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 (facebook.com/wildseedwellness), a center for massage therapy and also a safe space to host other holistic-health conscious events. My photography (hamaje.com) 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 (http://hamaje.com/docs/AnaJahannes-ArtistStatement-YoTeVeoEulalia.pdf).

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 (alp.org) 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 (colorlines.com), Little Dragon’s newest songs, photos of my friends REALLY making it as singers (sophiaurista.com) and choreographers (bydavi.com) 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?

Photography:

hamaje.com

hamaje.tumblr.com

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

Massage Therapy:

facebook.com/wildseedwellness 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: http://ofanotherfashion.tumblr.com/donation

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

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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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