Friday, April 29, 2011

With a Heart for Impacting Art - Carrie Mae Weems

I just got off the phone with Carrie Mae Weems, an incredible artist who I first met at least a decade ago with my girl Karen at the Zora Neale Hurston Festival in Hurston's hometown of Eatonville, Fla.

This morning, I was interviewing Weems for an article I'm writing for Inside Spelman about the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, the only museum in the nation that emphasizes works by and about women of the African Diaspora.

Her comments were insightful, impacting, opinionated and passionate - just like her work. If you've never experienced her art, please check out her website (the homepage time line is so engaging) and be blown away.

"A platinum series" - Weems on "The Kitchen Table Series"

Filmed in her Syracuse studio, Weems discusses the impetus for her work "The Kitchen Table Series" (1990), a photographic investigation of a single domestic space in which the artist staged scenes of "the battle around the family" between women and men, friends and lovers, parents and children.

Video: Carrie Mae Weems: "The Kitchen Table Series"

"I was trying to look at the history of photography and the way in which African Americans had been particularly depicted and inscribed through and in American photography....When we're looking at the images we are looking at the ways in which Anglo America, white America saw itself in relationship to the black subject. I wanted to intervene in that by giving a voice to a subject that historically has had no voice."
- Weems on "From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried, 1995" (Audio)

Stay inspired y'all. And keep Enjoyceinglife!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Moms Showdown About My Child's Preschool Homework Meltdown

My daughter was just starting her third year of preschool last fall when she had a meltdown around what she found to be a challenging homework assignment. At that time it must have been recognizing numbers above 20, identifying patterns, or writing sight words.

It was quite an evening, needless to say. When I shared this experience and asked for advice on a moms' social networking site I frequent I was slammed for the most part for even having my child in an environment where homework was given in preschool. I was outdone...and here's why.

After you read my post on MochaDad, I'd love to know what you think. Thanks MochaDad for letting me share my story.

Staying vigilant in the pursuit of excellence and Enjoyceinglife!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spelman & Michele Obama: Worth the 4-Year Wait

I was floored when I found out Michelle Obama was going to be the 2011 commencement speaker at Spelman College. After I picked myself up, I realized that I was going to be a part of this momentous event thanks to my position as the college's associate director of publications in the Office of Communications.

My first contribution is telling the amazing behind-the-scenes story of how the Spelman community initiated an all-hands-on-deck campaign nearly four years ago to engage the first African American first lady. The captivating video invitation the students spearheaded may have made the difference:

My journey at Spelman continues to be such a rewarding adventure. I had no idea how much working in this environment would feed all of the passions I've discovered and explored over my career. From academia to activism and countless forms of cultural expression, I find I am often overwhelmed with the never-ending opportunities for intellectual stimulation. And on the real - having my mind blown just makes me happy - giddy, as a matter of fact. Plus, I've developed some wonderful relationships with powerful women, including the impressive students who continually inspire me with their commitment to service, justice and excellence in their strategic pursuits to be world changers.

Below are some links to several of the recent articles I've written recently in Inside Spelman, the digital publication that I edit at the college. I hope that you have some place you attend regularly that provides you with whatever it is that makes you happy.

This beautiful young woman is my fabulous mentee, Alexis Carter, a junior at Spelman majoring in International Studies, with a minor in Chinese. She speaks Mandarin Chinese and Spanish, has traveled to China, Belize and London in the last year, completes at least 140 hours of community service per semester as a Bonner Scholar, and was an East Asia and Pacific Diplomacy Intern in the U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Information Program last summer. I fully expect to have a close personal relationship with Ambassador Carter in the not too distant future! <!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE

Keep some inspiring young people in your life. And keep Enjoyceinglife!

That's charismatic author and publisher Tina McElroy Ansa, y'all. This Spelman alumna was so inspired by artist Varnette Honeywood when they were undergraduates together that she vowed when she wrote her first book Honeywood would illustrate her cover. All of Ansa's books have featured original paintings by Honeywood.

What is most interesting to me about Spelman's launch of a social justice program is the initiative's focus on the aged and the youth: "The nonprofit sector leadership development program in social policy advocacy is designed to create opportunities for 10 rising juniors to explore how social policy responds to the critical needs – education, economic and personal security, and health and wellness – of the aged and the youth."

Students Make a World of Difference on Service Trips

Spelman women engaged in community service during their spring break, from working with the elderly and underprivileged families in Birmingham, Ala., to conducting workshops about public speaking and self esteem to young girls in Belize and volunteering with the AIDS Project Los Angeles.

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