Black Coffee & Vinyl Presents: Ice Culture

Black Coffee & Vinyl Presents: Ice Culture explores the beauty and mystery of our world’s ice, and reveals the necessity of ice to our human survival. The project explores the traditions and cultures of people connected to ice from the Arctic Circle to Antarctica, and raises vital concerns about climate change that can no longer be ignored. As climate change affects the weather and composition of our planet, our ice continues to melt. This reality affects all of us, regardless of where we live.


Untitled by Adriene Hughes

Black Coffee & Vinyl Presents: Ice Culture, a website ( and literary magazine publication, features art, music and literature by artists living and working in Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Canada, Germany, US and more. Mixing poetry, essays, interviews, visual art and sound art, the project explores the myriad of ways ice touches our lives.

As the managing editor and curator for the project, I selected work from more than 400 artists from around the world. The work is diverse and thoughtful. I am grateful to the artists’ for their contributions.

Check out the Black Coffee & Vinyl website, and get your copy of the gorgeous literary magazine here.

2019 Artist Grant

I am honored to be a recipient of a 2019 Artist Fellowship in the category of Humanities from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

Also for 2019, I have a big new project coming up this year! Black Coffee & Vinyl Presents: Ice Culture is a multimedia project that will feature art, music and literature by artists working and living in Greenland, Norway, Iceland, Canada, United States and more. The project will be released in January. Stay tuned for more details!

March Writing Workshops


Image Credit: Beaumont Newhall Self-Portrait by Beaumont Newhall

The January workshops at the National Portrait Gallery have been rescheduled. Check out the new dates and register at the link.

Strike a Prose: Writing Self-Portraits
Date: Thursday, March 14, 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM or Friday, March 15, 10:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Location: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 800 G Street, NW, Washington, DC
Cost: Free

In this writing workshop inspired by Eye to I: Self-Portraits from 1900 to Today, we will create writing that reflects on how we see ourselves and how we obscure how others see us. The workshop will incorporate reading, discussion, and creative writing prompts.

Strike a Prose: Finding Footing in a Shifting Landscape
Date: Thursday, March 21, 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM or Friday, March 22, 10:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Location: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 800 G Street, NW, Washington, DC
Cost: Free

In this creative writing workshop, we will view Eye to I: Self-Portraits from 1900 to Today and develop new writing that explores the complicated ways that we construct our identities in an ever-changing social landscape. The workshop will include reading, discussion, and guided writing prompts that ask tough questions and allow for self-exploration.

Strike a Prose: Close Look at Eye to I
Date: Thursday, March 28, 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM or Friday, March 29, 10:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Location: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 800 G Street, NW, Washington, DC
Cost: Free

In this writing workshop, we will practice writing about visual art, using a critical perspective. We will view Eye to I: Self-Portraits from 1900 to Today in order to discuss curatorial themes and analyze particular works of art. This workshop is perfect for writers interested in writing about visual art critically or developing their ability to use visual art to inspire their creative writing.

New Exhibit Shows Jewelry Is Power

A New African Art Museum Exhibit Shows How Jewelry Is Power For Senegalese Women

Published in DCist on 10/23/18

Butterfly necklace

Butterfly necklace pendant on view in “Good as Gold” (Photo courtesy of the National Museum of African Art)

For the 20th century Senegalese women who wore gold jewelry from Wolof and Tukulor goldsmiths, it wasn’t just about donning beautiful works of art. The pieces also expressed culture, political affiliation, and economic status.

Good as Gold: Fashioning Senegalese Women, the new exhibition opening Wednesday at the National Museum of African Art, is the first major exhibition of Senegalese gold jewelry that focuses on the history of Senegal’s gold, and the complex ways that Senegalese women have used jewelry and fashion to present themselves.

“While most of the objects in the exhibition were made by men, the designs, styles, and names of such works are by women,” said guest curator Amanda Maples in a statement. “Good as Gold reveals the ways in which Senegalese women have historically used jewelry as a means of fashioning a cosmopolitan identity of power and prestige.”

Read the full article.

Art Review: Nordic Art Exhibition

New Phillips Collection Exhibit Proves Nordic Art Isn’t Just Snowy Landscapes

In the video installation Arctic Hysteria, now on view at the Phillips Collection, Pia Arke, a Danish artist from Greenland, crawls naked across the floor, sniffing and pawing at the black-and-white photograph underneath her. She slithers across mountains and icebergs, the landscape of her Greenlandic hometown, Nuugaarsuk, with her arms outstretched.

She begins to tear the photograph beneath her; first with curiosity, then with fervent excitement. The strips curl onto themselves until they resemble long blocks of ice piled up around her.

“The title of the work refers to Greenland’s colonialist past and the phenomenon of pibloktoq, later known as ‘arctic hysteria,’ the supposedly irrational behavior by Inhuit (Greenlandic Inuit) women first reported by the American explorer Robert E. Peary in 1892,” exhibition wall text for Arctic Hysteria states. “It was compared to Sigmund Freud and Josef Breuer’s diagnosis of female hysteria and most commonly ascribed to the lack of sun and long arctic nights but may also have been confused with shamanistic rituals of the Inhuit people.”

Arke’s video is one of the works challenging perceptions of Nordic culture in the new Phillips Collection exhibition Nordic Impressions: Art from Åland, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. Featuring video, photography, painting, print, and mixed-media sculpture from 53 artists, the survey exhibition covers 200 years of Nordic art.

Read the full article at DCist

Shoplifter_Nervelings I-V

image: Nervelings I-V by Shoplifter


Creative Writing Workshops – November

Join us for a series of upcoming workshops at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. The workshops are hosted in partnership with the exhibition Black Out: Silhouettes Then and Now.


Image credit: Maibaum / Kristi Malakoff

The exhibition Black Out: Silhouettes Then and Now explores this relatively unstudied art form by examining its rich historical roots and considering its forceful contemporary presence. The show features works from the Portrait Gallery’s extensive collection of silhouettes, such as those by Auguste Edouart, who captured the likenesses of such notable figures as John Quincy Adams and Lydia Maria Child, and at the same time, the exhibition reveals how contemporary artists are reimagining silhouettes in bold and unforgettable ways. Continue reading

Writing Workshops – April & May


Image Credit: Twisted Tropes by Titus Kaphar Oil on canvas with antique frame 2016 Eileen and Richard Ekstract, © Titus Kaphar. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

I am excited about the next round of workshops that I will be leading at the National Portrait Gallery. The workshops are hosted in connection with the “UnSeen: Our Past in a New Light, Ken Gonzales-Day and Titus Kaphar” exhibition, which highlights the work of two leading contemporary artists who grapple with the under-representation and the misrepresentation of minorities in portraiture and American history.

Continue reading

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.

January Writing Workshops

Sweat image

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.