, demonstrates the power of wordplay, while the modifier again implies historical repetition. Scapegoat, a forty-foot long hobby toy further develops the goat metaphor and highlights another strand of the show: the satirization of virility, masculinity, and monument…”

Nari Ward’s exhibition is the first single presentation of an artist in the park’s 30-year history. Read the New Yorker feature about the exhibition.

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Fritz St. Jean

“Born in Port Au Prince, Fritz St. Jean emerged as one of Haiti’s most illustrious self-taught artists. Initially, his style consisted of painting animal and jungle scenes on canvas. However, in 1980, St. Jean broke away from the staid pastoral themes to memorialize his hopes and dreams for Haiti through his paintings. Being widely viewed as socio-political commentaries on the dichotomous realities of Haitian life, St. Jean’s paintings transport the viewer to scenes of mysticism, idealism, and humanity all in one. He is noted as a master in color and detail as his works are continuously punctuated by the use of bold colors and fine lines. Often, his paintings celebrate Haiti’s religious culture in Voodoo and encapsulate its rich history. Paying tribute to a country that was once called La Perle des Antilles (The Pearl of Antilles due to its natural beauty and countenance), St. Jean’s paintings are artistic love notes to his homeland.  Suffice it to say, Haiti continues to be the source of St. Jean’s inspiration.”

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Astro-Caribbean Series: Art of This World!


Happy Caribbean Heritage Month!

Also, welcome back to the return of Astro-Caribbean!

All this month, I will present visionary work from the Afro-Caribbean diaspora. Today’s post is a presentation of visual artists — Sheena Rose, Carlo Theartus, Dirk Joseph, and Alicia Brown.

Continue reading Astro-Caribbean Series: Art of This World!

“Space:Queens” — Damali Abrams and Dennis RedMoon Darkeem at First Fridays


Happy New Year everyone!

I’m back with a few surprises!

First up is my first official Futuristically Ancient video that I edited, featuring artists Damali Abrams and Dennis RedMoon Darkeem presenting their work JCAL’s First Friday’s in Jamaica, Queens. As we go forth in a new year and with the disturbing atmosphere surrounding us right now due to the upcoming inauguration, cabinet picks, the confirmation hearings, and ethics of it all, I hope these visionary artists can give you a few words of encouragement and upliftment. As Damali said, “if we can’t begin to imagine something outside of tragedy, then we will never be able to create any new realties for ourselves.” I believe both Damali’s and Dennis’s work encapsulate what I’d like to call “scarab imaginations” of what is possible and how to make creative use of pain or waste.

Enjoy!

Damali Abrams and Dennis RedMoon Darkeem from Futuristically Ancient on Vimeo.

Astro-Caribbean: Blast off to the Future


We have come to the end of the year 2016. It has been a year filled with loss and with the unbelievable happening, but it has also been a year filled with amazing opportunities and door openings. 2017 is a year coming in like a lion’s roar and our futures seem uncertain, but let us go forth together, facing our fears and welcoming the new opportunities that will be opened with the seismic changes coming our way.

I will leave you with a few visionary artists I learned about during my trip to Barbados and hopefully they will inspire you as we head into the new year. I will see you all in 2017!

Nakazzi

 

Nakazzi Hutchinson is a sculptor, painter and interior designer who is of both Jamaican and Barbadian heritage. She creates life-sized figures and masks out of organic materials. As she said in her artist statement:

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“Space:Queens” – Damali “The Glitter Priestess” Abrams


 

Hello! Welcome back to my Astro-Caribbean series with a double dose of Space:Queens for you! Last week, I had artist Shervone Neckles and now I present to you Damali Abrams! Damali is a talented visual artist, writer and herbalist, who is using her talents to help to heal the world. Enjoy my interview with her below:

damalitreefairygovsisland-e14745923992491) Tell the readers a little bit about yourself.

I am Damali Abrams the Glitter Priestess. I make art and herbal remedies.

My work is about healing and transcendence, as well as creating a space of liberation for the Black imagination.

2) As a visual artist, tell us about the transformative power of image.

I’m a visual thinker as well as a writer. There are certain ideas that I can only express as images, others only as words.

Our culture does not value visual art as much as it does writing but the things that we see affect us so deeply on a subconscious level, in ways we often don’t even realize. Images are very powerful and can be extremely transformative. The things we see most often profoundly affect who and what we become.

Continue reading “Space:Queens” – Damali “The Glitter Priestess” Abrams