Monday, July 8, 2024

Oasis in the Woods 2024 "Land Art" or "Earth Art"

 Loiter Galleries, 425 Promenade North, Long Beach, California- Monica Fleming and Vinny Picardi. 

 "Land Art" or "Earth Art" involves creating art directly within the landscape, sculpting the land, or using natural materials like rocks and twigs to build structures. It is an ongoing cultural and sustainable experiment that serves as a platform for artists and the community to foster personal and collective transformation.

This exhibition will feature images and elements from Junipers Garden's Oasis in the Woods Environmental Installation, including photographs and maps from the 2013 "The Land" installation." As part of this project, artists will create "Land Art" or "Earth Art" within the gallery using materials from the landscape, resulting in unique installations.

Earth art, also called Land art or Earthworks, is an American movement that uses the natural landscape to create site-specific structures, art forms, and sculptures. The movement was an outgrowth of Conceptualism and Minimalism: the beginnings of the environmental movement and the rampant commoditization of American art in the late 1960s influenced ideas and works that were, to varying degrees, divorced from the art market. In addition to the monumentality and simplicity of Minimalist objects, the artists were drawn to the humble everyday materials, the participatory "social sculptures"  that stressed performance and creativity in any environment.

Caryl Henry Alexander- Visual/Environmental Installation Artist
Alpha Bruton- Visual/Installation Artist
L.A. Happy Hyder- Photograph
Jennifer Andrea "YAYA" Porras- Multi-disciplinary Art Practice

Our collective goal is to build generational bridges while working with ideas and materials that emanate from the land to create installations that answer the question, “How do we rebuild our communities to be stronger and recreate sustainable places to live?” Importantly, this conversation addresses environmental justice, social and psychological dimensions, and impact.
  • From August 21st to 23rd, 2024, Installation begins. 
  • On Friday, August 23,  6-9 pm, Opening Ceremony, the Gathering  
  • On Saturday, August 24th, from 1pm to 6pm, stories of their experiences and how their installations came together, exploring the elements of air/earth/fire/water. 
  • On Sunday, August 25th, from 2pm to 6pm, Salon and Closing Ceremony 
● The environmental and social impact of the project.

We have in mind the topics of air, earth, fire, and water. Our project directly explores the idea and focuses on the social impact of deep play and risk-taking play that serves to overcome fears and develop confidence as we explore this work. 

Exploration of natural air/earth/fire/water or imagined environments versus the urban built environment and strategy play involve long-term planning to achieve a goal of temporary installation to design and develop infrastructure in placemaking. What does this mean? What are we saying?

○ The public engagement component is free and open to the public.

Guest Curators:
For more than 40 years, Caryl has worked as a powermaker in creative collaboration with multi-generational, multicultural, and interfaith communities to conceive, design, and implement community art projects in diverse public settings around the globe. In the studio, Caryl's work includes printmaking, papermaking, textiles, installations, and sculptures. Her media are traditional and experimental, often incorporating recycled or found objects and natural plant matter. Out in the community, she combines her roles as a visual artist, teaching artist, curator, researcher, lecturer, writer, and social activist to support communities in clarifying their shared goals and turning their ideas into one.  Her long-term focus is on culture, environment, and nature. She has exhibited throughout the US and abroad. Her media are traditional and experimental, often incorporating recycled or found objects and natural plant materials.

Alpha Bruton, 
Chief Curator Phantom Gallery Chicago Network, the Phantom Galleries are temporary exhibitions held in nontraditional gallery settings. The mission of PGCN is to promote the visual arts community, encourage personal growth and excellence in artists, and support cultural activities through exhibits, workshops, galleries, art centers, and artist residency projects. Before relocating to Chicago from Sacramento, California, she co-founded the Visual Arts Development Project (VADP), an art service organization that develops projects as living experiments for sustainable practices and as an incubator for personal and collective transformation. The Visual Arts Development Project is a community-based art organization that provides resources, workshops, and venues for children, adults, and emerging artists to showcase and express their art.

Jennifer Andrea "YAYA" Porras- Holds a BFA in Theater/Dance Arts from CSU- Sacramento. 
During her studies in the American Southwest, she was a cultural ambassador, arts educator, and performing artist in China, Mexico, Africa, and Cuba. A multi-talented artist who has received Fellowships from Teatro Campesino, the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC), was a youth mentor and video documenter for the Center for African Peace Conflict Resolution. Curator of the International Society of Altar Making artist constructs temporary installations curated by master altar makers drawing on personal history. Envisioned to evoke the transformative value of historical and contemporary cultural tradition, MAP Gallery uses myth, stories, and imagination to give voice to the universality of cultural traditions.

 L. A Happy Hyder – Photographer executive director of Lesbians in the Visual Arts has been an arts activist and fine art photographer in the Bay Area for more than three decades. She taught herself photography with a Hasselblad camera in 1971 (the same year she learned to belly dance) and has been developing her craft ever since. 

She is an artist using the camera as her tool and the negative as her canvas.  Loving the intricacies of architecture, I seek the same in nature.  Every day since spring 2016 (my first in Mendocino following 47 years in San Francisco), I have been ecstatic as I have become physically and visually immersed in this vibrant area. I claim the pictorialist photographers 1950s Life Magazine as 1950s; their crisp, sometimes stark, B&W images began my love of photography, informing my budding vision and, to this day, making me exact in my choice of image to take and to print.

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Friday, March 22, 2024

Providing Market Opportunity to Under-Represented Farmers

Duane Reed of Black Farmers Index helps set up the La Fete Holiday market, the organization's pop-up winter market in Louisiana. Photo credit: Black Farmers Index

What does it mean to grow great food but nowhere to sell it? That is a question we’ve tackled at The Index since our inception. 

Market opportunities are critical for farmers to sustain themselves and grow, but in Louisiana, that can be far and few between, especially for growers of color. So we decided to launch a market startup to give farmers in towns, smaller parishes, and medium-sized cities the opportunity as a marketplace featuring Black growers. As a result, La Fȇte Holiday Market was birthed. 

After breakfast and the meeting, farmers were invited to set up an outdoor farmers' marketplace called La Fête Holiday Market. Our pop-up was a holiday-themed event so that Lafayette residents and surrounding towns could buy locally grown, freshly harvested produce for their winter celebrations. 

The staff at Black Farmers Index saw the importance of providing market opportunities to farmers and offering a platform to gain more agricultural knowledge while building their networks of peers in the state. 

In total, nine farmers sold fresh raw honey, eggs, a variety of fruits such as apples, oranges, and persimmons, and a range of vegetables such as okra, mustard greens, kale, radishes, green onions, collards, and bok choy. 

The farmers were the following: Cryer’s Produce, 4Vics Farm, L4S Farms, Driftwood Farms, Jubilee Justice, Dr. Nettles Farm, Catalan Farms, Maison de Creole, and Lafayette Community Garden. The event was open to the local community members.

Since the meeting was held at the Francois-Benoit American Legion Post No. 504, the organization's members assisted veteran farmers in learning about the benefits they can receive as farmers and vets. 

“We think it is important to give underrepresented growers every opportunity to showcase their operations and bring their food to the market,” said Amara Brown, the organization’s communications strategist and event coordinator.

The event had such an impact on the community and farmers that the Legion extended an invitation for it to be held there annually.

If you give a hungry man food, he will eat it. 
If you give him land, he will grow his own food.
Fannie Lou Hamer talking about her Freedom Farm Cooperative


Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Alpha Phi Alpha-ZBL chapter in Sacramento, CA, was a virtual affair in late spring 2021

The annual Scholarship & Awards Event (or Brunch) presented by the Alpha Phi Alpha-ZBL chapter in Sacramento, CA, was a virtual affair in late spring 2021.   The chapter provided local entertainment artists and a presentation of their annual college-bound high school scholars and community leadership honorees.  The scholars were winners of a vetted scholarship competition process, and the community honorees produced notable contributions to the Sacramento community through their businesses and/or individual efforts.

This year's theme focused on “education and the arts,” which was enhanced by their special guest speaker, Ms. Tatyana Ali (Fresh Prince of Bel-Air).  Ms. Ali is a polished actor, singer, producer, and social advocate who shared her perspective on learning through the arts.  

The Alpha-ZBL members are excited to share this year’s event with you with the hope of your enjoyment of the show.

Our Roots: Black Farmers Index

Reposted for Caryl Henry Alexander:

Black Farmers Index started as a solutions-based journalism project launched by Ark Republic on April 14, 2020, to provide a small list of Black farmers to address the rising food security issues during the global pandemic.

Initially, the list was 150 farmers. Today, we have over 1,200 row crop farmers, ranchers, poultry farmers, vegetable and fruit producers, grains and nut harvesters, beekeepers, fisherfolk, oystermen, foresters, foragers, and vintners. 

How did we grow? Because of the overwhelming response from the public during the George Floyd protests, when Juneteenth came along, there was an explosion of people across racial and social lines interested in supporting Black growers. Quickly, the Index organically evolved into its own identity.

In July 2020, we became a non-profit organization. In November 2021, we were granted 501 c3 status.

Today, we focus on several main areas:

1. Expanding the directory 

2. Highlighting Black agriculturalists 

3. Bringing business to our Index members

4. Providing information to farmers 

5. Educating farmers and the public

6. Hosting events connecting growers to consumers

7. Researching and writing reports on Black farmers

The Back Story

Food is the backbone of any society. During the global Covid-19 crisis, food as the world's lifeline has become more evident. However, when the online news outlet Ark Republic saw growing food insecurities in the US, they wanted to offer a solution.

During Ark Republic’s reporting and analysis from China to Europe, they predicted that food security would be one of the most critical issues in the US. When they discovered the fast-growing food security issues in the country, they wanted to offer a solution rather than continue to report on the problems. One of their answers was to compile a list of Black farmers who could sell directly to consumers immediately.

They selected Black farmers due to an ongoing history of experiencing the roughest hardships during every economic crisis in the US. In general, Blacks have undergone generations of systemic racism and domestic terror, but agrarian Black communities were the first, and longest to know the various types of economic assault and lack of security post-Emancipation. Knowing that, we concluded that the most vulnerable and exploited group in the farming industry should be used.

From a practical view, Black farmers understand how to carry out some of the most challenging work with little resources. With the current state of the US, we are in dire need of that type of mastery of knowledge. As a result, Ark Republic reached out to farming networks on several social media platforms, spoke to farmers directly, and conducted extensive research for two weeks.

In the first wave of data gathering, they discovered a grave lack of information on Black farms and farmers, which proved difficult for our project. According to the Department of Agriculture, in 2017, there were 3.2 million white farmers, but only 45,508 Black-owned farms. Along with their under-representation and financial woes, we discovered that many Black farmers fall within the Baby Boomer generation and have limited access to technology or effective digital literacy skills. Nonetheless, the response was overwhelming by a younger wave of the Black agrarian community who insisted on compiling data for them. 

Due to the strong response, the Black Farmers Index was birthed as its own entity. It became a non-profit organization in July 2020. Now, it is a sister organization and fiscal sponsor to Ark Republic. 

In the Black Farmer’s Index, we offer a region-by-region listing of Black farms. The data is ever-growing, so if you have a farmer to add, we welcome the addition.

Behind The Index

ARTners & Kalpulli Xihuacoatl

 PRESENTS ARTgrove Dia de Los Muertos

Sunday, October 29, 2023, Located at District 56, 8230 Civic Center Dr. Elk Grove, CA

Altar Makers 

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit.

 SOJO Museum Altar Installation curator Shonna McDaniel's.

"What Not Shelf" Sonya Polk 

 City of Altars, "What Not Shelf" Installation

Air Element: Features, Pearls, 
Photo Lois L. Burks and Bessie Turner

John C. Laney, Gerald G. Laney, and Jolanda D. Laney
Earth Elements: Pine needles, ground corn meal, red clay dirt, marigolds

 Learn about the materials needed, choosing the location, setting up the altar, incorporating personal items, maintenance tips, and altar rituals.

An altar cloth serves as the base for your altar and provides a sacred space for your rituals and offerings. Choose a fabric that resonates with you, whether it's a solid color, patterned, or made from a natural material like silk or cotton. The fabric should be large enough to cover the surface of your altar.

Incense: Incense has been used for centuries to purify and cleanse spaces. I used lavender mist and lavender oils; these flowers were picked fresh from Shonna McDaniel's front yard.   It added a pleasant aroma and created a serene atmosphere during the altar installation. Consider scents that evoke specific emotions or energies you want to incorporate into your practice.

What Is a Bottle Tree?

Water Element: Cobalt Blue Vase with lavender flowers

It's generally agreed that bottle trees date back, at the very least, to the 9th century Congo. However, some garden gurus believe they go back even further—as early as 1600 B.C. when hollow glass bottles first appeared in Mesopotamia. In any event, the tradition carried over to the southern U.S. through the slave trade. Legend had it that the bottles trapped evil spirits. For that reason, bottles in cobalt blue—a healing color—were preferred. Similarly, Southerners have long-painted porch ceilings blue to ward off evil spirits.

Candles: Candles play a significant role in altar rituals. 

Candles and sugar skulls are along the top of the installation

They symbolize light, purity, and spiritual presence. Choose candles that align with your intentions and preferences. Standard options include white candles for purification, colored ones associated with specific intentions or deities, or scented ones that create a particular ambiance.

Statues or Symbols: Statues or symbols represent the deities, spirits, or energies you wish to honor or connect with on your altar. Choose statues or symbols that hold personal significance to you. They can be made from wood, metal, or stone. If you prefer not to use specific religious or spiritual symbols, you can opt for more universal symbols representing concepts like love, wisdom, or strength.

SOJO Museum Altar Installation: "Writing Words to Your Ancestors."

In addition to energetically clearing the space, it is also important to physically clean the area. Dust, clutter, and dirt can disrupt the flow of energy and detract from the overall ambiance of your altar. Take the time to wipe down surfaces, sweep or vacuum the floor, and remove any unnecessary items from the area. This physical cleansing contributes to the space's cleanliness and allows for greater clarity and focus during your altar rituals and practices.

How To Make An Altar: Materials, Setup, And Maintenance Guide

Arranging the Altar Items

Once the space is cleared and clean, it is time to arrange the items on your altar. The arrangement of these items is highly personal and should reflect your beliefs, intentions, and aesthetic preferences. However, a few general guidelines can help create a visually pleasing and energetically balanced altar.

Begin by selecting a central focal point for your altar. This could be a statue, a sacred symbol, or any item with deep meaning. Place this item in the center of the altar, representing the core of your spiritual practice and serving as a visual anchor.

Surround the central focal point with items that support and enhance your intentions. These may include candles, crystals, flowers, or other meaningful objects. Consider each item's symbolism and energetic properties, ensuring they align with your desired focus. For example, incorporate blue candles and calming crystals such as amethyst or aquamarine if you seek peace and tranquility.

As you arrange the items, pay attention to the flow and balance of the altar. Consider the principles of Feng Shui and the natural elements – Earth, Air, Fire, water, and spirit. You can create a harmonious balance by incorporating representations of these elements on your altar. For example, a small salt dish or a potted plant can represent the earth element, while a feather or incense can symbolize Air.

Remember that your altar is a living and evolving space. Feel free to change the arrangement of items as your spiritual journey unfolds and your intentions shift. Trust your intuition and allow your altar to reflect your needs and desires.

Altar Components and Their Meanings

An altar is a sacred space where individuals can connect with their spirituality and practice their beliefs. It serves as a focal point for rituals and ceremonies, and the items on the altar hold deep symbolism and meaning. This section will explore the various components commonly found on altars and their significance.

Altar Cloth

The altar cloth is the altar's foundation and is a protective covering for the surface beneath. It can be made of various materials such as silk, cotton, or linen and comes in multiple colors and patterns. The choice of cloth is often based on personal preference or the specific intention of the altar.

The altar cloth represents the element of Earth and physically represents the sacred space. It symbolizes grounding and stability, connecting the practitioner and the divine. The color of the altar cloth can also hold significance, with different colors representing different energies or intentions. For example, a white cloth may represent purity and spiritual enlightenment, while a green cloth may symbolize growth and abundance.


Candles are a standard feature on altars and hold immense symbolism in many spiritual practices. They represent the element of Fire and serve as a source of illumination and transformation. The flame of a candle is often seen as a representation of the divine spark within each individual.

Candles come in various colors, each carrying its own unique meaning. A white candle often represents purity and spiritual guidance, while a red candle may symbolize passion and energy. The choice of candle color can be based on the specific intention of the altar or the desired power to be invoked.

In addition to their symbolic significance, candles play a practical role during rituals and ceremonies. They provide a focal point for meditation and prayer, helping to create a calming and sacred atmosphere. Lighting candles can also be seen as a way to honor and connect with the divine.


Incense has been used for centuries in spiritual practices to purify the Air and create a fragrant ambiance. It represents the element of Air and is believed to carry prayers and intentions to the divine. The smoke produced by burning incense is seen as a way to elevate prayers and connect with higher realms.

Various types of incense are available, each with its unique scent and symbolic meaning. For example, lavender incense is often used for relaxation and healing, while frankincense is associated with purification and spiritual growth. The choice of incense can be based on personal preference or the specific intention of the altar.

Burning incense adds a sensory element to the altar and creates a sacred atmosphere. The aroma can help to calm the mind and enhance focus during meditation or ritual practices. It serves as a reminder of the presence of the divine and can aid in creating a deeper connection with spiritual energies.

Statues or Symbols

Statues or symbols representing deities, spiritual guides, or specific intentions are often placed on altars. They serve as visual representations of the divine and as a focal point for devotion and worship.

Statues can be made of various materials, such as wood, stone, or metal, and depict different figures from multiple spiritual traditions. For example, a statue of the Buddha may be used in Buddhist practices, while a goddess statue may be incorporated in Wiccan or Pagan rituals. The choice of statue or symbol depends on the practitioner's beliefs and the specific tradition.

Symbols, on the other hand, can take various forms, such as sigils, amulets, or sacred geometric shapes. These symbols hold deep meaning and often invoke specific energies or intentions. They can be placed on the altar to enhance the overall energy and focus of the sacred space.

Both statues and symbols serve as visual reminders of the spiritual path and can aid in deepening one's connection with higher energies. They provide a tangible representation of the divine and act as a source of inspiration and guidance.

Incorporating Personal Items

Meaningful Objects

Incorporating personal items can add a more profound meaning and connection to your spiritual practice when creating an altar. Meaningful objects hold significance to you and can serve as reminders of your intentions, beliefs, or experiences. These items can be anything that resonates with you and evokes a sense of spirituality. Here are a few ideas for meaningful objects to include on your altar:

Crystals and Gemstones: Crystals and gemstones are often used in spiritual practices for their energetic properties. Each crystal carries unique vibrations and can be chosen based on your specific intentions or needs. For example, amethyst is known for its calming and spiritual properties, while rose quartz promotes love and compassion.

Sacred Symbols: Incorporating sacred symbols on your altar can represent your spiritual beliefs or traditions. These symbols can include religious icons, mandalas, or symbols from nature. Choose symbols that resonate with you and hold personal significance.

Spiritual Books: Including spiritual or religious texts that hold personal meaning to you can be a powerful addition to your altar. These books can be open to specific passages or be there as a reminder of the wisdom and teachings they contain.

Remember, the key is choosing objects that are significant for you. Each item should evoke a sense of spirituality or connection to your beliefs and intentions.

Family Heirlooms

Another way to incorporate personal items into your altar is by including family heirlooms. Family heirlooms carry the energy and history of your ancestors, making them powerful additions to your sacred space. These heirlooms can be jewelry, photographs, or sentimental objects passed down through generations.

Keepsakes: Family heirlooms often include keepsakes that hold sentimental value. These can be objects that remind you of a loved one or a specific memory. For example, a piece of your grandmother's jewelry or a trinket that belonged to your great-grandfather.

Photographs: Including photographs of your ancestors or loved ones who have passed can create a sense of connection and honor their memory. Displaying these photographs on your altar lets you keep their presence close during your spiritual practice.

Handwritten Notes or Letters: If you have any handwritten notes or letters from your ancestors, incorporating them into your altar can bring a personal touch and a sense of connection to your family history. These handwritten messages can serve as a reminder of the love and wisdom passed down through generations.

By incorporating family heirlooms into your altar, you honor your ancestors and create a space that is uniquely yours. These objects carry the energy and love of those who came before you, adding depth and meaning to your spiritual practice.

Remember, when incorporating personal items into your altar, choosing significant objects that evoke a sense of spirituality or connection is essential. Each item should reflect your intentions and beliefs, creating a sacred space uniquely yours.

Altar Maintenance and Care

When it comes to maintaining and caring for your altar, there are a few key aspects to consider: cleaning the altar and refreshing the offerings. These practices are essential to keep your altar space energetically clean and honor and nourish the spiritual connection you have established.

Cleaning the Altar

Keeping your altar clean is essential for maintaining a sacred and energetically vibrant space. Regular cleaning removes physical dirt and dust and helps clear any stagnant energy that may have accumulated. Here are some steps to follow when cleaning your altar:

Dusting: Start by gently dusting all the surfaces of your altar. Use a soft cloth or a feather duster to avoid scratching or damaging any delicate items. Pay attention to corners, crevices, and hard-to-reach areas.

Purifying: After dusting, it is beneficial to purify the altar space. This can be done by using methods such as smudging, where you burn sacred herbs or resins (such as white sage, palo santo, or copal) and allow the smoke to cleanse the area. 

Alternatively, you can use a spray made with purified water and a few drops of essential oils known for their cleansing properties, such as lavender or tea tree oil.

Washing: Depending on the materials used in your altar setup, you may need to wash certain items. For example, altar cloths can be gently hand-washed or machine-washed according to the care instructions. If you have crystals or gemstones on your altar, you can cleanse them by rinsing them under cool running water or placing them in a bowl of water mixed with sea salt.

Reassembling: It's time to reassemble your altar once everything is clean and dry. Take a moment to arrange the items to ensure each component holds its rightful place. This is also an opportunity to assess if any items need to be replaced or updated.

Refreshing the Offerings

Offerings play an essential role in many spiritual practices, as they are a way to express gratitude, reverence, and connection to the divine. Refreshing the offerings regularly ensures that they remain energetically potent and continue to serve their purpose. Here are some tips on how to restore the offerings on your altar:

Intention: Before refreshing the offerings, take a moment to connect with your intention. Reflect on the purpose of your altar and the energy you want to cultivate. This will guide you in choosing appropriate offerings.

Food Offerings: If you have food offerings on your altar, it is essential to replace them regularly to prevent spoilage and maintain freshness. Choose offerings that are meaningful to you and align with your spiritual beliefs. Fruits, grains, or even a tiny portion of a meal can be offered.

Liquid Offerings: Liquid offerings, such as water, milk, or herbal infusions, should also be refreshed regularly. Pour the existing liquid into a bowl or directly onto the Earth, expressing gratitude for its nourishment. Then, refill the container with fresh liquid, infusing it with your intentions and blessings.

Symbolic Offerings: Symbolic offerings, such as flowers, herbs, or sacred objects, can be refreshed by replacing them with fresh ones. Choose flowers in season or herbs with specific meanings or properties. As your spiritual journey evolves, you can add new symbolic items to your altar.

Remember, the act of refreshing offerings is not just a physical task but also an opportunity to connect with the divine and deepen your spiritual practice. It is a time to express gratitude, release stagnant energy, and renew the energetic bond between you and your altar.

Altar Rituals and Practices

Altar rituals and practices are essential to connecting with the divine and creating a sacred space. They provide a framework for spiritual devotion and offer a way to honor and celebrate the cycles of life. This section will explore two critical aspects of altar rituals and practices: daily devotionals and seasonal celebrations.

Daily Devotionals

Daily devotionals are a cornerstone of many spiritual practices. They allow individuals to connect with their chosen deity or higher power regularly. These devotions can take many forms, depending on personal beliefs and preferences. Here are some ideas for incorporating daily devotionals into your altar rituals:

Morning Meditations: Start your day by sitting at your altar and taking a few moments to center yourself. Light a candle or burn some incense to create a tranquil atmosphere. Use this time to reflect on your intentions for the day and offer prayers or affirmations.

Offerings of Gratitude: Expressing gratitude is a powerful way to connect with the divine. Each day, consider offering a small token of appreciation on your altar. It could be a flower, a piece of fruit, or a handwritten note expressing thanks. This simple act can cultivate a sense of abundance and deepen your spiritual connection.

Journaling: Set aside some time each day to journal at your altar. Use this space to reflect on your experiences, emotions, and spiritual insights. Writing can be a cathartic and transformative practice, allowing you to gain clarity and connect with your inner self.

Prayers and Mantras: Incorporate prayers or mantras into your daily devotional practice. These can be traditional prayers from your religious tradition or personal affirmations that resonate with you. Repeat them aloud or silently to focus your mind and open your heart to divine guidance.

Remember, daily devotionals should be a personal and meaningful practice for you. Feel free to adapt and customize these suggestions to suit your beliefs and preferences. The key is to create a consistent and intentional ritual that helps you cultivate a deeper connection with the divine.

Seasonal Celebrations

Seasonal celebrations are an opportunity to honor the cycles of nature and the changing seasons. They provide a way to connect with the Earth and acknowledge the sacredness of the world around us. Here are some ideas for incorporating seasonal celebrations into your altar rituals:

Equinoxes: Many spiritual traditions have specific holidays or celebrations that align with the seasons. For example, in Wicca, eight sabbats mark the solstices, equinoxes, and points between. Research the traditions that resonate with you and incorporate their rituals and symbolism into your altar.

Nature Walks: Take time to connect with nature during each season. Whether it's a leisurely walk in the woods or simply spending time in your backyard, immerse yourself in the season's sights, sounds, and smells. Collect natural objects such as leaves, flowers, or stones to incorporate into your altar as symbols of the season.

Altar Decorations: Change the decorations on your altar to reflect the seasons. For example, during the spring, you might adorn your altar with fresh flowers and symbols of growth and renewal. In the winter, you could use evergreen branches, pinecones, and candles to evoke a sense of coziness and introspection.

Rituals and Ceremonies: Create rituals or ceremonies that honor the changing seasons. This could involve lighting candles, offering prayers, or performing specific actions symbolizing the season's energy. For example, during the autumn, you might release something that no longer serves you, representing the shedding of old patterns.

By incorporating seasonal celebrations into your altar rituals, you can deepen your connection to the natural world and gain a greater appreciation for the cycles of life. These celebrations can be as simple or elaborate as you like, depending on your preferences and available resources.

Disassembling or Moving the Altar

Moving or disassembling an altar can be necessary for a variety of reasons. Whether you are relocating to a new home, rearranging your living space, or simply needing a change, it is essential to properly handle and store your altar items to ensure their longevity and continued spiritual significance. This section will discuss the steps involved in disassembling and moving the altar and how to properly store and reassemble the altar when needed.

Properly Storing Altar Items

Handling each item with care and respect is crucial when disassembling your altar. Here are some guidelines to help you properly store your altar items:

1. Clean and purify: Before storing any altar items, clean and purify them. This can be done by gently wiping them down with a soft cloth or using a mild cleansing solution if necessary. This step is essential to remove any energetic residue and ensure a fresh start when you reassemble the altar.

2. Organize and label: As you disassemble the altar, keep track of each item and its significance. This can be done by marking each item or using a notebook to describe its purpose and symbolism. Organizing and labeling your altar items, you will have an easier time reassembling the altar in the future.

3. Use proper containers: To protect your altar items during storage, it is recommended to use appropriate containers for each item. For delicate items such as crystals or statues, consider using padded boxes or wrapping them in soft cloth before placing them in a larger container. Small storage boxes or bags can keep smaller items like candles or incense organized and protected.

4. Consider environmental factors: When choosing a storage location for your altar items, it is essential to consider environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and light exposure. Some items may be more sensitive to these factors than others. For example, candles should be stored in a cool, dry place to prevent them from melting or warping, while delicate fabrics used as altar cloths should be protected from direct sunlight to avoid fading.

5. Create a sacred space: While your altar items are in storage, consider creating a designated sacred space for them. This can be a shelf or a small area in a closet where you can place them with intention and reverence. By creating a sacred space for your stored altar items, you acknowledge their continued significance and maintain a connection to your spiritual practice.

Reassembling the Altar

When the time comes to reassemble your altar, it is an opportunity to reconnect with your spiritual practice and infuse new energy into your sacred space. Here are some steps to guide you in the process of reassembling your altar:

1. Cleanse the space: Before setting up your altar, take a moment to cleanse the space where it will be placed. This can be done by smudging with sage or using any preferred space-clearing method. Cleansing the space helps to remove any stagnant or negative energy and creates a fresh and welcoming environment for your altar.

2. Start with the essentials: Place the items on your altar. These items hold the most significance to your practice and form the foundation of your sacred space. Whether it's a representation of a deity, a sacred symbol, or a ritual tool, these essential items should be placed with intention and in a way that feels right for you.

3. Arrange with intention: As you continue to reassemble your altar, consider the placement and arrangement of each item. Think about the energy flow and how each item relates to the others. You may choose to arrange items according to their elemental correspondences or based on personal symbolism. Trust your intuition and let your creativity guide you in creating a visually pleasing and energetically balanced altar.

4. Incorporate personal touches: Once the essential items are in place, you can incorporate personal items or heirlooms with sentimental value or personal significance. These items can add a unique touch to your altar and deepen your connection to your spiritual practice. Whether it's a photograph, a piece of jewelry, or a handwritten note, these personal touches can remind you of your journey and the people or experiences that have shaped it.

5. Connect with your altar: After reassembling your altar, take a moment to connect with it. Sit or stand before your altar and allow yourself to be present. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and feel the energy of your altar enveloping you. This is a time to offer gratitude, set intentions, or simply bask in the beauty and sacredness of your altar.

Following these steps ensures that your altar remains a source of inspiration, comfort, and spiritual connection. Whether you need to disassemble and store your altar temporarily or embark on a new chapter, properly handling and reassembling your altar items is an opportunity for growth and reflection in your spiritual journey.


Friday, January 12, 2024


Freedom Square: The Black Girlhood Altar

November 1, 2023—March 10, 2024

Chicago Cultural Center, Michigan Avenue Galleries, 1st Floor East

Photo credit A.  Bruton
Touring The Black Girlhood Altar at the Chicago Cultural Center with my granddaughter, we experience such a powerful, moving installation. That needed no words to tell us what to experience. 

Photo credit A.  Bruton

Photo credit A.  Bruton

Photo credit A.  Bruton


photo credit: Scheherazade Tillet, The Offerings to Yemaya, Rainbow Beach Chicago, 2021)

A Long Walk Home is a national art organization that empowers young people to end violence against girls and women. Since its inception in 2003, A Long Walk Home has built a powerful collective of artists, activists, healers, survivors, scholars, and women and girls of color leaders. We are committed to increasing resources and opportunities for society's most vulnerable girls and women in the Chicago area -- low-income girls and women of color, those with disabilities, and LGBTQ-identified -- and those most impacted by violence.

During the uprising and global pandemic in 2021, A Long Walk Home's Chicago-based artists Scheherazade Tillet and Robert Narciso created The Black Girlhood Altar. The Black Girlhood Altar is a multimedia, artifact-based, video, and object-based artwork to create sacred spaces and honor the lives of Black girls and young Black women who have gone missing or been murdered. As a mode of urgent healing – weaving together commemoration and advocacy – the Black Girlhood Altar is built on years of engaged work in Chicago and taking on national prominence. This temporary monument traveled through various neighborhoods in Chicago before being exhibited at the Chicago Cultural Center. Other installations were at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Project Row Houses in Houston, Project for Empty Space in Newark, and the Minnesota State Capitol in St Paul. As a vital cultural institution in the heart of Chicago, the Chicago Cultural Center represents the democratization of arts for public life.

On Freedom Square: The Black Girlhood Altar is intended as a sacred site for missing and murdered Black girls and women. Assembled by A Long Walk Home's artists Scheherazade Tillet and Robert Narcisco and Black Girls in Chicago, the altar is a mixed-media, object-based installation initially created during the pandemic to transform public spaces from trauma sites to collective remembering and power.

The Black Girlhood Altar honors eight Black women and girls: Rekia Boyd, Latasha Harlins, Ma'Khia Bryant, "Hope," "Harmony," Marcie Gerald, Lyniah Bell, and Breonna Taylor, whose deaths or disappearances have galvanized A Long Walk Home's Black girl leaders to be activists and artists. In many cases, injustice defines their afterlives while their stories remain untold, their legacies honored by only a few.

The exhibit is presented in three distinct gallery spaces - Ritual and Prayer, Rest and Recess: The Courtyard, and Call and Response – each introduced by a distinctly colored lightbox.

Freedom Square: The Black Girlhood Altar aims to bring awareness to the issue of missing and murdered women of color, promote community accountability, end gender-based violence, and increase visibility. The exhibition creates a space for artists, families, and community activists to engage in public conversation.

A Long Walk Home is a Chicago-based national nonprofit that uses art to empower young people to end violence against all girls and women. 


 Saturday, January 13


Daughters of Yemaya: Spiritual Altar Making

Michigan Avenue Galleries, 1st Floor East


March 9-10

Time TBD

Black Girl Takeover: The Black Girlhood Altar Festival

Michigan Avenue Galleries, 1st Floor East

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

ARTgrove Vol 8 - Dia de Los Muertos 2023

Reposted blog article by Teresa Gutierrez | Nov 3, 2021, |

This is a celebration of the Mexican traditional cultural holiday Dia de Los Muertos, where we honor our dearly departed with altars displaying photos and all of their favorite items, along with a cultural Azteca blessing and festivities.

 “Dia de Los Muertos,” a first-of-its-kind cultural creative event put on by ARTners nonprofit in Elk Grove, CA, and sponsored by the City of Elk Grove, Elk Grove Arts Commission, Elk Grove Diversity and Inclusion Commission, and SMUD. The event occurred at Old Town Plaza in Old Elk Grove. The event was well accepted, with approximately 1000 attended on October 29, 2023. We received so much gratitude from the community, thanking ARTners for contributing to our community culturally and creatively. The artwork was reviewed and received many compliments. Also, the vendors, performers, and DJ received many compliments.

Meaning: Dia De Los Muertos is a Mexican traditional holiday that has evolved from Indigenous rituals, and throughout the centuries, it has been infused with religion and regional traditions. It is currently observed in Mexico, the United States, and globally. 

How we celebrate: Families build “altares” (altars) to welcome the spirits of our loved ones back to the earthly realm, providing “ofrendas” (offerings) such as fragrant marigolds and incense,  Pan de Muerto, and objects they enjoyed while living among us. Also, “Calaveras and calacas” were placed on altars to represent those who passed.