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!
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.
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
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.
What an exciting time it's been to continue to settle in at home, and make it [for the most part] everything I ever imagined while incorporating my own personal style. During this time, I've also had the chance to step away from social media and better manage my intake of everything going on in the world. It was a much needed break, and allowed me great amounts of time to slow down, refocus, and plan for the future. DIY projects are an awesome way to relax and get creative.
This door decor project was one of my favorite to do during my social media break. Though I am a fan of wreaths, which are commonly hung on doors... the beautiful arrangements whose ring or circular shape is meant to represent eternity are also laid on graves and often seen as related to death. Growing up, I would always hear my Mom say she (or Liberian people in general) didn't use wreaths for decoration on their doors/at home because of this. I was looking for a design that would be just as gorgeous as a wreath, but way different than what you'd typically see hanging on a door or at a funeral.
Within a few minutes of online searching, I found a design that I liked and looked easy enough to replicate. I skimmed through my craft supplies, frames, and outdoor spaces and scavenged for all of the materials I needed (needle, thread, small branches and twigs, faux flowers, pine cone, plexi-glass, frame, ruler wood burner/stencil cutter, chalk markers, sealant, 3M hanging strip, scissors, spray paint, water, a rag and hot glue gun)! After some short, sporadic sessions of putting everything together, I hung up the sign on my front door... for $FREE.99! To seal and weather-proof the piece on the door, I sprayed the chalk ink lettered design with fixative, but that left it with a foggy residue I was not happy with. I ended up testing which spray of the ones I had on-hand were the best on sections of the first piece. Then I redid the lettering on a new cut of the plexi-glass. Of the four sprays that were tested, Krylon's Crystal Clear had the best results. Pictures in the gallery below show a little of this project's behind-the-scenes process. Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you enjoyed and/or feel inspired to create one of your own! Please feel free to leave any questions in the comments section if you have any!
Whether attending a festival to enjoy good music, to serve the community, or to work as a face painter or vendor, festival life has become THE LIFE from Spring to late Fall. With Durham Art Guild's Swing Into Spring arts fundraiser to kick off this year's festival season in the Triangle, I've had quite a few that I enjoy participating in each year. Those include the Eno Festival, the African American Cultural Festival, and the Art of Cool Festival; however, there are so many more that take place. The Dreamville Festival was scheduled to kick off this year in Raleigh, and I was reeeeeally looking forward to being a part of its Art Market. It was canceled due to Hurricane Florence, but will be happening next year on April 6th instead, so I will still be looking forward to that. Mark your calendars now!
Each event has its own type of crowd as well. Being a vendor at events for the past year now, I've learned to better prepare and cater to my audience. I'm still learning and growing, but here are some photos from past occasions where I've vended. The evolution is real. Thanks for reading!
In the words of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, "There's NO place like home!" I'm officially ten full weeks in at my new place, and this is the very first time I have felt "at home" since moving to North Carolina. The word [home] alone is one that has given me mixed feelings my whole life. Growing up in two separate households from the ages of 12 through 18 as well as living as a first-generation [naturalized] American, "home" always felt bittersweet and family gatherings grew to feel strange. I dreamed of one day starting over and being able to create a home and family of my own. Fast forward 11 years, and I'm almost halfway there!
Earlier this year, the phrase "Home is where the heart is" had me pondering the idea of 'home' once again. I was participating in an art auction and fundraiser hosted by the Carrack Modern Art and Smashing Boxes for Habitat for Humanity of Durham, where they used the phrase as the event theme. "Where was my heart?' I wondered.
The answer is that my heart is in good ol' North Carolina... for now. NC is where I found what I love to do and where I learned to heal, forgive, and love myself fully. NC is where I finally came out of my comfort zone and grew up. I am grateful for this place. I settled into my first apartment here. I lived by myself for the first time here, and I feel like I can call the place I reside "home" without any lingering feelings of sadness.
In the ten weeks it took me to settle into my apartment, the wall art I imagined hanging up in my bathroom slowly came to life. I wanted some art to match a piece of counter top decor and the beach-theme shower curtain and colors of my bathroom. I learned a lace and spray paint technique while teaching at Seeking the Self summer camp this past July, which I tried out on the background, then used other sources of inspiration from there. See below for pictures of the transformation and read on for the revamped classroom caddie, refurbished bookshelf, and reused window decor projects I did for my living room as well!
Summer is a busy time for an Artist that's involved in camps. As the time for longer and warmer days end each year, I get a little nostalgic and reflect on all of the great things the season brought. This year I returned to Hidden Voices and Blue Ribbon Mentor Advocate's Seeking The Self (STS) Camp as an Assistant Art Instructor and also joined SEEDS' Summer Camp as a Guest Teacher to [finally] complete my North Carolina Environmental Education Certification Program's Community Partnership Project. Working with the kids lesson-by-lesson to come up with a concept for a mural we designed together and began painting was a challenge, but very rewarding. I met many talented young artists and it was a pleasure to teach them some of the basics of art and design. Photos from SEEDS' Camp directly follow. Read on for more about STS Camp after that!
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