Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - April 2016

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - April 2016

I always talk about how art saves me. It does. I just wonder what will happen when it no longer can. Because I think that day is closer than I want to admit to. I am not sure that I can "create" my way out of the inevitable. I know that for now, I at least still try.

Read More

To Get Through This Thing Called Life

To Get Through This Thing Called Life

Prince feels alive and always feels really close when I listen to his music. It hurts so badly, but at the same time I keep shifting between crying and smiling as I listen right now. I do not presume to intimately know Prince; obviously I am not his friend nor his family. But grief does not care about the formality of relationships. Besides, if I am honest with myself, his music has done more for me than some people who call me "friend" or "family" has. It has healed me when some people who would say they intimately know me could not. It has brought me joy when some people who know me have brought me pain. To deny the gravity of what Black artistry and Black music has done for Black imagination and reality seems unfair to myself. Thus, I recognize it and I am willing and honored to hold a place in my heart for it. Prince does not have to be my friend or family to have this honor. 

Read More

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - March 2016

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - March 2016

A difficult thing to do is to navigate being a creative person whose creativity is also work, while dealing with mental health struggles (i.e. Anxiety) and dealing with active hourly online abuse when your work involves social media. But this is what I do everyday. I photograph. I design. I write. I curate. I critique. I analyze. I create. I do all of this while trying to navigate social media space that is extremely abusive and violent. Still I rise. But that does not mean that I do so without trauma and without scars.

Read More

Death Folder: On Life, Living, Suicide and Dying

Death Folder: On Life, Living, Suicide and Dying

Sometimes even when I am “happy” per se, I still would prefer a painless death over anything that I experience in life, good or bad. Yes it is true that art saves me and quite literally. But sometimes, I do not want to be saved. And I feel perfectly comfortable in that moment. Relaxed even. Obviously because I am still here, I continue to choose to be alive.

I know that I express my love for others by accepting if they themselves feel exactly the way I do about life and death. My love allows them the space. And my love means that I will accept the pain of their loss, even if it destroys me, because I owe them that if I love them. I take the hit. Not them. I will never ask anyone to live for me, against their own pain. I do not think that I really love them if I do.

 

Read More

Social Media: "Fans," Supporters, Hypervisibility and Survival

Social Media: "Fans," Supporters, Hypervisibility and Survival

This "fan/celebrity" model simply does not work for non-famous people who are primarily trying to survive while using social media with large follower counts and reach. This does not work in the context of being a Black woman who is an independent artist and writer that uses social media. What interests me are supporters. People who are interested in me the person even more than whatever art I create, no matter how much they like that art. Do I love writing, photography and creating/publishing my own work? Sure. Do I love social media. Well...no. Honestly, I am just here so that I will not get fined. In my case, "fined" means "have my entire life unravel because I have no way to maintain the resources needed to survive."

Read More

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - February 2016

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - February 2016

I love the creative process, from an idea's conception to the birth of a new work of art. This is true for me whether it is a single photograph or a single essay; this is true for me whether it is an entire project or an entire new blog and creative space. What I do not like is the abuse that I have to endure for daring to create art as a Black woman that is hypervisible online. But alas, artists make art. It is what I do, what I know, what I feel, and what partially defines me. I define myself and that definition is not only in reference to production. But at the same time, creating art saves me, adds meaning to my life, and allows me to interpret life with my own meaning. 

Read More

Design, Platforms and "Status"

Design, Platforms and "Status"

I love beautiful design. I love visual minimalism. But I am aware that design communicates messages and this communication is happening in a capitalist society. I understand that this design here conveys a message to some people that now I am "good enough" for their media shenanigans, while at the same time conveys a message to other people that I am no longer as "accessible" as they once thought I was. An unfortunate side effect of me enjoying the clean lines and large images of this new design is that some people who were "comfortable" with me on Tumblr—the same space that other people look down on or degrade—are not comfortable with this space for the same reasons that abusive people obsessed with status are comfortable.

Read More

Nostalgia and Living Fully

Nostalgia and Living Fully

I want to live fully in the moment but I also know that good moments are not common ones for me, so then I always want the proof, the document, the reminder that is more than my own memory (not that my own memory is not valuable, as is) to seal that moment. Make it accessible to me again. Make it feel good again. Make it feel real again. This has a lot to do with why I am a photographer. I am in the business of nostalgia. I am in the art of memory. If writing helps me think forward and dream then photography helps me think back and remember.

Read More

Why People On Twitter Avoid Your Essays, Mixtapes and Other Art

Why People On Twitter Avoid Your Essays, Mixtapes and Other Art

If writers, artists and other creatives are serious about their desire to have people engage what they create, then they need to examine how they engage people. Lose the entitlement and instead respect their potential readers, audiences, consumers. Stop engaging high visibility people—especially when they are Black women, as there are complex issues of exploitation and misogynoir that we already face—as microphones who "owe" you instead of as people who perhaps worked hard to cultivate their following, or may not really want the large following that we have and simply want to be able to be artists and create in the absence of exploitation and abuse. If an artist truly respects their art, they will respect the people that they want to engage it.  

Read More

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - January 2016

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - January 2016

I have to be honest though; I always experience apprehension when sharing my art. Not because people may hate it. That is fine. Not because if it is for sale people may not buy it. It is their choice. Instead, it is mainly because of the trolling and abuse that I face for the sheer act of creating art as a Black woman that is hypervisible online. But one thing that I do know is that I love my art and as I wrote before, art saves me.

Read More

I Do Not Care About Your "Learning" On Twitter

I Do Not Care About Your "Learning" On Twitter

There are so many ways to engage with people and so many ways to learn online. Can these ways include actual respect for my interests, time and some sense of recognition for the things that I have already made available, or nah? Nowhere in any bio that I have anywhere have I ever described myself as a teacher or educator in an institutional or organic context, though I respect equitable educators who challenge the status quo. Do people learn from me? Yes. But do I exist, breathe, experience joy, suffer, and try to survive solely to be some sort of object that they can "learn" from and hoard facts from that they will never use to change and evolve? No.

Read More

35 Of My Favorite Essays That I Wrote In 2015

35 Of My Favorite Essays That I Wrote In 2015

Whether it was on a difficult but very much needed personal and/or sociopolitical topic, or one of sheer pleasure to write, I enjoyed the experience of writing in 2015. Whether I write about my personal life or art that I am passionate about, writing continues to feel like an exercise in freedom for me. I look forward to a good and interesting year of writing in 2016!

Read More

My Top 9 Favorite Albums Of 2015 and Other Music Love...

My Top 9 Favorite Albums Of 2015 and Other Music Love...

There is always good music. And the truth is, every decade, era and genre of music always includes sublimegreatgoodaveragemediocrebad and "never listen to this, ever" levels of music. Not all music that is "old" is good; not all music that is "new" is bad. Music tastes are subjective.

Janet Jackson, Jasiri X, Lianne La Havas, Jazmine Sullivan, Willow Smith, Erykah Badu, Ruby Amanfu, Jay Z and Lalah Hathway created some of my favorite music in 2015.

Read More

Respect and Accept Art In The Format The Artist Makes It In

Respect and Accept Art In The Format The Artist Makes It In

An aspiration for "success" is a personal journey and when it is conveyed by someone else as a request or passive aggressive jab, then it seems less about really wanting that artist to thrive and more about the person consuming them and/or their art needing a certain level of status to be achieved before they can deem the art valuable and good. I experience this a lot from people who pretend to be interested in my art but always have some requirement before they can really enjoy my art. Some other format, first. Some other status marker achieved, first. Some other bullet point on a resume that they think they should write for me, first. 

Read More

Dealing With Disrespect For My Time and Creative Process As An Artist

Dealing With Disrespect For My Time and Creative Process As An Artist

There is more to this than "do not 'let' anyone stop you from creating!" What about the journey itself though? Why is what is experienced during the journey of creating art and creating a life not as important as whether or not those experiences "stop" a final product or a life decision? What the artist faces has to matter as much as the art. Otherwise, people are asserting that all that matters is what is made for them to consume and that the art has no connection to the artist's creative process or worse, to the artist's humanity itself.

Read More

Album Cover Art As A Source Of Artistic Inspiration

Album Cover Art As A Source Of Artistic Inspiration

Creative album covers (and liner art too) inspire me in the same way that looking through large books of other photographers' work and reading other writers' writing does; it is entertainment and it is homework, so to speak. If an album is like a book where each song is a chapter, then the liner art is the illustration and the album cover is the book cover. It has to pull the person in. It has to connect to the entirety of the creation. It too can be an additional visual story that compliments the auditory one.

Read More