Nick Cave Soundsuit. Phtography James Prinz.  Photo Credit:  Jack Shainman Gallery via Atlanta Magazine

Nick Cave’s soundsuits are wondrously colorful, captivating, sculptural pieces that amplify the beauty of the human body in motion.  In 1992 Cave created his first soundsuit out of twigs and discarded items found in a park and conceived the suit in response to police brutality after the Rodney King beatings in Los Angeles. That first soundsuit was a commentary on the detachment between the human body, how it is perceived and how it is treated.

“I was thinking about, looking at, trying to find that element – as a black man, what does it feel like to feel discarded, viewed as less than, dismissed, devalued? That’s what inspires this work.” Nick Cave, Orlando Weekly

What happens when you eliminate the possibility to perceive, judge and devalue?  By repurposing discarded items into a new context, the viewer is ultimately forced to experience them in a new light.  The transformative power of repurposing and seeing everyday objects in a new context forces a shift in perception for the wearer and the viewer.  This characteristic of Cave’s art is present in his performance work today.   The soundsuits conceal race, gender, class, sexuality and transform the wearer and the experience of the viewer.


Nick Cave Soundsuit.  Photo Credit, Opening Ceremony

You simply have to see the soundsuit in motion. I completely get lost in my own imagination watching these performances.




Misty Copeland in Oscar de la Renta.  Photography by Ken Browar & Deborah Ory.          Photo Credit:  Bazaar

The March issue of Bazaar hits newsstands on February 16h and today the magazine released stills of its photoshoot with American Ballet Theatre’s Principal Dancer Misty Copeland.  The shoot is a Degas redux bringing some of the artist’s most famous work to life with Copeland wearing Alexander Mc Queen, Valentino, Roberto Cavalli, Alberta Ferretti and Oscar de la Renta.

The re-creations are executed in stunning detail, but what stuck out to me was the level of control Copeland carried within each frame.  Creative control in editorial fashion photography revolves around the photographer, the editor and the creative director.  In this particular shoot we see the creative fluidity among all of the above and Copeland.  She’s directing each shot with a kinetic force that virtually transforms each frame.



Misty Copeland in Valentino.  Photography by Ken Browar and Deborah Ory.                  Photo Credit:  Bazaar

The photos that recreate Degas are beautifully constrained.  In the Bazaar piece, Copeland reflected on the subtle challenges that came with replicating the precision of the movements in the painting while curbing her urge to improvise and interpret the piece to suit her artistic voice (voice=movement).  In the photos where she is given more creative latitude with movement, the shot virtually sings.


Misty Copeland in Cavalli.  Photography by Ken Browar & Deborah Ory.                           Photo Credit:  Bazaar 

While I could spend all day lauding her much deserved, hard earned accomplishments as the the first African American Principal at the ABT, I want to take a moment to celebrate her artistic sensibilities in collaborative photography (I just made that term up).  As a muse, she is a photographer’s dream- I believe that is because she carries an innate ability to bring out the very best of every shot taken of her in motion.

The “Artist a Day Challenge” celebrates Black History Month by highlighting Black artists and diverse forms of cultural expression across the African diaspora.  

Postscript:  For more photography by Ken Browar and Deborah Ory, please check out NYC Dance Project, it is a brilliant and stunning blend of photography and dance that is “collaborative photography” (I’m going to try to make this term happen) at its best.



Photo, Maxwell Rasche.  Photo Credit:  Brandan Odums

Laissez le bon temps rouler!

I’ve got New Orleans on my mind, so I thought I’d use today’s post to shine a light on the art that’s being made in the Crescent City today. Steeped in tradition, plagued by disaster and portrayed as a crown jewel of urban renewal, New Orleans is a multifaceted and deeply complex city. The artists highlighted here challenge us to look at NOLA in new ways.

Brandan Odums

As a social activist, artist and video director Brandan Odums does not see roadblocks as challenges, he views them as opportunities.  He turned an abandoned Ninth Ward Housing Project into an art installation transforming the building into a space for artistic and social commentary.  While doing so he exposed a legacy of Katrina that’s ignored in a city struggling to redefine itself as a triumphant example of urban revival.  Over 100,000 African-Americans were displaced from New Orleans after Katrina, and New Orleans East has been one of the slowest areas to recover.  Many of the economic, educational, social and political challenges plaguing the city still remain.


Photo by Amy K. Nelson.  Photo Credit, Buzzfeed News

In November 2014, ExhibitBE became a cultural hub for 30+ artists and thousands of visitors to experience a unique space in time where art and activism honored the past while preparing itself for the future.  The exhibition site officially closed in early 2015, however this month Odums will unveil new warehouse exhibition space located in Bywater called StudioBE.  The space will showcase new murals and large scale canvas paintings.




Denisio Truitt & Mwende Katwiwa, Noirlinians.  Photo by Patrick Melon.

Noirlinians is an AfroFashion blog that explores the connections between identity, cultural expression, voice and style.  The site was created by clothing designer Denisio Truitt and spoken word artist Mwende Katwiwa who harmonize their creative talents within this deeply personal blog.  I particularly love that their posts are accompanied by a soundtrack that sets the lyrical stage for the content.

The blog also cultivates a creative collective of photographers whose work is featured in Denisio and Mwende’s posts.  Many of these photographers are currently being shown in a group exhibition at the McKenna Museum in partnership with PhotoNOLA.  The show runs through February 27th, 2016.

The “Artist a Day Challenge” celebrates Black History Month by highlighting Black artists and diverse forms of cultural expression across the African diaspora.  




Brenna Youngblood, “The Benevolent and the Malevolent”, 2014 Mixed Media on Canvas.  Photo Credit: Pomona College Museum of Art

Moody Mondays beg for a beautifully moody piece.  Brenna Youngblood’s work combines expressionist and textural techniques with her formal background in photography.  She takes found pieces of everyday objects like discarded paper bags, tree shaped car fresheners and photographs and applies them to canvas.  Her paintings embody that point of collision between color field painting and abstraction.  Youngblood’s 2015 Project 50 Series explored issues of memory, identity and class, while some of her most recent work currently shown at Honor Fraser Gallery raises more existential questions surrounding mortality and the body.

A consistent technical theme in Youngblood’s body of work centers on this interplay between abstraction and figuration.  In March her work will be featured in a spring exhibition by the Hammer called “A Shape That Stands Up”.  The group show, curated by Jamillah James, will explore the “gray space between abstraction and figuration in recent painting and sculpture.”  The exhibition opens on March 19th and will be hosted by Art + Practice in Leimert Park.

The “Artist a Day Challenge” celebrates Black History Month by highlighting Black artists and diverse forms of cultural expression across the African diaspora.  




Thornton Dial, “Stars of Everything”, 2004.  Photo credit:  Souls Grown Deep

Today I’m highlighting an artist I wrote about for my second site TONDI.

TONDI hosts digital exhibitions and explores broader social themes relating to contemporary art, music and design.  I recently wrote a piece about Thornton Dial that was a commentary on how arts writers categorized him as an artist, but for purposes of this post, I’ll keep it simple.  His work was amazing.  An excerpt from the post:

“Dial’s career spanned 30 years and included numerous solo shows in New York galleries.  He was featured in the 2000 Whitney Biennial, had a major retrospective at the IMA, and museums including the Met, the MFA Houston and the American Folk Art Museum include his work in their collections.

To me what was interesting about Thornton Dial was that his artistic career began when his first career ended.  Dial was a railroad car metal fabricator at the Pullman Standard plant in Birmingham, Alabama.  In his spare time he collected and repurposed objects into “things” that he never considered art.  He pursued his creative practice full time after the Pullman plant closed, and when his work caught the attention of a prominent collector in Atlanta, Dial’s artistic career began to take off.

His work has roots in African visual and oral traditions that were transformed to withstand the oppression of slavery and Jim Crow. Some of these artistic and cultural mediums include quilting, southern yard art and collage.”

Thornton Dial’s art is a beautiful representation of a southern tradition of expression and communication with a story and history that continues to unfold.


For more on Thornton Dial


For more info on southern Yard Art


The “Artist a Day Challenge” celebrates Black History Month by highlighting Black artists and diverse forms of cultural expression across the African diaspora.  





Yashua Klos, “Face on Plane with BWA Mask Angels”, paper constructions of oil based ink on wood block prints, 2015.  Photo Credit:  Papillion Art

In his current exhibition, “How to Hide in the Wind”, Yashua Klos uses collage and printmaking to transform abstracted pieces of printed paper into figurative profiles.  His subjects take on a three dimensional quality as they physically emerge through wood blocks revealing one external image while concealing fragments of themselves left behind.  This visual representation of code switching demonstrates its power to protect people who navigate different environments in their daily lives.  However, this careful control over perception and identity is a fragile construct that may expose one’s vulnerabilities.

DSC_0342 (1)

Yashua Klos, “Once You Could Fly”, paper constructions of oil based ink on wood block prints, 2015. @ Papillion Art

In “Once You Could Fly” we see an image of a man without his protective barrier, exposing the contents of his core.  Whether that reveal was predicated by choice or circumstance, like an exposed fusilage of an airplane, the man appears to be in freefall.

Social commentary and the specter of police brutality are indirectly expressed in Klos’ work in two ways: survival and the deconstruction of the body.  His paintings reflect the subject’s process of transforming abstracted bits of their past, their environment and their identity to form who they are and how they navigate society.  This process of transformation, Klos’ personal experiences with police brutality as a youth in the South Side of Chicago and our continued struggles with systemic violence were discussed in a 2015 Modern Painter’s interview.

“We’re all trying to navigate our own tolerance of this oppression, and knowing that this violence against us is always looming. We have to exist, we have to survive, we have to go on and be happy. But we always know it’s there. It might, in some ways, numb me. These are very hard feelings to deal with. And there’s a part of me that just wants to shut down and retreat, like this is not happening — but I know it is happening, I know it’s been happening. We can’t move on until we’ve confronted this, until we’ve figured out how to resist it, until we’ve dealt with it. It’s been hard.”  

Yashua Klos, “How to Hide in the Wind” is a solo exhibition currently at Papilliion Art and runs until March 6, 2016.

4336 Degnan Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90008

The “Artist a Day Challenge” celebrates Black History Month by highlighting Black artists and diverse forms of cultural expression across the African diaspora.  

The graphics were bold, the symbolism was strong and the messages were provocative.  Emory Douglas’ graphic design work became the visual voice of movement dedicated to the fight for civil rights and social justice.  As the “Minister of Culture” for the Black Panther Party, Emory Douglas used punchy printmaking to tell captivatingly strong stories that depicted the urgency and tension behind the Black Power movement.


Photo Credit:  Graphic Arts News

Douglas studied graphic design while at San Francisco City College where he was one of 2 African American students in his program.  He created the Black Panther Newspaper along with Eldridge Cleaver with a mission to carefully control and distribute the message of the Black Panther Party.  His graphic style and ability to elicit an emotional response in the viewer were techniques that are emulated by artists like Shepard Fairey today.  In 2015 Emory Douglas became an AIGA medalist recognized among design peers for his “powerful use of graphic design in the Black Panther party’s struggle for civil rights and against racism, oppression, and social injustice.”


Photo Credit:  Whitehot Magazine

On the power of graphic design in storytelling, Douglass believes that “art has relevancy, whether it’s to pacify you or enlighten you and inform you. It’s a language, that’s the power of it.”



The “Artist a Day Challenge” celebrates Black History Month by highlighting Black artists and diverse forms of cultural expression across the African diaspora.  


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