Posts from the ‘LINKS’ category

Where are you from and where are you based currently?

I was born and raised in Savannah, Georgia (C-PORT!), went to college and lived a little in New York City/Brooklyn (BROOKLYN!), came back to Savannah for a year and some change to go back to school and now I’m headed to Oakland, California (can’t rep it yet, still counting down the days). There I will be opening Wild Seed Wellness (, a center for massage therapy and also a safe space to host other holistic-health conscious events. My photography ( takes me all over world, or rather, I take photos everywhere I go and I make it my business to get places. But the short answer is that I’ll be based in Oakland.

I’m really interested in your study abroad in Cuba while at New York University, since few Americans travel there. What was your experience like?

My study abroad experience was actually my second time in Cuba. I traveled there with my father and sister my freshman year of high school. I didn’t understand the layers of politics and history and culture at the time, which in retrospect was beneficial to my base impression and has helped my understanding of the place.

The second time was in 2007. I was studying abroad through Tisch School of the Arts at New York University in a documentary photography program. In brief, the experience was necessary. You know, life doesn’t stop just because you’re off having an out of the ordinary experience. Everything is layered. During that time, I met some amazing American students from NYU who helped me feel comfortable recognizing my queerness and my overall attraction to women, especially brown women descendent of Africa, Europe and indigenous to the Caribbean islands. As a Black (African American) and Colombian woman myself, this was the first time where I actually blended somewhat into my surroundings. I was so used to being an anomalistic mixed girl (in the Black and White U.S. South). It allowed me to take in new perspectives. I started seeing the parallelisms between women (of color) in Cuba and women of color in the U.S., the layers, the conflicts, the silencing and the rejoicing of sisterhood. The physical product of this journey is “Yo Te Veo, Eulalia” (I See You, Eulalia), a collection of black and white silver gelatin photographic prints of Cuban women. I call it a “Photo-Visibility Project” because its main aim is to bring to light these international connections. You can read my artist statement and view a few (low-res) images here (

Can you tell me about your work as a freelance photographer? When did your interest in taking photos begin?

My mother is a visual artist and was a professor of art since I was born. That’s the easiest way for me to answer that. Not to mention, my father is an art critic, collector and a writer. Always.

Part of being a freelance photographer is figuring out and being adamant about what you don’t do. For instance, I don’t shoot weddings. My personal political beliefs clash with traditional institutional marriage so I’m very uncomfortable shooting them. There have been exceptions; don’t get me wrong. But it’s not a desire that I have nor am interested in pursuing. I only take freelance work when it excites me, when I have a creative part in the planning, not just the execution and when the vibe is right with my clients, who at that point are artist partners-in-crime. Collaborations. I’m over doing work that I’m not passionate about. I have too many loves and talents for that. On the other side of that, part of being an independent photographer/artist is figuring out what it is that you do do. I know I love shooting women of color, queer and trans people, queered fashion, colors, textures and patterns in black and white and I want to be a part of a movement to make visible images that help radical progress. Some people think that this is a super specific, limited niche, but that’s because they aren’t in this boundless, heterogeneous “community” or are having pride issues. Right now I’m in the pre-production stage of a project directly related to my massage therapy practice. I don’t want to say too much. =)

How did you begin working as a Massage Therapist?

When it was brought to my attention that I have a natural ability (or a well-honed interest that started early on), I began taking clients in my home for a couple years in Brooklyn. I had tons of support from friends, but there were a couple of brown queer women who were regular clients. At the time, I was working at the Audre Lorde Project ( trying to create safe environments for queer and trans people of color and I really began seeing huge and necessary connections. Radical work has to be done on a community level and on an individual level. This is my approach to create a safe place within the body. We need to know ourselves, love ourselves and be healthy.

Massage therapy helps me, too, as the therapist. I wish I could find the page right now, but there’s a great passage in Alice Walker’s novel The Temple of My Familiar, where one of the characters is a massage therapist and basically says that she needed to change to a profession – she was in education – where she didn’t feel like killing people. Ha. Some part of working with others in this way is really healing for myself. I love it. I really connect. I can say I have touched, literally touched, such a variety of folks. A client comes in, lies prone on my table and trusts me with their body. It really helps me think about how I interact with people otherwise.

I practice Integrative Massage Therapy which means all sessions are tailored to the specific needs of my clients and include some if not all of the following modalities: Neuromuscular Massage (Trigger Point Therapy), Deep Tissue, Swedish, Hydrotherapy, Aromatherapy, Hot Stone Therapy, and Yoga Stretching and Breathing. Fees are based on a sliding scale model and I aim to make the experience queer and trans inclusive. I’m always learning more.

Why do you think a holistic lifestyle is important to women of color in particular?

We’re already whole people. We just need to rediscover, rework and learn how to consciously and actively live as whole people. Why leave out parts? We can handle it.

What inspires and challenges you?

Oh man. So many ways to answer this! Imma go with my Facebook wall. Why? Because every day I see links to Colorlines articles (, Little Dragon’s newest songs, photos of my friends REALLY making it as singers ( and choreographers ( and SO much love and support. The challenge, while I’m on it, is to disconnect, get off my computer, talk to people and connect there. I’m such a computer nerd. I always have been. I’m always coding for my websites, cramming my brain with knowledge, reformatting photos, plugging my work, etc. Right now my right arm is all trigger pointed up from using this damn mouse and Wacom pen. Maybe if I say it publicly, I’ll have another incentive to git up, git out and git somethin.

Where can we see your photos and/or set up an appointment for a massage?


ajahannes@gmail to arrange private viewings of printed and digital work

Massage Therapy: for information and appointments in Oakland

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Where are you from and where are you based currently?

I was born in Viet Nam and raised in Southern California but I call several cities and towns my home: San Francisco, CA; Grebo, Sweden; and most recently, Brooklyn, NY where I live now.

Minh-Ha T. Pham, Photo Credit: Spencer Lum

Of Another Fashion began as a place holder of sorts for the physical exhibition I’m planning on the fashion histories of U.S. women of color. Mounting an exhibition, as I quickly learned, is even more time-consuming and costly than you first expect so the blog, in a way, allowed me to have some instant gratification with this project while continuing to work on the exhibition. The blog, though, took off in an unexpected but really amazing way thanks to all the support it’s gotten from private individuals, museum professionals, academics, fashion editors, students, and just history and fashion fans. It’s really its own entity now – connected to but not merely a channel for the exhibition.

While the blog has been a wonderful public site for soliciting contributions to the exhibition, in some ways the digital exhibition is a far better mode of exhibition than traditional exhibitions in museums and galleries. The digital mode expands what’s able to be shown in the exhibition. While the fragile condition of some of these photos make enlarging them for physical display impossible, displaying them digitally is totally possible! Rather than excluding photos based on their condition, their fragility enhances the project’s message of what is in danger of being lost. In fact, their compromised condition is the physical manifestation of the curatorial, critical, and, in some cases, community neglect of these fashion and women’s histories. By drawing on digital technologies and practices (like crowdsourcing the content of the exhibition), the not-quite-hidden but too often ignored sartorial histories of women of color can be viewed, studied, and appreciated by students, researchers, and the online public. The digital mode also means that while the focus of the exhibition is U.S.-based, the reach of its stories and messages can be global.

Have you discovered anything unexpected since you began collecting photos for the alternative archive?

Well, the amazing support and enthusiasm for the project has been really unexpected! But with regard to the collection itself – what I’ve been struck by are the many overlaps and interconnections that exist among the fashion histories of women across racial differences. This isn’t to say that the fashion histories of Black women, Latinas, Chicanas, Asian American, and Native American women are the same – the vast differences in their histories in the U.S. (as, for example, immigrants, slaves, children of slaves, indigenous people, refugees, U.S.-born citizens, naturalized citizens, etc.) necessarily mean that there are going to be significant differences in their experiences and histories. But the fashion industry has a long and ongoing history of being racially exclusionary and because these exclusions have economic consequences (e.g., racist policies having to do with fashion labor, fashion consumption, etc.), their access or inability to access fashion’s material and symbolic resources is quite similar –though, again, not identical. And in negotiating these limitations, marginalized women have had to develop similar creative practices of self-fashioning including making their own clothes, updating the styles of old clothes, and personalizing mass market budget clothes.

What precipitated your scholarship in visual arts and fashion?

[Laughing] It’s so wonderful that you asked this question! The first blog post I wrote for Threadbared (my co-authored blog with Mimi Nguyen) answers precisely this question. I’ve only realized in the last few years how much of an influence my mom has had on my work. Here’s what I wrote in my first blog post for Threadbared – and in fact, this was the first ever Threadbared post: “My mom, an amazing dressmaker in her own right who made most of her clothes and almost all of ours until we reached middle school age, studied the blouses and dresses that she would later make for herself. I never learned how to sew but what I did learn from those early ‘shopping’ trips was an appreciation for fashion that has grown exponentially now that I live in New York City.” It was only after grad school that I allowed myself to think about fashion as an intellectual project – but really, my scholarship has been in the making since before I knew how to write.

What inspires and challenges you in your work as a writer and professor?

Smart people, innovative thinkers – many of whom, I’m happy to say, are my friends and colleagues. I’m a professor of visual studies and Asian American studies and I teach classes in women and gender studies, in cultural studies, ethnic studies, and in media studies but I read thinkers (not just scholars) who are scientists, engineers, sociologists, artists, fiction writers, literary theorists, economists, whatever! Fashion’s images and messages are so pervasive in our culture and society – whether we like it or not – and so understanding fashion requires a really broad, transdisciplinary approach.

I’m interested in your upcoming Of Another Fashion photo exhibit, how can we participate?

See this link:

And please do contribute and/or spread the word! This is, as I’m always saying, a crowdsourced project and relies heavily not only on community support but also contributions.

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Where are you from and where is your company based?

I was born in a suburb of Washington, DC to an African-American mother and a Ugandan father. Shortly thereafter we moved to Germany where my parents were actually based at that time. After a short stint, we returned to US, to the same area where I was born, and it was there that I would remain until three weeks after college graduation (majored in Art History and Spanish). My next stop would be New York City. I have not lived in Uganda permanently although I travel there frequently. I self-identify as both a Ugandan and American.

ORIGINS Stuyle Interiors is based in my Bed-Stuy Brownstone apartment that I share with my toddler son. I’ve converted our dining room table into my workspace, much to his sweet dismay. As the business grows, I would very much prefer the keep the business home-based, since working from offers greater flexibility in terms of being a parent and still having a personal life. Who knows, maybe I’ll have to get an entire brownstone! (A girl can dream :))

When did you get the idea to start your own company?

I had the idea after a recent trip to Senegal accompanying a good friend as she purchased fabrics for her wedding ceremony. I originally intended to only purchase enough fabric to get some custom clothes made for myself, but one bundle of fabric turned into several more, and clothes turned into home decor. My childhood home and my own home have always been decorated in an eclectic and African style. These were the items that were familiar to my background and naturally part of my surroundings, mostly through my mother’s work. I’m basically just building on what has always surrounded me.

I traveled widely and studied the art, architecture, and design during my teens and early twenties. Soon after becoming a mother and returning to my office job I started brainstorming how I could spend more time with my son. That was when I got serious about starting my own business, but it took a couple of more years before I could find an idea that reflected my various interests and talents. The idea came together earlier this year, but the writings were already on the wall.

Who are your influences and how would you describe Origins Stuyle Interiors?

My mother is the single greatest influence on my work. For most of my youth, she worked in an upscale gallery and boutique that carried exclusive African art, clothing, jewelry, and home decor. I would often go to work with her on weekends, or to special events (fashion shows, galas, etc.) on weekday evenings. It was through this work that my family became close with prominent African couture designer, Alphadi, from Niger. Alphadi’s luxe execution of his craft and his contagious enthusiasm are also both tremendous inspirations for me and my work.

ORIGINS Stuyle Interiors specializes in blending elements of traditional West African fashion with authentic Brooklyn flare. ORIGINS was born out of the desire to integrate the bold wax print style into contemporary homes and lifestyles. The pieces are based on the aesthetic design principle that less is more, so we tend to keep pieces streamlined and let the patterns speak for themselves.

What is exciting about producing work?

There are several exciting parts about my work. One of the most is seeing the latest textile designs for the first time. I’m always impressed by the complexity and originality of the patterns, and the quantities in which they’re produced. I also enjoy arts and cultural festivals and events that promote the work of other artists. I love meeting new people and visual manifestations of their creativity. This is definitely an important part of my job because it’s how I get my day-to-day inspiration and ideas. I consider this both exciting and rewarding.

What is next? Can you tell me more about ORIGINS Stuyle Interiors debuting its Summer 2011 Collection this 4th of July weekend?

Our official launch/debut will be this 4th of July weekend at the 40th International African Arts Festival in Brooklyn. This is still under discussion, but we may be vending with Alphadi! I plan on ceasing any festival and flea market opportunities this summer, throughout NY and the East Coast. After that, I will focus on building up our online presence, and incubating more ideas and design concepts, and branching into retail! I will soon be including table and window linens, and functional kitchen accessories (aprons, potholders, etc.). Also, stay tuned for our Late Summer Launch Party! Location and date TBD, but ORIGINS Stuyle Interiors will be available in various US and international cities!

I’m thrilled to feature Nasozi Kakembo and her brilliant Interior Design company here, you can:

Shop ORIGINS Stuyle Interiors on Etsy

Join ORIGINS Stuyle Interiors on Facebook


Tahir Jetter’s film Close has been chosen by the Sundance Institute this year as one of twelve independent short films to be featured online for six weeks in collaboration with YouTube. I first interviewed Tahir in 2008 and then saw his premiere of Close at the UrbanWorld Film Festival this past September. It is very exciting to see his progression.

The Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah is known for actively launching the careers of talented new directors such as Wes Anderson and Tamara Jenkins. Tahir shared with me:

“The Sundance thing is huge. I never anticipated being able to participate in a festival of this magnitude and I’m feeling incredibly honored to be able to take part. I’m hoping that this will be a big step in being able to glean attention for Close, as well as other work that I hope to do in the very near future.”

Watch Tahir’s film Close this weekend in the YouTube Screening Room.

Official Press Release

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I first met Tanya in one of my Comparative Literature classes at New York University. In addition to being gorgeous and self-possessed she is a brilliant teacher who genuinely cares about people.  The photo above taken by James Meade is from a shoot she did with CLAM Magazine. This is my interview with her:

Where are you from originally?

I was born in Philadelphia and raised in London, Guinea and spent most of my childhood in Cote d’Ivoire. My mother is from Cote d’Ivoire and my father is American.

How have your travels as a student and with the UN influenced you?

Traveling and living abroad in my formative years definitely influenced me. It helped cultivate awareness and curiosity of the greater global community that we are a part of living in West Africa.  Being surrounded by countries in conflict such as Sierra Leone and Liberia sparked my interest in political science, global affairs, human rights and languages.  I love to learn new languages and hopefully I will pick up more in my lifetime. Interacting with people around the world in their own languages is something I have always wanted. My recent trip to the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva was an opportunity for me to meet some influential people and learn more about what the UN does and how it works. It allowed me to get a better sense of where I stand and where I would like to stand in making a difference in the world.

What are the rewards of being a yoga and meditation teacher?

The personal reward is a better sense of self and a healthier mind and body. I’m doing a year-long training with the School for Compassionate Action ( where I learn the tools to work with at risk youth, trauma survivors and people with chronic illnesses.  We all have the ability to heal; our bodies and minds are amazing and powerful. The reward is that I am a constant student as well as being able to impart tools and humbly offer guidance to people so that they may find it in themselves to heal-if they find a little more peace and calm in their day, find that they can focus or have more energy then there is value in the work we do.

Who inspires you?

It sounds cheesy and cliché, but all the people who work hard to make a difference in the world and who fight for and with those who are often not heard.

What are you most passionate about?

Our bodies and minds have a language of their own. Yoga and meditation give us the tools to figure it out.  I’m passionate about all things related to holistic healing-mind body and soul. You cannot treat just one of those things. Healing is about tapping into all three and recognizing that they are all connected and related. I’m passionate about and looking forward to working with and learning from women and children in under-served communities all around the world. I’m hoping to continue my studies. I will probably have to create my own degree in social work, counseling, human rights and holistic wellness. But that is exciting to me. I think it is important to note that some of the work we are doing crosses over into all these fields of studies. It would be interesting to see how holistic healing will become incorporated into the established higher education degree programs in the years to come.

Tanya will soon be launching a blog and can be reached by e-mail at to arrange private and small group yoga sessions.

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I first met Veronica Chan while studying in Prague. Her blog World to Table has delicious photos of food and she also has a brilliant personal style. Make sure to check out her design work for Hail the Right Brain. This is my feature with her:

I dig your designs for Hail the Right Brain. How long have you been doing it and are you a lefty?

I’ve been making wallets since high school.  It all started when my sister Kelly wanted to buy a ticket to a concert and made wallets to sell to her friends.  Duct tape just happened to be the easiest medium she could get her hands on and was a cheap medium to experiment with — if you mess up, throw it out and start over.  With garbage scraps and a roll of tape from the dollar store, she fashioned her first wallet and sold it to a friend.  Shortly after that, it became more of a collaborative effort.  We put our heads together to think of new ways to improve the prototype.

Over the years, we must have made hundreds of wallets; every wallet was an improvement on the last.  The first wallet must have taken Kelly a few hours to make, now it takes about 20 minutes from start to finish.  We’ve got it down to a science, using the least amount of tape possible to make each wallet.  We utilize each tape scrap in the most effective way to reduce wastage and make the most out of each roll.  We’ve also explored new ways to polish and perfect the design — we developed an ID holder, a change purse with a Velcro closure and even invested in an embosser to press our company name onto each design.

Apart from the practicality of making wallets, it’s a creative outlet.  I keep a shoebox full of magazine scraps that I’ve collected over the years, spread it out on a table, then piece together designs until it looks right.  I’ve also screen-printed onto a few of them, which came out pretty cool.  I may have been a little too ambitious when I attempted to print a woodblock design and rolled a wallet through the printmaking press. That technique was less successful and resulted in a few wallet-casualties.

Oh, and Kelly and I are both righties.

Why did you start World to Table?

World to Table is just a way to document and share some cool food experiences that I’ve had.  I like trying new cuisines and new foods. More specifically, I like learning about and sharing the stories and culture behind the food.  I’m no chef or culinary authority, but I enjoy eating and cooking. I hope that by sharing these experiences, more people will be compelled to step out of their comfort zones, try something new, venture into new culinary territory, and expand their minds.

Your feature on whether cooking is nature vs. nurture was fascinating. What is a super taster?

I noticed that the majority of food bloggers or foodies, whatever you want to call them, tend to be Asian females.  I thought it was a bizarre phenomenon and pieced together a few of my observations to formulate a pseudo-hypothesis. Contrary to the Asian stereotype, I’m very right brained and am not so great at math or science, so this whole nature vs. nurture debate could just be a crazy idea I thought up.  A super taster is someone who has more taste buds than a normal person, so they taste things more intensely.

Where was your best meal with friends this summer?

I hate picking favorites, so I can’t say I have one favorite, but I’ve had some pretty great meals in Queens when I went to recruit restaurants for a food event I helped to produce on Labor Day.  Ploy Thai in Elmhurst has some unique dishes, like a wrap made from betel leaves and this crazy bright pink seafood soup that smells like feet, but tastes delicious.

What inspires you?

People who are passionate, innovative and go against the grain.  Playing safe is easy and boring, it takes real guts to do something different and unexpected.  For instance, I met this small Asian woman who is a computer programmer at IBM who is also a prolific fly fisher, which got her involved with a non-profit that preserves the Croton Watershed.  She loves it, and goes fly fishing with 60 year old men on the weekends. Now, that’s pretty cool.


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Currently I’m working as the Photo Editor of Inside New York, a NYC guidebook written and compiled by college students. When I learned about 81 Press I immediately knew I wanted to feature them and was really interested in the editing process for their publications. I had the luck of doing an interview with Carla Williams, a photographer, co-founder of cadreart, writer, and editor of 81 Press.

What is 81 Press?

81 Press has two functions—its primary one is to publish the work of photographers of the African Diaspora in a quarterly journal and book series, and its secondary function as is to catalog and review publications of and by African Diaspora subjects—to create a virtual as well as (eventually) a physical library of these titles. Unfortunately for black photographers, there really haven’t been very many publications to date, but fortunately for readers/collectors, you can amass a pretty comprehensive library of titles. has regular contributors/reviewers—different from, where I’m the only writer and the content varies. I really want’s sole focus to be on publishing. I’ve just accepted a teaching position at Rochester Institute of Technology which will allow me to develop the press component so that 81 Press can begin producing new titles (to date, 81 Press has published only a couple of small offset titles in conjunction with other collaborators—it hasn’t yet published its own titles). This has been an idea of mine a long time in the making but it is really with the advances in digital printing technology and the move away from traditional offset printing models that it can finally be realized. I’m pretty excited about the possibilities—there is so much wonderful, as-yet-unpublished work!

When did your interest in photography begin and what was your first camera?

My interest began at the end of my freshman year in college—I had been making snapshots since high school and decided I wanted to take a photography class. You had to apply to take the class, and I remember going down to the basement where the darkrooms were for my interview and seeing all the equipment and smelling the chemistry and I felt like I’d entered into a magical world. I just wanted to be a part of it. I’m surprised I got in the class! My first “real” camera was a 35mm Canon, I think, that my father got secondhand—all of my equipment was secondhand until well after graduate school. I remember initially the instructor talking to us about using our cameras and making the basic assumption that we’d all at least used a 35mm before, but I had not, and I was too embarrassed to say I did not even know how to use my camera, so pretty much from the beginning I floundered technically, but I loved it so much I was undaunted.

I noticed how influential a book like Sweet FlyPaper of Life was for the photographer Deborah Willis as a young girl, how can publications move us to create new images?

Books have always been my primary inspiration, and to this day I prefer to experience photographs in book format. For me, Jean Paul Goude’s Jungle Fever featuring Grace Jones was the one—it was the first photo book featuring black women that I’d seen and it was taboo and exciting and crazy and awful and great all at once—I couldn’t march to class waving it, proclaiming it as inspiration—in fact, I probably didn’t realize then just how influential it was—but it was always there on the (non-circulating) library shelf where I worked and I could return to it, hold it, sit with it, flip through quickly or linger over it. I don’t think I ever imagined making those kinds of photographs myself, but in time I did, to some degree. Publications allow us a kind of intimate, long-term relationship with images that is harder to sustain with a print on the wall, especially if it’s a gallery or museum wall and it doesn’t hang there forever.

I have been writing and editing friends’ work since grad school and started as a junior editor in 2005, though, really, as a photographer and writer you are constantly editing photographs, both your own and the ones around you. I love it! The most challenging part of editing a journal is figuring out what works well together in terms of getting the right match of content to flow and play off one another—sometimes it isn’t the work you thought you’d go with at a particular time, but somehow it just works with what you already have—plus, you have to be prepared for content falling out at the last minute for a variety of reasons and have to have backup that fits the bill.

How did you get involved in editing photos? What has been the most challenging part of the experience?

In editing an artist’s images for publication, the challenge is to balance the most interesting work with the work that will reproduce the best, the images that might already have a recognition factor (so that people will want to stop and look), and the images that the artist herself wants to have put forward. As artists, especially, if we meet with some success for a particular body of work, we tire of it and have a tendency to want to show new or different work with each new request, forgetting that just because we’ve seen our own images a million times doesn’t mean that everyone else has. As the editor, you want every reader to have a way in to the work, so you also want to try to be representative without being just a catalog of greatest hits. For a book, though, it’s very different, because what might represent well in 5- 7 images in a journal may not hold up as 40-60 images in a book. I tend to like single-theme books rather than surveys because they have a compact completeness to them, although there’s also something to be said for having a wealth of information in a single volume. Um, yeah, I love books. Love them.

When is your next lecture?

I think I am participating on a panel that Deborah Willis is organizing for the Society for Photographic Education conference in Philadelphia in March—until then, I’ll be practicing on my students! I haven’t really taught much before so this will definitely be a new challenge.


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