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.
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 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:
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:
1) 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.
Hello Everyone! I am back from my Barbados trip, where I learned a lot about the country, including finding out about some great visionary artists and creatives there. Speaking of visionary artists, below is my interview with Queens-based visual artist, educator, and community activist Shervone Neckles whose work looks at the intersections between science, nature, art, story and community. I hope you have enjoyed my Astro-Caribbean series for the past few weeks and although I am back, I will continue it for a week or two, including some of the artists I found out about in Barbados. Stay tuned!
“I’m fascinated with the idea that the source of one’s healing and nurturing can also be the source of one’s pain and suffering…”
1) Tell the readers a little bit about yourself.
I’mShervone Neckles, an interdisciplinary artist, educator, community worker and art administrator. I am a first generation Caribbean-American raised in East Flatbush Brooklyn to Grenadian parents. My work weaves together concepts of nature and science with objects and practices rooted in Afro-Caribbean tradition.The art objects I make (book arts, printmaking, sculpture and multi-media techniques) are part of my ethnographic study on the social meaning of beauty, identity, and cultural authenticity within black womanhood.
In addition, my practice includes social experiments and curatorial projects that explores the commonalities, differences, contradictions, continuities and the many possibilities of cooperative learning and civic responsibility. I believe this exchange between community and artist is crucial to our ability to protect, preserve and make change where we live, work and practice from an informed and respectful place.
Last Friday, I went to Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning’s First Friday event where they showcase creative artists who participate in their one month residency program. Below are the three visual artists (Jason Lalor, Steven Sivells and Joyce Sanchez Espinoza) and works they showcased:
“In physics, a blackbody is an idealized body which absorbs the electromagnetic radiation it encounters and emits it as a spectrum of light; the body itself is revealed only through this spectrum. Similarly, the black and brown communities from which rap poetics emerged remain invisible to the pop culture it fuels. Nonetheless, the poetics – blackbody radiation – allow for the creation of new experiential worlds for its practitioners and audience.”
For the past month, I’ve been participating on the advisory council committee and as a creative writing workshop facilitator for the upcoming No Longer Empty exhibition, Jameco Exchange, that is opening on May 21st at 89-62B 165th St. No Longer empty is an organization that works with local artists and community members in various neighborhoods throughout NYC to revitalize empty storefront spaces and other underutilized properties.
One of the exhibiting artists and performers will be Margaret Rose Vendryes, a local York College art professor and artist behind the African Divas Project, which combines traditional African mask ritual with iconic Black woman music divas. Her work comments on the intersections between traditional masquerade, spectacle, celebrity, iconography, beauty ideals, gender and racial performance, and spiritual ritual.
1) Tell the readers a little about yourself.
I was born in Kingston, Jamaica and (with the exception of my first 5 years and two years of high school), and raised in Queens as the third of six daughters and one son.
I completed a BA at Amherst College in Western Massachusetts, an MA at Tulane University in New Orleans and a second MA and PhD at Princeton University in New Jersey. With only four studio art courses at Amherst College, the majority of my higher education was in art history concentrating on American art.
I continued to paint when I could, usually during the summer months. Finally, I began my full-time teaching career in 1997, and continue to teach both art history and now, studio courses, at York College, CUNY.
2) What first inspired you to start the African Diva Project?
In 2007, I left NYC, and teaching, for Boston where I had the opportunity to focus on painting. It was a huge risk that I was compelled to take. That summer, I spent a month in Mali, West Africa. I returned so thoroughly inspired, not so much by the art made there, which is awesome, but by the way artists appeared fulfilled by making their art. They were whole in a way that I wanted to be.
Although understood in retrospect, my African Diva Project began in 2005 with a painting of Donna Summer from the back of her Four Seasons of Love LP. I painted her wearing a Baule mask (Côte d’Ivoire) from my African art collection. That painting, which I thought would be just one experiment and am still changing as the mood inspires me, helped me realize that I had a “project” when I returned home to face it waiting for me on my easel. I finally saw myself as a driven visual artist as much as an art historian with a purpose. I invented a hybrid professional category for myself, I am an “Artist Historian.”
Hey everybody! Welcome to the first installment of my Space:Queens segment, where I explore afrofuturistic art, culture and influencers in my home borough of Queens, NY!
First up is Yvonne Shortt, who is the creative director ofRPGA Studio, Inc., and is the curator for Queens Art Initiative, where she works on several community-based art and technology projects in the borough. Enjoy!
1) Tell the readers a little bit about yourself and and what inspired your love of technology and math.
I’m an an artist, mathematician, African American female, technologist, and mother. My inspiration came from my uncle who started a company to help the deaf communicate with others and my mom who bought me my first computer, a Commodore 64. Also my aunt, her belief that hard work makes all possible shaped me.
2) How do you see Queens as a place of possibility and speculative/futuristic exploration?
We have so many people from so many countries and this diversity is an amazing power to draw from. It reminds me to use diversity in my work in my exploration – diversity including art, design, technology, education… This is what makes my work important and relevant I think.