No Pressure: Bieber, Blackness & The Cult of Perfection

Right now I admit I’m thinking about Bieber (again) and male Blackness in America even though he’s Canadian (and that other thing, white). I’m thinking about the cult of perfection and whiteness and the creation of products in America like toothpaste or lightening cream or pop stars. I am thinking about the fragility of celebrity and the toll that it plays on the real human psyche.

I get into loops. With singers or TV shows or types of liquor. There’s always some phase that I am in that I play on repeat. Right now that is Bieber.

By my twenties, punk was my medium and the lens I used to construct the world around me, but if I heard a well-constructed pop song I was almost amazed at the sheer beauty of such a sweet pleasurable thing. I don’t have a car (so I rarely listen to the radio). Which is to say, I don’t know what’s hot. I’m also forty-one. So, I never got into Justin Bieber during his first few albums. I did watch Never Say Never to see if my teen self would have been a fan the way I was for New Kids on the Block. And, yes, I decided, I think so.

Bieber was king. The darling of the world. American girls cried, screamed, and clawed at him. He went on Ellen (repeatedly) to the delight of her middle-aged mom fans. Tour after tour after tour took him around the world. He was packaged into wrapping paper, singing toothbrushes, backpacks.

Read the full essay at The Rumpus.

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January Writing Workshops

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Image Credit: Destitute Pea Pickers in California. Mother of Seven Children. Age 32. (“Migrant Mother”) by Dorothea Lange via National Portrait Gallery

Join me for a new series of writing workshops in connection with the exhibition “The Sweat of Their Face: Portraying American Workers” at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. The exhibition combines art and social history with representations of American laborers across genres and centuries of art.

Strike a Prose: Fiction Inspired by “The Sweat of Their Face”
In this creative writing workshop, we will use the photographs and paintings from the exhibition to inspire short stories. We will read and discuss fiction focusing on issues of labor and social justice in the U.S. and write our own stories. Open to writers of all levels ages 18+. All workshops are FREE.

Register: Friday, January 5, 10:30 AM – 1:00 PM or Saturday, January 6, 10:30 AM – 1:00 PM.

Strike a Prose: American Workers in the 20th Century (Fiction & Nonfiction)
This creative writing workshop will focus on issues of twentieth century labor. We will read and discuss short stories and historical essays, and draw on the artwork in the exhibition to create new writing. Open to writers of all levels ages 18 +.

Register: Friday, January 19, 10:30 AM – 1:00 PM or Saturday, January 20, 10:30 AM – 1:00 PM.

Strike a Prose: Stories on Their Faces (Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry)
Using guided writing prompts, we will develop stories and poems inspired by the portraits and images from the exhibition. Fiction, nonfiction, and poetry prompts will be offered. Open to writers of all levels ages 18+.

Register: Friday, January 26, 10:30 AM – 1:00 PM or Saturday, January 27, 10:30 AM – 1:00 PM.

Poem: She Had Some Songs

Poem: She Had Some Songs
After Joy Harjo’s “Horses”

She had some songs

Songs that made her sing

Songs that held her hand

She had songs that walked with her and songs that skipped

She had songs that rocked her and stopped her and made her close her eyes

read the full poem on Remolinos, The Official Blog of riverSedge.

Artist Luis Peralta Del Valle Talks Art, Struggle, And Light

Published in DCist on September 28, 2017

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Luis Peralta Del Valle, detail from Selfie Inside Out: So Ugly. Courtesy of the artist.

“I’m an artist always feeling like an explorer, not necessarily creating but instead discovering.” So says D.C.-based artist Luis Peralta Del Valle, who will give a talk on Saturday at the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum. The artist will speak of a journey from home to a strange place.
“We left Nicaragua because of the Contra/Sandinista war, the civil war,” he says. “When we came here, unfortunately, we ended up in Columbia Heights before the development. We had crack addicts sleeping in our building’s stairwell. When I was walking to school, I stepped over them just to get out of the building.”

That kind of environment led him to graffiti and then to murals. Fortunately, in the middle of these difficult circumstances, an art teacher at Bell Multicultural High School encouraged his talent.

“She started watering me like a plant,” says Del Valle.

Continue reading

Magee McIlvaine’s Photos Capture Language Of Hip-Hop

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Bocafloja, one of Mexico’s most influential hip hop artists, progressive thinkers, and creative minds. (Magee McIlvane)

Photographer Magee McIlvaine grew up in sub-Saharan Africa—in Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo before moving to the U.S. while in high school. Despite feeling like an outsider to some degree in each new location, it was hip-hop that made him feel at home. In the exhibit Comunidad, Communauté, Community. at ReCreative Spaces, McIlvane’s photography demonstrates the friendship and collaboration inherent to hip-hop, a universal language that connects people across physical and cultural boundaries.

The exhibit culls 25 photos from McIIvaine’s trove of portraits and behind-the-scenes shots that capture his work and relationships with hip-hop artists in such locations as Burkina Faso, Mexico, Senegal, South Africa, the U.S., and more.

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Two Arab Art Shows Explore Conflict, Identity, And Community

Published in DCist on Sept. 1, 2017
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Ali Cherri, Trembling Landscapes (Algiers), 2014 (American University)

Maps. They represent both natural land and human development, community, boundaries. The act of making a map, of carving up land into demarcations aligned to coordinates, is an ancient art form. In some ways, too, maps serve as records of violence.

In his work, Trembling Landscapes (Algiers), Lebanese artist Ali Cherri maps conflict. The cityscape of Algiers is neatly ordered; the land arcs gracefully towards the sea, but trouble hides beneath the image’s surface.

“He is depicting cities that are on geological fault lines, but they are also sites of political fault lines as well,” says Karim Sultan, director of the Barjeel Art Foundation. The artist’s series traces the lines of Algiers, Beirut, and Damascus.

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Writing Workshops Based on Sylvia Plath

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In October, I will  be teaching a series of writing workshops hosted by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, in conjunction with the exhibition “One Life: Sylvia Plath”.

There are three separate themes and the classes repeat (Friday class repeats on Saturday). Classes will be held at National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
800 G Street, NW, Washington, DC. All workshops are FREE.

Session 1: Strike a Prose: Inspiring Images

Join us for an exciting creative writing workshop. Using guided writing prompts, we will develop stories and poems inspired by the portraits, images, and artifacts in “One Life: Sylvia Plath”. Fiction, nonfiction, and poetry prompts will be offered.
Open to writers of all levels ages 18 and up.

Dates: Friday, October 13, 2017, 10:30 AM – 1:00 PM  or Saturday, October 14, 2017, 10:30 AM – 1:00 PM

Session 2: Strike a Prose: Masks and Mirrors

Join us for a writing workshop celebrating the work of Sylvia Plath. Presented in connection with the exhibition “One Life: Sylvia Plath,” this workshop will focus on writing from the first-person perspective. We will write new work that explores the duality of our internal and external selves and examines the ways that we hide and reflect different aspects of ourselves.
Open to writers of all levels ages 18 and up.

Dates: Friday, October 20, 2017, 10:30 AM – 1:00 PM or Saturday October 21, 2017, 
10:30 AM – 1:00 PM 

Session 3: Strike a Prose: Experiments in Form

Sylvia Plath was known for experimenting with poetic forms, breaking genre rules, and taking risks with her writing. Using Plath’s poems, portraits, and visual works from the exhibition “One Life: Sylvia Plath,” we will experiment with different forms and styles to develop new poems.
Open to writers of all levels ages 18 and up.

Dates: Friday, October 27, 2017, 10:30 AM – 1:00 PM or  Saturday, October 28, 2017, 10:30 AM – 1:00 PM 

Tasting 7 Whiskey Flavored Coffees

For coffee lovers who hate to choose between night drinking and day drinking, your prayers have been answered. Bourbon and whiskey-flavored coffee is the latest trend in specialty coffee, and it’s coming from both big liquor brands and small-batch roasters.

There are a few ways to get that warm flavor into the beans, ranging from infusion to barrel aging to old-fashioned artificial flavoring. While these coffees don’t contain alcohol, you certainly will smell like you’ve been hitting the bottle before breakfast. So drink with caution. Read the full article hereJackDaniels_Coffee

 

Professional Development Workshop for Artists on July 15

Quit Your Day Job! Create an Action Plan for Your Arts Career

Saturday, July 15, 2017
10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Hera Hub DC, 5028 Wisconsin Avenue Northwest #100
Register Here.

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Audience: Artists, writers, dancers, musicians

Are you ready to quit your day job? Maybe you just want to take a few months to focus on your art. In this workshop, you will learn how to create a transition plan, timeline, budget, and action steps that will move you toward your goal. Through writing exercises and discussion, you will determine what resources you need to take the leap. Whether you want to write a novel, create work for an exhibition, or go on tour with your band, you can design a strategy that will work for you. Come with your dream; leave with a plan.

Register Here.

Welcome to Miami

Miami Beach Coast, Florida

Meet the pioneers transforming Miami’s coffee industry.

Known for sun, fun, and rhythm, one thing Miami was not known for was specialty coffee. Until recently.

Since 2010, specialty coffee has spread across Miami. Through customer education and a focus on service and quality, a handful of pioneers have transformed the city’s coffee industry.

PANTHER COFFEE

Jump-starting Miami’s specialty scene wasn’t the idea when Joel and Leticia Pollock dreamed of creating their own coffee company. Joel had worked in coffee in Portland, Oregon; Leticia had worked in Portland and her native Brazil. Together, they wanted to do coffee their way—they just didn’t know where. While vacationing in Miami, they saw their opportunity.

Read the full article at Fresh Cup.