Art Always Finds It’s Way Home

I remember my brotha @phototheft calling my home a mini art museum because of the introspection, the look, the way it felt. He went on to call me Ogeechie, as if there was something special about my past. Made me nostalgic of my college days, the way people seemed enamored and terrified of my freedom all at the same time lol! Made me feel that perhaps I was in fact born fully realized after all lol! Art that is meant for me always finds its way home. Meet mama Kenya and mama Bessie Smith two of my newest. Both wildly vintage. Both starkly beautiful. Timeless. Women crush. Both thrifty in price. Having been a conscious collector for about 25-years, I collect art for the way it makes me feel and for the stories behind it.

BF520EC0-E263-4AB1-A925-681D81E821A1.jpegMama Kenya…

Came to me from an online resource in rural York County PA about a month ago. The person that owned the piece of art spoke of it as an inanimate object that had no meaning or value. Said that it had been in his basement covered in cobwebs & dust for 35-years. He continued to share a story about his girlfriend back then that worked as a missionary in Nairobi Kenya, East Afrika. He described how cool it was when she came back with all these sculptures, the shield and a spear. As you likely can guess the relationship didn’t last and in time the shield aka Mama Kenya was forgotten. I asked him why NOW did he want to get rid of the art piece. He told me that it frankly didn’t go with his current motif, plus he was married with children, LOL!

It’s funny, in a weird way, the way it all happened because he had no way of knowing the cultural significance the “dusty” old shield from Nairobi Kenya meant to me. How, my life’s work is literally to love and liberate my Afrikan cultural identity and those attached to it. How, I had just completed my Afrikan DNA test through africanancestry.com, the day before. How, I was in the process of making Afrikan inspired shields for Imani Edu-Tainers African Dance Company’s 23rd Annual recital coming up in June 2018. When we made the exchange of money and goods I beamed inside and hurried into my car before he could change his mind. I thought, what a gift I was just granted. He thanked me for being the one. I welcomed mama Kenya home!

Mama Bessie…

She appeared to be waiting for me at the corner of Woodland Ave and Chester Ave. My family and I went over to the Uhuru Flea Market in Philadelphia that day, the first one of the year, last month. There she was, a profile, beautiful like the black behind a starry nighttime sky, leaned up against an old dilapidated vendor table. She was the first portrait in a stack of about 10 other portraits and profiles. I fell in love with how she wore Afrika on her skin and in the depths of her eyes.

Interestingly, I remember learning about her in 4th grade at Samuel B. Huey  Elementary School in Philadelphia and again while in undergraduate school at Lincoln University in PA, but never took the time to really know her story, her music, her legacy. That night I submerged myself in her brief bio on Wikipedia. I gleamed at the way she lived such a vibrant and full life. I cried at the way her life ended at age 43. How racial discrimination of the time lead to her death. How racist white doctors and ambulance drivers refused her entry into their white hospital near by. How the image of  her broken body going into shock from the blood loss. How time wasn’t on her side and they left her there to die in route to the black hospital, hours away.

I was moved by ancestors to smudge. I smudged everything. All of the air, her picture, mama Kenya, mama Bessie’s terryfing final moments. I smudged it all away and asked for their permission to uplift their memories. Their vibrant memories. I believe the acceptance came when the wind blew calm and warm.

I’m always grateful  to love my people through all of our stages through life, death and in-between. To hold space for these ancestral artifacts in my home and in my heart is more than art collecting, its my birth right of passage, an honor and a privilege.

In awe of their stories.

-TheeAmazingGrace

 

#afrikanface #africanart #artistsoninstagram #bessiesmith  #girlrillavintage #mycollections #ngunihide #uhurufleamarket #vintage #warriorsheild #wcw

Allium Sativum: the Next Generation

Be garlic. In a world of vampires. Now I understand why my gram wore ropes of it underneath her dresses, cooked with it, and rubbed it on our chests and backs when sick. It’s power.

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7D77469F-3F9B-4587-B048-1BDD9D8D22E9.jpegAncient Kemetian Afrikans were the first to teach us of the sacredness of Allium Sativum (garlic). After all, garlic cloves were found in the tomb of King Tut. Sacred. Is. in. Our. DNA.

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FB14386A-D7D9-419A-90C2-1CEA279ADCCB#afrika #afrikanface #ancientkemet #ancestortones #dna #garlic #girlrillavintage #gelewrap #girlrillavintageofcultchaᙠeforetheboat #healthiswealth #kingtut #mindbodyspirit #protection #sacred #selfiesunday #sarees #tag #theeamazinggrace

Absolute Elswhere: A Creative Collaboration with Gail Gray

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Absolute Elsewhere by Gail Gray

Had the honor of being one of 12 local artists asked to represent the great mosaic of our community by offering five-minute presentations of our work that woul ultimately build on a single theme captured in each of Gail’s paintings. 

I was assigned the painting, Absolute Elsewhere. I was to interpret it. Here is my word interpretation.

“Come here! Hot! The dusk is asleep on our breast bones. Sweat. Heat. Warmth, like a mothers incubation. Safe. Touch. Sounds. Bells. Hear the bells and the drums. The drums are the sweetest heartbeat. Home sweet home. Echoes in the deep, blood-orange. Feel the sun, see it bright. The scene is set. We journey back, to where my friends live, in remote, Dellol Ethiopia, in Northeast Afrika, one of the hottest places on earth. Behold the mountains. Witness the mountains. Behold the sculpted, asymmetrical mountains. The sun is the backdrop to the mountains. The shadows climb. Journey home, to wildly staccato rhythms of Afrikan drums by Archie Shepp.”

Freedom Is Not Free

We all know that during Jim Crow, we could pick up food at places that served whites, but couldn’t dine in. How racism demanded that we be served separately in every since of the word. I recall hearing stories from my grandma about how she had to carry toilet paper, spoons, dishes, ketchup & hot sauce on road trips in the 50’s. As a child, having lived with gmom I remember those same customs spilling over into our lives when we traveled in the 80’s (eating in our car, peeing on the side of the rd etc). I never understood why we never went in, but now I do. Shoutout to Martin Luther King Jr. for being one of our ancestors that paved the way for us to sit in & enjoy delicious food in public restaurants like the one in this throwback 📷! #martinlutherkingjr #freedomisntfree #deliberateandunafraid #girlrillavintage

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Beyond the Seven Letters In Forever

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I keep pulling memories from my follicles, little bro. Wish you had left here a little easier. A little softer. Calmer. A bit more peace left behind. A little less dramatic. But shit, it wouldn’t be you. You remind me. You remain, the deepest love I’ve ever known. My brother. Missing you on this day of your death. Shoutout, to my loved ones for showing me today! ♥️

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On the eve of your departure, little bro. Post-up In the mirrored halls we’ve spent so much time. Time being #queer #young AND #black lol! I peak over my shoulder, only to see you there. Missing you beyond the 7-letters in #forever. #tribesgiving #belvedere #mybrothersswag #agingmakesmeknowit #magicalspirit

You Never Have To Prove Your Way

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#wcw. You never have to prove your way into anyone’s life, they just have to trust you that’s all. My mother was never one to prove anything, even when all the stakes were high and odds against her. Even through her addiction, the abuse, and disappointment I learned to trust her. She was the first one in this world that I ever had to trust. I learned to trust the parts of her process that counteracted her addiction, the visceral #spiritmama that birthed me, born me & raised me up. I remember the moment she stopped fighting to keep us although much damage had been done. It was the proudest and most painful part of growing up. I know that she cared more deeply for us than this life flesh could ever show. The day I learned to trust my mother was the day she learned to trust herself. #restinpeacemama #wcwmama #restwell #gonebeforetime #trust #girlrillavintage #tag #theeamazinggrace

Embracing My Ugly

Red Foxx said, “Beauty may be skin deep, but ugly goes clear to the bone”. Had someone recently ask me, how I “deal” with #adultacne. I replied that I don’t lol! They explained, apologetically in so many words about how their skin is tied to the center of their sense of self and couldn’t understand where my confidence comes from without having #flawlessskin skin. I thanked them for sharing that. I reminded them that my “scars” and #skin are part of me, not all of me. And by embracing my “ugly” I heal and feel great about my life! And no, not as in the way ugly opposes beauty because #ugliness is not the absence of #beauty. My appearance doesn’t dictate that. freeyomind #tag #girlrillavintage #uglyalookwithgreatcharacter

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