Friday, December 28, 2018

Multiple Disciplines of the Multidisciplinary Mind

"We're Never Having This Party," acrylic on canvas, 36" x 48, 2018.
On the lovely night of December 14th, I had my first solo opening, "Let Them Eat Sweet," in Philadelphia at the B(A)LM (Black Artists Liberation Movement) Studio. Makeba Rainey, the gallery's founder and curator, had worked in the wee hours to finish painting this second space walls a rich, glorious red-- a provocative hue that added extra oomph for my paintings and drawings to live and breathe.
As we hung everything the morning of, I thought back to artist/oral historian/poet Kymberlee Norfleet's confessional installation-- the first B(A)LM exhibit. She allowed herself to be vulnerable, confront lifelong pain head on through the many objects placed in the space with great care and deliberation. Every picture, book, and candle had a reason to exist. Although physically gone and moved onto Vox Populi in another form, the fervent memories of Kymberlee's collection are still thriving, the seeds having implanted strong, valiant foundation that tells the next artist, "this moment is yours. Employ your time well."
And "Let Them Eat Sweet" now occupies that message and aims to carry it through to the artist afterward.

A whole view. The lights are white and purple.
The space operates on sensational emotions, the experience of joy and togetherness, the communal act that happens before we dine. The illustrations depict fictional encounters between lost sisters that don't necessarily close gaping wounds, but provide much needed healing under the cover of bright colors and euphoric faces. Others offer self portraitures to exist with iconic ghosts of the past whose legacies are often regarded and mimicked. After all, the sincerest form of flattery is to copy, right?

Pencil drawings grouped together.
In returning to painting, near the end of summer, I returned to a once seemingly dead purpose coming back to life. Prior, I wanted to commit, to take time and effort, but pushed creativity aside to steep in emotional drainage. Additionally, I wrote new stories about hopes, dreams, and encounters, influenced by daily life activities, by reading so much in the dark. Thus, my creativity ignited and bloomed purposely. I was more than happy to defeat depression and come back down to earth, to explore the depths of imagination and have a place to put them together. Now the desire to paint is charged up like a battery, ready and ever so willing.

Corners that evoke stories about Grenada, romance, and fair trade chocolate. 
I incorporated literature, prose, poetry, and art books that inspired me throughout the sweet labor that is painting and drawing-- Zora Neale Hurston, Wallace Thurman, Jean Michel Basquiat, Sojournor Truth, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others. The artist as an avid reader is just as important as the role the artist has in the studio. Words shape the mind, sharpen tools, and enhance abilities. Yet reading is imperative for the artist who loves to write as well.

"Her Eyes Weren't Watching Cupcakes," acrylic on canvas, 24" x 48," 2018.

Books and business cards.
The opening itself presented the gracious opportunity to bake, to place my plant based talents on the table in juxtaposition to the works on three walls. As in the Friendsgiving and the first artist reception, sweetness was my specialty. Fair trade chocolate played a crucial role in several paintings. So I baked fudgy brownies with Divine Chocolate and Theo Chocolate-- both source their cacao from different slave free parts of the globe.

I baked brownies, cookies, and crock pot chai tea for the opening. Also on hand, crackers, grapes, Miyoko's Kitchen Sun Dried Tomato Cheese, Chuao Chocolatier Sea Salt Dark Chocolate, tortilla chips, salsa, and box red wine.

The homemade snickerdoodles came out comically large and needed to be cut in half.

After the wonderful curated playlist (which included Martina Topley-Bird and Massive Attack), we put on the Janelle Monae record to end the evening.

Thank you to my friend Ian for capturing me with Zora in front of Zora.
It is a tough road ahead post graduate life. Most people will face tons of rejection-- from exhibition opportunities, residencies, grants, etc. Nobody seems to want to talk about that path, the ugly reality of an artist's chances to survive in a gritty industry, especially those traveling alone. Yet at B(A)LM (a safe community haven for the ones who have work to urgently show and reveal), to be visible and chosen for once in my five years living isolated in Philadelphia sets a personal achievement. I can finally see that the journey ahead doesn't always have to be so lonesome.

The B(A)LM (Black Artists Liberation Movement) Studio is located in the Kensington area of Philadelphia on 2056 East Huntingdon Street, Philadelphia, PA 19125, opened Mondays and Fridays, 12pm-4pm.


  1. Wow, congratulations on your first solo opening; your art looks amazing in that space!

    1. Thank you!!! I was really happy with how everything turned out. What a great opportunity!

  2. How long will you be in this gallery space? I hope I can see it in person, art should always be seen in person not in just photographs if possible ^__~ Congrats! It is a hard world to break into, there are so many layers of white privilege in the art world, and it isn't nearly as appreciated and funded as other parts in the world, so it becomes so much more cut throat in the states.

    1. Thank you, Jennifer! The art world is such a challenging place to navigate. Whew! But I keep going. The show will be up for a while. Likely up until March or so.