03 July 2014

Happy Birthday, ReciclaGEM!

Bom dia, boa tarde, boa noite my readers (depending on your hemisphere).

About one hour ago EST, the idea of "ReciclaGEM" turned four. Four years ago, to this day, in the beautiful and artistically distressed (like Diesel jeans) neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn, I was given the task of creating a "vegan fashion show" for my dear friend, Amanda Perez's event Vegan Jam, an event that celebrated hip hop, multiculturalism, and veg-friendly living. More than just avoiding animal by-products, I wanted to create a fashion collection using one of the greatest waste resources in the United States- clothing and textiles.

They have filled these landfills, polluted oceans around the world, destabilized local economies, and have been justified by many as the consequences of the fickle fashion cycle. But they are also the very material that, if reclaimed, could reduce a downward spiral of the United States becoming the energetic black hole of the Americas and the world.

The collection, showcased on that sun-charred rooftop of that artist collective in Brooklyn, was inspired by the Gulf BP oil spill, and as a vegan would consider, the perspective of the animals who perished in a man-made mistake.

The fashion show featured many fantastic models, who embodied from gait to gaze the emotions of such fallen creatures. And that day, I had the honor of collaborating with an amazing photographer who would continue to be one of my central collaborators, Katherine Soutar.

Katherine Soutar is a Melbourne-based photographer who, at the time, lived in New York and photographed many an artist and performer with her signature emotive and stylistic precision. In 2010, she created these beautiful, dynamic portraits of incredible models who embodied the narrative.

And four years later, our collaborations have continued in the form of a Frida Kahlo and Josephine Baker inspired project (to be revealed shortly), and the photographing of my look book for Fall 2014, Bricolage.
We drove to an abandoned, dried up swamp hours from Melbourne City in the small town of Willaura to a plot of land accompanied by nothing but dried bones and mud to address a collection that also, ironically enough, explored the very post-apocalyptic destruction that the earlier Gulf oil spill, and many environmental political events after, seemed to suggest.

The land was supernatural, almost as if Wangechi Mutu's mind spat forth the animation of "The End of eating Everything" into the soil of Willaura, Australia. The sky was grey, the algae rose-tinted, and the sky scratching the surface of what is to come, what has already come.

(All photos by Katherine Soutar)

Perhaps the director of 1980s cult classic, Mad Max, had left the vestiges of a movie set 34 years old. Or perhaps the earth is trying to tell us something.

In either case, before the actual End of eating Everything, we can continue to collaborate, to grow, and to learn from one another, take roadtrips with brilliantly minded friends and create a work that translates what the earth has been trying to tell us for so long.

We didn't just speak with the earth that day. We conversed with her.  This roadtrip, these images, these words are the silent moments between words that we left for her to speak back.


To see more of Kat's photography work, check out her wedding photography company, It's Beautiful Here, co-created with Scout Kozakiewicz, and await her forthcoming website, showcasing exclusively to her years of photo artistry such as this.

And here's a flash back to our two year birthday....

20 June 2014

We're Open!!! ImaGEM | The Official Boutique of ReciclaGEM

Bom dia my readers!

I bring you great news. Our long-awaited online shop, ImaGEM, is finally opening! Beginning with 7 products, we are launching on this Hemisphere's Summer Solstice, June 21st, 2014, a time for renewal and rebirth, a time for re-evaluating our closets, our bodies and our minds, and explore ways to truly engage all aspects of our being.


There will be more things on the way, but as promised so many moons ago, we bring you ImaGEM.

Let's continue to reImaGEM the world as the globally inspired, funky, fresh, connected place it is and can continue to be!

Peace, love, and let's dance through the Gift Shop!


08 May 2014

Venezuela, Revolution and Public Art in Melbourne, Australia

Boa noite/Bom dia my readers,

Earlier in my stay here in Australia, I had the honor of sitting down with Victor Holder, Venezuela-born, Australia-based public artist and creative director of socially engaged artistic hub, 4 Dverse Studios.

On March 23, 2014, 4Dverse showcased Propaganda for Peace at Melbourne's Viva Victoria Multicultural Festival, an event dedicated to "the ultimate celebration of Victoria's awesome cultural diversity."

4Dverse Studios responded to the call. Initially, the plan was to bring Venezuela's Dancing Devils to Melbourne. The Dancing Devils, having recently been declared by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as one of a select few intangible cultural human heritages, are a performance group that reflects both Spanish and African influences, syncretized in a performance that has come to represent one distinct aspect of Venezuela.

However, as many of you global and, particular, hemispheric readers may know, Venezuela has been in a state of duress for months now, and as a result any possibilities of bringing the Dancing Devils or any such group no longer became a possibility.

When thinking back at the moment where he and his Venezuelan collaborator, Ramon Martinez, had to quickly come up with an alternative project for their booth at the festival, he remarks, "We were so upset, so hurt, and so angry...to see all these videos of students being killed in the street that we were so emotional, we couldn’t talk about art. We could only talk about politics and the situation, and we said “Let’s do...let’s just be honest. Let’s do something that relates to this, and helps somehow.”

And that's how Propaganda for Peace began. In a festival dedicated to exploring multiculturalism, they wanted to represent the Venezuela that they were experiencing alongside the flat, cultural lens in which so many countries, Venezuela included, are presented through the lens of a multicultural experience to the rest of the world.

Propaganda For Peace from Balangara Films on Vimeo.

This blog post emerged not simply because this is an example of visceral public, socially engaged art speaking on an important reality of the Americas, but also because this work was subsequently shut down by the Viva Victoria Multicultural Festival team.

That begs the question as to what are the limits of a multicultural experience? Is it when we become uncomfortable by reality? What is the goal of a multicultural festival if the definition of multiculturalism is limited to what is pleasant and comfortable, and not what is?

Victor, while serving as Creative Director of 4Dverse, is also pursuing a Masters degree in Public Art at RMIT. In our brief interview reflecting on the multicultural installation Propoganda for Peace, and its subsequent shut down by the staff of a multicultural festival, Victor had these remarks to say about Propaganda for Peace:

[Propaganda for Peace] was a subversive art work. It was activism. And it was more a reminder to, for one hand, for Venezuelan people, it was a reminder of our essence, of our origin, our happy culture, of our vibrant culture, that has been lost lately under this war, this violence. Well, not lately, like fifteen years. We lost a bit the values of who we are as a culture. I’m surprised that even these days...even in the revolution of Venezuela, you can still see the happiness. But the happiness is being lost slowly...too much violence, too many people have been dying. So the painting is a reminder, the colors of the painting and all of the articles I put on there, was kind of iconographic of Venezuela. There is a famous singer, Simon Diaz, internationally famous for his poetry and his traditional songs, Miss Venezuela...They are always winning Miss Universe, the most beautiful women in the world, the famous baseball players are from Venezuela in America, and so on. You know?  And the technique I used in my painting is dripping painting, inspired by Jackson Pollack, but I created a new technique controlling the paint...I use hatching. I love hatching as a material because it reminds me of Latin America, because of its exportation of cafe and cocoa and all of that stuff...So I paint that material. Because the purpose of the artwork is to see through the painting, so if you get closer, you can kind of touch it as well. So the thickness of the painting and the texture of the textile will already make you [have] a relationship with the country...a kind of tactile thing, you know?

And, more generally, the role of public art:

The thing is, I have been kind of studying a bit of history and anthropology. To actually be able to do the public art, you know a lot of history. You learn a lot to see things deeply in history... I do public art for community, it’s just takes further investigation about that community, what’s happening there, what is the story of this place, what is this wall telling me about.

It's time we let the walls speak. That might be a faster way to peace than propaganda.

Public Artists Letting the Walls Speak,


22 April 2014

What an Amazing Team!!!

Thank you Tash Dombrow, Kristen Wehlow and the RAW Brisbane team for bringing us together!

Spending Earth Day in Australia: Brisbane + Melbourne

Boa noite my readers and happy Earth Day,

Over the past six weeks, I have traveled literally to the other side of the globe, the other end of the planet that we are so dearly trying to preserve, from the Americas to Melbourne, Australia, where I have found myself confronted by amazingly prolific creative community, critical growth and feelings of difference, and more critically, by my environmental oversights.

Let's begin with those.

Beneath the beauty that is the sky, every toilet, include those at Tullamarine Airport to those in every club, restaurant, and home that I have visited is equipped with a dual flush so that every user can manage their water usage. Every outlet is equipped with its on on/off switch, And many showers are equipped with timers, so that the 10-minute shower is not exceeded, considering the issues of drought that such a vast landscape (and in essence, the entire planet) intimately confronts. Composting and recycling is as expected as taking out the trash, not a badge of honor but rather a sign of respect for oneself and one's home.



Australia is a country where I became more intimately confronted with my environmental oversights. It is also a country in a deeply complicit political place, currently facing control by almost unanimously detested government with prejudiced and inhumanely conservative politics, while also maintaining a standard a living where environmentalism is woven in the fabric of cultural life.

It is within this context that I have had the privilege and honor of collaborating with many brilliant creatives. To begin, I am firstly here collaborating with Katherine Soutar, visionary photographer (the photographer of the header image and so many other images of my work), and we have been interviewing various women about the things that they desire politically, socially, and imaginatively to reach their peak of power. More on that later.

I secondly had the honor of showcasing at indie artist showcase RAW Brisbane in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, alongside hair artist Sarah Courtney and makeup artist, C. Williams Artistry, with the models who brought it to LIFE- Lisa Anderson, Louise Geoghegan, Amber Sawyer, Elizabeth Sotiria, and Aesha Sylla.

Official photos from RAW Brsibane and the brilliant creative director, Tash Dombrow, are forthcoming, but just to get a sense of what was created, it involved everything from wire to body paint, and a synergy of creative interests in the environment and cross cultural collaboration. There was no silent competition- energies were fresh, vibrant, generous, and committed to creating a fantastic presentation.


(Cole Williams of C. Williams Artistry creating his vision with Lisa Anderson as canvas)

(Sarah Courtney working her hair sculpture magic on Louise Geoghegan as canvas)

(A few shots before the presentation on the catwalk)

And a fantastic presentation we did.

(Photo Credit: Sarah Courtney)

(Photo Credit: Priya Puri)

(Photo Credit: Interlaced Media)

(Photo Credit: Sarah Courtney)
(After Show Glow)

(The incredible sky that we showcased under)

The past six weeks in Australia (well, Melbourne and Brisbane, more specifically) have been magical. The idea that I would pick up my bags and my collection and be met with a such talented creatives, magnifiscent skies and environmental consciousness woven into the very fabric of the culture was more than I could have asked for. This experience, and the inquiry of a wise friend, got me thinking more deeply about my intentions with this work, and how honing in on those intentions could continue this beautiful ebb and flow of meaningful collaborations and positive social change.

14 March 2014

Bricolage + Post Apocalyptic Sustainable Living

Bom dia, boa noite, greetings from Melbourne Australia,

Not sure which time zone you are in (I'm about 16 hours ahead of New York), but whatever time it is, I hope that it is beautiful!

Before I blog about- HOW? WHEN? WHY? WHAT? I'm doing here in Melbourne, Australia, literally the other side of the planet from where ReciclaGEM has been based, let me debrief you all on how our first presentation of "Bricolage" went down.

It is Friday February 28th, and after the amazing photo shoot that was the River Revista's first fashion editorial for its inaugural issue, a series of pre-travel doctor's appointments, and the anxiety of knowing that I had to catch a plane taking me on the longest flight of my life (20+ hours) and move out of my apartment at the same time (we're taking ReciclaGEM on the road!), I had a collection to finish.

The process of creating the collection was as apocalyptic as the animated world that inspired it.

The overwhelm of life, time, health fluctuations, relationships ebbs, and life flows become the very things we consume in the path towards both getting in touch with the earth and others and getting in touch with the dreams nestled with the peace of our minds.

Like all artists these were things that weighed on me as I rushed to the Gallatin Fashion Show, quilted garments in tow, safety pins in need, models to fit, and an audience of fashion aficionados and peers to impress.

And then the words of Mutu's planetary protagonists began to make sense....

"I never meant to leave"

" I needed to escape"

"And now it's so far"

"Who knows where"

"It's been like this for a very long time"

"It follows me, and I them"
"We've always been"



 "...and together"

What if "The End of eating Everything," the end of consuming all of life's anxieties, throws, and the waste that results from our dealings with these things, is the beginning of becoming confident, reclaiming what we have already used and rebuilding new bodies that are so bold we have no choice but to embrace and honor everything within and around them. 

Perhaps the path to a truly sustainable commitment to "ethical" living emerges through picking up the pieces of our own life so that we can begin to see the glorious world covered by the shards. 

I have not blogged for a few days now because I have been picking up the pieces of my own life in an effort to more clearly and sustainably commit myself to the ethics of living. 

The creation of Bricolage helped me to get past The End of eating Everything within my energetic reserves and Begin the journey towards slow, thoughtful living that is sustainable and self sustained. 

A Professor in the U.S. once told me that she believes we are already in the Post-Apocalypse. But perhaps the forest fire is what we need to begin a sustainable Bright New Day. 

The Future Present is Bright,