Tag Archives: Collaboration

Artist Feature: Nichole Speciale

We connected with San Diego-based visual artist Nichole Speciale through our friend Andrea Harris. Nicole goes in on Reflection and Response, detailing the graphic representation of these processes in her piece Repeat After Me, focusing on the interaction of various surfaces and mediums. Additionally, she delves into her fabric work, On Gravity, which provides two different viewing options that each inform the other to provide a complete understanding of the piece for the viewer. This is a visual artist that practices ill artistic and multimedia expression and we’re juiced to have her words and pieces represented as part of the LIFESTYLE Collective below!

Nichole Speciale

I’ve had this ongoing project called Repeat After Me, which is about considering the plane of the canvas or the paper as a closed system, and as soon as a mark or shape is made in an art material another reflection or translation of that shape is made in thread.

– Nichole Speciale

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

NS: I am originally from Boston, MA and about 3 years ago, I moved to San Diego to go to graduate school, which I am currently finishing up.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

NS: I would have to say that my practice is largely based on this concept. I’ve had this ongoing project called Repeat After Me, which is about considering the plane of the canvas or the paper as a closed system, and as soon as a mark or shape is made in an art material another reflection or translation of that shape is made in thread, which becomes a more difficult task because to make a shape composed of straight lines you have to move back and forth through the plane of the paper or canvas.

I have also been doing an ongoing project with a flutist where we have a continuous feedback loop where I’ll reflect on the music she has played and respond through the making of an object and then she will reflect on my work and respond musically. So, to define the terms for myself – I would say that Reflection is a process of seeing/hearing and then internalizing only to turn back to the original occurrence and present your own version, much like holding up a mirror to the original act. Response is something delivered that does not have to emulate the original, but can carry a thread of the original with it in the returned action.

Repeat After Me (in Response to Rachel Beetz, flutist)

Repeat After Me (in Response to Rachel Beetz, flutist)

How does your work fit in with that definition?

NS: I’ve included a drawing from the Repeat After Me series, which I touched on in the my last answer, and have included my piece On Gravity, which is a two-sided work on stretched fabric made with sewing pins and nails. I feel this work fits in with this definition in that you can only take in one side at a time, while knowing that both images exist at once. And in viewing each side you have to consider the other to make sense of the whole piece.  The front of the canvas creates one impression with subtle color changes and soft textures and in response, or maybe an inverted reflection, the back side with the colored heads of the pins is like a bejeweled surface, and is surprising, but can only be surprising because of the reverse side.

On Gravity (front)

On Gravity (front)

On Gravity (back)

On Gravity (back)

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

NS: I have been collaborating with a different musician than the one I mentioned earlier and we have been making ‘sound paintings’ where we embed speakers in stretched fabric or canvas to extend the surface of the painting via sound. The one I am currently working on is about 5.5’ x 3.5’ stretched canvas and I have been sewing 2 large coils of speaker wire onto the surface. We’ve got magnets that turn those coils into speakers. So we are working on figuring out what sound should be coming from that piece… very exciting.

Pie from Scratch - In progress (speaker wire and thread on canvas)

Pie from Scratch – In progress (speaker wire and thread on canvas)

Who or what inspires you?

NS: I am very inspired by investigation of the universe. So I will often read things by Carl Sagan or Neil deGrasse Tyson or Brian Greene. I also love watching NASA TV or poking around on their website. I also get really excited by 80s and 90s art that looks like it was the product of AV club, like Gretchen Bender or Nam June Paik.

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

NS: Hmmm… Well, I recently learned that wasps basically make their nests from paper maché… how cool is that! They started it!

Shout out to…?

NS: Andrea Harris for suggesting me to the collective!

And my music collaborators: Curt Miller and Rachel Beetz!

Redshift Blueshift (ball point pins on speakers)

Redshift Blueshift (ball point pins on speakers)

Check out more of Nichole’s artwork on her website: http://nicholelizspeciale.com/home.html

Reflection and Response.

 

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Artist Feature: Armando Pérez

Armando Pérez is a focused and prolific musician, composer, and producer originally from Chicago, and currently based back in his hometown after stints in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Over the years, Armando has been an important, contributing figure in various musical scenes, with projects ranging from composing/recording under the name The Single Helix, hosting DJ sets and other concerts, playing with Latin fusion group Jugo de Mango and Afro-beat/cumbia ensemble ¡ESSO!and spinning house and global soul music. In his interview, Armando comments on Reflection and Response through the intriguing nature of his surroundings and the process of absorbing its various scenes. He also discusses his efforts to stay continually busy to help fuel positive production and creativity. The future is naturally bright and full for Armando with records coming out for his various projects along with multiple upcoming performances, so we were lucky enough to catch up with him for the feature below!

Armando Pérez

It’s pretty cathartic to read your own unfiltered thoughts. It helps put life into perspective.

– Armando Pérez

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

AP: I was born and currently reside in Chicago, IL. I am working and living in the Hermosa neighborhood, writing and recording new music under the alias The Single Helix, as well as hosting monthly DJ and live music nights around the city. I’m blessed to have the outlets I do; performing with Latin fusion band Jugo de Mango, performing Afro-funk and cumbia with ¡ESSO!, and DJing global soul and house music. I do music full time: licensing beats, engineering live shows, guesting with musician friends and recording various artists. Having lived in Los Angeles and San Francisco, I decided Chicago had the best scene for my creative aspirations. Home is where the heart is, so here I am.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

AP: For me, it means I discover who I am and what I stand for: I witness, I absorb, I process, I respond. There are so many variables in where we are and what we see and feel. Strong moments make me reflect on what it means to be true to myself. It leads me to my voice.

How does your work fit in with that definition?

AP: I am surrounded by city life. I see people, friends and family coming and going, searching, dealing with their social and professional triumphs and problems. It all affects me. My entire creative life has been a documentarian response to all these experiences. I keep journals. I read them back and find idea nuggets to make new music. I’m literally talking myself into it. It’s pretty cathartic to read your own unfiltered thoughts. It helps put life into perspective. Beyond those lyrical ideas and notes, melodies sometimes come to me out of nowhere, sometimes in my sleep! I’ll have to wake up, get my guitar, figure out the melody or chord structure and record it on my phone. When I sit down to write, it comes out more controlled. Once my vocal melody is solid, I can fit it to lyrical ideas phonetically. It is all reflection of what I’m feeling.

Armando Pérez

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

AP: I am really excited about releasing a special song I co-wrote and recorded with the talented rhumba flamenca, Vivian Garcia. We are now finishing the video for our single, “Loc@s.”

I’m also wrapping up a personal album of sexy songs entitled “Pillowtalk”  featuring prodigious opera singer Erica Rose Sauder. It will be released under the SonicOctopus/Dilligaf label at the end of April.

In May I’ll be completing an album with West Coast producer extraordinare Izznyce. We are working as a breakbeat collaborative called Oso Gigante, repping San Francisco and Chicago. We will be releasing our first record “Rarities Vol.1” and be back in the studio with emcee Planet Asia in early May.

Beyond that, I have DJ remixes in the works for the dance floor and a live ¡Esso! record and tour planned for this summer. Did I mention the new Jugo de Mango record coming out this Spring?

What inspires you?

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Artist Feature: Ruben García

Tuvimos la buena fortuna de conocer a Ruben García en 2013 en Granada cuando Ruben me invitó a pinchar en su bar, La Iguana. Ruben nos dio la bienvenida a su bar que utiliza su espacio para ofrecer buenas vibras junto a exposiciones, conciertos, sessiones de DJ, y varias otras actividades creativas. Ruben y la Iguana representan un núcleo creativo en esta ciudad activa y estimulante. En la entrevista abajo, Ruben nos da la bienvenida al Colectivo y comparte sus ideas sobre la importancia de Reflexión y Repuesta, su papel como facilitador de lugares de expresión, y mucho más.

We had the good fortune to get to know Ruben García in 2013 in Granada when Rubin booked me to spin in his bar, La Iguana. He welcomed us to his bar that harbors good vibes while also utilizing its space to present expositions, concerts, DJ sets, and other forms of creative expression. Ruben and la Iguana are an important creative nucleus in this active and stimulating city. In our interview below, Ruben welcomes us into his world and shares his ideas about the benefits of Reflection and Response, his role as a venue facilitator, and other themes.

Ruben García

Y creo, sinceramente, que hay que apoyar a los nuevos valores. Todo el mundo se merece una oportunidad y me siento muy orgulloso de poder hacerlo.

I sincerely believe that we need to support new principles. Everyone deserves an opportunity and I feel very proud to be able to provide that.

– Ruben García

Para empezar con algunos puntos básicos, de dónde vienes? Dónde estás?

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

RG: Nací en Madrid, España, donde he pasado la mayor parte de mi vida. Una ciudad increíble que te ofrece un montón de cosas, pero que en el día a día, en la época que nos ha tocado vivir, se hace un poco difícil la supervivencia…

Un buen día, hace ya 10 años, decidí irme a Granada de vacaciones y desde entonces estoy  aquí. Se ha convertido en mi hogar y estoy muy agradecido por las oportunidades y vivencias que esta ciudad me ha dado.

RG: I was born in Madrid, Spain, where I’ve spent most of my life. [Madrid is] an incredible city with lots of stuff going on, but in the day-to-day in the era that we live in, survival is a bit difficult.

One good day 10 years ago, I decided to travel to Granada on vacation and I’ve lived here ever since. It’s become my home and I’m very grateful for the opportunities and experiences that this city has given me.

Qué quiere decir “reflexión,” y “respuesta,” para ti?

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

RG: Son dos palabras que podrían ajustarse al ideal de cambiar el mundo, pero sinceramente, esto me parece un poco utópico. Creo que para cambiar el mundo,  puesto que es evidente que la mayoría de la gente no estamos de acuerdo con cómo están las cosas, estas palabras deberíamos utilizarlas con honestidad. Empezar por cambiar todo aquello que no nos guste de nosotros, principalmente, y aplicar ese cambio a nuestro día a día. En las cosas pequeñas. Sobre todo con la gente con la que nos relacionamos y la forma que tenemos de hacerlo.

Reflexión: Qué estoy haciendo con mi vida? Me gusta lo que hago y cómo lo hago? Podría mejorar y aportar algo para hacer mi vida y la de los demás, si no más fácil, más divertida?

Respuesta: SIEMPRE SE PUEDE MEJORAR. Y SI CREES EN ALGO, VE A POR ELLO. NADA ES IMPOSIBLE.

RG: These are two words that fit in with [an overall] goal of changing the world, but frankly, this seems a bit utopian to me. I believe that in order to change the world – since it’s evident that the majority of people don’t agree with the way things are – we should use these words honestly. First off, we need to begin by trying to change things about ourselves that we aren’t satisfied with, and apply these changes to our daily lives, [especially] in small ways. More than anything, [we should focus on] people whom we come in close contact with, in the ways in which we do so.

Reflection: What am I doing with my life? Do I like what I do, and how I do it? Can I improve [on what I do] and contribute something more in order to make my life, and the lives of others more pleasant, if not a bit easier?

Response: YOU CAN ALWAYS IMPROVE YOURSELF. AND IF YOU BELIEVE IN SOMETHING, GO FOR IT. NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE.

Cómo se mete tu arte en esta definición?

How does your art fit in with that definition?

RG: Bueno… No puedo definirme a mí mismo como un artista. Eso es tarea de otros.

Sí puedo decirte que soy una persona multidisciplinar, a la que le gusta “jugar” en diferentes campos, relacionados de alguna manera con el arte: diseño gráfico, sesiones de música, fotografía, moda… Pero lo de considerarme un artista, me viene un poco grande!

Con mi proyecto actual, un bar llamado LA IGUANA,  intento ayudar y darle una oportunidad a gente que tiene algo que enseñar o que decir. No es sólo un bar. Es también una plataforma donde artistas de diferentes disciplinas pueden mostrar sus ideas. Ofrecemos un espacio en el que quien quiera, es bienvenido y valorado. Colaboramos con músicos, fotógrafos, pintores, disc jockeys… Tengo la suerte de vivir en una ciudad que cuenta con gente muy activa y con muchas ganas de hacer cosas. Y creo, sinceramente, que hay que apoyar a los nuevos valores. Todo el mundo se merece una oportunidad y me siento muy orgulloso de poder hacerlo.

Tienes una idea y no puedes mostrarla? Vente a La Iguana!

RG: Well…I can’t really call myself an artist. That’s other people’s job.

I’d tell you [instead] that I’m a multidisciplinary person who likes “playing” in different fields, in some way connected with art: graphic design, music, photography, fashion…But to consider myself an artist seems to me a bit profound!

With my current project, a bar called La Iguana, I’m trying to help out and provide opportunities to people who have something to teach or say. It’s not just a bar. It’s also a platform where artists from various disciplines can share their ideas. We provide a space where anybody that wants to [participate] is welcome and valued. We collaborate with musicians, photographers, painters, DJ’s…I’m lucky enough to live in a city with people who are very active and have strong desires to do things. I sincerely believe that we need to support new principles. Everyone deserves an opportunity and I feel very proud to be able to provide that.

Have an idea and aren’t able to show it anywhere? Come to La Iguana!

La Iguana

La Iguana – Granada, España

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Artist Feature: Clarke Reid

Clarke Reid is a musician and traveler who we first met in his hometown of Seattle, Washington. He’s played a variety of music, an eclecticism made ever wider by the distances he’s traveled. Whether playing with Seattle-based the Cumbieros or wielding a ukulele throughout Andalucía, Spain, music has been an important common ground for this creator. We welcome Clarke to the Collective to speak on his unique perspective on Reflection and Response, the social nature of music, and other topics from our dude straight out of Pozoblanco, Spain.

Clarke Reid

Response is what just naturally comes out of being in new situations and playing music with new people.

– Clarke Reid

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

CR: I’m from Seattle, in the United States. I currently live in a town called Pozoblanco, which is in the Cordoba province of Andalucía, Spain. I’m doing a yearlong program here where I’m like the native English-speaking assistant in a public high school.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

CR: Deliberate reflection is probably something I should do more often. The Alarm on my phone that wakes me up in the morning is titled “look up, notice little things.” It’s something I got from reading  “peace is every step” by Buddhist teacher, philosopher, etc. Thich Nhat Hahn and its a reminder to slow down and relax and notice what’s going on around me and enjoy it. It’s something I don’t do often enough, but when I do it’s awesome. Especially when I’m traveling or living in another country and running around all the time and trying new things, it’s important to slow down and reflect on things. Like, if I feel like crap sometimes I don’t even realize it until I slow down for a sec and think about it and then think about why. Or if I’m feeling great (often a result of just having eaten a wholesome meal, being outside in nice weather, an unexpectedly pleasant exchange with a stranger, a laugh with a friend, or any combination of many other things) its nice to recognize it and revel in it. Then I have to respond. Like I said I’m still working on it. One thing I’m trying to do right now is sleep more and drink less. And get sick less (like cold/flu sick).

I’ve been traveling a lot recently, so when it comes to music, reflection and response is about noticing what kind of inspiration is around me and really trying to dive into that. When I was younger my dad listened to a lot of progressive rock from the 70s so I got into that. My high school had a really good jazz band so in high school I listened to a lot of jazz and was really influenced by that. In college I had a music professor that was more into experimental music and free jazz so I tried that and learned a lot of new things. I was also part of a hip-hop band so I started checking out more of that culture and music. The story goes on and on like that, including a year living in Chile and some other travels. Now I live in Spain and I’m doing the same thing. I’d like to think that I’m constantly responding and changing and evolving my style and music and stuff, but I haven’t really studied music formally recently so it’s harder to see and measure exactly how I’m changing. I guess the response is what just naturally comes out of being in new situations and playing music with new people. Maybe sometime in the near future I’ll sit down and really reflect and play something or write some material that brings everything together. That would be a good goal actually.

How do “The Other Side of the River” and “Woodle” fit in with that definition?

CR: Firstly, “The Other Side of the River” is written for ukulele, which is an instrument that I bought recently when I discovered it’s a great travel instrument. It’s portable and can be used to jam with other instruments, by itself, or with singing. So it fits with the sort of traveling chameleon approach I’m taking to music in general right now. It also incorporates some elements of flamenco (the clapping) that I’ve been exposed to here in Andalucía. The recording is a bit of a rough draft. It has a fiddle line that I still need to record and I’d like to get some more Spanish ‘jaleo’ on the track too (shouts of encouragement, percussion, etc.).

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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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The Porch Swing: Character Series

Character Series: The Adventurs of SnakeMan Jones, Vol. VI, by Samuel Bostick.

Vol. VI is the final chapter in Samuel’s intricately crafted Character Series project: The Aventurs of SnakeMan Jones. The project was delivered to the Collective in bi-weekly installments over the past couple months: Vol. I, Vol. II, Vol. III, Vol. IV, and Vol. V, and before we kick off the final volume, we’ll take it back to where it all started, in Samuel’s words:

This is a new sort of writing experience and I feel like it’s off to a good start. This project actually originated as a collaboration piece with a student of mine who was often drawing these really fantastic monsters and such. I told him that I would write a story about the monsters he drew and this is the first of that run. On this past Saturday, I showed him the monster I had reworked and gave him a brief of the beginning of The Adventurs of SnakeMan Jones. After studying the piece and seeing the development of the collaboration, he gave his 2 thumbs up approval and said he likes where the character and story are headed. This has been a really exciting adventure and experiment. Enjoy it!

SnakeMan

SnakeMan Jones

Volume VI

The Adventurs of SnakeMan Jones

As they stepped into the chamber, there was a spirit of awe that swept over each and everyone one of them. A beauty so divine it cause a silent reverence, there were no words that could express. Through time, it was told that in that moment each and every one who stepped in elevated from earth to another space.

Climbing through slim space, squeezing to find that next step, in the chamber there was so much to see. It was a dream. In the center of the space was a small island covered by the thickest lush grass any of them had ever seen. Even more amazing was the poppies that covered it, they grew in bushels; thick stems 6-8 inches out the ground each crowned with the most noble of gold petals leafed together dense and full of organic vitality. These were the fullest flowers any of them had ever seen. They must have been well nourished by the spring on the left hand side of the room. It was pouring in fresh water from the hills above; into the room spinning serenely around, filling the pool around the raised meadow.  Above it all the cave was open, the sky exposed as the rims of the chamber bit at the deep blue hue that canopied the sky. In the high of the night there she was, the moon, shinning down, pouring over into the scene.

The walls danced with the reflection of the water and the room was well lit. Unfolding of the night’s magic was soon to beginning, the poppies began to stretch out their petals and reach toward the sky. The Fallians filed in drawn by the scene; without direction they found themselves lined up alongside the water. This place was a sanctuary, hidden in the heart of the land. The combination of the moon’s white light and the gold of the petals were as rich as milk and honey. Surely there was never such a fantastic sight as this. Each one of the StaggMooreFallians had forgotten about the usual feast that would be taking place and the ceremonial processes had been removed from all thought. This was the truest Full Bloom Festival.

Along the walls under the shining from the water were carvings. Pre-modern characters that vaguely resembled the literary code that they used in the current time; it was a sign that people had been there before. Years ago long past the memories most of them had. There were two women who could read the message. They came over with the assistance of some of the younger men. With a deep focused look at the carvings, they got closer. Still not completely convinced they were really seeing what was in front of them, they read it out loud, “Footsteps will fade, and the light of day may fall away, still in the night a glorious sight guided by light, we have again found the truth inside, the wave that moves this mountain’s tide.”

Beyond the island, Jones had just arrived to his humble refuge; that small island uncharted by any cartographer. His Bike parked next to a short palm tree, white sands stretch out under the soft lapping of the sea. He climbed onto the hammock as it swayed loungely in the night’s breeze; as he sat up reflecting on the day he untied his boots, and set them to rest. No need for a fire, the moon was bright enough to light up the eve. Swaying in the cool breeze, he grabbed his jugg and took a few easy swiggs. Back to the peace of his own space, the calm way he preferred to live. Looking up the stars were shining so bright, the constellations locked into an eternal battle of glory, elegance, and might. He pondered their story. Still, the Moon was the highlight; Jones felt he had never seen a moon so radiant, such a glorious moon. As the night grew deeper and the blue darker, Jones sank further into the hammock’s swing. His eyes settled into a soft close. As he drifted into rest, the jugg dropped from his hand and slumped into the sand. The tilt was so that some of the spirit splashed out onto a lone flower. Its amber color shone refreshing as the night’s dew, running down against a tight budd of golden petals. There he was again, that little lizard; scuttling zigg zagg traces across the sand making its way to the flower. Up he crawled and lapped away at the amber dew. As quickly as he came, he was gone; running back toward his hiding spot, this time with a little more zigg to his zagg. The flower opened in that moment, unfolding magically, reaching out toward the heavens.

She smiles down upon them, pouring into the scene with a beauty so divine, serene—The night’s queen.

The End.

Samuel Bostick

@THEREALSHANTS

just.the.basics

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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The Porch Swing: Character Series

Character Series: The Adventurs of SnakeMan Jones, Vol. V, by Samuel Bostick.

 Following up on Vol. I, Vol. II, Vol. III, and Vol. IV, catch the fifth installment in Mr. Bostick’s intricately crafted Adventurs

Volume V

The Adventurs of SnakeMan Jones

The head hit the floor, rolling away from the body to which it once belonged. It came to a stop, eyes open in a gaze of lifeless shock, halting at Jones’ boots. Deep red fresh on the sword’s blade, he was breathing hard, heart pounding, in a rage. Locked onto the next victim, his move was swift, as large as he is in build he was incredibly explosive and the quickness of his feet showed.

In the same moment, the militia pressed the Gnomads back, heels toward to sea, there was no hope for them. A fallen captain and a boat aflame were the only things waiting for them beyond the sands of the shore. Jones finished three of them off. The way he moved in the way of the martial arts was fiercely graceful and elegant. Seeing him in that state was to watch an artist paint; the way that he proceeded to cut through enemies with such form and accuracy was truly artistic. None could match his skill or bravery. There was no place for his enemies to neither run nor hide. The Gnomads’ greed had tied down their fate to fall on that day. SLASH, a diagonal sweep of the sword left a Gnomad body in two parts, THOP. The left side fell to the ground then the right bent at the knee and thudded down soon after not far behind. Chad-sama and the troops had taken on the rest of the Gnomad forces. Finally the last body had fallen.

Upon survey, they realized that the attack was done. It was the town center again not a battle field. There was no more fighting to do; they could return to how things were before the invasion. Jones was off to the far side of the scene. The militia began to whoop and cheer and holler as they realized they had overcome the attack. Full of joy, pushed by their love for the land—their duty to their peoples, they had really done it; they won! A feeling that had not been on the island for so long was there again. The battle brought the town together; they regained the sense of camaraderie which had made this city great in its founding days. Its funny how things work out; the hardship, sacrifice and organized violence that characterized battle were the same thing that brought the people together.

Chad-sama was right in the midst of it all. He was sitting calmly, reflecting upon everything that had just happened. He admired his neighbors for the new sense of pride they had gained. “The StaggMooreFalls militia had really won, we really did it”, he told himself. A half smile pushed up his cheek as he silently laughed at the thought. Thinking about the way that everyone came together for such a cause, for what they believed in, moved him on the inside. He was touched by the scene. Just in that moment, his comrades ran frantically over to him yelling, “AAAAAHHHH!”, and in an instant without warning they jumped up and dog piled him. It was a riot to see grown men acting in such a youthful way, the magic of the full moon was exceptionally glorious that day. Even Jones had to smile seeing the way that the men acted as comrades of victory. He looked down at his sword, wiped it clean and returned it to its sheath. This sense of community he saw in the townspeople was something he never knew, in a way he did wonder what it felt like. He didn’t approach them though, he never really socialized with people and even though he fought in their benefit, he decided to keep his distance as he usually would.

Jones took in a deep breath and gathered the last memories of the battle field—the one place where he did feel fully welcomed. He turned and walked over to where he had left His Bike and jumped over giving it a wicked kick start. The thunder rumble under the engine assured him he was in his proper place. Just as he was about to put the bike in gear he felt a hand on his shoulder. Turning around he saw Chad-sama’s face with a smile spread from ear to ear. Chad spoke to Jones giving thanks for all he did and for raising the spirits of the militia in their hardest moment. Not knowing how to respond, Jones simply nodded his head with reverence yet held his peace. Chad-sama understood well that Jones was a man short of word. Jones geared his bike up and took off across the open sea. Chad-sama shook his head in amazement then ran back to his comrades. Passing by where the Gnomad ship had been anchored there was wood adrift on the surface of the sea, Jones smirked at the demise that met them by the action of his fury. He sped away toward his little island. What an eventful day.

A young boy who was swift of feet and well spoken came up to Chad-sama and the militia. He explained he had been sent by the town folk to find out the status of the battle and to inform the troops that the people were safe in the cave. The militia was relieved by this news for even in the heat of battle and the joy of victory they had not forgotten about their families. Also the messenger brought word that the Full Bloom Festival would take place still that night. The only change was that the festivities would be held in the cave. One of the men questioned the rationale of this as he didn’t understand the function of celebrating the moon and golden poppies in a cave which presumably had neither. The messenger responded calmly, reassuring the militia that they would understand in due time. So they took to their feet in that moment and began the trek. By the time that they had arrived at the cave entrance they were in amazement by the magic and mystery by which they were led there. They were astonished having lived so long on the island and never known of these places.

The first chamber of the cave was like any cave could be imagined: dark, damp and stony. Again the militia questioned, yet this time the messenger did not answer, he continued to guide them further into the caves. Poppies soon started to show up against the walls of the cave. There were the largest, fullest flower buds any of them had ever seen. First one, then a few spread in small clusters; the walls of the cave seemed to change as well. It had become a deep green, a heavy emerald almost, which replaced the damp stones that composed the mouth of the cave. As they moved into the second chamber they were met by their families and friends. They all celebrated and expressed their joy at seeing one another.

After greetings and such were exchanged they began to move down through and into the next chamber, the deeper they got into the cave, the more poppies appeared. At this point they had begun to fully cover the walls. At the end of the second chamber there was a slim passage leading to the third chamber. It was the only way to get through. They took a short rest before heading into the pathway. From the side they were standing it felt as if a breeze was coming through from the other side of the wall. The first few people made their way through and upon entering into the third chamber they each gave a sound of disbelief. The people waited in line patiently with their families and slipped in as was appropriate. Now, in the third chamber was the magic that left them all in awe.

To be continued…

Samuel Bostick

@THEREALSHANTS

just.the.basics

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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The Porch Swing: Character Series

Character Series: The Adventurs of SnakeMan Jones, Vol. IV, by Samuel Bostick.

 Building on on Vol. I, Vol. II, and Vol. III, Mr. Bostick’s takes us on further Adventurs

Volume IV

Adventurs of SnakeMan Jones

…As the boat sank and flamed in the background of Jones’ ride, he headed into the island.

He found the Fallians still fighting and with the past time their comradery had grown ans they developed a collective identity. Teamwork built them strong. Something about alliance in struggle that makes difference take a back seat and brings out a congruency of shared experience. They had put up a strong frontline and strategies with their numbers and knowledge of the landscape. They were driving the Gnomad foot troops back to the shore.

Jones was set in position to hoist the perfect flank…a surprise to all sides. Moving quickly over the water; cutting through the air and mist he arrived at the Eastern cove, jumped off his bike and ran toward the commotion. StaggMooreFalls had transformed into a battle ground by this point. As he ran toward the center of the city the flames from the ongoing fires clawed at Jones from the heaps of timber that were once homes. There was a strong sense of urgency on his heels, onward was his ambition. The heat from the flames and the pressing duty in front of him charged his being; more than a man—he was a force controlled by senses and emotions, he continued closing in on the scene.

Chad and his troop had organized toward their strengths. They began to see the strategy of the play rather than just the move of attack. They made strategic method to make the most of the terrain—nobody could out maneuver them on their own land. The militia who had proven skillful in long distance attacks and projectiles had taken post among the hills; they rained down there offence onto their opponents. The front line fought as valiant as a sun rising frm winters darkest night. It was a battle of proud proportion. All hesitation had been lost and forgotten far back, constantly inspired by the resilience of Chad-Sama’s spirit in battle the militia had come to move as a unit rather than a collection of individuals. With a uniform cause they breathed fury against in invading forces.

Meanwhile, those who were not able to fight in the battle had found refuge on the back side of the hills. They had moved in search of a cave hidden away in the depth of the island, the elders were the only ones who actually knew how to access this place for it was never written down by map rather been a source of lived history. It had been a long time since anyone had stepped into these caves—a sacred space. The last time was when the elders where in their youth. Now it was tradition that would be passed on through the experience of the young folk who were now making the journey, generational gaps broke down and even away from the battle field there was a collective spirit among the Fallians.

No path would lead to the cave, no way of following footsteps of those who had walked the path years ago. The magic was in the moon. It was by moonlight that the group made the trek. Under the moonlight there was a certain and particular light would shine from the moon as it traversed the heavens and would reflect through the waterfall. This was the only guide that could show them how to get there. It was a legendary light told to be a brilliant blue with dazzles of purple throughout, a marvelous sight that was so mystic it sounded as if myth. Still they headed for the place where the supposed light could be found. It could only be seen from the foot of the hills where the river stream flowed most relaxed, the pooling wells were at there deepest and the grass grew ever more lush. The most spectacular part of the journey was how the light moved across the land as the moon moved across the sky, it served as a true host. Even in the mist of all the chaos one couldn’t help but to notice the beauty of StaggMooreFalls. The layout was so intricate yet so simple at the same time.

As the group waited by the stream and watched the moon move across the sky full in all of its elegance, the poppies began to bloom. Stretched out breaking out their pods, they grew open—reaching for the stars. The golden pollen danced on the wind as the pedals breathed with its flow; melodic respiration, in and out. Time took pause. In those moments, temporality seemed to fold away as the pedals spread their magic. It was as if the stars broke away from their place in heaven and graced the earth with their dance; a luring scene, a sight of awe and wonder. The stream trickled down against the bank and rolled melodic over smoothing stones. The nocturne was in fully dense yet the sky was illuminated with such brilliance from the moon’s shine. The poppies radiated a light as charismatic as the choicest gold cooling as freshly pulled from the heat of a refining flame. Serene silence set over the camp. Breaths moved under chest, life refreshed in cycles of rise and fall—the whole scene seemed to sway with the same cooperative rhythm. In the distance the pour from the falls powered out a baritone surge adding the low notes to the silent symphony.

The lushness of the land struck as exceptionally remarkable as well, for that night it seemed as if all the foliage had risen up with the intention of greeting the long removed guests. Outstretched leaves rustled in the cool breeze, accents of deep green. The vines stretched their coils taut and flexed the strength of their reaching length as they covered the faces of rocks lining the path of the stream. The outline of the hills ahead caressed one another and built a backdrop contoured of fineness in full glory. On the most subtle of notes, an aroma rose from the poppies and caressed the nose; it was like an instant remedy to all stress. Shoulders relaxed and muscles once tensed eased their way into a peaceful state. The aroma was like nectar from the gods, divinely sweet yet so earthy and floral only heaven could hold together such juxtaposition. A beautiful spell spread across the scene.

He danced, a young man, in an instant as if his spirit had been enrapt by the moment and the nights allure pulled on his once woes as a nimble hand of a puppeteer do to his muse. It broke; something surely had. The tension from the battle was loosed and the Fallians were humbled by the rawness of the night’s presence. This was the night of the Full Bloom Festival after all. It was as if they had forgotten its essence as the evolution of the tradition came to revolve around feast and festivity.  Now was a return to the place of actually celebrating the blessings of the magic that held StaggMooreFalls together.

Some of the elders and ancients cheeks were watered by gentle tears as they were moved by the young man’s dance; he had no reserve it was not his body that moved but rather his spirit through. He was the heart of what the celebration should be. And they were all moved to join, each in their own way. Some of them playfully wade in the pond others laughed and joked, some danced, a few couples even found romance in the Full Moons warm hues… it came it struck them all as the presence of a god itself would…the light hit the space off the moon the same way it had in times long before…the guide show itself—ushered in by the reverence of the moment…it was there to lead the way. In an instant it began to move forward with no hesitation, a steady and slow-flow pace; the clan banned together and followed in suit. This was their shepherd, the angel of the night…

To be continued once more…

Samuel Bostick

@THEREALSHANTS

just.the.basics

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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The Porch Swing: Character Series

Character Series: The Adventurs of SnakeMan Jones, Vol. III, by Samuel Bostick.

 Following up on Vol. I  and Vol. II, the intricately crafted Adventurs continue…

Volume III

The Adventurs of SnakeMan Jones

The people on the island continued to put their best defense forward as the Gnomads continued their tirade. Chad-sama rejoined his comrades, the warring town folk and militia troop fighting to defend their town and honor.

Having just busted his way through the hull of the Gnomad ship, Jones still in a fury of rage set himself square toward the crew themselves. He took the bottom floor by storm. Seeing his face in such a fury was to see the anger of God. Fear gripped the boat by the throat, time froze. VROOM, VROOM, VROOM—the engine revved, as did the level of his anger. Then, he took off! He cut through the bottom of the ship like a knife to warm butter. Smooth destruction. Slashing away with his sword the crew fell into parts all across the floor. SnakeMan took no captives-heard no words. Red mixed into the water as it flooded into the hole he broke in the ship’s wall…sharks came…for the feed.

VROOM!! Speeding through the vessel he found himself soon in the storage room. A large cabin area with barrels of rum stacked three quarters along the walls. At this moment some of his senses returned to him, he felt oddly comforted and soothed by the presence of the barrels and peaceful solitude of the room. He lit a slim and took a moment to admire the room and the craft in front of him as he puffed and exhaled soulfully. The smoke clouds lingered and danced a slow rhythm as they moved upward until they dissipated into the air. An ash fell from the end of his pliff and the ember burned radiant red til it went cold to black and fell grey upon the floor. An idea arose in his scheming head.

With grace in his step and quickness under his heels he pulled the plugs out of all the exposed barrels. Their faces seemed to smile with relief and mischief as their liquid contents spilled out and began to pour onto the cabin floor. The once stagnant air became quite flavorful with an earthy spice aroma as the dark elixir flowed seemingly without end upon the floor. Jones’ feet pitter-pattered as he stepped away from the barrels and the liquid lapped at his boots. The sound of the fountaining rum only added a more peaceful sound to the already comforting room…the fragrance was warm. Jones stepped over and mounted his Bike, he kicked it into a rumbling start. The purring growl always aroused his primal side. Again he reached into the front pocket of his jacket where he kept his matches and smokes. He lit the pliff once more and this time let it burn to its end. Slowly he rolled out of the room. Without looking back he struck another match, a smirk now on his face resembled that of the still pouring barrels. He dropped the flaming match and took off with a wicked speed full speed ahead. The match hit the floor. The flame grew. As soon as it met the liquid and the flame and elixir kissed there was an explosion of growing fire. The unquenchable hunger of the flame consumed…free untamed ardor. It crawled up to the barrels and jumped into the spout. Searching for more to consume, more fuel, more destruction; there it found its crave satisfied. BOOM!! The barrels exploded and the room instantly burst into an engulfing flame of fire and heat. SnakeMan’s smirk spread into a cynical full smile as he heard the explosion at his back and felt the wave of air rush hot past him. It warmed his cold blooded body. He aimed his direction straight for the deck.

Jones moved quickly as he burst from the superstructure of the ship out onto the sunbathed deck. His was as dramatic as it was telling. He and his Bike bust through a hatch that was previously closed and jumped into the air off the shipping cargo ramp. They came to a skidding halt. The crew froze. The captain stopped in his tracks, mid word. He turned slowly as he felt danger at his back. As he completed his about face he met SnakeMan’s eyes with his own. There was a deep force aligned between the two of them, an energy that the whole deck could feel. It was the presence of fate entering the scene. Someone would surely meet their last moment by the end of this exchange.

Again fear gripped the ship by the throat…silence was the only language…there was a heavy sense of doom looming over the craft. It settled heavy like a morning fog. Both captain and crew looked at him, bewildered, in awe at such a being with power apparent in his shoulders, arms, thighs, calves, chest and back. Anger again rose in Jones, he could hear the screams and cries from the island and could see the flames rising from the burning town. The Captain held his peace for he understood the dynamics of this moment. His first mate spoke up, breaking the silence—cutting the fog; he asked, “who are you?” no response from SnakeMan. The first mate continued his prodding, “Who are you? What do you want?” still no response. Jones had yet to break his eyes from those of the Captain; this was to be a showdown. No man nor beast could get in between this quarrel.

This time the captain spoke, “Sir my question to you is simple, are you man, demon, or god?” SnakeMan took in a deep breath, then exhaled and a shifted his weight; flames broke from under the deck and began to peek between the deck boards and out through the open hatch. The smell of the flame met Jones’ nose and flashed an image of the town and the pain they had been subjected to by the craft of the Gnomads’ greed. He clenched his fists and tensed his jaw…climbing off his bike he pulled off his jacket and felt the weight fall off his shoulder, he then pulled down the shield of his helmet and gave his full reply in one booming word. “YARR!!”

In that moment the ship quaked from the second and larger explosion from the storage room under the deck as the rest of the barrels had been found by the flames’ hunger. Upon the boom that sent the ship rocking Jones Revved his engine and hit the bike into top gear—full speed ahead, gunning straight for the Captain. Right before impact the captain leaped aside. Quickly clearing the path and escaping the head on attack. Jones was impressed by the Captain’s speed especially since he was such a big form. As quick as the first attack Jones spun his bike around and re-attempted his head on charge. Again the captain jumped out of the bike’s line, this time Jones too jumped off the bike and ran to the side of the ship where he grabbed the anchor up and heaved it up with one mighty tug. As the heavy iron was yet high suspended in the air, the Captain caught SnakeMan across his chest with a slashing sword. The blade’s pressure burst the skin and into the muscles of Jones torso. The blood spurt forward through his skin with the exploding wound as it opened and poured…just like the barrels did below the deck. The thought of the similarity of the imagery brought that unrestrained smile back to Jones’ face. Time froze. The salted air called Jones’ awareness again to his wound. The anchor hit the deck and fractured several floorboards with its weight.

Without second through SnakeMan whirled it above his head with all his might. Using the anchor of their own ship he took to the crew like in a medieval manner. Swiftly he slaid them all…nobody had ever seen combat so fearsome. As quickly as it began it had ended. The crew was slewn about. He was quick to take after the Captain as well, who put up a good fight. His sword skills were of amazing tactic and form as was his strength mighty.  Still, he could not compete with the fury that moved Jones’ attacks. The captain fell alongside the helm of the ship and pleaded for his life. Jones looked once at him. He dropped the impossibly heavy anchor upon him and walked away leaving the Captain to share the same fate as his sinking vessel that was once a ship. Jones climbed slowly onto his Bike and headed out leaping off the deck of the ship, leaving destruction behind.

He headed straight for StaggMoreFalls with the intention to complete the termination of the Gnomad attack.

To be continued…

Samuel Bostick

@THEREALSHANTS

just.the.basics

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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