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Friday, July 10, 2015

So what did happen, Miss Simone?  The Netflix documentary on the dynamic songstress-activist-genius was absolutely brilliant, thought provoking and a healing balm for my creative soul.  You should see it immediately and if you’ve already seen it, watch it a few more times for good measure.


FACT: Racism interferes with the creative process, thoughts and direction of an artist.

Nina Simone artist sketch in color
Nina Simone by Jolyn GC, 2015


I submit what happened to Miss Simone is what happens when *@!!?*@! racism interrupts your art and by art I mean LIFE.  For an artist, art and life are one in the same.  If the creative process is a life long conversation an artist has with herself then racism is the rude a$$h*!e that makes you forget what you were just about to say, lose your train of thought, and make your point escape you, only to then hijack the conversation to one about mourning, disillusionment, whether to forgive or NOT, fear, violence, depression…and on and on goes the list.

Now where was, I?  Oh yes, this *@!!?*@ racism.  My creative process has been thrown off track lately.  Don’t get me started with the folks who have told me to use what has happened to fuel my art.  First of all, living as a black woman in America is fuel enough.  I don’t need anymore “fuel.”  Trust.  What I do need is a *@!!?*@ break.  A break from the tears and mourning for the Charleston Nine, black churches being burned to the ground, and countless others who have been terrorized in this country.  Have you ever tried to create an art piece with tears in your eyes?  I can barely see as it is hence, my red peepers.  Salty tears running down my face just make for jagged cuts in my expensive collage materials.   



Back then, *@!!?*@ racism, had Miss Simone taking a break from her dreams of being the first black classical pianist.  *@!!?*@ racism interrupted her creative conversation and changed the subject to that of the Civil Rights Movement--a conversation about basic human rights that we are still having today.  I can't help but to think who else was interrupted?  There has got to be more.  Miss Simone didn’t have to sing and write those songs for the Civil Rights Movement but thank goodness she did.    I've grown to view her work as a sort of invitation to open in case of emergency.  The times we are in now are similar to the ones Miss Simone endured AND THIS IS AN EMERGENCY.  I admire her moxie, her beauty and her unapologetic blackness.  Watching Miss Simone in the documentary made me so proud and replenished my weary spirit.    


FACT: Nina Simone's selfless act will not be in vain if we seize the moment to take care of our artists and check in from time to time.   

In conclusion, when racism interrupts your art it takes a toll on your whole creative spirit.  So, if you are an artist, let me be the first to ask, How are you doing?  You okay?  I can tell you after employing multiple forms of art like writing and music my artful heart is on the mend.  Creating art as an integral part of my personal recovery process has allowed me to talk directly to the *@!!?*@ racism and say, "SHUT THE F@*% UP, ALREADY.  

Monday, June 22, 2015

This weekend I participated as an artist in Festival Sundiata Black Arts Fest at the Seattle Center.  There were so many great artists showing their work.  I felt blessed and honored to be in the mix.  I even learned a few things.

Two festival patrons look and talk about Afro Jazz art.

Talking textiles

It was pretty exciting seeing my Afro Jazz art hanging on its first exhibition wall.  I appreciated the feedback I received from several of the art patrons.  One woman was particularly moved by the featured african textiles.  She wanted to know how I decided what pieces to incorporate into my collage pieces.  I thought that was an interesting question and the answer I gave surprised me even more.  

I explained to her that the fabric speaks to me and lets me know how it would like to be cut and into what natural hairstyle it would like to present itself.  I know it sounds funny but it is totally true.  I don't even make a cut until the fabric confirms the style.  For one, the fabric is expensive and I like avoiding costly mistakes.  Two, I am never in a rush to create art so I have time to wait for an inner prompting from the patterns.  Talking out loud about my process pulled out the parts that are usually done in intuitive silence.  Thank you Miriam for our conversation!   

Wise for five

I've had the pleasure of watching my niece and nephew for a couple of weeks and we usually end up coloring or drawing together.  I love how after my niece draws or colors a picture she is particularly proud of, she immediately decides who it is for and where it will be presented.  Just now she drew a picture of a bear in the rain and told me it was for her daddy and that it would hang on his office wall at work.  

I usually create my work and leave it at that.  I hardly ever think about who the work is for or visualize where it will hang.  Perhaps, this should stop.  Art wisdom can come from anywhere and sometimes the best advice is from a five year old!  Well, this five year old plans to be both a doctor and an artist so she probably really does know what's best.   

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Take a closer look at the newest Afro Jazz Series called Kinfolk.  There are a lot of "firsts" for this series.   Have a look for yourself!


1.  "Eye to Eye"

For the first time, we have sets of Afro Jazz pieces looking directly at each other.  The first Afro Jazz pieces I ever made all faced to the right.  It is mainly because the original digital photos of my live model automatically posed on her "good side."  

2.  New Textiles

The Kinfolk Series features two new textiles from Nigeria, West Africa.  These particular patterns have been incorporated into the Afro Jazz Greeting Cards but never on the larger scale of Afro Jazz originals.  This material is more expensive and was only made in a limited quantity.  This might be the only time this pattern is used in this way.  I love the gold accents on the purple and ivory pattern.    

3.  Twist-out Hairstyle

If you've ever made an appointment at the Afro Jazz Natural Hair Salon, you know that three signature styles are offered: the afro, the fro-hawk and the head wrap.  In the Kinfolk Series we have a new hairstyle called the twist-out.  It's a more carefree hairstyle.  





Meet your Afro Jazz Kinfolk at the 35th Annual Festival Sundiata in Seattle!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

I am thrilled to announce that Afro Jazz will be part of the 35th Annual Festival Sundiata: June 19th, 20th, and 22nd at the Seattle Center, upstairs in the Armory.  


Afro Jazz has been hosted exclusively here at 31at31.com.  In efforts to share Afro Jazz with more people, 4 new original pieces will be on display and for sale at Festival Sundiata.  

Be my special guest at the artist reception on Friday and enjoy a complimentary wine tasting, hors d'oeuvres and hear more about Afro Jazz and from the other amazing artists featured at the festival!

RSVP requested here.  Check out the entire weekend's schedule here




Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z is for zone.  It is time to celebrate!  The Afro Jazz from A to Z Challenge is finished!  I learned a lot.  I hope you did too.  It is amazing the type of creative ideas one comes up with when in the zone for a month.  I definitely have a clearer picture of what direction I would like to see my Afro Jazz take.

 

I learned how challenging it is to create art while writing about it too.  There were definitely some either or days.  Either I was going to write a blog post or I was going to create some art.  The way my schedule was set up it seemed impossible at times to do both.

Being in the zone made inspiration easy.  It was everywhere.  I truly appreciated the encouragement I received along the way.  You all are so very sweet.  Thank you for riding this journey out with me! 

What's next you ask?  Well, for one I am going to take a break and return to more creating.  This means blog posts will be about once per week until I build it back up to about three times per week.  I will continue to have regular updates about my latest Afro Jazz creations.

Again, thank you for allowing me to share a bit of my creative world!



Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Y is for young at heart.  You ask, what does this even mean?  Well, it means to look at art with fresh eyes and child-like imagination.  What does this have to do with Afro Jazz?  Excellent question...

Even though I have a method and technique for Afro Jazz.  It is nice to start from scratch and perhaps learn something new.  Incorporating this concept of being young at art, I started using simple line drawings and crayons to sketch out new ideas. 


What came from this is a new idea for series of just chubby cheeked babies done in an Afro Jazz style.  I am still developing what this entails but it started out with the idea of capturing how babies look at new things introduced into their environment.  Everything is awesome to them no matter how simple or mundane.  

What if we chose to look at every task in this way?  What would be the result?  Would fear suddenly disappear?  Doubt would surely cease to exist.  Take today and just say yes to whatever opportunity that allows you to be young at heart.  

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X is for xenophile.  

noun
1.
a person who is attracted to foreign peoples, cultures, or customs.
One must be interested in the culture of others to truly and fully appreciate Afro Jazz.  This of course, also applies to one who makes Afro Jazz, which would be me.  

Magazine and Newsstand in Paris, France circa 2014.  Images of afros were everywhere!

I love learning about the way people live and create art from all over the world.  When I travel, I make it a point to check out the art scene.  Art is very telling when it comes to a society's values.  Something as simple as visiting a newsstand and seeing what images are considered mainstream can shed some insight as well.  Imagine how pleasantly surprised I was to encounter the word Afro and see images of afros all over Paris!  It was as if I was manifesting the word afro with every outing.

In my upcoming series of work, I will explore the influences that Jamaica, Panama, and France have had on my Afro Jazz that perhaps, I did not realize previously.  

    

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