When I reached out to Brenda Miller Holmes years ago to inquire about getting involved in her project as a volunteer, I never imagined what would come with it or after. I shared a couple of posts in the past that touched on the Durham Civil Rights History Mural Project, one in July 2014 and the other in September 2014. This year, Myra Weise received an Arts About grant from Downtown Durham, Inc. (DDI) to fund a performance event inspired by the mural. Originally, she wanted to have Brenda create the temporary ground work, but being the equity-conscious person she is, Brenda suggested getting another artist involved and recommended me. At first, I wasn't sure if I could deliver what Myra envisioned, but I got more and more excited after meeting with her, getting an overview of the event, and sketching some ideas out on paper. We even met one weekend for a photo shoot to get images for promotional material (pictured below and also taken by Zoe Litaker Photography).
On the day of the event, Myra was busy going through a super long list of logistical tasks that included things like picking up road barricades and chairs and dropping those off along with supplies and setting up, etc. I arrived on site a little after 10 a.m. and began to mark up the parking lot. The goal was for me to lay out the design in the mock up shown that would both serve as a place the community could color in for a couple of hours before the performance as well as the stage space for the dancers to perform within.
Time flew as I started installing the stage's border. I quickly went through a number of the chalk spray paint cans and began to improvise when I was running out. In the home stretch, one of the men featured in the mural stopped by... Walter Riley, who was in town visiting due to a National Lawyer Guild's convention on civil rights (he's an Attorney who's done incredible work; look him up!). We talked for a while and I learned that he, too, is an artist and paints often with oils.
All in all, it was a great experience. I wrapped up and went to work, and when I finished my shift, I came back to see bits of the performance and to check out Derrick Beasley's exhibition inside of the Durham Arts Council building. Some photos from behind the scenes are in the slideshow below as well as two brochures that were handed out during the event that share more information about the mural itself. Thanks for much for reading, and as always... feel free to leave a comment or two!
Oh, how the change of seasons forces me to be so contemplative! The cooling, crisp air all around and old, crunchy leaves on the ground make me think about the newness on the way. The dread of the upcoming holidays hit me, yet I also feel appreciative of the natural scenic makeovers. Every year, the outdoor transformations cause me reflect on the good things the warm season brought.
This summer marked another year spent with kids participating in Hidden Voices' and Blue Ribbon's Seeking the Self camp; Year Three. You may remember my recap posts in 2018 and 2017-- well, the team was able to come back once again, which is not something I take for granted at all. The fact that camp took place this year after coming close to not happening at all due to major changes in organizational structure and funding alone was something I was happy about. Thankfully, the third time was a charm. For the second time, I also joined TPPI/APPP's graduation celebration for a round of painting fun (group photo pictured above). The last time I did that was for their 2017 group (and I wrote about it here).
Below, I share more photos, a video, and summer memories related to Seeking The Self 2019.
The video below shows an overview of this year's STS Program.
The growth I got to witness in these kids during STS was super rewarding. As we worked with the students this summer, sharing other Artists' work and interpretations, I heard Will describe some of his work in a way I never experienced it before. I was inspired instantly. I wanted to try to replicate it his portrait style. I wanted to find out more. I got to see how many times he shared images of people with themselves as their own "twin" via his social media, and about how long he's been doing that. What I heard him say for the first time was that these portraits were all about love. Self love. The series was an investigation of what that self love look like. Below are some images he has shared in the past with one of my own following. Thanks so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed; and please leave any questions or comments below if you have any!
1. Acrylic Hexagon Hand-painted and Lettered Tiles
I love how these turned out! It was a total experiment, but I am glad to have been trusted enough to take on this project. Photos in the gallery below show the transformation, step-by-step, from what the painting boards looked like when I took them out of the package up until after they were cut, painted, and lettered on! It was my first time cutting acrylic with the tool I used as well> I had to find a video on YouTube to research what to get and how to use it (also posted below). The edges were not as smooth as I hoped it would be at the points when I did cut the boards, so I sanded them a little and then used a heat/wood burning tool I have used in the past to cut pieces of acrylic board for evening it out.
-Acrylic Painting Tiles from Jerry's Artarama
-Plaskolite Acrylic Cutting Tool from Lowe's
-Acrylic Paint by Liquitex Basics in Ivory Black and Artist Loft
-Chalk Markers in white by Marvy Uchida Bistro
-Wood burning/heat tool
-YouTube video resource
2. Balcony Makeover
After bringing home a houseplant from work one day and taking on the challenge to learn how to care for it, I sat on my balcony and stared around thinking I was ready for an upgrade. It had been almost exactly a month since learning I would move into my first apartment, and I couldn't believe the time had passed so swiftly. I enjoyed each month in my new home, and kept busy decorating and settling in over the time. It was now time to settle in the outdoor space. Time to decorate and make it my own... right in time for Summer 2019! That is exactly what I did (photos below); and all of it for under $100.
Outdoor rug... $35 from BJ's
Lantern... $4 from Michael's (was on sale + discounted due to damage)
Flowering shrubs... $12 from Walmart
Hanging flower basket... $16 from Gunter's Greenhouse
Table... $2 from TROSA Thrift Store
Outdoor fabric... $7 from Walmart
Batting... $0 left over from previous project
Bag of potting soil... $2 from Roses
Three cans of spray paint... $12, one from Walmart, Michaels, and Roses
Chairs... $0 given to me from a friend
Railing attachments and baskets... $0 gifted to my job and no one wanted them
Sweat-equity, blisters, and DIY perseverance to get the job done... PRICELESS
Dreamville Festival - My Vendor Recap
After collaborating on a number of projects and events, a practice I've grown to love and appreciate is having a debrief session shortly after wrapping up. Doing so helps to review, learn, and create community in many cases. In the spirit of such a helpful strategy, I'm writing and sharing this post to reflect on my vendor experience- my top three highlights and one thing that could be improved... in the inaugural Dreamville Festival that took place [almost a month ago] on Saturday, April 6, 2019.
What Worked Well?
1. Completion - It happened!
With the first attempt of having the festival on Saturday, September 15, 2018 canceled due to safety concerns caused by Hurricane Florence, simply having the festival take place was awesome. We did it, and it went very well in addition to that. That was one thing I could not help but be pleased about.
2. Intention - The energy!
There were good vibes all throughout the day. It was beautiful to be a part of this event and witness such amazing energy. Over 40,000 people in one place and it was nothing but love. Everybody attending seemed to have an expectancy that they were there to see an epic show from an incredible line up and to be a part of history. The long day was worth it; PERIOD[T], and that's another thing I was so glad about.
3. Cooperation - Sharing platforms!
A collective of organizations, companies, artists and more all came together to make the event happen. It was such an honor and blessing to be exposed to a production of this level as well as such a large audience. I can not describe my gratitude enough for the amount of thought and attention to detail that went into the execution of an event this huge. Being involved, even in my small role, was one of my highlights of Dreamville Festival 2019.
In early March 2019, I received an email congratulating me for recently completing my NC Environmental Education Certification. The painted mural project at SEEDS that I blogged a bit about (here) was intended to fulfill one of my program requirements, and it was the last thing on my list to check off for finishing the program. What a relief. I was glad to make it through, but even more glad to continue reading about a request to have Secretary Michael Regan visit me at my workplace to deliver my certificate himself. That acknowledgment and experience alone was special and worth the hours I put into earning my certificate.
During his visit, a crew from the NC Department of Environmental Quality was present to film B-roll footage for an updated video that was being created about the EE program (can be seen below), directed by Sharon Martin (Co-Producer of the Oxygen show Snapped, and so much more). Being involved in this video was such a pleasure, and I look forward to the good things to come.
My baby nephew's due date was yesterday; and I am joining my family in the wait for the day he actually arrives. My sister-in-law requested some hand-lettered scripture to hang in his nursery some time ago, so I am sharing the behind the scenes of this project as it came together. The materials used were all things we already had and were reused. I am thrilled about that and happy with the results. Check out the transformation in the photos in the slideshow below to see as well as a second transformation project from months ago! I'm actually wearing that piece as I write right now.
1. Plans, Plans, Plans. Hand-lettered Scripture Wall Art
In good ol' faithful grinch fashion, my inner holiday-bashing spirit tried to come out about mid-week last week. I quickly suppressed it, however, and decided to focus and spend my energy on creating something much more positive this year. I felt like laughing and began to think of all the ways love shows itself in my current life and relationship status.
January came and went, and there were a few awesome projects I wrapped up that I wanted to share. Continue reading to check them out!
It's the holiday season, and I declared that this would be the first year in awhile and the first of many... that I would not succumb to the winter blues. This season used to make me feel very down about not celebrating with all of my family the way I used to while growing up or not being where I always imagined being by this time in my life. To help me do that this year, I poured myself into creative projects for myself and others. This blog post documents a few DIY projects that are easy and fun, and perfect for decorating your space for Christmas.
1. Holiday Wreath
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of crafting another front door piece, this time requested by my sister and with the help of my niece on a lovely Friday evening. My sister had seen versions of what she wanted in several stores, but all of their prices were $50 and up. I offered to help, and the picture above is what we created together. She supplied all of the materials, my niece created the design (seen in the photo to the left in action), and I led in the project's execution. We started with a plain wreath, many variously sized and colored ornaments, a bow, scissors, needle and thread, and glue gun with glue sticks. Below, you can see a photo slideshow of how the wreath transformed, step-by-step.
I could not believe it. It was a Thursday afternoon, and as I settled in at my desk at my day job, I opened the Gmail app on my phone to quickly browse my personal and business email account inboxes. My eyes got BIG and my mouth almost dropped as I held in a HUGE SCREAM. Instead, I clicked the email's "reply" button, and typed in, "Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhh..." to begin my response. I was so excited to see that in just a few days, I would have the opportunity to attend Diddi Emah's "Hit the Stage" Workshop through NC Underground Dance's classes. I wasn't completely sure if I would actually take the class, but I knew immediately that I wanted to because it seemed like a "once in a lifetime" event.
Those that are close to me know that I have a major affinity towards Diddi's close friend and fellow choreographer, Sean Bankhead. The first time I came across his work could have been in 2011, when I saw his "Girls (Run the World)" video on YouTube. Diddi was one of the leads in this project, among many dancers referred to as the Bad Girls Club; and every time I did my own impressions of the dance, I WAS HER. See the video below in case you need a taste of its awesomeness!
Anyway, her workshop was amazing. She gave all types of industry advice, talked about her journey, gave us steps that challenged us to deliver, and spoke about her future endeavors. Before leaving, she let us know about her new music out and the #DakadaChallenge on Instagram. I was intrigued and decided this week that I would enter the competition in my own way.
You'll find a timelapse video I recorded and edited of the watercolor portrait painting process below. Her song is the background music, which has a great, uplifting message and catchy beat! The official video for it is pinned below as well. Thanks so much for checking out this post, and as always... feel free to leave a comment or any questions/concerns in the section below! The challenge ends on December 15th, so maybe you'll even feel inclined to join it, too.
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