Oroma Elewa shares lovely goods from her travels on her online store, Oroma's Therapy.
A few weeks ago the sad story emerged of two young teenage sisters who were gang-raped and killed after going to use the bathroom, which was a field just outside of their small village in India.
In light of this horrific incident an important project came to mind that speaks to this issue regarding the lack of safe, sanitary and private bathrooms for women all over the world. The project called, The Bottom Line by Noopur Agarwal, is a bathroom stall installation that gives context, insight, and most importantly solutions for giving women access to "hygienic and dignified facilities."
Design is necessary to communicate any message, but when used to inform, educate, and activate for social change it really inspires and invigorates me, and reminds me how powerful the visual image can be.
I love Noopur's concept and hope that it inspires you in some way, too.
During a brief day trip to Philly on Sunday I made visit to Odunde, an annual African heritage festival that goes down in South Philadelphia. It's been over ten years since my last visit so I had no idea what to expect.
It was wonderful! I was totally overwhelmed by the sights and sounds. There were so many great vendors. I really wanted to buy everything.
Are there any heritage festivals in your area you go to every year?
I'm seeing watermelon everywhere! Is it because of the pervasiveness of Beyonce's "wadamelon" in 'Drunk in Love?' Is it because we're on the heels of summer, or the mere fact that watermelon is just delicious? I don't know, but the highly recognizable combo of green, pink and black in a circle or triangle is a fun palette and print to play with — especially this time of year. Here are a few items inspired by the refreshing summery fruit.
Typically in my Music for Your Weekend posts I showcase one artist or group I am currently listening to, but this week I'd like to share four I'm excited about based on reviews and recommendations. I think they'd be great for long weekend activities.
Here they go (clockwise):
Sylvan Esso (self-titled)
So far I am totally diggin' this folk-y techno sound from Sylvan Esso's debut album.
Xscape from Michael Jackson
I miss Michael. Especially lately. Because Michael is an ultimate artist and innovator, and I'm always inspired by creative people who follow their dreams, I've been really drawn to Michael's energy and creative process. A few weeks ago, after a late night of working, I YouTube'd vintage Michael interviews from the time of his Off the Wall and Thriller releases. Hearing him talk about his inspiration, his love for creating and performing, and making others happy with his work resonated with me as I embark on a new creative adventure.
I've heard very mixed reviews about this latest album, Xscape, which is a compilation of edited and unfinished works. Because I miss him so much, my plan is to get it and accept that fact that I will take what I can get. (Including the MJ hologram, which despite folks saying it's creepy, I actually enjoyed).
Coração a Batucar from Maria Rita
Daughter of the legendary Brazilian singer Elis Regina, has made a name of her own with a sweet eclectic sound. She's widely popular in Brazil, but I'm just getting hip to her amazing voice on this recent album infused with classic samba, pagode and bossa nova sounds.
Did you know I just recently realized that I am an artist? Last December I was having a moment, a "who am I" moment and realized that I have never fully embraced this thing that is very much a part of me.
I colored it with other titles, other roles and job descriptions. Designer. Educator. Blogger. Illustrator. Because they are indeed what I do (and will continue to do), and because those make sense. When you say "assistant professor" or "graphic designer" people get it — there isn't much else to explain. It's easy. But none of those really encompass what is at my core. None of those fully express the creative spirit that makes me happy, that gives me life and energy.
When you say artist, it carries so much more beauty and strength, along with expectations, responsibility and of course baggage. I think that's where it got scary for me.
I had a preconceived idea of what being an artist meant. Even in undergrad at art school, it was always "we" (the designers, were going to be able to make money and payoff our student loans) and "them" (the fine artists, weren't). The world has painted this negative picture about what it means to be an artist. I knew for sure that I didn't want to starve, I didn't want to be gallery-hungry, I didn't want to live in a disheveled loft with ten other artists as we found our way while sharing a cup of Ramen noodles.
All of this was a very ignorant misconception of an artist's life, because what I never realized until now (or that day in December) is that I am responsible for defining what it means to be an artist to me. All artists are responsible for this, which is part of the beauty of being who we are, we can create the world and life we want. (If you want to take it even further, in essence we are all artists in that way. We are all responsible for creating the world and life we want, no matter what kind of work we do.)
Since this revelation, since this whirlwind of ideas and thoughts, so much has changed for me. My way of thinking has shifted and my creative process has evolved. I am happier, and all of this has attracted exciting and positive opportunities into my life.
The same week I had my revelation, I went to the post office to ship some of my prints and the post-lady said to me as I walked up, "there she is, my little Artiste." Any other day it would have just been a cute greeting, but that day — in the same week of my "I am an artist" moment — I knew it was a clear message that I was on the right path.
Did you know that Kelis graduated from the Le Cordon Bleu, and has added chef and saucier to her resume? I was listening to this segment about Kelis at SXSW and learned that her latest album is inspired by her love for and knowledge of food. She even had a food-truck at the festival selling eclectic bites along with being a really smart PR vehicle (no pun intended) for the new album entitled, Food.
I have to say, I'm enjoying the album. It's a different sound for Kelis, which I appreciate since we should all be growing and experimenting creatively.
Have you listened? If so what are your thoughts?
A little while ago, Alex Elle shared a wonderful experience on her IG stream. She had visited a new juice bar in LA and shared that as she walked in the owner said, "Welcome to my dream. You're part of my dream." This moved me, because this entrepreneur recognizes her patrons as an integral component of something she envisioned. I love this statement so much because it speaks to me on many levels as I transition into a new phase of my creative career, which is allowing me to pursue my dream.
I know that everything I have achieved is because of the hands and voices of the people around me and beyond. I could never do any of this alone. My dream goes beyond myself and is alive and thriving because of all the people who have pulled me up and have supported me along the way.
From my early days growing up in a sewing studio where the dressmakers and D.C. fashionistas fed my now love for textiles, fashion, and making to the first grade teacher who excitedly typed up for me a short story I wrote. From my third grade teacher, Mrs. Brown, who saw a sparkle in my eyes, to my design professors who pushed me when I didn't now what the h*ll I was doing. To the supervisors who hired me despite my limited experience in television and then teaching, to the students who challenged me in critiques, or have said, "thank you Ms. Pippins" or "I need help." From my colleagues in school and work, whom I admire tremendously, and who listen when I vent, to the many friends who keep me grounded and make me laugh. You are part of my dream.
To my parents who have always ALWAYS supported my ideas no matter how crazy they seemed. Like my dad who said, "I'll help you for the first few months" when I told him I was moving to NY without a job, a plan, or money, because he knew how determined I was to live in that city. And my mom, who always has opened arms, positive words and beautiful smiles for me. You are part of my dream.
To all of you who visit and share Fly, and/or comment on this blog even when it's a challenge for me to post regularly. To the folks who stop by to say hello via email, or in the street and say, "hey fly girl." It's always such an honor and blessing. To my social media friends who share links, shout me out and send tweets, FB and email messages of support. You all are a part of my dream.
And to those who have purchased my artwork, have sent messages with kind words, and who have sent me photos of my prints in your homes — in your children's bedrooms, in your living room, or have given them as gifts. Wow. (*taking a deep breath*) I'm blown away everyday. Amazing! I'm forever grateful.
Even to the copycats who use my images/art/designs without permission, you too are part of my dream. Because even though what you do with my work is illegal, you make my creations and my vision even more accessible.
All of you are part of my dream, a vision that I didn't quite understand or see until recently, but when I finally saw it I really got it.
Thank you for your love and support in making my dreams come true.