A series of selfies/photos were taken during the pandemics as I searched for light, positive energy, hope, and inspiration during the challenging and stressful times. With Covid-19 and the Black Lives Matter Movement sweeping the world- anger, frustration, protests (peaceful and chaotic)- I turned inward to find moments and sources of grace and light.
One morning while having tea and meditating, I noticed and focused on my mug in hand. I took in the vessel that held my sipping tea. Gratitude in the vessel…a container of gratitude. I inhaled the aromas of positivity. It was a metaphor for me…so I took a selfie- a mugshot.
The result of this artistic process was a photographic series. As part of my morning meditation, I added an improvisational movement meditation for each mugshot taken. I brought into the creative process collaborators: Sujan Shrestha (photographer), Michelle “Love the poet” Nelson (poet), and Alejandro Cartagena (videographer). I asked Michelle “Love the poet” Nelson, to create one stanza poems for each mug. From her poems, I then selected one line from each that resonated with each mug’s essence to create a collage poem- Spillage. This poem was used as inspiration and motivation for the physical solo.
My dear mama definitely warned me
I was currency once
Take up a mantle and you run
Dance in the Blues
Connect us with heaven again
Snoopy for office
Can we even see the dissonance in our connection?
I smiled in my mug shot
Hennessy, heels, scars
Sit with what is inside of you
My happiness exists on the edge of a cliff
Where I exist slanted, on purpose.
Michelle Antoinette Nelson, also known as LOVE the poet is the CEO and Founder of Brown and Healthy, a global initiative that focuses on community engagement, strategic design for the creation of equitable spaces, and wellness curation for people of African Descent. Michelle is a capacity builder, strategist, organizer, artist, innovator, and cutting-edge connector who bridges community, creative practice, and equity, exposing the voices of the unheard and underrepresented. She has moderated thought-provoking panels for Labs at Light City and Afropunk and has been featured in Forbes Magazine for her social justice work. Brown and Healthy has recently launched the Brown and Healthy social network to foster a partnership and networking environment for people of African descent who want to expand their reach, enhance their skills; and bolster community, conversation, and connection throughout the African Diaspora.
Sujan Shrestha received his Bachelors of Art in Interactive Media and animation in 2004 and Masters of Fine Art in Imaging and Digital Arts from the University of Maryland Baltimore County in 2008. Sujan currently works as an Associate Professor at University of Baltimore. He was born and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal and currently lives with his family in Maryland.
Alejandro Cartagena, an ambitious Afro-Latino Puerto Rican from the DC/Maryland/Virginia area. Alejandro has spent his life gaining experiences and learning skills in the audio and film industry. Obtaining a bachelors from DeVry University in Business/Entrepreneurship, also a bachelors from Boston University in Audio Engineering, and finally a bachelors from Towson University in Radio/Film Production. Building from his experiences, Alejandro grew his network and skills in creating all types of content for his production work. After being burned badly by previous employers, Alejandro sought to create his own business. This is where Alpha Class Studios was born. Alejandro is a trail blazer and is making his own path to success and the American Dream!