Tag Archives: Visual Arts

Artist Feature: Javier Blanco

El estudio de Javier Blanco se encuentra en una calle estrecha empedrada en el Barrio Gótico en Barcelona, un barrio histórico y energético. Andabamos en el barrio un día durante nuestro viaje a España el verano pasado cuando encontramos el estudio/tienda/taller en el que se ve las varias obras y piezas en escultura, dibujo, y diseño gráfico del artista. Después de una charla inicial optimista en su espacio llena de bienvenida, volvimos unos días después para hablar más con Javier de Reflexión y Respuesta, su trabajo, y las experiencias de su vida. Nos sentamos en el cuarto interior y la discusión resultante, que se presenta debajo, muestra su perspectiva reveladora acera del arte y interacciones interpersonales.

Javier Blanco’s art studio is located on a quiet, narrow cobblestone street in the historic and energetic Gothic district in Barcelona. We were walking through the neighborhood one day while traveling through Spain this past summer, and came across Javier’s studio/shop/workspace featuring his various creative works in sculpture, drawing, and graphic design. After a great initial conversation in his welcoming space, we came back a few days later to talk further about Reflection and Response and Javier’s work and life experiences. We sat down in Javier’s office in the back room of the space and the ensuing dialogue, recorded below, showcases this artist’s engaging and enlightening perspectives on the arts and interpersonal interactions.

Javier Blanco

Para mi el arte desde principio es una forma de reflexionar. Hay una frase en el catalá que es “hago mi obra porque me ayuda a pensar a sentir a entender el mundo en el que vivo.” Es una manera de entender. La ciencia formaliza el conocimiento mediante una formulación matemática. El arte lo formaliza mediante una forma estética pero es conocimiento en definitiva. En este proceso de crear esculturas es en el que de alguna manera voy reflexionando acerca de como entiendo el mundo como entiendo las diferentes cosas, no solo el mundo también las relaciones interpersonales.

For me, art is, at its core, a form of reflection. There’s a phrase in Catalan that says: “I make my work because it helps me think, feel, and understand the world in which I live.” Art is a form of understanding. Science formalizes knowledge by means of mathematic formulas. Art formalizes aesthetic forms, but this is knowledge, by definition. The process of creating sculpture involves some form of reflecting on how I understand the world, how I understand different things – not just the world, but my relationships with other people.

– Javier Blanco

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?

JB: ¿De donde vengo físicamente o de dónde vengo emocionalmente?

JB: Where I come from physically or emotionally?

Los dos.

Both.

JB: Yo nací en Barcelona y sigo en Barcelona. Bueno he vivido en Canadá en Toronto pero durante un año académico pero mayormente  (he vivido) vivo siempre en Barcelona. En principio empecé a hacer cosas así a un nivel artístico ya a partir de 20 años cuando por un casual fui a una escuela de diseño y arte y bueno me pusieron a dibujar y en el primer dibujo que hice dije joder eso es lo mío y hasta entonces había sido muy mal estudiante. A partir de ahí me apunte a bellas artes, estudie bellas artes paralelamente hice aquí un diseño para la escuela en que utilizaba el vidrio. Contacte con el socio amigo de un tío mío que trabaja vidrio – mi tío tenía un taller de vidrio – para poder hacer esta pieza que había yo diseñado. Entonces me asisteron me ayudaron a hacerla y me dieron el contacto de la escuela de vidro donde fui y estuve haciendo los estudios de vidrio parallelmente a los estudios de bellas artes y la especialidad de escutula. La misma escuela de vidrio me dio una beca para estar un año en Canadá en una escuela en el Sheridan College hacieno el programa de diseño y arte en vidrio y a la vuelta estuve trabajando un tiempo en la escula de aqui, preparando y haciendo los talleres de fotografía y también luego de professor de esutula de vidro y de diseño en vidrio.

Con lo cual mi trayectoria siempre ha sido el trabajo del arte y en concreto escrutura del vidrio pero ahi si que es verdad que es donde un poco esta mi dualidad o no un tema en el sentido en que hasta que punto me considero o me consideran artista en vidrio siempre de alguna manera para mi por más que he trabajo mucho con él y en principio conozco y entiendo bien casi toda su técnicas no todas y no deja de ser un material es un material como hay otros. Entonces a la hora de hacer arte lo trato como tal. Cuando me interesa el vidrio como material lo uso, cuando me interesa otro material uso otro material. No me considero artista en vidrio porque no necesito que mi arte se exprese en vidrio. Se puede expresar y de hecho se representó durante tiempo en todo tipo de material contanto pues con como un color de la palta un pintor usa.

Para mi cada material tiene una personalidad propia y evidentemente está diciendo una cosa no concreta pero si está surgiendo con la cual el significado de una pieza por el hecho de ser un material o una mezcla de materiales es uno u otro. En este sentio me limito, si quiero hacer solo vidrio me limito. Las  piezas que son en vidro son las que llamaron major más la atención. De tal manera que por parte de interioristas, de arquitectos , este trabajo en vidrio es lo que de alguna manera me han venido a reclamar mayormente y el estudio mio que es de arte y vidrio durante bastantes años estaba dedicado bastante a hacer encargos para casas particulares para organismos oficiales para diferentes sitios así como incluso trofeos, no sé hay una lista de clientes. En el que normalmente me han venido a buscar es la facultad de vidrio. Quiero decir con eso que yo utilizo muchos materiales pero profesionalmente quizá se me busca en esta faceta de vidrio más que en otras. Doy que actualmente eso durante los últimos dos o tres años ha cambiado y los 10 años anteriores estaba haciendo especialmente encargos de vidrio.

Actualmente no es tan asi sino que estos encargos para arquitectura para el interiorismo han bajado mucho y me han dejado la oportunidad de empezar otra vez de volver otra vez hacer piezas más personales digamos con lo cual me estoy dedicando últimamente más a hacer piezas quizás de pequeño formato quizá más fáciles de asumir porque me interesa que el estudio sea más dinámico yo como un punto de interés que tanto en vidro como no en vidrio siempre he tenido este hecho de llegar al público. No me interesa excesivamente el arte como objeto elitista sino que me interesan mucho los procesos de poder llegar a todo el mundo. Por lo tanto como es escultura ya iniciada la acción no es escultura interactiva donde quizá no era necesario comprarla por parte del público porque no tenía necesidad, pero si que me interesaba que el público participase y me gusta la idea de que el público en esta escultura se exprease se disfrustase jugase con ella incluso los niños hacían cola para subirse pueden subir en ella. Esto ha ido variando y actualmente loresuelvoo de otra manera. Lo resulevo mediante el diseño de manera que el arte se funde en esta pieza que utilizas y lo resuelvo también mediante la pequena pieza de diseño escultura, diseño muy personal que es más fácil por parte de todo el mundo de poder comprar de manera que si me interesa que no solo una elite pueda comprarlo.

JB: I was born in Barcelona and I still live in Barcelona. I studied in Toronto, Canada for a year, but for the most part I’ve always lived in Barcelona. I started working on my own artistic projects when I was 20 years old, when, by chance, I was attending an art and design school. They put me in a drawing class, and after I made my first drawing I realized “wow, this is me!” – up until that point I had been a really bad student. From then on, I registered for fine arts classes, and studied fine arts while also producing a design for my school, using glass as my medium. I got in touch with my uncle’s business partner who worked with glass – my uncle had a glass workshop – in order to be able to make this piece that I had designed. So they helped me make the piece and they gave me the contact information for a glass art school where I went to study glass work, alongside my studies in fine arts and sculpture. The glass art school gave me a scholarship to study in Canada in a glass art and design program at Sheridan College, and when I returned to Spain, I worked for a while in the school here preparing and facilitating photography workshops and, later, working as a professor of glass sculpture and design.

Thus, my trajectory had always been working with art, specifically glass sculpture, but the truth is that I encounter this duality in the sense that where do I consider myself – or am I considered an artist – working in glass, and though as much as I’ve always been involved with glass in some form or another and understand the vast majority of glass techniques, it remains one material, an art material as any other. So when it’s time to make art, I treat it as such. When glass sparks my interest as a medium, I use it, or when other materials spark my interest, I use other materials. I don’t consider myself a “glass artist” because I don’t need my art to be expressed only through glass. It can be expressed and represented through all types of materials, as with the various colors on a painter’s palette.

For me, every medium has its own personality and conveys something non-specific, but suggests something and the meaning of a piece can be based on the fact that piece is made from one material or another. In this sense, I would limit myself if I only worked with glass. Glass pieces have become my most popular. This glass work is what has drawn interior designers and architects to my work, and for many years, I dedicated most of my art and glass working studio to producing commissioned work for specific houses, organizations, or various other sites – there were a lot of different clients. What they would usually seek me out for was glass work. What I mean by all this is that I work with many different mediums but professionally I’m known more for glass work than anything else. Granted, this has changed a bit during the last two or three years, but for 10 years prior to that, I was primarily producing commissioned glass sculptures.

Right now, I have fewer commissions for interior design or architecture projects, which has given me the opportunity to get back to creating more personal pieces that I’m ultimately dedicated to, creating pieces that might be on a smaller scale, or might be easier to take on because it’s important to me that my studio is dynamic. I’ve tried to make it a point to work as much with glass as with other materials, always with the goal of reaching an audience. I am not particularly interested in art as an object of the elite, instead what attracts me are the various ways to access the world [through art]. As far as this [one specific] project is concerned, because the sculpture had already begun, it’s not an interactive sculpture that I needed to market to the public – instead, I was hoping that audience participation would lead to public expression and enjoyment, and kids even lined up to play on the piece. I explored this theme and now I deal with audience participation in another way. I now focus on participation by making pieces that aim for public interaction and use and I aim to connect with a wide audience through small design pieces, which makes them easier to consume for a greater number of people – which is the whole point of making art accessible beyond the elite.

Blanco Studio Arts and Glass (Barcelona, Spain)

¿Qué quiere decir “relfexión y respuesta,” y cómo se mete esto en tu arte?

What does Reflection and Response mean to you, and how do you locate those ideas in your art and sculpture?

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Spain Recap

the LIFESTYLE

Yo! Welcome to the long-anticipated LIFESTYLE Spain trip recap! Earlier this summer, we were fortunate enough to have the chance to spend two weeks in Barcelona and Madrid, enjoying the first LIFESTYLE reunion in some time while also pursuing opportunities to create and collaborate with other artists.

El Raval

We started the trip out in Barcelona, a familiar place that nonetheless presented us with new experiences, interactions, spaces, and inspirations. We set up our one-week HUB in an apartment in the dope neighborhood of Raval – a centralized barrio with narrow, vibrant cobblestone streets and and a distinctly timeless and hardwearing energy.

Throughout the week, ACTIVE was the agenda of the day. We worked on some new projects including a couple of amazing live RR interviews with local artists Javier Blanco and David Figueroa. (Be on the lookout for their words coming at the Collective in the coming weeks!)

We set up shop right on the Barceloneta beach area and played some tunes on acoustic guitar, featuring tracks from P’s album Shake This Maze along with some classic covers.

Peter Muller

V’s “Shop Sign Studies” drawings were inspired by the local Raval landscape, full of classic, hand-painted shop signs, each with their own distinct character. Lookout for more artwork to come!

Shop Sign Studies

La Ria, a small corner bar in El Gótico became our jumpoff point for playing two shows in the neighborhood. We connected with the owner of the spot one afternoon while having a café, and the following night P played an acoustic set there that also turned into an impromptu jam session with Franck – the cook – who happened to be the dopest percussionist.

La Ria

Peter Muller Live at La Ria

Peter Muller Live at La Ria

The show the next night was at a bar down the street called Las Cuevas del Sorté – in their tiled basement venue with rough stone walls and an unparalleled sound. Friends and fam came out for a show that started as a live looping set that transitioned into an intimate acoustic session, before concluding with a reggaeton DJ set with one of our brothers from the city.

Peter Muller Live at Las Cuevas del Sorte

We spent the second leg of the trip in Madrid, which was quite a farewell tour for P, who had been living there for the past two years teaching English and developing a Hip Hop English Education curriculum for elementary-age students. After also completing four albums for the LIFESTYLE Studios, collaborating across the open seas from Madrid to Brooklyn, it was time to head back stateside, on to the next building block.

The last few days in Madrid were a time of celebration and preparation for the road ahead. It all came together for the goodbye concert, “La Despedida de Peter Muller,” at the underground cave at RepubliK Club – a session featuring live looping and beat building with multi-lingual freestyles, along with a late night acoustic session. An unforgettable finale to the LIFESTYLE’s European venture.

La Despedida de Peter

Peter Muller Live at RepubliK Club

Peter Muller Live at RepubliK Club

Peter Muller Live at RepubliK Club

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Album Review: Yeezus

Not music with empty space, rather, open sound. The difference: nothing about Yeezus is “empty”. This is a synth-intense orchestration with the same meticulous composure as Dark Fantasy.  Super hero music, ripping the floor up on the mainstream pool of overly soft limp sounds and regurgitated rhythms; thus begins a new era. The only artist to even hint that hip hop/rap/whatever-the-fuck-label-you-prefer-to-use would go in this loose leaf direction is Frank Ocean with Channel Orange, which was hands down the most prolific sound of 2012. Yeezus is the forerunner of a new genre—industrial sound.

Understanding music, culture, and art is to recognize the waves and turns of expressive production. There is always a shift, inevitably; the monumental reformatting from eccentric to simplistic. This is seen in Miles Davis’ work as he transitioned Birth of Cool into Bitches Brew. Picasso as well – he built the hieroglyphic art of cubism out of his mastery of realism.  A break beyond excellence; transcendence, the master artist redefines complexity by routing simple aesthetics into a matrix of intensive minimalism.  It’s a seamless craft; each component fitted for function—comparable to Japanese joinery. Those who drive these shifts are, as Mr. West put it, the Nuclei of their respective cultures in specific moments in time. And yeah, Kanye does have that seat. He a’ready told the world to Watch the Throne.

Now for the breakdown. Let me start by saying I like this joint, A LOT. It appeals to me because it dives into the beauty of darkness. Like Milton’s Paradise Lost, Yeezus is intellectually stimulating, soulful and somehow illuminates without light. So raw and disgusting by normative standards, it can only be described as perverse. And that’s exactly the type of shit I’m into. Ugly indeed, yet the allure is in the rhythm that dares to flex beyond the confines of “beauty”. Deviation and creative confidence make these dark arts so attractive. And yeah, all you haters and naysayers I’m aiming this at your knot…so duck…duck…goose.

My overall analysis for this joint is: Epic.

“On Sight”: the new culturally relevant catch phrase…well, it is for us, and it should be for you too. This track sounds like a lazer tag battle between the Dark Side and the Jedi, a brief discovery of challenges that we all face. Unnamed yet spoken through the drums, the subaltern becomes the voice. Bridged by angelic soulsounds—a harmonic break in the battle, the content to be explored is a matter of personal reflection and response. On which side of the fight do you fall?

“Black Skinhead”: drums, Drums, and DRUMS. Black Skinhead is a direct address to the North American (US) nation building process. Revoking society’s attempts to tame and create docile, well behaved, “proper” citizens. An open rebuke of smiling faces and tap dance attempts toward assimilation, rather than creating a new world for a new America… “stop all that coon shit”, apparently Ye has dedicated himself to a pathway that is so counter to the American Identity that it inherently disrupts the tempo of everyday complacency. Black Skinhead is an anthem for villains, werewolves, and all sorts of social menaces. It’s about dedication—the true pathway to Kingdom. Like 300 Romans you gotta protect what’s yours, to fight for what you believe in, constantly pushing towards achievement. Low-lines repeating “BLACK” sampled and threaded in, this track BANGS. The ending transition is fucking stellar too…GOD, GOD, GOD…Straight into no other than…

“I Am A God”: Yo, everybody flipped cause Kanye West is back on his god shit. Honestly if you didn’t see this coming you should go take a nap now and hibernate on some “wake me when September ends” type snooze. Nobody made a fuss when Pusha-T stated that he’s the god of everything around him, nor does anyone throw tantrums about the god reference of Jay-Z’s alias Hova (Jehovah). When Yeezy does it though, all hell breaks loose…Oh No! If you listen to that blasphemy we’ll turn into a society of the likes of Sodom and Gomorrah. Whatever dude. Cats have been on their God shit since the days of Rakim. Recognize what this is really about. Ownership. Participation and order versus spectation and passivism. And if I’m wrong…Pray for us. I’ll leave it at that. The track sounds like waking up in an extremely lucid dream. The type of dreams that aren’t dreams at all, rather, experiences beyond the capacity of logic. It’s other worldly; I know some of you have been there before, I have, it’s real. Conviction; that reoccurring BuzzTypeBell-MuffledChime sounds like the something out of Sartre’s “No Exit”, the doorbell that serves as an eerie reminder…yeah, you’re in hell, don’t let the furnishing fool you.  On to the next one.

“New Slaves”: Ye really does something with this one. I have yet to see a review that recognizes or even acknowledges the fact that he speaks about the Prison Industrial Complex, one of THEE Grimiest nation building projects since Reaganomics. Be real, Kanye has never been one to let this type of shit pass by unaired. Remember Bush…yeah, that guy, enough said. Money is the number one agent of converting revolutionary peoples into pacified citizens; I’d imagine it hard to speak or act out against a society that has made your fortune. Big Bucks buy out anger. Not for Ye tho, not for Ye. Threatening to throw out Maybach keys…meanwhile some of these other artists are using Maybach as a certificate of authenticity. To Kanye it’s just another notch under his belt. Calling out what he sees as apparent social ills especially in the way of racial interaction and, specifically, black complacency. The track is mean. And don’t forget, Ye is Dead Prez. The production is super simple cause his flow and delivery are what this track is about. I mean, dude even brings back lines from one of his earlier mixtapes, “Freshman Adjustment” and finds use for it in this album. The end of the track is raw too, it’s an awesome soulsound and again the message is simple, “loss is not an option for those of us actively building upon our dreams”. Let’s Go!

“Hold My Liquor”: Aright, so this one took me a minute to latch onto. That’s a Kanye trend though, each album always has one far out track—I would equate this to “Drunk and Hot Girls” off of Graduation. The sound alone is inebriating—a sensory trail of compartmentalized memories breach on this track. This is like the equilibrium of the scale, tilting a little toward the dark, then a little back to the light… the rest of the album tells the outcome of this continuum. This album is never the same twice. It’s incredible how interactive Yeezus is.

“I’m In It”: First off, I would like to say I am 100% for this joint! Yo, its perverse, its fuckin wild, its London type Grime, Punk influenced, pornographic sound with reggae roots—shit is wickedly undeniable. Bark after bark it brings the animal out of anyone who is brave enough to bear their sexually aggressive fangs. The imagery is overly explicit, super raw, and Ye’s flow is crazy dope (especially on the third verse). As he wheelies out on the Zeitgeist, nobody can classify who Kanye is nor what this dude does. He’s mentally speeding into the future, leave peeled wheels on the promotion of homogeneous culture.

“Blood On The Leaves”: an ambitious and adventurous exploration of a male pathology, remembering the past that has led to this particular present. Strange fruits of relationship exploits—sour, over ripe, recollections of dark pasts. Badd bitches seducing their way to mad riches, and the worth of finding one good girl who’s down for you. Trust turns into treachery, loose situations careening out of control as they reproduce more fruit into this world, webs complicated by offspringing children and untrue matrimony…there’s Ye claiming nothing holy about it…

“Guilt Trip”: The Sample is so incredibly ILL on this one, “all in my wallet”—he turnt that line out! And you GOTTA feel ‘im for that! The Chewbacca line is as rock steady as when he shouts out PETA on Cold—apparently Ye’s fur game is always above and beyond. Kudi’s vocals are mad eerie, a perfect fit for this project. The Kid is wailing on some howl to the midnight moon; the wolf takes a brief pause to cry out, and then returns to his run—that’s when the music comes back in. This is one of the only tracks where I can say that the production is king over the lyrics. Don’t get it misunderstood, both are gnarly, it’s just that the production hammers super hard; I mean the string sounds next to the rocking 808 thwarps are Stupid.

“Send It Up”: this is the warehouse funk, a simple sort of exposition. Bridged by bending baselines and old style simple rhyme schemes, Kanye opens the lab up. A provocative resurrection of what Yeezus is all about, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, bringing together all the odds and ends of a journey and pushing into a space never seen… memories, they never leave us; pasts, they build to the present. Own yours.

“Bound 2”: straight up Kanye West. From the soulful production and high-pitched sample sound to rhyme sets and a Charlie Wilson hook. This is a definitive track, the rebel’s sensitive side…it is still dark, no doubt, yet it’s in a sort of slap stick comical way. The sound is so domestic it almost sounds like a sitcom or commercial. From talking about his bad rep to him confessing his bind to love, this is pure Kanye West, so great.

Aright, so through and through Yeezus is excellence. This is 2 years back to back that Kanye has killed the summertime sound. This time it’s with an existential expression of black sound. Black meaning contrast, not skin color; the othered experience juxtaposed against whiteness, a dark presence in white America. With regard to black sound, ACDC’s Back to Black record has held the podium, now Kanye West is the only other artist to successfully compete against that with Yeezus. And that’s saying a lot. Ye opens it right up. He’s an artist through and through and this installation is above and beyond what anybody expected. If you still “hate” this joint it’s for one of three reasons: it scares you, your mind is comparing it to what you know as “rap” music, OR you just need one more thing to hate on in life. Either way, Kanye turned art expression out and put Sound on a whole ‘nother realm. With Rick Rubin and Daft Punk as production consiglieri, there’s no way this sound would be anything less than spectacular. Come on dude, Rubin would never cosign on any sort of bull.

And there it is folks. Once again, I’ll say it, Yeezus is EPIC.

-S

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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: Keenan Hartsten

For this week’s installment in the Feature Series, we’re honored to present one of our true inspirations: artist Keenan Hartsten. First off, just know that if you’re open to experiencing something new, this one will touch you. The organics of Keenan’s feature are pure and well cultivated—Reflection and Response really gets moving here! It may take a little bit longer to process the energy, but when it hits it’s sure to activate appropriately. You may find yourself off balance at first as it bumps you off the rhythm of the everyday hustle and bustle – don’t sleep though, cause it pounds a direct message—this one packs a big punch. Independence is at the core of the LIFESTYLE movement and the dude Keenan is definitely putting down his indie grind as he creates new spaces and waves in the world. So sit back, kick aside the stress of the week, put on some chill tunes if you please, and digg on his interview along with photos of his various creative endeavors. This one deserves two green-thumbs-up in approval…enough from us though; enjoy and watch it blossom. Peace.

Keenan Hartsten

Reflection and Response is really part of a larger set of processes including absorption/assimilation, digestion, and growth…I feel that to be a well rounded person/artist/liver/lover, you are constantly receiving, receiving, receiving.. especially if you are consciously open to it. I feel like life is there always willing to give, whatever it is that you need to see, hear, think, taste, and ultimately feel…I think that the most interesting thing is the way in which one takes all these seemingly disparate bits and actively responds with whatever is right there, here, now.

– Keenan Hartsten

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

KH: I originally hail from a town in the middle of the state of Oregon named Bend. It was a beautiful place to grow up with an abundance of opportunities to be close to nature… rivers filled with trout, crystal clear lakes, epic mountains, overall a really amazing place to cut one’s teeth. Needing to see new sights and meet new people I moved to San Diego 7 years ago and have worked to make this place feel like home.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

KH: Well, for me Reflection and Response is really part of a larger set of processes including absorption/assimilation, digestion, and growth. I think you could liken it to the act of eating. In order to fuel my body I take in calories through my food consumption. So I’m eating, eating, eating, everyday, all day, chewing, chewing, chewing. Chewing along with saliva, which helps to start digesting the starch in the food, are the first acts of accepting consumable molecules into my body—the first acts of digestion. Once the food is sufficiently chewed, my internal systems start to work by taking those larger molecules and breaking them down into smaller more manageable bits. These manageable bits are then further broken down and ultimately used for their energy potential. I think Reflection and Response are the second and third bits of a trilateral experience of being alive, especially for someone pursuing creative endeavors.

I feel that to be a well rounded person/artist/liver/lover, you are constantly receiving, receiving, receiving.. especially if you are consciously open to it. I feel like life is there always willing to give, whatever it is that you need to see, hear, think, taste, and ultimately feel. For me, the Reflection part of the tertiary equation is that process of digestion; taking these different particles and breaking them down into smaller bits, being present to and appreciating what I have received by letting those things not only come into me but also become one with me. We are given much in life to reflect on and the feedback is always there if I want to look. The Response part of the equation is that process of using what I have taken in and doing something with it. What is interesting for me about Response is that there are all these little bits banging around from all of the time that we are all tapping into. I saw something when I was five, or had a particular experience, only to find that years later in my twenties that experience is still with me and I am responding to it at some level, consciously or not. I think that the most interesting thing is the way in which one takes all these seemingly disparate bits and actively responds with whatever is right there, here, now.

Keenan Hartsten - When To Water

How does your piece When to Water fit in with that definition?

KH: Well, “When to Water” is an installation/exhibition I have up now at my buddy’s coffee shop, the Coffee & Tea Collective. The exhibition is twofold in that I have made an installation on the walls of the space consisting of these floating shelves that accommodate planters which contain all these different variety of plants that work together to create a very crisp, alive essence in the space. The name of the show “When to Water” is very in line with this notion of Reflection and Response. When one is attempting to nurture and take care of a plant, a very important thing to know is when to water. That water is crucial to the energetic functionality of that plant, without it it will eventually wither and die. When you water that plant, the plant is involved in its own version of Reflection and Response: the taking in of that life giving substance to the plant, its cells pulsing with new liquid, and its response in the form of lifting its arms to the sky and driving its roots deeper and further into the soil. The connection between human beings and plants is amazing. There have been countless scientific studies that have pointed to the fact that there is no separation between us and plants; we are both completely sentient beings, and interconnected, affected by our surroundings, in the process of reflection at all times, and responding to all that we are feeling, sensing, etc.

Keenan Hartsten - When To Water

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

KH: I’m also currently working on some large private garden commissions. I really love that, helping people live with more aliveness in their lives.. plants and creativity and all.

Keenan Hartsten Installation

Keenan Hartsten Installation

Keenan Hartsten Installation

Keenan Hartsten Wood Wall Design

Keenan Hartsten Wood Wall Design

Keenan Hartsten Plant Installation

Too, as part of the exhibition I have currently, “When to Water,” I am throwing a musical gathering and making a crazy handmade instrument to be a part of the event. For the instrument, I have been going to thrift stores buying all kinds of kitchenware/utensils that will be transformed into a percussion instrument. Pots, pans, lids, cookie sheets, silverware, cups, dishes, and utensils are all coming together to form this original percussion instrument. For the gathering I am hosting, I am inviting a bunch of talented musicians to come together and play a percussive set on this instrument, them having never played this instrument before, completely improvised. I am really excited to see how this turns out, the way that all these different pieces sound are amazing.. Wish you could be there to hear!

Besides that, I have a line of limited edition clothing, one off clothing I am making called ffiisshh, which can be found at ffiisshh.com. I am taking retro patterned sweaters and cutting them up and remixing them into one of a kind creations.

Keenan Hartsten - ffiisshh sweater

Keenan Hartsten - ffiisshh sweater

Keenan Hartsten - ffiisshh sweater

Who or what inspires you?

KH: I am inspired by much… I think we live in a pretty wondrous world. I am inspired by the hummingbirds that I have been seeing nearly every day without fail. Wow, those little creatures are magic to me! I am inspired by music, always. I am inspired by the people I encounter each day that just seem to be open to connecting, whether through a smile in passing, a quick conversation, or a heart to heart with a friend, sibling, or parent. I know I have talked a bit about this but I am really inspired by plants, I think they are magical and worth being close friends with.

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

KH: That I am proud of what you guys are up to!

Shout out to…?

KH: My mom: Probably first on the list because without her I wouldn’t be half of me.. or me at all in that case!

My dad: Thank you for being a barometer in my life!

My sisters: You always give me room to be but are amazing and supportive.. Thank you!

My roommates: For being great inspiring people to be closely related to.

My Teachers: The many they may be, for helping and encouraging my growth.

Vicken: You’ve been a crystalline example of what a solid man can be in this world.. keep doing your thing and thanks for inviting me into the collective!

Driftwood Wave installation

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:

Daffodils

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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