During my time as an intern at Stone Soup Films, I got to do second camera work and some of the editing for this short profile of University of DC professor Mchezaje "Che" Axum, an agronomist who is working on building people's capacity to grow high-nutrient density foods in urban areas, as part of Stone Soup's DC Heroes series. One of the things I loved about him and his work was the fact that he is also raising awareness about the early Egyptian roots of sustainable agriculture, as well as the complicated history in the U.S. of black people's relationship to farming. And as an academic myself, I am well aware that there is often not only no reward for university professors to engage in public, civically engaged scholarship, but often such activities are frowned upon. Dr. Axum is doing amazing work.
This video blog profiles the outreach efforts of Breast Care for Washington, a clinic founded to increase access to health care for women in DC living south of the Anacostia River. I edited this short while working as an intern with Stone Soup Films, a non-profit that makes pro bono videos for other non-profits.
Check out this wonderful story about Homie Universidad Popular and how the organizers are using the film Homie UP: Stories of Love and Redemption to raise awareness about the impacts of mass incarceration on Latino communities. As Lilian Serrano shares, “Everyone can talk about the numbers, but the film gives faces to mass incarceration. For every person that is in prison, there is a mother, a father, a sibling or even children. I think that is a contribution to the discussion that no one else is making and that’s what makes this project unique.”
It's not too late to make a tax-deductible donation to Stone Soup Films for 2015! I will be interning with Stone Soup Films from the end of January through the end of April, while I am studying at The Documentary Center at George Washington University.
Through the month of November 2015, you can see two of my pieces hanging at the Imaginarium show at the Rayko Photo Center at 428 Third Street in San Francisco. This piece, Americana, is somewhat tongue-in-cheek. The banjo is actually an African instrument brought to the continent thanks to the horrors of slavery and the artistry of African-Americans, yet that history has somehow been erased and it is now associated with white, rural folk music. Both images were produced using images from glossy advertisements (what is more Americana than consumerism?) that, thanks to the lusciousness of these alternative processes, now look homespun and artisanal. Anyway, if you make it to the SOMA district before December, check out the show--there are dozens of amazing images from De Anza art students.
Last year I came across Nicholas Nixon's amazing longitudinal portraits of the Brown sisters. It is rare in our culture to see any documentation of aging, let alone for the same individuals. Anyway, I decided to try to document this for myself through the time honored #handselfie. :)
I am thrilled to have two of my pieces currently hanging in the Imaginarium show at the Rayko Photo Center in San Francisco from now until December 2, 2015. The reception is on Wednesday, November 5th from 6-8pm. If you're ever in the SOMA district during the month of November, pop in and take a look--entry to the gallery is free (closed on Mondays).
Spent the day making prints for a subset of my 1893 series, entitled Amusements. Not quite totally happy with the image on the farthest right, so I'll have to keep tinkering. Thinking about amusements is taking my mind in a bunch of new directions, so there will be more to come on this one.
Consider making a donation to the Girl Noticed project. On September 27, 2015, Lori Pratico erected a charcoal mural in Montclair NJ of two young women (one of whom happens to be family of mine). The goal of the Girl Noticed project is to honor and recognize women around the country...and, because the murals are in charcoal, provoke the realization that, if unrecognized, potential too can fade away. To see photos of the process, visit the Girl Noticed Facebook page. Girl Noticed is coming to Oakland, so you if live in the East Bay, consider nominating a girl to be noticed.
Many wonderful community organizations brought folks out to the recent screening of Homie UP: Stories of Love and Redemption. Many audience members had personal experiences with our prison system and enriched our conversations both before and after the film screening. Plus, the band Spit Freely opened the event with some amazing music. And the Homie UP team worked very hard prior to the event mounting and framing new artworks from Homie UP students to display at the event.
I've sought out the work of James Turrell ever since catching his retrospective in LA a couple of years ago. His Roden Crater project, if it ever becomes open to the public, is on my bucket list. Today I went with a friend to his site specific installation at the de Young Museum. We craned our necks for a couple of hours as the day turned to night. Two young men chanted and sang. A family came in and each of beat a rhythm using different parts of their bodies, to take advantage of the amazing acoustic properties inside the dome of the skyspace. Kids played tag both inside and outside of the dome, shrieking with excitement. One young man, like my friend and I, sat quietly in a state of joyous contemplation. My breath caught each time birds flew over the circle of sky. One gull caught the fiery white light of the golden hour. Then as it got dark, James Turrell changed the color of the sky from blue to white to green to black and back again.
"My predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved. I have been given much and I have given something in return. I have read and traveled and thought and written...Above all I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure."
I got a chance to see Hamilton on Broadway while traveling in New York a few weeks ago. He read Ron Chernow's 818 page biography of Alexander Hamilton and invited the academic into a partnership that resulted in a musical version of Hamilton's life. It is so word-dense, so packed with information, that I suspect I could see it a half dozen more times and still pick up on things I had missed before. The characterizations of our founding fathers, portrayed here entirely by people of color is so witty and biting that they left me breathless. And the final number won me round to the play's gender politics as well. The term "towering genius" was invented for someone like Lin-Manuel Miranda.
My mom, who is a gadget hound, gave me a Lomography plastic camera last year. I was so busy working on the Homie UP film that I only just now am getting around to fooling with it. I'm not sure yet what content best matches this medium, but I'm definitely enjoying the goofing off in the meantime. :) I'm also curious about how other folks mount and display these kinds of instant photographs.
I've got a great excuse to visit county fairs and tourist destinations to take photographs of ferris wheels in their various incarnations for use in future works for this ongoing series. I've always been a sucker for ferris wheels, despite a fear of heights.