Abstractly-Defined Artists Restore Humanity

Artists Restore Humanity

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with both an old college professor and a local artist. Comparing both conversations I found some striking similarities; both came from backgrounds with troubled family dynamics which is arguably the foundation of every artist. Independently, yet simultaneously – they have taken their personal experiences and embedded them into ridiculous institutions [by way of teaching] with the objective being either to entertain or report possibilities in real-time.

Collectively, all three of us are teachers, writers, and visual artists; captivated by distorted truths attempting to integrate them with genuine realism. One believes the creative process is individualized with hopes of gaining perspective. The other is steadfast at creating safe spaces for P.O.C’s regardless of their gender identification.

The Professor who Restores Herself

I remember being a sophomore at Augsburg College and enrolling in Sarah Myers Improv Theater class first semester. One of our first assignments was viewing the stage play “Neighbors” featured at Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis. To be frank, the production blatantly and [to some] disrespectfully discussed racism. The show was so captivating I saw it nine times! As a young creative, I both intrigued by the artistry of the writers but also offended by the intolerable stereotypes that cowered over the actors.

The healing that Myers offered me as a young, Black woman has forever indebted me to her. For the first time, at 19, I had my first real conversation on race with a middle-aged white woman. Unbeknownst to me, then, Myers had her own share of discrimination by simply being Jewish. A bisexual Jew.

Sarah Myers, a native of Chicago, IL, and active professor at Augsburg College, utilized expressive are in her stage play, ‘I Do Today’. Myers, a self-proclaimed “Bi first – queer now” woman of Jewish faith said that writing the play was a healing process for her. She is an introvert and doesn’t share specific moments of the play publicly because, well – “people make assumptions”. Myers “draws from personal ordeals” with something she has a strong emotional connection to for her creative process.

Whether it’s in front of or behind the stage (she prefers to be behind the scenes) Myers battles with internal issues that would surely perplex her professional community. What are Jewish laws for being bisexual? Can you be bisexual and have a heterosexual marriage? That’s one for the theologians.

The Revolutionary who Restores the Culture

I had the pleasure of meeting Keno Evol 3 years ago in a kitchen, on the south-side of Minneapolis. Ganja blew on the balcony and hood politics discussed in the kitchen. A room full of Black people is so poetic; influenced by recreational substances harmoniously engaging in the most relevant conversation of their lives. 

Keno Evol is a local artist, performer, spoken word artist, dancer, and director. He spent 3 years in the foster care system as were his 8 siblings. Evol now sits as the founder and executive director of Black Table Arts, an arts-based organization centered on conjuring other worlds through Black art, connecting creatives and cultivating volume in Black Life.

He is also the founder of Black Lines Matter [sharing the same acronym as Black Lives Matter] a “writing arena where social politics meets the poetic”; centered on producing historical and contemporary protest projects by Black poets awhile building Black comprehension. An atmosphere that is “free to the public yet highlights and produces premium Black writing” is the mission. His personal goal is to “constantly hold a free space for us to invite more folks to the table, sharpen our swords and lead with love”.  *Black Table Arts meets bi-weekly on Saturdays from 6-8 pm at The Loft Literary Center Room 303

She Who Restores Life

After speaking with both artists I reflect on the times I did something creative to counter pain. It’s effortless to get something either over-the-counter or “under-the-table” to reduce the imposed upon melancholy. Artists are never normal because we are too complex like a contradicting oxymoron. Writing, however, keeps me sane, sober and solvent.

I recalling leaning on my pen more than my pipe to inhale forgiveness and exhale domestic violence, sexual violence, and low self-esteem. I’ve been molested, physically assaulted and raped. Uniquely, I have a tattoo, orbiting my ankle, that reads ‘Dance, Laugh, Sing’ – a daily dose of remedial acts.

As artists, where do we lie down our vulnerabilities when our audiences want silly little anecdotes about love and relationships. A reader once actually told me to write more about my romantic relationships. Perhaps if she knew what all I was still applying Preparation-H to she wouldn’t be so eager to exploit me all in the name of creativity. How ironic is it, though, that my personal pain cleverly disguised as creative works shall be the remedy for her ailments.

My responsibility as a creative is not just to honor humanity but dammit to restore it. Often times it is a tedious expense to invest in humanity but to give up would leave the wound uncovered. In the words of the Notorious B.I.G. “we can’t change the world until we change ourselves”. I saw we can’t heal the world’s problems until we hear our own; the cure

is ART.

Photo Cred: augsburg.com, blacktablearts.com & Pinterest

 

 

black lives matter

Who is Black Lives Matter Mpls?

On December 22nd, 2015, Black Lives Matter Mpls held their first official meeting

All Black folks and identifying POC’s were to attend and become enlightened on exactly who we are and what we do. A meeting for Black Lives Matter Allied Supporters took place at a separate site where they, too, could brainstorm how to aid Black leadership. Michael McDowell, Kandace Montgomery, and Miski Noor – all founders of the chapter, covered topics such as history, guiding principles, demands and leadership.
 Black Lives Matter (BLM) Mpls emerged after the non-indictment of officer Darren Wilson on November 24th, 2014 for the murder of Mike Brown. Black people started emailing one another, having the conversation about what could be done. In March of 2015, BLM Mpls organized a coalition march on Lake Street as a response.
At this time there was a national call to shut down highways where BLM Mpls occupied Highway 55; and I-35 to support the fast food workers strike. With solid connections with leaders in both New York and Ferguson, BLM Mpls became one of the 32 chapters making up the Black Lives Matter Movement Network – which has extended internationally.

What Do We Want – When Do We Want It

Since last year, and to the present day, BLM Mpls has been worked on building infrastructure and increasing Black power in Minneapolis. It has far too often been falsely reported that we do not have any demands. That is a lie:
  1. Release the Tapes – as we saw in the case of Laquan McDonald in Chicago there is a reason the tapes aren’t released until after the trial. We want the tapes now.
  2. No Grand Jury – this is where cases drive off to die considering there is only a three percent indictment rate. We want a special prosecutor.
  3. Invest in Black Future’s a.k.a. Reparations – stop funding private prisons and police and instead reinvest in our community. We want our money.

BLM Mpls is constructing a Black Agenda.

Current leaders would like to extend leadership opportunities to use every person, strength, and talent that will benefit the movement! BLM Mpls now consists of six departments:
  • Fundraising – meeting financial needs of the organization in ways of merchandise purchasing, member dues, door-to-door fundraising, etc.
  • Arts & Culture – building black centered spaces that show respect to digital art, theatre, spoken word and street art.
  • Communications – telling our story the correct way within our community and the media
  • Healing Justice – creating safe places to unpack issues within the Black community
  • Community Outreach – intentional and diligent community service
  • Youth – establishing service in and through education and creating youth-friendly spaces

It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.

You are now caught up.

Photo Cred: truthseeker2473.blogspot.com