Tag Archives: Brooklyn

Artist Feature: Achilles Kallergis

Just a couple of months ago we connected with Achilles Kallergis at El Born, a dope Spanish restaurant down the street from us. This multi-faceted Brooklyn-based artist by way of Athens, Greece, and Switzerland utilizes his guitar to reflect on and respond to the various sets of stimuli that comprise the reality we live in. Achilles has recently dove into the art of Flamenco music and he celebrates the power and continuity of this folk art form that has handed down generations of style, melody, and story. Drawing on his global presence, his future projects involve recording albums with connected artists from around the world. In a piece that locates the power of song as a common denominator around the globe, Achilles breaks down the collaborative and improvisational possibilities of music.

Achilles Kallergis

Art is very esoteric and personal but it is also an attempt to connect and communicate with people, the need to feel part of the world, of a place, of a community. And that is a contradiction: the secret or mystic world of the artist crying out for contact and connection with the rest of the world.

– Achilles Kallergis

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

AK: I am from Athens, Greece and currently living in Brooklyn NYC for the past five years. I’m a musician, guitarist, and composer interested in both written and improvised music forms.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

AK: Any artistic expression is a response or in response to something experienced. Art reflects life, lived or even un-lived experiences so reflection and response is always at the center of any piece of art.

How does your work fit in with that definition?

AK: Especially in improvised music (whatever the style) I think everything is response and reflection. It can be a response to a musical phrase, to one note or texture (even to the sound of the cash register at the bar). At the same time though it reflects the mood, personality and experiences of the performer. It is responding to and “being at the moment” while reflecting who you are. 

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

AK: Recently I’ve been getting obsessed with flamenco. It’s definitely a new art form for me which I started getting deeper into more recently. Definitely challenging in every aspect but also extremely deep in a unique way. It is really heavy and powerful music. Also, at a time where everything is about the next “new thing” or new sound it is very refreshing to go back to a folk music form, that does not claim to be innovative but strongly rooted in the history of its people. One that has been orally transmitted from generation to generation and that brings with it the tumultuous history of Gitanos, perhaps the most misunderstood and persecuted group in history. I feel this connection to the past is something that is missing from many new music idioms. Maybe flamenco showcases the importance of response and reflection – a response and reflection on the history of Gitanos by Gitanos.

In terms of new works, I’m looking forward to record two albums. The first one will be based entirely on my compositions and will document my working jazz quartet featuring Timo Vollbrecht on saxophone, Adam Hopkins on bass and Nathan Ellman-Bell on drums. I’ve been playing with these guys for a while now and I’m grateful cause they are all amazing musicians who manage to add a new dimensions to my music.

Another exciting future project is a collaboration with some musicians from Switzerland featuring Ganesh Geymeier, great saxophone player and improvisor, Michael Gabriele and Marc Olivier Savoy who are both members of Ouizzz one of my favorite bands (make sure that you check them out!). I will be joining them for a recording in Switzerland next summer and I am really happy to reconnect and play with these guys. 

Who or what inspires you?

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Artist Feature: Nick Nova

We welcome our friend Nick Nova (born Kwaku Boateng-Farrar) to the LIFESTYLE dialogue. Nova’s creative output operates on many different levels, including music/audio, design, and information distribution. The concept of power is one of the central themes in this artist’s piece as he touches on the re-appropriation of past experiences and memories. Nova provides a dope look at this empowering nature of Reflection and Response in addition to other aspects of his creative process. Check the interview below!

Nick Nova

The ability to reflect on personal experience, past innovations, and current affairs empowers one to respond to obstacles, criticisms and general stressors in a fashion that consciously assists their own progression, as well as that of culture and society at large.

– Nick Nova

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

NN: I’m definitely a West Coast kid. I was born and raised in Northern California, the Bay Area specifically. After high school I stuck around for a bit before moving to London, England for college. I’m now back in the U.S.and have settled in Brooklyn, NY.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

NN: Reflection and Response to me represents the two important, synergistic aspects of creating and succeeding. People often lose sight of self-importance when attempting to achieve greatness in a public space, but the willingness to consider one’s own objectives and mapping out personal checkpoints is vital to the success of projects bigger than its creator. Building on that, the ability to reflect on personal experience, past innovations, and current affairs empowers one to respond to obstacles, criticisms and general stressors in a fashion that consciously assists their own progression, as well as that of culture and society at large.


How does your project BC fit in with that definition?

NN: My latest music project ‘BC’ represents this entirely because it is me reflecting on my past, both in the content, as well as the more technical aspect of the project. Recognizing my previous musical inhibitions and seeing how much it hindered my potential, ‘BC’ finds me embracing those flaws and making the appropriate changes to better position myself for achieving my musical goals.

From my observations, it’s common for creators to bury certain aspects of their lives as a defense mechanism, but one doesn’t have a true concept of power until you embrace the most difficult of memories and utilize past pain and/or frustration into something positive and empowering for others. A personal example would be on a record I have called “Tunnel” in which I mention my experience of being bullied. Up until this project I never wanted to share that vulnerability, but upon reflecting on the experience and seeing how much the experience aided my development, I recognized that it was imperative for me to share this so that younger listeners, or even people my age who may be bullied on the job or elsewhere and feel helpless, can recognize their own power through my story and they can stand up to their detractors and even if the results aren’t instantaneous, they’ll know it’s ok to fall down as long as you keep fighting to stand on your feet again, physically and or metaphorically depending on your situation.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Noah Garabedian

Bassist and composer Noah Garabedian is originally from Berkeley, has lived in Los Angeles, and now resides in Brooklyn. It was a long time coming, but we were able to catch up with Noah recently at Hank’s Saloon in Brooklyn, where he played with his group The Slim Tones – a flat-out incredible set featuring their signature honking-tenor rhythm and blues. A hardworking craftsman, Noah plays with multiple groups spanning an eclectic range of sound and genre, including – along with The Slim Tones – Big Butter and the Egg Men, The Amigos Band, and the Rebirth Project. In the following dialogue, Noah breaks down his approach to music and discusses his current and future projects. Keep an eye out for a couple New York engagements this weekend and The Amigos Band’s upcoming tour in Southeast Asia in March. Check it!

Noah Garabedian

Everyone experiences countless provocations of the senses everyday, and reflection is the moment one takes to acknowledge its occurrence. Response is the way one acts after that experience.

– Noah Garabedian

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

NG: I’m from Berkeley, CA, and I currently live in Brooklyn, NY after 5 years in Los Angeles.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

NG: Reflection is the process of digesting material that has penetrated one’s exterior and provoked a reaction; whether it be within or out for all to see. Everyone experiences countless provocations of the senses everyday, and reflection is the moment one takes to acknowledge its occurrence. Response is the way one acts after that experience.

How does your work fit in with that definition?

NG: My current ensemble that I compose for is called Big Butter And The Egg Men. It is a sextet comprised of bass, drums, two tenor saxophones, alto sax, and trumpet. The compositions and sound of the group combine several influences of mine. I cannot help being influenced by experiences of my past, not only musical, and those inevitably show themselves in my writing and improvising.

As a music student, you are constantly told to understand and respect the history, the tradition, and the rules. Then you are told to throw it all out and to be creative and original. I suppose my own compositional process and my own approach to making music on the bandstand, is a response to my reflections of the past or just old habits I developed by rote.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

NG: I am currently excited to be working on two other projects. The first is The Amigos Band. We play all types of American music – country, Cajun, blues, and jazz. We just released our first full length album, Diner In The Sky, and on March 10 we will be representing the US State Department as musical ambassadors on a 5 week tour throughout Southeast Asia. The second project I am working on is called the Rebirth Project. The music I am currently writing for this project is traditional Armenian folk music, mixed with improvisation, and combined with a contemporary compositional aesthetic.

Who or what inspires you?

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Artist Feature: Franz Rothe

We’ve been fortunate enough to have become close friends with Dresden-born musician, writer, and filmmaker Franz Rothe over the past year here in Brooklyn, and his versatility and creative output are huge inspirations for us. In an insightful interview, Franz guides us through his perspectives on Reflection and Response, explores how these concepts fit in with his musical process, reflects on a recent album called Away that he worked on as part of the band Franz & Frau Schneider und dieser Andere, and talks through various current projects. Let’s dig in:

Franz Rothe

I believe that the urge to write a song results from the need to capture and express a certain feeling…You chase this feeling, this impulse, because it is haunting, like something you have once known but forgotten. And you try to figure out what it is, what it wants to be, how it wants to sound.

– Franz Rothe

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

FR: I am from a beautiful city called Dresden in Germany. But I have been living here and there in the recent past. Right now I live in New York, which is wonderful but won’t last very long either.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

FR: I think that, in a way, Reflection and Response describes the very essence of music or really any kind of art. I believe that whatever we create can only be seen as a response to what we have seen, heard or experienced before. At least I would say about myself, that I’ve never come up with any kind of idea that was not a response to something somebody else did before me. We reflect upon our experiences, our impressions, and we respond to them – knowingly or not – and sculpt them into something new.

Pessimistically, that view could lead to questioning the mere idea of originality, as everything is just a combination of what was there before. But on the other hand, I enjoy the thought of being a part in an endless chain of Reflection and Response.

(For example, I am not ashamed to say that my biggest form of admiration for any kind of art is the thought ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ followed by the thought ‘How can I take that and turn it into something new?’…)

How does your album ‘Away’ fit in with that definition?

FR: I think the album ‘Away’ is on many levels the product of Reflection and Response – it is what we made of music we heard, songs we love, songs we hate, books that touched us, people that surrounded us and places we have been. But it is also what we made of each other and ourselves.

I believe that the urge to write a song results from the need to capture and express a certain feeling. It’s never about which chords might go well together and which words might rhyme. You chase this feeling, this impulse, because it is haunting, like something you have once known but forgotten. And you try to figure out what it is, what it wants to be, how it wants to sound.

I think, in the best case an artist should be like the needle of a record player, materializing an invisible something.

As we were three musicians working together on this album, the most important part was responding to our surroundings in a similar way. Sharing an understanding of the feelings that we wanted to transport in the music we made. And with every musician we brought into the studio, we hoped they would be telling a similar story as we did, adding to what the three of us shared.

Then again, that sounds way more complex than it actually was. In the end we just made music together, simply loving each other for that.

Franz Rothe & Vivi

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

FR: I’m trying my hand at a couple of different things right now. There are so many languages in which you can express yourself, so I tried to look for other languages like film or writing. Kind of to find an outlet for things that haunted me, but couldn’t find their way out of my head through chords and melodies.

I made a documentary about forced evictions in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, with my dear friend Michael last year. It’s called ‘The Final Days’ and I’m happy about anyone watching it on vimeo.

Right now I actually started writing a book, which has been on my mind for ages. But first novels usually suck, so there’s really not too much to expect there…

Who or what inspires you?

FR: Places. People. My friends. Vivi and Lukas, who are the other two-thirds of the band. Their talent and their ability to always just naturally come up with exactly the right thing – that never ceased to amaze and inspire me!

Generally speaking though, in the best case, absolutely anything could be inspiration. But unfortunately I often have a hard time keeping the open eyes it takes to be aware of what’s actually around me.

So what I do is I travel a lot and try to see and live in as many countries and cultures as possible, to absorb as much as I can.

Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?
FR: Check out the photographer Ben Zank! I just had the pleasure of meeting him and he is as nice a guy as he is a brilliant artist.
Shout out to…?

FR: Huge shout out to Vivi and Lukas, with whom I made the album ‘Away’ and whom I miss terribly when we are too far away from each other to make music!

Franz, Vivi, Lukas

Reflection and Response.

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Feature: Tanya Jackson

We’re honored to present this week’s feature on East Harlem-based educator, documentary artist, and performing artist Tanya Jackson. Collaboration is hard work sometimes, but nonetheless forces everyone invested in the process to grow—Tanya discusses her experiences working with other artists on some inspiring film projects and how she herself grows and develops through each project. Watch as she builds an exhibition of how we as people can be reflections of one another as we respond to the brush strokes that paint the canvas of our lives.

Tanya Jackson

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

TJ: I’m a native New Yorker. I was born in Long Island and during the early years of my childhood, I bounced around various sections of the city. At about age 12, I moved to Hudson, New York where I finished high school. From there I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of New York at Albany – SUNY.

I lived in Philly for about 11 years and recently moved back to New York where I currently reside in East Harlem. But I spend a good amount of my free time in the artistic bed of Brooklyn.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

TJ: Reflection is a process used for recalling experiences in order to analyze and evaluate our thoughts, feelings and actions, as well as the social context that informs how we address those experiences.  Reflection is how we make sense of our lives and the world around us.  Response is replying, answering or reacting to something – and the reaction can take many forms.

Artistically, I respond through my role as an educator, media maker and performing artist.

How does your work fit in with that definition?

TJ: I recently worked with Visual and Performing Artist Frances Bradley shooting and editing the promotional video for the Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt? project.  The project is a depiction of her experience as a victim and survivor of sexual assault.

When Frances and I first started discussing ideas, I found myself reluctant to take it on because I was dealing with a lot personally – including the loss of my father and my younger sister within a few months of each other. I was mentally and emotionally exhausted and all those things made me feel defeated. But creativity has the power to revitalize.

As a documentary artist, it is always challenging to document someone’s personal life. It requires you to be present as a human being but detached as an artist so you can operate from an objective standpoint that allows you to convey their message in the best way. Even though Frances only needed basic videography services, it ended up being a pretty tough project.

The experience depicted in Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt? is not isolated. One in six women are victims of sexual violence, and through visual art, Frances managed to capture themes that reflect the psychological and emotional trauma every victim deals with after being sexually violated. You can’t spend countless hours shooting and editing that type of footage and ignore that.

Retrospectively, learning about Frances’ experience and working to capture the message she was trying to convey challenged me to reflect and cope with my personal history of being sexualized at an early age. I was on a creative journey that no other project had ever taken me on. Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt? is truly the Art of Healing and working on the project helped my own healing process. My contribution to Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt is paralleled with Frances’ work – and is the response to that reflection.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

TJ: Ironically, the majority of projects I’ve worked on for the past year focused on relationship and sexual violence.

I’m co-director of an after school program where I also teach high school students documentary filmmaking around social issues. This past spring, my students chose to explore dating violence for their term project after one of their peers shared her experience of being in a violent relationship with her child’s father. After showing my students the Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt? promotional video, the same student who shared her violent relationship experience, shared how inspired she was by Frances’ courage to give voice to her trauma, and work to heal. Frances’ story, in part, helped this student find the courage to profile her own story in the students’ film, Journey to Survival, which confirms the necessity of the Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt? project.

Last year, I co-starred in the short film, Bottom, written by up and coming director Chinonye Chukwu.  Bottom addresses sexual trauma’s effect on intimate relationships. That film is currently in distribution and recently premiered at the Los Angeles OutFest Festival.

Promo photo from "Bottom," a story of love between girlfriends taking an unexpected turn.

Promo photo from “Bottom,” a story of love between girlfriends taking an unexpected turn.

In the beginning of July I (humbly) served as a production assistant for an episode of Lisa Ling’s Our America series, which airs on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network.  I say humbly because I haven’t been a production assistant in a couple of moons and I certainly didn’t see myself chiefly responsible for getting coffee and loading camera equipment at this age. But the experience and networking opportunities were well worth it!

I am currently working to finish the documentary for Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt?. And I will also be working with Ms. Chukwu on her next short narrative, A Long Walk, a story that takes place in Philadelphia during the 1980s, and explores the effects of staying silent after witnessing injustice.

Who or what inspires you?

TJ: I find inspiration in lots of places.  Throughout the course of my life, the Black experience in the world, the struggle—how people fight against various forms of oppression in this world has always moved and churned my spirit.  As a youth I danced, wrote poems and made speeches about the Black experience. Ms. Debbie Allen was a huge inspiration to me in my youth because of her ability to channel different forms of artistic talent as a means of expression.

Learning inspires me! I earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in media studies, with a specialization in media literacy education (MLE).  As a student I was always excited about investigating all kinds of interests, especially when it came to studying how people consume media. The best practices of MLE rest in the awareness that inquiry and co-creating knowledge in an educational setting cultivates learning that requires constant reflection and encourages intentional, conscious response.

The energy of NYC inspires me.  I am inspired by my students and the communities where I work. I find the perspective, courage and vulnerability of other artists inspiring. Beautiful imagery in still and moving images cause me to soar. Direct engagement with all sorts of art is inspiring to me. I especially like being pleasantly surprised by art and nature when I’m walking about in the world.  I tend to get lost in my head a lot when walking and when art or nature unexpectedly jumps out at me, I’m immediately reminded that beauty can be just as real as it can be imagined.  Of course, a well made documentary film or video can inspire creative ideas.  Lastly, and most importantly, I find inspiration in myself when I am centered and in tune with my own creativity—true inspiration comes from the inside out.

Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?

TJ: Art is a universal language and the life-size art of Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt? tells a story that the majority of women in our lives are experiencing. People are becoming more visually oriented and conversations about sexual violence, it’s impact on victims and the healing process, needs to reflect that trend.

Only four out of 12 pieces of Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt? are finished and we’re raising $25,000 to complete the project and we need all the support we can get. Every dollar counts so please contribute to this project.

I’m just beginning momentum for my company, Life Happens Media Works.  The Reflection and Response theme of LIFESTYLE resonates with the direction I plan to develop future work; taking part in this interview has been very helpful in developing these concepts. Thank you for your time and interest in my story.

I also want the Collective to know that our gifts matter! Our existence matters, even when we don’t feel like it does. We must continue to reflect and respond through our work and just Being the unique expressions of Love that we are; we are messengers!

Shout out to…?

TJ: All my homies! The driving force and PR department of the Womanhood or Woman’s Hurt Project, Frances Bradley and LaToya English; Frances Bradley again for her courage, power and artistry, she definitely inspires me in multiple ways.  Thanks to the Educational Video Center where I currently teach documentary filmmaking. EVC has been such a great place to merge my skill sets in education and media making. As I enhance my artistic skills, I can’t ask for a better day-job set up. Thanks to filmmaker, Chinonye Chukwu for being my artistic angel. She has lovingly included me on really amazing projects in ways that challenge and honor my gifts. She has provided a significant amount of loving support and encouraged me to continue being a true artist! Shout outs to all artists! Shout outs to my family and friends who ground me, save me and love me through thick and thin, Shout out to the city and people of Philadelphia for helping me mature and cultivate my work ethic. Thanks to New York City for its energy, urban beauty, diversity of people, and its art and experiences. Thanks to the Universe for everything!

Check out more of Tanya’s work below:

Breathing Easy: Environmental Hazards in Public Housing (Trailer)

Tanya currently serves as co-director of Educational Video Center’s Youth Documentary Workshop. Breathing Easy: Environmental Hazards in Public Housing, is one of the student-made films in her workshop. Breathing Easy was produced by high school students who participated in EVC’s fall 2012 Youth Documentary Workshop. Students focus their attention and cameras on the harmful impact that lead poisoning, mold, and pests and pesticides in low-income housing has on the health and wellbeing of their communities. They investigate how these pollutants affect their fellow student’s Harlem apartment, and show how the information and advocacy provided by WE ACT for Environmental Justice and other health experts give hope to a family in need.

Alaskaland (Trailer)

One of Tanya’s artistic roles is as a script supervisor for film productions. In 2011, She served as the script supervisor for the feature length film, Alaskaland, shot on location in Fairbanks, Alaska. “Alaskaland tells the story of Chukwuma, an Alaska-raised Nigerian struggling to balance his cultural heritage with the pressures of the larger world around him.  After a family tragedy forces a two-year estrangement from his younger sister Chidinma, the siblings reconnect in their hometown. Although their time apart has created new frictions, they find their reconciliation bringing them closer to each other and to their roots in this gorgeous, knowing debut film.

Reflection and Response.

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Feature: Frances Bradley

We’re proud to welcome Brooklyn-based artist Frances Bradley to the Collective. Honoring the charge of art as she shines light on a dark topic and speaks about expression so honest it has life of its own—Frances eloquently tells us about her work, including her current project entitled Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt?. Another humbling feature, undeniably powerful and sincerely purposed.

Frances Bradley

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

 FB: I am from Flint, Michigan and I am currently in Brooklyn, NY.

 What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

 FB: To me reflection means recalling past memories and events and response is simply addressing and reacting to those events.

How does your project Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt? fit in with that definition?

 FB: The artwork of Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt? are perfect examples of reflection and response.

Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt? is a 12-piece autobiographical art series that illustrates my experience as a victim and survivor of sexual violence. The series was conceptualized during therapy and each piece is a portrayal of what I was feeling while I was being raped and the experiences that followed. Every piece requires reflection.

Only four out of 12 pieces have been completed, titled Broken, Zip, Unzip and Transformation. The life-size artwork is painted with traditional mediums such as oil on stretched canvas and features collaged poetry taken directly from my therapy journal.

"Broken" - Acrylic, Oil, and Collage on Stretched Canvas, 5' x 5'

“Broken” – Acrylic, Oil, and Collage on Stretched Canvas, 5′ x 5′

Broken is an illustration of when I was sexually violated. It’s titled Broken because I was a virgin when it happened – thus being physically, mentally and emotionally Broken.

"Zip" - Oil on Stretched Canvas, 5' x 6'

“Zip” – Oil on Stretched Canvas, 5′ x 6′

Zip portrays my feelings of isolation and fear of telling someone about being violated due to shame and the potential of being further victimized.

"Unzip" - Oil on Stretched Canvas, 3' x 6'

“Unzip” – Oil on Stretched Canvas, 3′ x 6′

Unzip depicts what happened when I decided to speak up and shows the collective response from my family members.

"Transformation" - Oil on Stretched Canvas, 5' x 6'

“Transformation” – Oil on Stretched Canvas, 5′ x 6′

The last piece of the series, Transformation, portrays the pieces of me that were shed as a direct result of my healing and the new person that has emerged from this experience.

This project is so important because it is my personal response to a traumatic experience and creating it is a part of my healing process. And now, I am using it as a tool to empower other victims who have suffered from similar experiences and who also need to find a way to heal. I truly believe artistic expression is a means to heal and I am working to promote the Art of Healing with Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt?.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

FB: I have experienced so many emotions – including sympathy for Trayvon Martin’s family, sadness, hurt, pain and surprise – following his murder and George Zimmerman’s acquittal. My natural reaction as an artist is to express my emotions through art.

So, I’m currently working on a piece that conveys my feelings about Trayvon’s murder. This piece will actually be a part of a developing mixed media series that addresses social injustices that have been “justified” by America’s “justice system.”

"Oscar Grant" - Mixed Media on Stretched Canvas, 3' x 6'

“Oscar Grant” – Mixed Media on Stretched Canvas, 3′ x 6′

I’ve already created a piece titled, “Oscar Grant” that addresses the murder of Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day in 2009. The first time I watched that murder on YouTube I was moved to tears and, much like Trayvon’s murder, an outpouring of emotion turned into a palate for expression.

"Bang Bang" - Mixed Media on Stretched Canvas, 18" x 24"

“Bang Bang” – Mixed Media on Stretched Canvas, 18″ x 24″

The second piece is titled, “Bang-Bang” and was created during last year’s national protest that took place all in the name of Trayvon Martin. It’s a mixed media piece that not only touches on the injustice of Martin’s death, but also illustrates the fatally repetitious acts of racism and devaluation of the lives of melanated people in America.

"I Am A Man" - Mixed Media on Stretched Canvas, 24" x 48"

“I Am A Man” – Mixed Media on Stretched Canvas, 24″ x 48″

There is also a commissioned work titled, “I Am A Man” that speaks to the value of the lives of melanated men.

As far as what’s next for me, I plan to tap into the film world and release a few short documentaries that I’ve been working on. So please stay tuned.

Who or what inspires you?

FB: I’m inspired by life, the struggle, politics, history, spirituality, culture and the world. I find inspiration from people of all walks of life. I think living in Brooklyn, New York and being raised in Flint, Michigan has helped me to understand what struggle really is and I’ve witnessed first-hand, poverty on many levels. I’m so inspired by life’s lessons, and it drives me to use my gifts to empower, educate and instill hope and strength.

Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?

FB: I am currently raising $25,000 to complete the Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt? series. The purpose of this work is to create conversations about sexual violence, its impact on victims and to promote healing through the arts. This is my experience but its every victim’s story and it needs to be told through the universal language of art.

I invite the Collective to learn more about the Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt? project by visiting www.womanhoodorwomanshurt.com, contribute to the campaign at www.gofundme.com/womanhoodorwomanshurt and Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/womanhoodorwomanshurt. If you’re interested in viewing my other artwork please visit www.nielahstudios.com. All of my art is available for purchase at www.etsy.com/shop/nielahstudios.

I welcome your thoughts so please feel free to contact me at booknielahstudios@gmail.com

Shout out to…?

FB: The Lifestyle for being interested in my work and providing me with the opportunity to share it with others. Thanks to all the victims and survivors of sexual violence who have shared their stories with me. This work is for YOU. Special thanks to my creative team, Tanya Jackson (videographer/editor) and LaToya English (public relations representative) for their dedication and for believing in my project enough to have sacrificed long hours to see this project come to fruition. THANK YOU. Thank you to my friends, family and supporters who continue to support my dreams and have contributed to my campaign, and to those who have helped me spread the word. I appreciate all of your positive responses and support. Thank you.

Reflection and Response.

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Feature: Jessica Quick

Aright y’all it’s again that time! This week the Collective welcomes Jessica Quick to the Feature series dialogue! Jessica is coming from a place and space unable to be captured by one setting or time. She brings a perspective shaped through elbow-rubbing experiences traversing time zones across the globe, expressed through her creative writing. Anchored in mood and narrating through observation, Jessica takes the time to dive into her interpretation of Reflection and Response, providing a pint of insight into her path thus far. Take a look at her interview and her poem Daffodils below. Enjoy the ride; Bon Voyage.

Jessica Quick

A city’s mood, its mannerisms, its charisma (or lack thereof) reflect in its inhabitants and its architecture, and I like those things to feed into my reconstruction of a city through words.

-Jessica Quick

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

JQ: I’m from Simi Valley, California, a synclinal suburb squatting outside of Los Angeles. Its geography and demography made it perfect for routine brush fires and a large population of conservative right-ists when I was growing up. It’s an awkward little city, and I’ve come to appreciate its quirks. In doses.

 In the past few years, I’ve lived in Harlem, Seoul, San Francisco, Madrid, and I’ve just relocated to Brooklyn a week ago. I’m looking forward to sticking around and getting back in touch with some old literary haunts, as well as my writing projects. I’m juggling a few ideas, and I think New York is the perfect place to explore them.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

JQ: Reflection! A necessary trait of response that’s learned with time, I suppose. I’ve traveled a bit, and it always takes me a long time to arrive at a place where I feel I can appropriately reflect on a city. What I like to do is feel out (and up?) places through my writing. I love infusing their bodies into my poetry. A city’s mood, its mannerisms, its charisma (or lack thereof) reflect in its inhabitants and its architecture, and I like those things to feed into my reconstruction of a city through words. Like getting to know someone new, attaining depth of a place just takes a little time. I wrote about New York when I was in Seoul, about Seoul often when I was in Madrid. And I still haven’t touched my hometown.

How does your writing fit in with that definition?

JQ: Although I like using my travel experience in my writing, I try to avoid relying too heavily on personal perspective. For example, I like creating stories that are not necessarily my own, but in a setting with which I’m familiar. Or I’ll use a mood that I may have felt in a certain city, but explore new lyrical narratives in a poem. I strive towards creation and embellishment over accuracy in retelling my response to a place. Maybe that makes me a liar. But I like telling stories. I think it’s boring and a bit vain if they’re all mine.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

JQ: I’m working on my first poetry collection, The Liminal Parade. It’s about spaces between here and there. I like writing about travel limbos, like subways, elevators, long plane rides. I’m also paying attention to certain psychological in-betweenness that mirror in those subways, elevators, and long plane rides – traveling for long periods of time without destination, waiting for someone to arrive, and indecisiveness are things I’m teasing out in my poetry. I like writing about hybrid existences because it hits close to home, both with my travel and with my mixed ethnicity. I’ve dwelled in the in-between and it’s an awkward, beautiful place.

I have a few other projects in mind for the future and the now. I’ve been talking to a few artists about comic book ideas and collaborations on creating some illustrated poetry, which I’m very excited about. I’m a huge comic fan, and the prospect of writing one makes my nerd heart skip a beat.

Who or what inspires you?

JQ: On the topic of comics, Daniel Clowes and Jason Lutes are my favorites for their dark humor and stark aesthetics. The Hernandez Bros. and Chris Ware are also stunning, although Ware makes me want the world to be a better person.

For poets, my current obsession is Frank O’Hara because I spent so much time writing about him for my MA thesis, which compared O’Hara and Lorca’s poetry in New York. I appreciate his unabashed exhilaration with life in his poetry, and how much his personality shows. And if O’Hara were still alive, I’m pretty sure he would be the coolest person in the world.

Of course, big cities inspire me as well as the people I meet. I am indebted to the city dwellers – from the rush hour flautist in Tokyo to my life-long companions. They accompany my memories of the cities I have grazed in my wanderings.

Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?

JQ: We are poised in an interesting moment in history. From the state of the world economy, to the persistent race for technological advancements and subsequent dependency, we are witnessing rapid change in the world around us. We are responsible for how we choose to respond to these changes. To artists, I encourage you to create something beautiful in reflection of the environment around you.

 Shout out to…

JQ: Big love to all the creators and rabble-rousers. You make the world go round. And a big shout to a very talented jazz musician, my inspiration, and my husband-to-be, Daniel Stark.

Daffodils by Jessica Quick:


The first poem I ever wrote

was written by Wordsworth,

a posture of lines followed by

a school teacher’s request:

“Please see me after class.”


I never showed and

swallowed my first D –

literary theft on record

as enraged or defensive.


Years later, I found myself

writing poem after poem about daffodils.

Bought them any chance I could get.

I filled large suitcases with piles

of laughing heads and moved

to distant corners of the world.


Every town I visited,

I left solitary specimens

behind nondescript buildings

and cheap hotel rooms.

I remember one figure

splayed out like a brown

carcass of envy squatting

on the menu of a fish restaurant

in old Beijing.


After the last, I moved to an island at the edge of a map,

where (they said) daffodils could never grow.

I spent my days planting gardens near tough rocks.

At night, I counted holes in obscure constellations

where great, big, burning stars used to be.

Keep up with more of Jessica’s work at her website: www.jessicaquick.wordpress.com

Also check out Penumbra Magazine, which Jessica co-founded in 2012. She is currently the Poetry Editor for the magazine: www.penumbramagazine.wordpress.com

Reflection and Response.

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Feature: Mark Mann

Today the Collective is as proud as we are humbled in the presentation of the following feature. Looking back, we’ve had a greatly diverse range of Arts and Artists bring us to this point. Now, the texture of the fabric from which the LIFESTYLE is built gets only richer with the incorporation of Mark Mann‘s Reflection and Response artist feature.

Coming out of BK, hailing from Oklahoma City and Santa Fe; here is a Man as Eclectic Americana as the craft of his production. Check the interview and original artwork below!

Mark Mann

Reflection is self-awareness. We are continually considering our thoughts, experiences and the people that are significant in our lives. The process of reflection is vital to my understanding of who I am and is a guide to looking forward—staking out the future. My artistic interests are a response to these collective ideas…

-Mark Mann

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

MM: I was born and raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. During my college years, I found a second home in Santa Fe, New Mexico and was later drawn to the energy and diversity of New York City. I currently live and work in Brooklyn, although I sometimes feel like I still reside in all three– if that makes sense.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

MM: To me reflection is self-awareness. We are continually considering our thoughts, experiences and the people that are significant in our lives. The process of reflection is vital to my understanding of who I am and is a guide to looking forward—staking out the future. My artistic interests are a response to these collective ideas and as a result, my work has focused primarily on family relationships and the American experience.

How do Median Family and Breakfast Special fit in with that definition?

Median Family

Title: Median Family
Artist: Mark Mann
Year: 2000

MM: In the most basic of terms, my artwork finds its origins in the sampling of Americana postcards from the mid 20th century. One image entitled Median Family comes to mind. It depicts a family of four caught between two points— where they are going and where they have been. There is an underlying insecurity in their position and posture, but at the same time they are bound together in a protective group. The curve of the road and lack of information adds an amount of tension I am drawn to in most of my works and it seems to be the perfect mixture of my suburban and city experiences.

Breakfast Special, The Mother Road

Title: Breakfast Special, The Mother Road
Artist: Mark Mann
Year: 2012

Another example is Breakfast Special, The Mother Road. An image created from the fading of newsprint that focuses on the idea of seeking comfort and diversion in one’s life. Highlighting the freedom and clarity gained from travel is the central element, but there is the presence of branding and commercialism that pervades this experience–even in the wide-open spaces of the American west. This contradiction is interesting to me.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

Wish I Could Stay Longer

Title: Wish I Could Stay Longer
Artist: Mark Mann
Year: 2012

MM: Lately, my work involves experimenting with a variety of materials and alternatives to drawing. I’ve made it a priority to not get comfortable with past processes and continually take up new techniques. From invisible ink to white wine, I am searching for materials that conceptually reinforce the subjects they render.  In addition, I’m currently setting up a new studio space, so I look forward to working in a larger scale and “hands on” way that will be very different from my earlier computer-based imagery.

Who or what inspires you?

MM: Over the past year I’ve had the opportunity to meet up with some other Brooklyn-based artists who are doing compelling work. I’m always inspired by their creative vision and there’s a camaraderie there I haven’t had since art school. I look for any opportunity to collaborate with them on a future curated show or event.

Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?

MM: The Amsterdam-based magazine, Eyemazing, will include my recent artist feature in their “Best of Eyemazing Book” due out this year. The article and other works may be viewed at http://www.markmannmade.com

Shout out to…?

MM: The entire family. All the in-laws and out-laws. They have always been there for me and I’m thankful.

Reflection and Response.

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The Porch Swing Live from the Gowanus

It’s back! Check the link below for The Porch Swing Live from the Gowanus, by Reflection and Response resident artist Samuel Bostick. This is Samuel’s second live, one-take audio recording for The Porch Swing. Lookout for more to come!

The Porch Swing Live

Samuel Bostick



the LIFESTYLE’s role is to create collective space for active Reflection and Response through the arts. This space is built around dialogue, expression, collaboration, and artistic (ex)change involving international craftspeople and their realities. The Porch Swing series opens up a Reflection and Response residency where we feature a Collective member’s ongoing project through weekly installations.

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