Sunday, May 15, 2016

Connecting Cultural Landscapes Through Art

Why are the fine arts so important to our learning and lives?

NVIME designs
Sound, vibrant color, texture and themes further our self development and connect us to each other.  Photographers, jewelry makers, fashionistas, singers, interior designers, film makers, dancers, sculptors, turntablist and boutique owners connect our life stories...resulting in a greater sense of belonging - to each other.

Our Arts Journey this Saturday began at a quaint boutique NVIME nestled on 34th Street right across from the Adinkra Cultural Arts Studios in Mount Rainier where our Sankofa Homeschool Collective meets on Fridays from 9am to 2:45pm.  Brother Glandus Thorne one part of the family owned business proudly shares his family's humble beginnings "I remember when we weren't able to afford to purchase this property" where they now  successfully retail couture art, custom, hand-made unique accessories and clothing.  Bro. Glandus recounts how he built the boutique with his own hands "This space was too small so, I had to knock out the bathroom and reconfigure it to make room for our vision."  The chic and elegant showroom features refurbished vintage furniture pieces which serve as displays.  Bro. Glandus does more than just provide a new shopping gem on 34th Street in Mount Rainier, he inspires others to be confident and push past seemingly impenetrable walls.

Next we ventured across the road to the Gateway Open Studios Artist Incubator building where artist lofts serve as residences and working studios. I made a new acquaintance and community neighbor, Mount Rainier Artist Lofts resident and artist Nicole Moore. Ms. Moore's versatile creations include one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces and handbags as well as two-dimensional artwork. But what I most remember about Sis. Nicole was how important her grandmother was in shaping the artist and woman she is today and, her grandmother's love and wisdom weaves through every one of her art pieces. Affectionately known as Moe Moe, she utilizes sterling silver, fine silver, semi-precious stones, wood, leather, crystals and shells in her art pieces. These semi-precious stones are not only appealing to the eye; they are used for their healing properties as well.
Moe Moe, Nani and I building community.

One of my favorite pieces.

  Just down the corridor we met yet another neighbor...Bro. Jeremy Mines is a Multimedia Producer with a diverse career in film making and photography. Founder of Jeremy Mines Films LLC since January 2010, Bro. Jeremy is a Producer, Director, Cinematographer and Video Editor.  Such a talented artist yet his humble, soft-spoken, easy-to-laugh spirit made this "giant-in-the-making" easy to identify with.  We learned Bro. Jeremy was home schooled, is father to a three year old and works with youth in the College Bound program.  Here's to future collaborations with Bro. Jeremy and the dynamic families at the Sankofa homeschool collective!
Laughter is healing.

Learning about each other's life stories
Next up, Sis. Alison Carney.  This singer, songwriter, fashion designer, and educator is truly a "Jackie" of all trades.  In one corner of Alison's showroom loft DJ GUDO (also a producer and musician) cut, looped and mixed a juicy musical cocktail of  beats that spilled out onto a maze of long-stemmed roses welcoming us into Alison's Wonderland...yeah she's what we 'ol school heads call "dope".  Check out her newest album: AlisonWonderland Here's a quick video of our experience.

Walking down the corridor of Gateway, I felt a stronger sense of familiarity not just with the streets I've been traveling to and fro' (WDC) for almost two months now, but with the people and families who live, work, play and create in Mount Rainier.  On my way to the Adinkra Cultural Arts Studios' 4:30 drumming performance I was greeted by Anne L'Ecuyer, Founder and Phase 3 Project Director at Art Lives Here. Before I realized it, Anne was sharing information about summer arts camps for Nani who is a budding visual artist and fashion designer.  Notwithstanding Anne's extensive arts management portfolio which, includes everything from published research scholarship on funding and development in the arts to teaching at American University and her work with Americans for the Arts, Anne's demeanor was personable and warm.  I parted knowing I would be returning to Gateway City Open Studios to learn how I can contribute to the work resurrecting desolate spaces in our new home - The DMV.

The Adinkra Cultural Arts Studios (ACAS) located at 3804 34th Street, Mount Rainier, MD is The hub for African-centered mind-body-soul well-being and living.   Because of ACAS the Sankofa Homeschool Collective and Little Genius African-centered STEM program have a place they call home.  At ACAS Little Genius and Sankofa home school families from all over the DMV area come together on a weekly basis to cooperatively empower our children through co-op classes in math, STEM, pan-African history, journalism, sewing and drumming.  If you are an African-centered homeschooler come check us out!   Here are some pics of Djembe players ranging from 8 to 11 years old accompanied by dancers.  More info to come on the beautiful vibrant culture happening on 34th street, stay tuned.
Farafina Kan May 14, 2016 Gateway OST Performance
After the drumming performance we jumped in the car and drove down Rhode Island Avenue less than five minutes to the Brentwood Arts Exchange at the 39th Street Gateway Arts Centers' 1st floor studio for a pop-up fashion show.  Did you know that Washington DC has a Greater Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce (GWFCC)?  Yaaaasss!  I've never heard of this before! I must say that is a pretty innovative idea.  For more info on the GWFCC click here: Greater Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce

I'll let these images speak for themselves...

Have you ever broken down the word Heart?

I believe Love n Vision = Art 
And, Art is the Heart of the Community


Stay tuned...

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