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,

21 February 2014

Thoughts behind Fall 2014 "Bricolage": Wangechi Mutu + The End of eating Everything

If you happened to catch the wonderful Black Star News article on my upcoming show, then you would have already been introduced to the theme of the collection.

If not, then let me share it with you.

Contemporary artist Wangechi Mutu has created hybrid bodies through her mixed media art that has spoken to me for years. They speak to my body, a physical and social body that I see represented in her work, they speak to my intellectual body, a body that mixes academic theory with spirituality, poetic mysticism with craftsmanship, and the moral body that seeks to create a more unified, peaceful world.

(Wangechi Mutu, "The Bride who Married a Camel's Head, 2009)

(Wangechi Mutu, "Misguided Little Unforgivable Hierarchies, 2005)

(Wangechi Mutu, "Riding Death in My Sleep," 2002)

(Wangechi Mutu, "Root of All Eves, 2010)

(Wangechi Mutu, "A Shady Promise," 2006)

In her most recent exhibition, A Fantastic Journey, originally commissioned by the Nasser Museum at Duke University, and now at the Brooklyn Museum, Mutu features her first animation project. The animation, entitled "The End of eating Everything" displays an amorphous, planetary, and violent body, embodied by performance artist, Santigold, as it navigates grey matter terrain and eats the last of what is left in the universe until it implodes.

(A brief clip of the 8 minute animation)

This animation did many things for many people and artists. But for me, it provoked me to explore what my solution is to the state of dire over-consumption in which we find our world. (According to Patagonia-founder, Yvon Chouinard, the United States alone uses the energy of seven planets! Now what do I do to not feel paralyzed and horrible but actively do SOMETHING about it?)

Bricolage is my solution. While the philosophy of ReciclaGEM or recycling materially and socially has been my primary focus since I began this project in 2010, "Bricolage" is a new approach which provides more room and space for creative and authentic solutions.

In my dire attempt to fit into the "activist" community, I have found myself growing into a consciously minded but moderately self-loathing artist. Creating to the point of dire exhaustion, becoming overwhelmed with guilt every time I turned on my sewing machine and let alone used a down jacket in the dead of winter.

However, I realized that in the same way that I do not judge or shame others for the complexity of their ethics, neither should I do the same to myself.

Bricolage is an attempt to fuse together the complexity of YOUR narrative in a way that fits your unique story, your unique purpose, and in essence creating a collage of your contributions to this planet in a way that mixes informed-reality with aspiration, resulting in inspiration.

Bricolage in French literally means "DIY," but has come to represent a whole school of thought on cultural syncretism, post colonial identity and an aesthetic of multi-chromatic, multi-textured and multi-historicized object art.

My collection will include original fashion design looks of amorphous silhouettes and textile palettes artfully woven together with textile scraps inspired by the colors and visual patterns of the animations. The textile scraps, quilted together into kinetic tapestries, will be molded into dynamic and assymetrical silhouettes, reflecting much of the asymmetry and dynamic body of the protagonist. The collection will also feature fabric made from renewable fibers such as recycled polyester, hemp embroidered and hand dyed with natural dyes and textures inspired by the animation and Mutu’s earlier work.

One day I hope "ReciclaGEM" is a term that comes to encompass the breadth of meaning which Bricolage does. But in the meantime, I shall begin this journey of hybrid artivism, where I feel more authentic, more human, and more equipped to carry the cause of exploring ethics in fashion for the long haul in a way that is sustainable for other people, animals, the planet, AND myself.

Thank you Wangechi for creating work that inspires me to be more human(e) with myself.

The Afro-Futurist Dietary Vegan who Hand Dyes Silk, Recycled Hemp, and Found Materials with Natural Dyes, inspired by Political and Social Realities and who Believes in Fashion as more an Experiential Joy than a Commercial Practice, who loves to Travel while being Conscious of Material Usage, doesn't sign Petitions but Loves to Spread Love the best Way She Can,


I would love to be in dialogue with you about this idea of hybrid activism. Feel free to comment below, or speak with me in person next Friday February 28 7-10pm at 1 Washington Square Place, NYC (RSVP here: http://gallatin.nyu.edu/utilities/events/2014/02/gallatinfashionshow.html)

14 February 2014

Fall 2014 Conversation: Bricolage

The next presentation. Stay tuned for a press release revealing this collection's theme. Just note, the theme's title is "Bricolage."

04 February 2014

CASTING CALL: Fashion Editorial Shoot for The River Revista 02/23/13

Greetings my readers,

We are casting for a fashion editorial shoot for The River Revista. The New York-Rio de Janeiro based publication publishes exciting stories on culture, fashion, music, funky fresh trends and social justice taking place throughout Rio, New York, and the global style communities united by the two cities.

If you or a friend or colleague is interested in being featured in the editorial shoot, to be published in the bilingual publication. See the following cast post below:

Casting Call: Models needed for photo shoot taking place btw. 02/23/14-02/28/14 for a Rio de Janeiro-New York based bilingual publication. Trade shoot. Location: NYC. Model diversity in all senses welcomed and ENCOURAGED. Email: info[at]reciclagem-themovement.com for more info.

Model diversity, Rivers uniting cities,

31 January 2014

Designer Highlight: ArinMaya-Made

ArinMaya and I first met in 2011 at a women's empowerment showcase in Bushwick, Brooklyn, organized by songstress and friend, Kat Webb.We exchanged our art- one of my resin acrylic quinoa GEMs for a pair of Arin's bottle cap earrings.

These bottle cap earrings were the key to my heart.

(These are available for purchase in her online shop. Support indie design!)

Created with bottle caps sourced over many years working in lush Brooklyn bars and restaurant venues, these long, tiered and comfortably light earrings have been a signature of ArinMaya-Made, a Brooklyn based accessories company serving fashion aficionados and creatives alike with thoughtfully reconstructed and handmade goodness.

(Photo Credit: ArinMaya-Made's Facebook Page

We sat down many, many moons ago in one of such bar/restaurant venues to discuss life, her work, inspiration, and philosophy on just about everything. What I found most remarkable about Arin's story is that her choice to use bottle caps didn't come with a pre-determined "green business" agenda. She selected these bottle caps for their beautifully rugged, chromatic diversity: the bold colors of their logos and their scintillating metallic sheen.

Similar to acclaimed visual artist, El Anatsui, Arin's decision to use the bottle cap as the foundational medium for her work was an aesthetic choice that nonetheless still holds the power to inspire environmental art and design.

(El Anatsui's Metal Sheets, Photo by ReciclaGEM)

Among Arin's many talents, she is an acclaimed vocalist and poet, knitter, and performer, having recently returned from Paris Fashion Week as one of the models for Rick Owen's renowned Spring 2014 presentation (!!!).

Even if inspired initially by an aesthetic choice, ArinMaya-Made is truly an independent brand that effortlessly embodies the philosophy of "reciclagem," the aesthetics of social recycling, bricolage, and being inspired as much by our physical world as by our social one.

Bottle caps and recycled wearable artistry,

P.s. I wear my ArinMaya-Made all the time, Pictured below rocking it in one year at our workshop in L.A. Also brought her work to a talk I did also many moons ago on ethical and sustainable fashion, hosted by the Sistah Friends Project.