26 July 2014

Beautiful People: Charmaine Bee

(Charmaine Bee wears a smock by STATE, a dress by Leota NYC, and her own shoes). 
Photo by Austin Phelps.

Chamaine Bee is an interdisciplinary artist and herbalist, who explores through photography, performance art, mixed media and so much more themes of ancestry and community. Through her art practice, she has been an artist-in-residence at illustrious residencies around the globe and has had more than one of her community-engagement focused projects funded by organizations such as the Brooklyn Arts Council. Through conceptual and documentary photography, film, video, and textile art Charmaine explores the rich layers of African Diasporic spirituality and personal histories. Charmaine’s work places an emphasis on memory and ritual, she explores this through examining her personal family narrative within Gullah culture. 

Her tea company, Gullah Girl Tea, is a line of organic and fair trade tea blends and herbal remedies, inspired by and in homage to her Gullah heritage, and more specifically, her grandmother, who instilled in her the importance of honoring one's heritage. Charmaine generously sponsored the photoshoot with one of her delicious teams for the entire team on set- obrigada!

 (Photo Credit: King Texas)

 (Photo Credit: King Texas)

(Photo Reposted from: MOMA PS1)

(Journey-Lucid Dream Tincture, available on Etsy)

Current Projects 

Charmaine is currently exhibiting her work in Baltimore as an MFA in Studio Art degree candidate at MICA, among many other installations and projects, brewing (no pun intended :-) )

(Photographed with fellow artist, Paula Wilson, at the Frieze Art Fair. Credit: whitehot magazine)

Charmaine's Relationship to Brazil 

About me, I am currently deeply engaged in my visual arts and tea making practice. Within my work I explore ritual, memory, travel and African influenced spirituality. I am originally from Beaufort, South Carolina and am a descendant of Gullah culture. What took me to Brazil initially in addition to wanting to learn about dance practices was a desire to connect the dots of African Diasporan experiences and my time in Brazil has heavily influenced how I approach being Gullah in my arts practice. I currently live in Brooklyn, NY. I modeled for the publication because of my deep love for Brazil and I appreciate the vision of The River Revista.

(Photo Credit: buyafrica.blogspot.com)

Brazil feels like home to me in so many ways.  I traveled to Brazil for the first time in 2006 on a college study abroad trip.  What took me there was a deep passion in learning about the relationship between "secular" or non religious forms of dance and spiritual dance, specifically dances associated with Orixa worship/ celebration.  While in Brazil I lived with an Afro Brazilian family and my host mother was a historian who wrote about the Quilombo communities of Ceara.  I traveled there again a few years after my trip and intend to go again this year.  Brazil is a space of inspiration for me on so many levels.  I love the beauty of the Portuguese language, and I love the African influences on the language, I love the music, and I love the depth and beauty held within the stories I exchange and share with my friends who live in Brazil.  The conversations always go deep, always hit a mark of truth, and I really appreciate that. I feel like Brazil is this beautiful complicated space of so many layered languages, cultures, ideas, spirits and that space encourages me to open and unearth those layers within myself.

 I love the complexity.  The dynamic energy, the music, the art, the layered histories sharing space.  There is the history of colonialism, slavery, and there are deep and meaningful conversations taking place about that history, whether those conversations are taking place via visual art, dance, music, or conversations with people you encounter on the street.  I love that there are these deep layers beneath the surface of the visceral beauty and they are consistently being unearthered.  I really love it as a space of exploring the Western African Diaspora and its many complex layers and history.

Charmaine is a Beautiful Person to watch.

Thank you, Charmaine, for your beauty, artistry, talent and grace! You make our world better,


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