Sunday, May 24, 2015

Vegan Lemon Poundcake

Moist lemon poundcake will please the masses.
Wow! I come back and AfroVeganChick has surpassed the 100,000 views mark. Thank you all very much for continuing to visit and read recipes and adventures. It's been such a blessing to share vegan treasures invented and found on the world wide vegan web. I also send tremendous gratitude to product companies such as Daiya, So Delicious, Beyond Meat, etc. for linking people here. Just wonderful that you all still stop by.
Today is May 24th, Mom's birthday. As you know or if you can recall, Mom loves lemon. She has a special penchant for the zesty yellow sour fruit. With summer on the way, I thought it nice to have a lovely blast from the past-- lemon poundcake! Nancy's Organic Plain Yogurt gives this glorious cake moisture when combined with coconut oil and almond milk. I love Volcano's Lemon Burst Lemon Extract. Next to water, lemon juice, citric acid, and lemon oil are its primary ingredients. So you can imagine pure lemon flavor and not much else. Like lemonade meets plain poundcake. That's why I kept vanilla off the list.
I spoke with Mom briefly this afternoon. She said that this was good. Very good.
My suggestion is to make poundcake. This recipe is for two loaves. One for yourself and the other is for someone you love.

Vegan Lemon Poundcake Ingredients and Preparation

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup cane sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup almond milk
6 oz. Nancy's Plain Soy Yogurt
1/3 cup Volcano Not From Concentrate Lemon Juice
zest from two lemons
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoon lemon juice
zest from one lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare two baking loaf pans-- I used foil ones for a quick, easy cleanup.
Sift flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt together.
In a medium bowl whisk coconut oil, almond milk, soy yogurt, lemon juice, and lemon zest.
Combine wet and dry well.
Add apple cider vinegar.
Pour into two prepared baking loaf pans.
Bake for 45 minutes to an hour.

First a modest brushing of lemon extract and extra lemon zest to give an enticing glazed finish. Refrigerate for an hour or two. Slice and serve cold.
Light, airy cake with just the right amount of lemon flavor.
Perfect with fresh organic strawberries and two scoops of So Delicious Vanilla Bean Coconut Milk Ice Cream. Holiday weekend calls for it! :)

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Monday, April 27, 2015

In My Element With Thomas, Wiley, & Basquiat

Mama said, "you gon' learn today, Gurl."
Time spent in New York last Thursday proved to be a necessary tool to rev up dying artistic fuel. It was nice to escape the MFA struggle for a whole day. Despite windiness and slight chill, journey started towards Jack Shainman to see Hank Willis Thomas's "Unbranded: 1915-2015: A Century of White Women" taking up both 524 W. 24th Street and 520 W. 20th Street locations.
Thomas is someone I am familiar with. He showed a few pieces of another Unbranded series at the Art Academy of Cincinnati's Convergys Gallery and gave a lecture on what exactly 'unbranding' stood for, how it came to be. Yet somehow, for reasons unknown, I lost track of keeping up with him and other contemporaries. I realize more than ever that if one does not keep track of the art world, especially the black art world, they fall behind. Art is a train that does not stop moving. It waits for no one.
But one does catch up.
Thankfully, force reinvigorated last fall when seeing "Question Bridge" at Fabric Workshop Museum, text gouache paintings at Studio Harlem, listening to his talk alongside Leslie Hewitt at Studio Harlem, and reading his award winning Aperture book. The book starts off on an emotionally guttural tragedy- loss of an innocent, promising black life and impact of that loss on those left mourning including the artist himself. That very intimate pain widens into an expressive emergence, instigating complex conversations about race, stereotypes, and black identity in advertising. Politics of creating a visual campaign that markets more oppressive chain shackling than anything else. They try to erase negative connotations of ugly, violent history, make it out to be sugary sweet like cake frosting, but it can never be glazed over. Never.
Weeks ago, I presented a short powerpoint on Thomas's work. Someone asked, "did he get permission to use these images? I wonder how Reebok felt." I just said, "that is not the point."
Thomas is not setting out to hurt agencies. He is stripping these agencies of their intentions, stripping them of their power, getting down to the nitty gritty barest essentials of what they're conveying, what they're promoting.
And it ain't all good.

A century of making minorities feel bad about themselves.
Now also from Studio Harlem, I am reminded of some 3,300 Jet Magazine Black Beauty of the Month light skin, brown skin, dark skin, thin, thick, voluptuous ladies and how male gaze attraction shifts in Thomas's current exhibit. A century of white women. 100 years. Waves spoken in such high volume context. For one, the perception of beauty today stays stuck on European ideal. The caliber, the epitome is a bullet that strikes everywhere on television, commercials, department store magazine covers, cosmetic spreads, film industry. How can minority compete? The ratio is vast, seemingly an impossible niche to break into. Mold is set on a specific ideal, a specific woman. A white woman. Cream of the crop, the angel, the pure beloved angel.
Thomas's first image in 1915 centers on ebony skinned Cream of Wheat mascot smiling and appeasing to two white women.

"More cream for your wheat, Misses?" So happy to appease and so happy to please the women who bother not looking into his direction. He is not their equal. Although neither the women or this man have legal voting rights in 1915, he's considered not a human. He stands stiff and still, mimicking centered dish and the bowl in his hand. These dishes are black. His skin is black. And just think American slavery has been abolished just fifty years before. Fifty years. Fifty years and still a servant-- a happy, appeasing servant. In pristine white no less.
I walked through set stage feeling some kind of way. An inner war to be frank. The gallery is clean and immaculate. Each white matted, white framed image without logo, hung moderate inches apart to give viewers minutes to compartmentalize fragmented thoughts. Allow breathing before moving forward to next stimulating visual narrative. I was made aware of both "my invisibility" and "my presence." My presence was that stereotypical role, that role of propping the white woman, not staining her pedestal.
Emotions ran chaotic. First, the sense of empathy for white women being trapped in fountain of youthfulness, strict thinness, fine boned features, and dismemberment. The varied sexual references-- frequent phallic metaphor popping up at least once or twice a decade. I sighed and internally huffed, "man! White women have it rough with men being at the helm of advertising. They purposely omit white women's intelligence, their contributions to society. They're more than just objects!"
That empathy soon transformed into scorn over the elitism, the standard and injustice. The erasure of minority, of the beauty in a minority. Circumstances of living in the now. White women are championed. They are championed above all. They are seen as trophies, as the highest honor. They are even allowed to say and do anything to hurt black people, black women/black transgender women-- emotionally, psychologically, psychically. Anything. And they still receive excuses. They still receive a wave of compassion. I think about Paula Deen's "n" word usage. Giuliana Rancic disrespecting Zendaya Coleman's locs, but loving locs on white women. Cosmopolitan Magazine making black models symbolize "dead trends" while white women were "the best." White women musicians making blackness their own, but not saying a thing about real life black injustice. I remember a white woman personally emailing one of the best black Twitter voices, saying she couldn't help being born into privilege and shouldn't be shamed or apologetic about it. There are a host of other comments, other wrongdoings white women reveal that are ignorant yet swept away under guise of forced apology. I also think about myself. I cannot help thinking about how impossible it is to ignore that I'm the sole black woman in my MFA program. Out of forty plus students of mostly white women. I feel the constant nagging insecurity of singling myself out. I cannot stop the shame growing at painting, drawing or photographing black women's experience and being that person in a group critique showing that black women's experience work. There is always dead silence. Until I crack a joke. The jokes make them comfortable. Talking about serious black women's experiences they cannot relate to are not.

From the 1950's? No. It is what minorities still deal with today. The notion that everything specific to a culture can only be seen beautiful on a white woman. Our clothes, our diadems, even our hairstyles and our vernacular is taken away, stolen with a validity disguised as "appreciation." There used to be constant ridicule for locs, full lips, the "Hottentot Venus" body type, etc., but when white women love and alter themselves for these considered black women trademarks it's "hip hip hooray!" Walk like an Egyptian my buns!
Me, Ma, and doll- family makes three! From the 1960's projecting onto children that dolls should look like them. That these dolls shall prepare them for motherhood. Back in my day, black baby dolls were hard to come by. Expensive too. When we wee lucky to have a doll, a real Barbie at times, she had blond hair, blue eyes, and a thin lipped pink smile. She was perfect. White baby doll meant perfect. 
Hilary might be up here. Sorry Shirley Chisolm.
My mom said my sister would make it in this world because she had coveted "white women" features- thin mouth, thin cheekbones, and narrow nose. This particular image reestablishes that logic that black women, any woman of color, must fit the mold. No matter how dark skin is gifted to be, we must have that thin mouth, thin cheekbones, and narrow nose. It's the only way to be "beautiful." Not just in America. It's universal law. Also I hate it because they just put a white woman's face in Photoshop and manipulated her skin tone in a gradient flesh tone manner.
Woman in a watermelon eh? Oh well. At least they didn't put a brown girl in it. How would that look right?
Straight from Chelsea, I headed out towards Brooklyn to see two other admirable brothers, two artists adored and treasured-- Kehinde Wiley and Jean Michel Basquiat.

Giving Wiley his due.
I love Kehinde Wiley. Always loved him. No one is teaching how to paint brown flesh here. The need is so desperate. It rages in my mind like a gnawing uncontrollable itch. One can make so many self portraits, but still yearn to study other kinds of brown flesh tones. One way is to investigate how others are. Wiley is one. It isn't just entertainment celebrities that he paints, he finds strangers off the street and they sit for him. Maybe it's time I do this too.
Naturally, suspended in the state of semantics, I began juxtaposing Thomas's unveiling America's brutal, manipulative obsession with white women to Wiley's glorious room of celebrating black women. Wiley's large scale, highly realistic painted goddesses are suspended in a sea of bright colored flowers and sophisticated curled vines. Seemingly birthed from these elaborate environments, robust ripened seeds emerge fresh from Eden gardens, already knowing their worth, their purpose. Special designed lace embroidered dresses flow and drape over suspended forms, curved, regal elegance. Desirable queens spoke wisdom, courage, worth, especially those confronting viewers with focused outer stare. I saw great majestic beauty so profound, so utterly moving that it was impossible to leave them. Each woman struck a vital cord.
I know the security guard wondered, "why is she still here? It's been thirty minutes now."
Well, why would I leave? I have never seen us painted on a huge grand scale. Not in one room. Not in such ornate frames. The spectacle was so grand and rich, I felt like a millionaire.
Call him over dramatic. Call him too showy. Call him kitschy even. I don't care. I quite admire the propping of the black experience, of appropriating old history paintings by Jacques Louis-David and even Artemia Gentileschi into something that we all can understand and appreciate. Take notice. Applaud. I mean c'mon. He put Michael Jackson on a horse. The King of Pop! The King of Pop on a horse.
The end.

Judith And Holofernes from An Economy of Grace series. She pulled the head off one of Thomas's advertisements and was strangely satisfied.
Princess Victoire of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha from An Economy of Grace series. She turns her back on audience much preferring to be one with an environment rivaling the intensity of her beguiling form. 
Ah, the high elegant coiffure that matches the captured sheer elegant envy green dress. Quite remarkable.
Mrs. Siddons from An Economy of Grace series.
Bound. Black women as Medusa and her sisters. Ah this bronze sculpture was everything! This alone was worth admission! It was a  visually stunning craftsmanship of beauty and integrity. Trinity of thick featured faces joined by a wild braided updo and curled vines. So beautiful everyone.  So stunning, It made my eyes water. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Awed me. Moved me. 
".....looks at the presence of Black women, all of those women that raised me, the graceful women who've been in my life over the years, but also the ways in which American women adorn themselves as both a type of communication act and armor. And hair is principle within that. You see hair going outside itself, becoming so fabulous, so extraordinarily large that it folds in under its own weight."
The Two Sisters form An Economy of Grace series. Brown siblings dressed in a color symbolizing purity, but joined bodies share closeness, an unbreakable bond forged by blood.
The lace, the hand postures, that brown skin.... just breathtaking realism.
Yet it is in this defiant face, this strong defiant face that I see myself- the woman I can be and the woman I can inspire others to be.
Basquiat spoke poetic stanzas that went skat skat be bop to me. I escaped the visual for a while and spent time perusing his books-- with eyes. Pages were on display in glass boxes. Just in time for Poetry Month, I engaged with his usual crossed out words and sentences, admiring the deep layered meanings behind words spoken in multiple languages. I explored his trilingual vortex and enjoyed parts of Tamra Davis's film playing in the background where his soft spoken voice echoed in my ears and mind. I yearned to breath him and smell him. I let myself be the invisible woman seeping through gallery spaces, not thinking about whiteness or blackness. Just a woman worthy of being star of these pieces, of some gratifying pieces that spoke on truths ad injustices. A world that Basquiat saw that we all see right now.
Famous. Sometimes I feel "fame" is a shameless dream that will likely propel some inner part of your soul to tarnish and die quick. When your name becomes a brand, a label, a product. And your identity as a person, as a human person is long gone. Then again, what of a black life right? A black life is still no seen equal. Basquiat's pitch black figure is gruesomely painted with one red eye in a sea of black and white cartoon characters. The black life and the famous identity mirror one another today. The black life in't a life at all. Just a body to be demonized, killed, and put on trial. Someone can be so famous, so so famous, that all that person symbolizes is a body without merit, without two legs to stand on.
What is love? A grand fabrication perfumed in the cloak of dead romanticist poets starving for a taste of a woman's affection, of a woman's kiss? I found myself penalized by the esteem of my beating heart. Just reading such a bold statement in all capital letters-- something that Basquiat enjoys. "LOVE IS A LIE. LOVER=LIAR." Ardent affection is not real. And the carrier of ardent affection is nothing more than an illusion, a masquerade. I close wondering what I am-- the lie or the liar. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Taste of Yummylicious 'Dao Palate' In Brooklyn

According to Google, Dao Palate was the closest vegan restaurant near Brooklyn Museum. Famished "math" genius and all, I figured equation was worth trying out. There were a bunch of vegan-friendly stickers on the door appeasing and tantalizing my hunger. Yay! Sleek elegant pan-Asian flair atmosphere featured muted lights, wooden tables, and black seating. Modest attendance. Plus I must commend the waiter. Nothing better than a kind, super attentive waiter. My water glass stayed full. That always makes me happy. Always.
My spring roll appetizer was hot hot hot! Delicately crisp fried wrapper interior was scalding, but a bite full of amazing once I asked my tongue to stop being burnt. Chili lime sauce a great accompaniment. And the water. Water helped. 
Delicious classic miso soup warmed insides further. Yes, it had been a chilly cold NYC evening. Colder than I had anticipated.
I ordered Sizzling Teriyaki Tofu. Beautiful, enticing main attraction came out on a black skillet, smoking hot and fresh. Served on bed of broccoli, carrots, and bean sprouts.
A bed of bean sprouts y'all. A BED OF BEAN SPROUTS! Superb! Of course I could not consume the whole entree with their array of vegan cheesecakes in my mind. Extra firm crisp tofu was perfectly sliced filet mignon. Teriyaki sauce and plentiful sprinkled sesame seeds provided enough savory flavor for both tofu and fluffy brown rice. 
Raspberry white cheesecake was a sure fire winner. Sure it looks like a tiny slice of affection,. No. It was in fact a thick slab of mouth watering sweet allure. I made sure to eat slowly in order to savor gracious balance between thin layered tangy raspberry puree over towering white chocolate satisfaction. Creamy, firm, and slightly chilled with a dollop of whipped topping to tease the eye and whet the chocoholic spirit. Perfect end to a grand sumptuous meal.

Monday, March 2, 2015

History, Diaspora, & Political Smorgasbord In NYC

Freedom Journey. 
Black History/Herstory is not over just because twenty eight day month passes at midnight. Stories go on each day. Stories of life and death. Of people making history before February 1st and after February 28th. Us vegans, artists, writers, performers, creators of every waking hour not only vow continuance of to making our dreams come true, but that of others thirsting for eye opening change and awareness- awareness of creativity, health, and strength. We must engage our minds and hearts with nourishing truth and beauty within ourselves. Then we shall see a light that shines so bright.
On this final day of short month granted to celebrating African descended ancestry, I share Thursday's overwhelming haze of glorious endeavors. A challenge to visit three museums seated in different parts of NYC, I met goals to fruition, determined to see what was set out to be seen. It was a most esteemed journey granting influential discoveries and a new crop of artists all over the globe branching out and sharing origin complexities. They've widened the meaning of art- tying creative vision with anthropology, science, and narrative together. Sewed origin threads remain stagnant in my mind, flowing with a fluid poignancy gratifying thoughts and dreams.
I got to New York City at 1:20 PM on Thursday. Missed the earlier bus and would have been there three hours prior. Still, nothing stopped determination to visit three museums. Three. Three before the clock struck 11:10 PM. If I missed the 11:10 Megabus, I would be stuck in chilly NYC until 6AM. Then again, they do have a 24 hour Starbucks/Sephora so....

 I tried the new coconut milk by the way. The perfect afternoon lightning bolt to get my feet ready for a lot of moving. Whilst sipping, I mapped out my intended destinations starting with New York Historical Society Museum, then New Museum, and finally ending at Studio Harlem. 
It is a challenge being an artist, knowing that MET is across the street, seducing good intentions. I ignored the little voice and came right inside New York's Historical Society, a place filled with New York history. I learned that slavery was abolished here long before Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil War. Yet the grisly details of violent deaths of a people seen equivalent to animals, sometimes less so, hurt me like a cut that never goes away. 
Miniature watercolor portraits of former Haitian born slave Pierre Touissant and his wife Juliette Noel. Artist Anthony Meucci, famous for rendering George Washington and so forth painted these little treasures. That means they were well worth cementing into history. Their distinguished, quality clothing showcases their esteem and privilege after being freed in NYC. At 42, Touissant is profiting big as a hairdresser, but eventually began sharing the wealth, becoming a major philanthropist alongside his Mrs.
I almost missed the clock. One has to kneel down and stare at fine white ivory, marred by dirt and minor melted damage, with its devout hands stopping at Roman numeral 9:04 AM. So piercing to the finder of this object, to behold witness to such a monumental catastrophe that still resonates in the minds and hearts of millions. 
Part of a fireman's truck, melted and torn apart by the devastation. Photographs behind document traumatic events of unforgotten 9/11.
Second floor awaited. Having seen Ava DuVernay's Academy Award winning film a few times, I can honestly say that Stephen Somerstein's long vaulted Selma photographs fulfilled excited expectation. It was like being behind the scenes of documented black and white footage the end of DuVeray's film hinted. Here in varied sizes, untitled images of people united for justice and equality. A great leader and his legion of devoted followers of all races, economic backgrounds, religion, and creed walking along promised land, singing and praising, hoping that "we shall overcome." Sights were wonderful to behold and treasure. 
A tender moment captured between Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King Jr. In a room filled with other candid moments from that triumphant third march from Selma to Montgomery, there were pictorials of Ralph Abernathy, Andrew Young, James Baldwin, and countless other historical figures tucked inside these clean, immaculate white mats and black frames. 
If you have seen Selma's film poster, a film that has recently crossed the 50 million box office dollar mark, you will know this image and its pivotal meaning. 
I also crept inside the Chinese American Exhibit where there were reconstructions, original documents, inspired paintings, and photographs of Asian immigrants bringing families and culture into America. Here select few not only blossomed their own roots they made it their life's commitment to helping others whether it those still overseas or those already nearby needing assistance learning adaptation to new world.
First dilemma. My Metro Card was low on funds. All the machines were "out of order." Thankfully, the nearest station was another walk away. And this station wall paved in dirty shoe imprinted art form naturally caught my attention. 
I imagined people with purpose, just stamping their damp shoes here, leaving territorial "my feet was here" markers.
Directions are confusing instructions on Google. I had to stop inside a gas station where the man said two streets upwards to Bowery Street. Yet two streets upward I found Blick Art Supplies. An employee indicated that it was two blocks east. Yes! At near four PM, among thrift shops and furniture stores bringing life to old, dated construction, I found ship floating over New Museum. Founded by the late remarkable Marcia Tucker in 1977, a wonderful woman highlighted in the !Woman Art Revolution documentary, I was enthusiastic to spend time in the latest exhibit promising to be epic and profound. 
Fifty one artists from twenty seven different countries embody five floors of gallery space. Diversity and culture have been a celebrating part of New Museum's incredible history, a definitive mastery unlike most NYC museums celebrating male dominance. Here many are joined together in an amazing, unprecedented world that is both overwhelming and majestic. One feels like a small seed implanted in the richest soil and engaging art quenches curiosity and thirst for unknown. This exhibit engages viewers to perform more than typical tasks of deciphering art visually. We are encouraged to read, to listen, to feel. These notions are not entirely new, but it establishes a connection between the digital age of now, of being thrown so much information and having difficulty translating which deserves to be absorbed into broadening human mind.
Some unphotographed highlights includes Oliver Laric's compelling video Untitled metaphoric morphism animation. Images of characters familiar and otherwise shift and form from human to creature repeating and transforming roles of heroism and emotional layers. Daniel Steegman Mangrene's virtual reality, Phantom (kingdom of all the animals and all the beasts is my name) places viewers in false dimension of a beguiling forest setting. We must trust intuition as well as hold created imagery into highest regard. Under the glasses, our eyes look up, down, and all around. So captivating to be suspended in a space whilst also having to simultaneously pay attention to true predicament. I must have bumped into walls several times.  It was well worth seeing how art, science, and technology continued this teasing bridge. Definitely a fantastic must see!
Juliana Huxtable was definitely queen of the exhibit. First piece that greeted me on the second floor of Triennial: Surround Audience was Frank Benson's "Juliana," a work Huxtable herself posed for. It is sleek, metallic, stylish nude that embraces cultural identity and the world Huxtable invents in her prints and poetry. The braids and partly shaved scalp boldly showcases that hip nod to natural hair movement and the experimentation shouting hello to afro wearers and Poetic Justice braid lovers. 
She lies casual like a sphinx, curved and arched sophistication seeming like an exotic species arriving fresh off a shell like a Botticelli.
Nails of fingers and toes are expertly painted in this sapphire blue.
Huxtable's work stripping natural order of color and placing feminine figure dressed in psychedelic pants and yellow sports bra emerged in a surreal alien space. It calls to her interest in Octavia Butler's scientific fantasy world, a place not of earth, but of something far more utopian.
Green She-Hulk fleshy figure with thick, super long yellow braids and black lipstick. Again placed in an abstract world of atmospheric clouds and strange salmon colored ground. Her pose is sleek and sensual. Whereas tilted three quarter view of her face is turned away, communicating within body and surroundings.
Poetry laid over surreal space. And yes, I read the whole beautiful piece. She told me to take time to breathe in this text, to let go of time and just engulf the words: "black unicorns run freely. Bantu knots and bald heads with thickly lined lips occasion a moment to memorialize the hood surrealism of Hype Williams and the futures of Octavia Butler (and the images that front the covers of her books). Where the ontological chains of the Atlantic triangle reverberate  to shattering point in patterns, beats, rhymes, and technicolor insistence on a new new world where the common thread is shared with Missy when she says: I Can't Stand the Rain (Me I'm Super Fly).' Beyond the mountains, Aaliyah croons 'More Than A Woman' and broken staticy clips of Angela Davis speeches play on leftist AM radio provide the 'feels like' addition to the general climate reading of the morning weather."
Njideka Akunyili, an inspiration and reason for choosing PAFA as a school to further artistic education, made her presence known in a corner of the second floor. The way she layers color and collage transfers onto canvas is thoughtful and intriguing purpose. Human body and its interactions with surroundings are teased with acrylic and transfers yet she is so wise with precision and perspective that these integrated compositions appear to be realistic sense of space and time. Narrative ties together her personal history of Africa and living in America, blending together separate autobiographical backgrounds into one cohesive replay of past, present, and future. And We Begin To Let Go is a compilation of acrylic paint, charcoal, marble dust, collage, and transfers on paper. 
Sophia Al-Maria's work is comprised of cell phone stories that resemble bitmap pixel imagery. It is a critique of the texting and "selfie" age and how young women are pressured to growing up too fast. Between the little blinking squares are girls dancing or posing seductively. It blurs lines between adolescence and adulthood in this image based age. Innocence seems to fade earlier than normal due to consumption of what the cell phone now symbolizes.
The back of Juliana emerged right in front of a captivating CGI video piece. 
Sasha Brauing creates these Magritte conversational paradoxical acrylic paintings that are genderless and geometrical. Each piece displays some mathematical equation, some complex statement about human body-- the head being primary dominance. Language between light and dark, value and contrast are sophisticated elaborations forming three dimensional space. 
Antoine Catala combines science in Distant Feel, a fascinating, dimly lit E3 (which look the same in opposing directions). Under water sculpture inside an aquarium like infrastructure feature live multi-colored coral breezes through inner fans.
Tania Perez Condova's chasing, pausing, waiting is comprised of makeup (blush), cigarette ash, bird droppings, and black marble.
Casey Jane Ellison of Los Angeles created the ultimate doll experience. A doll unique to the artist's own persona with her black t-shirt and dark stained lip.  It's So Important To Seem So Wonderful II is a CGI animated film of a sardonic, wise-cracking, self-absorbed, potty mouthed cyber doll, separately facing three components.
She comes with bald life sized bust sans hands, messily displayed wig, iPad, and this matching (fully haired) It's So Wonderful To Seem So Wonderful USB port with a lower body snapping it into protective place. First of all, I wonder if it works and secondly, if she is selling her own line of CGI inspired doll.
In Not Yet (Nobody Knows Why Not), performance artist Donna Kukuma has her face and palms masked in red paint, standing still with eyes closed as individuals walk by, some even staring curiously. Others pay no mind. Kukuma is speaking on awareness, awareness of human body and mind, awareness of that body and mind inside societal framework. Now this video filmed in Uhuru Park in Nairobi is to be fifteen minutes documenting this conscious public intervention.
Verana Dangler, Namedropping, mixed media and polyester resin.
Avery Singer's black and white acrylic paintings both Untitled.
In between walking up the floors, viewers were subjected to bright green stairwell and loud music.
Checking out Martine Syms conceptual based work on the art of sitcoms. The artist has her own space, between glass doors separate from the gallery. On one side are two large flat screens showcasing pixelated urban shows like "Girlfriends." Pilot scripts of Seinfield, Cheers, and Community lay atop counter. The other side has framed props and text facts. For example Queen Latifah's starring vehicle "Living Single" was to be called "My Girls."
The memorable fat red caps font dangling over white text imprinted on a denim jacket.
Girlfriends is playing. It reminds me of frustration. That frustration of the TV turning digital that forced every American to buy a black box and an antenna.
I admit, I almost took one, but these are not to be touched by viewers. Only draws in the longing to open book pages, feel the thin leaflet between hands to read and envision the unseen story floating into imagination.
It was a near miss. At six PM, I contemplated whether to attend or not, having heard Titus Kaphar speak briefly on The Jerome Project's mission last spring in a special lecture at PAFA. Yet some inkling whispered that attending would probably gift something stronger, more powerful than what he delivered in the past.That inkling proved to be correct.
Titus speaking on work created during his Studio Harlem internship back in the early 2000's. And yes that does include a unique rendering of Marie Guillemine-Benoist's Portrait of A Negress, one of my most favorite period paintings of dark skinned women painted by an aristocratic white woman.  It is at the Louvre and unfortunately I didn't see this in person while there circa 2009. Anyways, when Titus introduced how The Jerome Project's portrait series came about, it became a larger personal context enlightening perception. Opening my eyes to the new slavery, the New Jim Crow. He spoke rather candidly about not just strained family relationships, but on  art school world in general-- that the work he created no one could understood let alone had experienced. Here at Studio Harlem, however, was the necessary audience needed to define this new work, discuss prison systems and affect on families left behind. Each Jerome is a real person, a creation from a mugshot. Titus himself talked at length about his research, his communicating with inmates via letters to receiving a grant to film a documentary based on these interactions. The conversation gets further stimulating, further thought provoking, and moving with Yale instructor Vesla Mae Weaver tossing out cold hard facts about prison. Former imprisoned Mika'il  DeVeaux, vice president of Citizens Against Recidivism, Inc and Tina Reynolds, founder of  Women On The Rise Telling Herstory (WORTH) speak on finding life after confinement, about motivating others into finding their own paths in a system designed to make them less than a citizen. DeVeaux states the 13th Amendment, " Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." It is duly noted that prison systems are the new slavery, with communities based in low income, uneducated areas where police purposely implant themselves not to rescue but to indict. The conversation stirred quieted repression inside my mind and that of others surrounding me. It was such a gracious end, speaking to the beginning of this trek.
And I succeeded. Proud of myself for not changing my mind.
Tune in next week to see if I squeeze in the Taji Magazine Volume 2 Release Party and Studio Museum of Harlem's Artist Voice with Hank Willis and Leslie Hewitt before taking off to Canada for spring break.
P.S. Dear Webster please make "Herstory" a true, definable word. Tired of the red squiggly line telling me that it isn't so.