Support Art, Support Vauje Jewelry

Vauje Finger RingsI feel as a community we don’t support artists financially, spiritually and emotionally.  We could emotionally support artist by not saying their art is a hobby or asking them to focus on real goals.  When you are a creative, creating is your real goal.  In fact, it’s your whole life’s purpose.

We could support artists financially, by offering to get them supplies.  By giving them money directly if we see they’re struggling and not advising them to give up their art, or put their art on the back burner or give less energy to their art.   We could ask them what work they have and buy some of it to give as gifts if we can’t’ use it.  Instead of getting what everyone else got off Amazon. Actually, supporting small businesses and unique products or commissioning the art you love makes you stand out as an individual.

Other artists could spiritually support other creatives.  As artists we become envious or frustrated that our own work isn’t being received the way we intended or need… Honestly, I’ve been on both sides of this coin. I once stopped following someone’s posts because their success made me feel my efforts were pointless.  With that being said, I’ve come to know and accept supporting the things I love and value is the only way they can continue to exist. It is the only way, I can continue to exist.  Not to mention, I’ve found greater creativity, more creative opportunities, made deeper community connections and so much love in supporting other artists. I’ve also found there are a lot of opportunities for us all, we just have to keep moving, loving and being.

So I wanted to shout out my girl, Vauje Jewels Collins on all of her success. She has a vision and is committed to her individuality. Which is amazing, because so often when you are in the arts people compare your work to what already exists and/or ask you to be like someone else.  Especially, when we know we have the skill to replicate and even undercut another artist’s designs/work for cheaper prices.  Not to mention, there are competitions for money to make specific niche items based on someone else’s ideas or creative for recognition and so on.  So it’s easy to compare yourself, began creating what’s in demand to survive and lose faith. Especially when we get into capitalism and how others devalue our work if it doesn’t completely financially support us.

Vauje JewelsI actually asked her to make me a version of a specific type of earring that already existed but couldn’t find the way I wanted it. She refused. LOL! I didn’t understand then, what I was asking and she didn’t come for me or explain why she wasn’t going to do it. Which is a testament to her integrity, grace, faith and patience… I asked a few times. LOL!

Now her commitment to her vision, focused energy, hard work, determination and creative genius in making her own specific brand of jewelry is taking over the fashion world. I’m encouraging you to get a piece of her jewelry while it is still affordable… I’m encouraging you to get some of her jewelry because it is uniquely beautiful.  I’m encouraging to get some of her jewelry because you will be buying history. One day, vintage Vauje will be worth 200x its original price.  Vauje Jewels

The Places That Scare Us: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times by Pema Chodron

ImcreatingmyselfI am in a constant state of change.  Some of it is by choice, most of it is forced by circumstances.  I’m aging, lol, so I can’t eat the things I use to.  I’m aging so I have to work out… Or some mornings I wake up and it feels like some parts of my body are going to give up.  I was watching a documentary on Misty Copeland eating candy cursing myself for not going to the gym more consistently.  Did I say consistently. I don’t think I’ve been in almost two weeks.  There was a snow storm… But that’s not an excuse. LOL!

Anyway, I think I know the way, something inside is telling me which way to go… But I’ve been so hurt in the directions I’ve chosen, I’m afraid to take another step forward. I don’t know how I will survive the suffering.  So I’ve been seeking advice on how to move into the path I’m being nudged to go on.  I find when I tell friends what choices I’m facing, they are dismissive of my apprehension.  I wonder if they recognize how much struggle I’ve gone through and how much more I’d be taking on.  When they are like, just move in the direction.  I need a place to give me courage to move… I don’t know. I need a place where people sympathize with the struggle.  Where we don’t pretend everything is amazing when it fucking sucks.

I need to know what to do, other than complain, when life fucking sucks.  I need tools.  I need a new way of thinking. I’ve been meditating and doing stream of consciousness writing every day… I have become more active, but I’ve also become a little anxious and impatient.  I’m hurting just considering all the ways I will have to be different and all the people I will have to let go.  Everyone can’t go with you.  Sometimes you can’t even take yourself, the self you’ve been.

I Googled, how to deal with fear, and it offered this book, The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times.  I’ve heard of Pema Chodron and I think I’ve read some of her quotes and loved them.  There are other books on the subject, but I didn’t feel they would work for who I am, how I am and who I’m becoming.By Pema Chodron

I recently learned, that the idea of happy endings is basically great marketing.  It’s right up there with the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and then the idea of heaven.  It makes hard when we think we deserve things or that because of something we did or didn’t do life is hard.  The truth is, life is life.  Some children have never harmed a soul but are born in warring nations, sometimes they are forced to become warriors sometimes they are killed by stray bullets.  We don’t always get what we deserve.  We all deserve to be happy, loved, loving and to feel safe.  We all deserve people to support and encourage our dreams and goals.  We all deserve to find out how our individuality helps all of humanity reach and retain certain goals.  This is our life purpose.  We all deserve to feel we have a purpose.  Unfortunately, life is always going to have its drawbacks.  Because life is not the Utopian reality, there are large amounts of dysfunction. So the goal is to learn how to remain positive, adaptable and grateful in those moments.  The goal is to still fulfill our life purpose and create our happiness…

One of my greatest hopes is that one day I will be financially free and that I will own more of my time. So that I am free to imagine, create and give.

 

fearlessIn this thinking, I’ve realized the only thing holding me back is fear.  I’ve decided not to live in fear.  I want to live in love.  I want to be loved and loving.  I am choosing to live a life of purpose and creativity. To help, motivate and collaborate to bring about more creations, more change.

I read recently that the opposite of love isn’t hate, but fear.  Hate is a manifestation of fear.  But so is apathy, complacency, hopelessness, skepticism… I want to not be in a place that isn’t love.  I want to get beyond my fears, so I’ve started reading this book and so far it’s been shifting my thinking.  I’m not calling what I’ve feared “the places that scare me” any more.  Just calling those places “unknown” or maybe even “new adventure.”

I never actually come back and write follow up book reports/review blogs.  Maybe I should.

Love says, “Write about how this book is changing your life.  Others will appreciate it.”

Fear says, “You are being too open and people will judge you.”

Ego Says, “No one is reading your blog anyway so you’d just be wasting your time and energy to do a follow up.  Then again, you wrote this blog, Drama Queen.”

The Perfectionist in me would like to put this disclaimer. I wrote this blog in about 20 mins and I’m not here for perfect grammar or spelling. This is a stream of consciousness…  I’m willing to correct any statement that makes unclear my thoughts.  But I’m not going to change it for minor errors.  I’m here for free expression, exchanges of ideas, suggestions of good books, finding more light in all this darkness and love.

Beyonce’s Formation

Beyonce, Formation I don’t usually do blogs about famous people… unless something they say or do deeply moves me.  Like my post on Cosby.

I like Beyonce’s music. I wouldn’t consider myself a fanatic.  I appreciate her as an artist and have watched her grow from an amazing teenage performer to a self-actualized adult, business owner (she owns herself- all artist/performers don’t own themselves or their work), wife and a mother with her own voice, identity and vision.

After seeing Formation, I was bothered by the discussions surrounding the video.  On one hand, I hate that people are planning boycotts of the NFL for her performance… While not even mentioning, much less boycotting the NFL because it withheld that it has known for years about concussions players were receiving… Which ultimately ruined a lot of lives.  This was my first response.

On the other side of the coin, every woman; black, white and whatever was singing Beyonce’s praises.  I could hear the video playing wherever I went that first day it was released.  The video requires a few views to fully digest it.  Because I don’t watch sports, therefore don’t follow the Super Bowl, I was intrigued when I found out Beyonce was performing at half time.  I was so intrigued, I was having all these discussions with friends who follow sports and asking “didn’t she perform last year?”

I thought I remembered something about what was required for her daughter during her performance…  A heated room and special crib or something. But her daughter is four so maybe it’s been some years. I should also mention I don’t watch T.V.  I still don’t know what teams were in the Super Bowl or the outcome of the game.  But you better believe I’ve seen Beyonce’s halftime performance, a few times.

In any event, as soon as I was sure she was performing my initial reaction was, she’s not going to perform that song.  I thought it would be courageous of her to sing those lyrics in front of all those people.  The fact that she used the word “Negro” was already buzzing on the internet with various reactions.  Not to mention, we’re not just talking the audience there, the Super Bowl is one of the biggest marketing opportunities in America.  Companies pay millions to have their commercials played during the game.  In addition to that, these commercials sometimes have small movie budgets.  So it was a huge deal that she would sing anything relative to the struggles of being a black woman in that space.

Then she did it… I didn’t even know I could be so proud and pleased with a complete stranger or a piece of art… She put the black struggle on the map by simply discussing her own life and concerns.  And I’m also aware that in referring to her expression as art I’m in many ways objectifying her… Making her a commodity… But the reality is, that’s what she is.  And if you recall the end of her video, she seems to have made peace with that by making a good living.

First, let’s define what the purpose of art is.  I think the purpose of art is to inspire, inform, support, anger, sooth and/or reflect the perspectives of the artist and/or time in which it was created.

I didn’t always believe this.  As an artist, I’m always worried about how what I create will be perceived. Recently, I released a collection of poems on love, seeking love and not necessarily love poems, though some are included. I considered writing more poems to balance out the collection. I definitely worried about what I was saying as a black woman about sex, dating and about what I learned about sex… from a cultural perspective.  I definitely contemplated how I would be perceived and judged.  I don’t know it all and definitely felt inadequate selecting poems.  I’m no psychologist, therapist or even someone who has done extensive study on love.  I only have my life experiences.   

Over the years, realizing I am just one voice and feeling my connection to everything and feeling small in that connection I’ve hesitated or completely stopped creating was on my heart.  I had to accept, I, as an artist couldn’t speak for all people, my culture, sex, orientation or even my own family… I accept, I am one voice of many.  Our voices together create a full picture… I also came to the conclusion I needed to speak up or shut up about not seeing myself. I’ve only recently realized how important it is to see myself reflected.

Blue Ivy in her mom's video. Rocking her afro after Beyonce was criticized heavily for not straightening her daughters hair.

Blue Ivy in her mom’s video. Rocking her afro after Beyonce was criticized heavily for not straightening her daughter’s hair. In fact people would say her daughter’s hair wasn’t combed because they don’t understand black hair.

With that being said, I read a lot of period pieces.  I read about the 1800’s and then the 1900’s.  Sometimes I’m comparing fiction written from the 1990’s compared to fiction written as recent as 2015.  Due to technology, communication has changed so drastically it alters how we date, define quality time and accomplish our life goals.  You can go to college online! You can also pay bills, grocery shop and buy everything else without ever leaving your house.  You can even have an office at home and telecommute.  Which keeps us from the break room at work or running into each other at the phone company or mall.  Which keeps us from face to face interactions.  So now people are building meaningful relationships online.

No one book covers all the things going on in the 90’s or 2015.  Each book is a window in time based on those characters, people and that writer.  Through reading, I’ve come to the conclusion that an artist’s responsibility is to speak their own truth and as a collective of artists from that time, they speak the truth of their lifetime. With that being said, I don’t expect any artist to tell all of a story or even my story.  Which in itself is a huge thing, because in so many circles we discuss the need to have more people of color, more women, more LGBT, more full figured women, more immigrant and etc stories be told.  I took on the responsibility to tell my own story and tell the stories I think need to exist…

From a critical stand point, I view artists as spirits first… We are all universes within ourselves… Dealing with our own issues and weighing them within the context of our life experiences and knowledge.  One of my favorite quotes is, “What is normal to the spider is chaos to the fly.”  We are all growing and in different stages of life.  What speaks to me may be ignored by someone else.  

I was really proud of Beyonce when I saw the video.  I didn’t even know how to respond there were so many things I loved about the video.  In order to fully appreciate this work, one can’t come with all of their expectations.  I didn’t bring all my issues as a full figured, black, queer, female artist.  I didn’t bring all of my needs as an activist.  I came as a person who loves art and is always seeking inspiration, a new thought, a new awareness, information, affirmation, motivation, meditation… But I don’t expect any one piece of art work to be all those things… I’m grateful if it’s even one of those things.  When a piece of art is neither, I often ask myself who does this piece of work speak to, for?     

From a critical stand point, I recognize artists are human.  Limited in their own perspective. I include myself in that… With that being said, how could Beyoncé say or create anything that was not sobered by her own life experiences? She speaks of and sees herself as Creole and black… Another black woman expressed disappointment regarding Beyonce’s ethnic/racial history.  Whether the way Beyonce identifies herself is problematic for another woman of color or not, it is still Beyonce’s truth. However one feels about someone’s truth, is their own issue.  No matter how they justify it.

Beyonce often catches a lot of flack for being a black woman at the top of her industry. She is often portrayed as someone who has abandoned black people and their issues to avoid controversy and remain famous. So this portrayal of herself and her view of the world in this song and video is revolutionary… It is so revolutionary, she is being boycotted… and again, thrown under the bus.

I feel like no matter what, she can’t win.  She mentions Black Lives Matter, and it becomes a marketing ploy… But she is a black woman and that movement belongs to her, too.  Her relationship to it is her own.   No one can say how she should be an activist.  It was refreshing to read stop shooting us… and to see a child in a hoodie dancing before the cops.

Sidenote: If we stopped focusing on how other people are activist and considered how we could use our own gifts we’d all be that much further as a community.

I think all art even in it’s hatred, love, ignorance, support is beautiful… All art is reflective of the time and the life span of the people who lived when it was created.  Artist simply need to create. As artist, if we see a void, we balance the perspective by creating more art to add to the over all conversation… I’m kind of grateful that she used her influence to speak about racism and the condition of black people here in America, to an international audience. I am grateful that this video will become part of the overall discussion on the treatment and view of black people all over the world.

Here is the video, which I’m sure you’ve seen, and the lyrics below it.  I always read song lyrics when I love something. I want to know if it aligns with how I’m feeling the beat. Just being real.  If the beat doesn’t move me, I’m less interested.  In fact, I love so many instrumentals and jazz tunes, which have no words.

I think it’s important to think about how black women and women in general are considered commodities in the music business.  There is a song that actually says, “I want the money, the cars, the clothes, the hoes.  I just want to be successful.” So when Beyonce talks about taking a man shopping for giving her good sex… She is owning her own sexuality. She is reversing the roles… I don’t know that matriarchy is any better than patriarchy but it’s definitely a break from business as usual.

[Intro: Messy Mya]
What happened at the New Orleans?
Bitch, I’m back by popular demand

[Refrain: Beyoncé]
Y’all haters corny with that Illuminati mess
Paparazzi, catch my fly, and my cocky fresh
I’m so reckless when I rock my Givenchy dress (stylin’)
I’m so possessive so I rock his Roc necklaces
My daddy Alabama, Mama Louisiana
You mix that negro with that Creole make a Texas bama
I like my baby heir with baby hair and afros
I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils
Earned all this money but they never take the country out me
I got a hot sauce in my bag, swag

[Interlude: Messy Mya + Big Freedia]
Oh yeah, baby, oh yeah I, ohhhhh, oh, yes, I like that
I did not come to play with you hoes, haha
I came to slay, bitch
I like cornbread and collard greens, bitch
Oh, yes, you besta believe it

[Refrain: Beyoncé]
Y’all haters corny with that illuminati mess
Paparazzi, catch my fly, and my cocky fresh
I’m so reckless when I rock my Givenchy dress (stylin’)
I’m so possessive so I rock his Roc necklaces
My daddy Alabama, Mama Louisiana
You mix that negro with that Creole make a Texas bama
I like my baby heir with baby hair and afros
I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils
Earned all this money but they never take the country out me
I got a hot sauce in my bag, swag

[Chorus: Beyoncé]
I see it, I want it, I stunt, yellow-bone it
I dream it, I work hard, I grind ’til I own it
I twirl on them haters, albino alligators
El Camino with the seat low, sippin’ Cuervo with no chaser
Sometimes I go off (I go off), I go hard (I go hard)
Get what’s mine (take what’s mine), I’m a star (I’m a star)
Cause I slay (slay), I slay (hey), I slay (okay), I slay (okay)
All day (okay), I slay (okay), I slay (okay), I slay (okay)
We gon’ slay (slay), gon’ slay (okay), we slay (okay), I slay (okay)
I slay (okay), okay (okay), I slay (okay), okay, okay, okay, okay
Okay, okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation, cause I slay
Okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation, cause I slay
Prove to me you got some coordination, cause I slay
Slay trick, or you get eliminated

[Verse: Beyoncé]
When he fuck me good I take his ass to Red Lobster, cause I slay
When he fuck me good I take his ass to Red Lobster, cause I slay
If he hit it right, I might take him on a flight on my chopper, cause I slay
Drop him off at the mall, let him buy some J’s, let him shop up, cause I slay
I might get your song played on the radio station, cause I slay
I might get your song played on the radio station, cause I slay
You just might be a black Bill Gates in the making, cause I slay
I just might be a black Bill Gates in the making

[Chorus: Beyoncé]
I see it, I want it, I stunt, yellow-bone it
I dream it, I work hard, I grind ’til I own it
I twirl on my haters, albino alligators
El Camino with the seat low, sippin’ Cuervo with no chaser
Sometimes I go off (I go off), I go hard (I go hard)
Take what’s mine (take what’s mine), I’m a star (I’m a star)
Cause I slay (slay), I slay (hey), I slay (okay), I slay (okay)
All day (okay), I slay (okay), I slay (okay), I slay (okay)
We gon’ slay (slay), gon’ slay (okay), we slay (okay), I slay (okay)
I slay (okay), okay (okay), I slay (okay), okay, okay, okay, okay
Okay, okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation, cause I slay
Okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation, cause I slay
Prove to me you got some coordination, cause I slay
Slay trick, or you get eliminated

[Bridge: Beyoncé]
Okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation, I slay
Okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation
You know you that bitch when you cause all this conversation
Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper

[Outro]
Girl, I hear some thunder
Golly, look at that water, boy, oh lord