Monday, May 29, 2023

Sistars Samaria Marley- Host Juniper's Garden

https://www.junipersgarden.org/


Junipers Garden is a small-scale family farm in Brandywine, Maryland. We grow herbs, flowers, African American heritage crops, and more. This year we are excited to offer a Herbal C.S.A. membership. The C.S.A. will provide fresh herbs, herbal products, seedlings, and nourishing foods. This C.S.A. is perfect for herbalists, foodies, gardeners, and spiritualists. Build your own home apothecary! 




https://issuu.com/mncppc/docs/brandywine_study/4


An Art & Wellness Festival
Friday, June 16, 2023, 6-9 pm
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/oasis-in-the-woods-an-arts-wellness-festival-tickets-638393942467

"2023 Summer Solstice: The Land" is a living, creative, and cultural experiment with sustainable practice at its center. It incubates the artist's and community's personal and collective transformation.

For one week, June 12-16, 2023, artists of diverse disciplines and ages will converge at Juniper's Garden for a week-long residency. Their 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 we will rebuild our communities to be stronger and recreate sustainable places to live." Importantly, this conversation addresses environmental justice's physical and psychological dimensions and impact. The residency will occur in Maryland's Prince Georges's County, the Southernmost region, and its remaining rural tier.

On Friday, June 16, 2023, 6-9 pm, as part of the 2023 Summer Solstice Oasis In The Woods: An Art & Wellness Festival at Juniper's Garden, the artists will host an open house where they will be present to offer free and open to the public gallery walks. In addition, they will be contributing stories of their experiences with the South County ecosystem and the process by which their installations came together.

HOST: Samaria Marley

Junipers Garden- 18104 Croom Rd Brandywine MD, 20613/ 202-270-2039 /samariamarley@gmail.com

About the Facilitators, Samaria is a farmer, herbalist, and co-owner of Junipers Garden. She has worked in agriculture and food justice in the D.C. metro region for over ten years. Her innovative and visionary approach has helped to usher in accessible models of food access and community-centered care. She developed the first low-cost C.S.A. model, C.R.I.S.P., in DC 2016. Then went on to manage The Farm at Kelly Miller in NE DC for four years. She is also the co-founder of the D.C. Mutual Aid Apothecary, a mutual aid organization that connects people to herbal medicine, education, and community.

She began her herbalism journey in 2015 and has studied with Wild Ginger Herbal Center, Well of Indigenous Wisdom, and the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism. She is also a 2022 Braiding Seeds Fellow. Samaria and her partner Blain recently opened Junipers Garden, a small-scale vegetable and medicinal herb farm in Brandywine, MD, whose mission is to provide a space for black and brown people to be on land, reclaim their ancestral healing and farming practices, traditions, and seeds and gain access to valuable knowledge and resources. The farm hosts seasonal events, herbalism workshops, retreats, and natural building workshops.

D.M.V. Black Owned and Operated Farms


https://www.marylandmarketmoney.org/news/dmv-black-owned-and-operated-farms-d6ta3
Special thanks to the Black Church Food Security Network, Future Harvest, and Maryland Market Money participating markets for helping us compile this perpetually growing list. If we left somebody out, it was not intentional. Please let us know using the form below.


Maryland
Harwood Community Garden Baltimore, MD
Hidden Harvest Farm Baltimore, MD
Honey Hemp Farms Upper Marlboro, MD
Jenny's Market Friendship, Maryland
Kindread Hill Farm Ellicott City, MD
Maxine's Garden at Pleasant Hope Baptist Church Baltimore, MD
My Mustard Seed St. Leonard, MD
Myles Produce Capitol Heights, MD
Native Mountain Farm Boonsboro, MD
New Brooklyn Farms Prince George's County, MD
Peaceful Acres Farm Glenwood, MD
Plantation Park Heights Urban Farm Baltimore, MD
Pop! Farm Baltimore, MD
Primo Noir Capital Heights, MD
Purple Mountain Organics Takoma Park, MD
Real Food Farm Baltimore, MD
Strength to Love II Baltimore, MD
Sweet Love Flower Farm Upper Marlboro, MD
Tripple Springs Farm Brandywine, MD
Whitelock Community Farm Baltimore, MD
Windy Willow Farm Sunderland, MD
804 Cattle Company Upper Marlboro, MD
Backyard Basecamp Baltimore, MD
Baltimore Free Farm Baltimore, MD
Bearfoot Farm Baltimore, MD
BLISS Meadows Baltimore, MD
Bon Secours Community Works Baltimore, MD
Cherry Hill Urban Community Garden Baltimore, MD
Elements of Nature Clinton, MD
Curemore Farms Upper Marlboro, MD
Deep Roots Farm Brandywine, MD
Dodo Farms Brookeville, MD
Double Z Cowboy Corral Faulkner, MD
Empower Project Baltimore Baltimore, MD
Eco City Farms Riverdale, MD
Filbert Street Garden Baltimore, MD
Flower of the Forest Farm Lexington Park, MD
Four Mothers Farm Princess Anne, MD
Friends of Great Kids Farm Baltimore, MD
The Green Anarchist Annapolis, MD
The Greener Garden Urban Farm Baltimore, MD
Harlem Park Community Farm Baltimore, MD
The H.A.T. Shop (Healthy Alternative Treatment) MD

Washington, D.C.
Good Sense Farm Washington, DC
Three Part Harmony Farm Washington, DC
Soilful City Washington, DC
Cultivate the City Washington, DC
DC Greens Washington, DC
Dreaming out Loud Washington, DC
District Growers Washington, DC

Virginia
Gardens of Khmet Madison County, VA
GoGreen Farms and Greenhouses VA
Melanated Medicinals Prospect, VA
Mighty Thundercloud Edible Forest Birdsnest, VA
Sun Path Gardens Richmond, VA
Sylvanaqua Farms Montross, VA
Vanguard Ranch Gordonsville, VA
Waddle Om Farm Scottsville, VA
WoodBox Farm Engleside, VA
5th District Mini Farm Richmond, VA
Airport Food Forest Ashland, VA
Botanical Bites Provisions Fredericksburg, VA
Browntown Farms Warfield, VA
AgNCulture Brunswick County, VA
Carter Farms Orange County, VA
Cusheeba Earth Onley, VA
Haynie Farms Reedville, VA
Fitrah Farms Orange County, VA



Rekindling this list of Black farmers and growers in the D.M.V. region (with a focus on Maryland) in honor of Black History Month. 

Black farmers comprised 14% of America's farmers almost a century ago. Today, they account for less than 2%. 

Maryland Market Money is proud to support Black farmers and food producers.

We encourage you to use your dollars to do the same at markets, farm stands, and C.S.A.s every month.




Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Chantel Bennett Joins "Oasis in the Woods" 2023 Retreat

My name is Chantel Bennett, and my preferred pronouns are she/her. I hold a Master's degree in Social Work. I believe in dreaming before thinking as you climb the ladder of trust and power. This is beautifully captured in the words of Toni Morrison.


Chantel (she/her) is a Caribbean-American multidisciplinary artist and spiritual diviner. She hasn't found a medium she won't try at least once and often cycles through periods of focusing on one or three mediums more than others. She is currently focusing on fiber arts and collage.
 



After learning how to knit through TikTok and YouTube University, she is working on replacing her storebought sweaters and knitwear with clothes she knit or crocheted herself. She learned how to crochet from her mother at a young age and often has at least two fiber projects going at once. 





She uses collages for emotional expression and has led therapeutic art journaling and collaging sessions for over 7 years. After completing her Master's in Social Work at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, in May 2023, she plans to become an art therapist and incorporate creative self-expression into her therapy practice.




https://www.eventbrite.com/e/oasis-in-the-woods-an-arts-wellness-festival-tickets-638393942467

Monday, May 15, 2023

Grandmother's Circle, "Those That Help Us Find Our Way"

Six artists will answer this question with land-based art installations during a week-long artist residency at Juniper's Garden. 


FEATURED ARTISTS AND GUEST CURATOR ALPHA BRUTON


Alpha Bruton, 2012 Wanderlust, in a German Garden 

Alpha Bruton, phantomgallerychicago@gmail.com,  

Chief Curator Phantom Gallery Chicago Network, the Phantom Galleries, are temporary exhibitions in nontraditional gallery settings. The mission of the (PGCN) is to promote the betterment of the visual arts community through the arts, promote personal achievement in striving for excellence and continual growth as an artist, and promote cultural activities in exhibits, workshops; galleries exhibitions; art centers; artists in residence projects. 

She is the Co-founder of the Visual Arts Development Project (VADP), formed in 1996. It is an art service organization - that develops projects as living experiments for sustainable practices and an incubator for personal and collective transformation. Visual Arts Development Project is a community-based art organization that provides children, adults, and emerging artists with resources, workshops, and venues to show and express their art form. 

Oasis in the Woods is a 2-Day Arts Festival Showcasing 

2023 Environmental Installations Artists and Celebrating the Summer Solstice!

Mark your calendars now & stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks!

Brought to you by @junipersgarden, @carylhenryalexander, @Phantomgallerychicago. @liminal.grace

 ELEMENTS FROM THE ARCHIVES 2013 "THE LAND" 

Fire Pit, Found Objects Repurposed, 2013 @ Bruton

Grandmother's Circle, installation, 2013 @ Bruton 


Labyrinth by Caryl Henry Alexander,  Happy Hyder, 2013

What is the spiritual meaning of a labyrinth? A labyrinth is an ancient symbol of wholeness. The imagery of the Circle and spiral combine into a meandering but purposeful journey. The Labyrinth represents a journey or path to our center and back again out into the world. Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools.


Grandmother's Circle Storytelling, 2013


Tree Decorating @Caryl Henry Alexander








Saturday, May 13, 2023

Nature, Culture, Public Space Curator Caryl Henry Alexander

2023 Summer Solstice Oasis in The Woods:
An Art & Wellness Festival
Friday, June 16, 2023, 6-9 pm
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/oasis-in-the-woods-an-arts-wellness-festival-tickets-638393942467

"2023 Summer Solstice: The Land" is a living creative, and cultural experiment with sustainable practice at its center. It incubates the artist's and community's personal and collective transformation.

For one week, June 12-16, 2023, artists of diverse disciplines and ages will converge at Juniper's Garden for a week-long residency. Their 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 we will rebuild our communities to be stronger and recreate sustainable places to live." Importantly, this conversation addresses environmental justice's physical and psychological dimensions and impact. The residency will occur in Maryland's Prince George's County, the Southernmost region, and its remaining rural tier.

On Friday, June 16, 2023, 6-9 pm, as part of the 2023 Summer Solstice Oasis in The Woods: An Art & Wellness Festival at Juniper's Garden, the artists will host an open house where they will be present to offer free and open to the public gallery walks. In addition, they will be contributing stories of their experiences with the South County ecosystem and the process by which their installations came together.

Curator/ Environmental Installation:

For more information, artists that wish to participate.

Caryl Henry Alexander, carylhenryalexander@gmail.com  https://www.carylhenryalexander.com/

For more than 40 years, Caryl Henry Alexander's work has harnessed the power of 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 painting, printmaking, papermaking, textiles, installations, and sculpture. Her media are traditional and experimental, often incorporating recycled or found objects and natural plant materials. 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 action. 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.

FROM THE ARCHIVES OF THE PHANTOM GALLERY CHICAGO

WOMEN ARTISTS OF THE AMERICAN WEST - FEATURED CARYL HENRY

2001 Nature, Culture, Public Space-- 

 "My life as an artist comprises several activities reflected in my artworks. I work as a studio artist, a community and public artist, and an educator.

For me, art is medicined: it brings me in close touch with the life force at the center of my being. It reflects where I am and how I can travel through the world at this time in history. This search for self and connection with community speaks to all present in our post-modern culture. I often look for places where I can feel a solid connection to nature.

Travel figures prominently in my process, as it is often through collaboration with other artists that I can see my own truth. Toward this end, I have traveled to France, Cuba, Mexico, and most recently to Nigeria, West Africa, to share ideas and processes with artists and to exhibit my work.

I was trained as a printmaker and have, throughout my career, worked in sculpture, painting, mixed media, installation, and public art. 

My current concerns are fully integrating my African experiences and processing a more robust vision of who I am as an African American into my art. This is taking the form of studio paintings, prints, and sculptures. Also, I am working to bring my images and vision out of the traditional gallery environment and into the public arena through site-specific public artworks. 



Thursday, May 11, 2023

"Pause Portal" a Place for Collective Reflection, Imagination, and Transformation

 https://www.liminalgrace.com/


Sanskrit term for Vinyasa- is a smooth transition between asanas in flowing styles of modern yoga as exercises such as Vinyasa Krama Yoga and Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, especially when movement is paired with the breath. Vinyasa yoga, also called "flow" because of the smooth way the poses run together, is one of the most popular contemporary styles of yoga. It's a broad classification encompassing many different types of yoga, including Ashtanga and power yoga.


Soul Flow is a slow-flow vinyasa yoga class that moves to the rhythm of your deepest breath. Gigi will guide you through a heartfelt practice of longer holds & fluid transitions that unite your mind, body & soul. Designed to expand body awareness, rejuvenate the mind, and deepen spiritual growth, this installation will nourish you inside & out and act as a portal to the artist's installations at Junipers Garden Environmental Art  Installation Galleries. 


Gigi is a holistic wellness educator, experience curator, 200-hour certified vinyasa yoga teacher, social justice advocate, and an eternal student of life. She uses the principles of yoga, mindfulness attitudes, and natural wisdom as catalysts for ease, empowerment, and liberation. With a strong belief that holding space for collective reflection, imagination, and transformation is the key to meaningful change, Gigi regards her work as spiritual activism. Her teaching style honors the beauty and nuance of the human experience while encouraging individual power and curiosity along the way.

What We're All About

In between the past, which we cannot change, and the future, which has not come yet, lies the only place we have any actual power- the present. This liminal space presents (pun intended) an opportunity to transform our experience of life.

So in the face of that opportunity, we began asking...

What if we met the present moment with the slow & steady wisdom of Earth?

The adaptable flow of water?

The burning enthusiasm of fire?

The easeful lightness of air?

And the deep knowing of ether?

What kind of life could we make for ourselves?

What kind of world could we create together?

At Liminal Grace, this is both our adventure & our ministry.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/oasis-in-the-woods-an-arts-wellness-festival-tickets-638393942467

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

2023 Summer Solstice Oasis in The Woods: An Art & Wellness Festival

 


2023 Summer Solstice Oasis in The Woods:
An Art & Wellness Festival
Friday, June 16, 2023, 6-9 pm

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/oasis-in-the-woods-an-arts-wellness-festival-tickets-638393942467

“2023 Summer Solstice: The Land” is a living creative, and cultural experiment with sustainable practice at its center. It is an incubator for the artist’s and community’s personal and collective transformation.
 
For one week, June 12-16, 2023, artists of diverse disciplines and ages will converge at Juniper’s Garden for a week-long residency. Their 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 we will rebuild our communities to be stronger and recreate sustainable places to live.” Importantly, this conversation addresses environmental justice's physical and psychological dimensions and impact. The residency will occur in Maryland’s Prince George's County, the Southernmost region, and its remaining rural tier.
 
On Friday, June 16, 2023, 6-9 pm, as part of the 2023 Summer Solstice Oasis in The Woods: An Art & Wellness Festival at Juniper’s Garden, the artists will host an open house where they will be present to offer free and open to the public gallery walks. In addition, they will be contributing stories of their experiences with the South County ecosystem and the process by which their installations came together.


2023 ARTIST/CURATORS/FACULTY 

FACILITATOR/HOST: Samaria Marley

Samaria is a farmer, herbalist, and co-owner of Junipers Garden. She has worked in agriculture and food justice in the DC metro region for over ten years. Her innovative and visionary approach has helped to usher in accessible models of food access and community-centered care. She developed the first low-cost CSA model, C.R.I.S.P., in DC in 2016. Then went on to manage The Farm at Kelly Miller in NE DC for four years. She is also the co-founder of the DC Mutual Aid Apothecary, a mutual aid organization that connects people to herbal medicine, education, and community.

She began her herbalism journey in 2015 and has studied with Wild Ginger Herbal Center, Well of Indigenous Wisdom, and the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism. She is also a 2022 Braiding Seeds Fellow. Samaria and her partner Blain recently opened Junipers Garden, a small-scale vegetable and medicinal herb farm in Brandywine, MD, whose mission is to provide a space for black and brown people to be on land, reclaim their ancestral healing and farming practices, traditions, and seeds and gain access to valuable knowledge and resources. The farm hosts seasonal events, herbalism workshops, retreats, and natural building workshops.

Curators:

For more than 40 years, Caryl Henry Alexander’s work has harnessed the power of 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 painting, printmaking, papermaking, textiles, installations, and sculpture. Her media are traditional and experimental, often incorporating recycled or found objects and natural plant materials. 

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 action.  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.

Chief Curator Phantom Gallery Chicago Network, the Phantom Galleries, are temporary exhibitions in nontraditional gallery settings. The mission of the (PGCN) is to promote the betterment of the visual arts community through the arts, promote personal achievement in striving for excellence and continual growth as an artist, and promote cultural activities in exhibits, workshops; galleries exhibitions; art centers; artists in residence projects. She is the Co-founder of the Visual Arts Development Project (VADP), formed in 1996. It is an art service organization - that develops projects as living experiments for sustainable practices and an incubator for personal and collective transformation. Visual Arts Development Project is a community-based art organization that provides children, adults, and emerging artists with resources, workshops, and venues to show and express their art form. https://vartsdevelopmentproject.blogspot.com

Jennifer Andrea "YAYA" Porras- Holds a B.A. in Theater/Dance Arts from CSU- Sacramento. 
During her studies and 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 which are curated by master altar makers drawing on personal history: Envisioned to evoke the transformative value of historical and contemporary cultural traditions, MAP's Gallery uses the power of myth, stories, and imagination to give voice to the universality of cultural traditions.


Happy/L. A 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. https://www.edgewater-gallery.com/happyla-hyder-1/
I am an artist using the camera as my tool and the negative as my 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) finds me ecstatic as I became physically and visually immersed in this vibrant area. I claim the pictorialist photographers of 1950s' Life Magazine as mentors; 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.

Gabrielle Gilliam, g.gilliam024@gmail.com
Gigi is a holistic wellness educator, experienced curator, 200-hour certified vinyasa yoga teacher, social justice advocate, and an eternal student of life. She uses the principles of yoga, mindfulness attitudes, and natural wisdom as catalysts for ease, empowerment, and liberation. With a strong belief that holding space for collective reflection, imagination, and transformation is the key to meaningful change, Gigi regards her work as spiritual activism. Her teaching style honors the beauty and nuance of the human experience while encouraging individual power and curiosity along the way.
"Vinyasa" is a Place for Collective Reflection, Imagination, and Transformation



Tuesday, February 7, 2023

OBSERVER 2022 Person of The Year: Shonna McDaniel's

 This Sacramento Artist And Museum Founder Uses Her Art To Unapologetically Educate And Inspire The African American Community


Shonna McDaniel's spent a lot of time lying down this year. The local artist slipped from a ladder while working on a community mural project and broke her foot.

As a person who is constantly on the go and doing something, usually for other people, being unable to move pained her as much as the injury itself. The initial injury turned into others and she also developed life-threatening blood clots from being prone for an extended period.

McDaniels doesn’t know how to sit still; yet, when she was forced to, it still wasn’t idle time. The artist’s hands – and mind – were constantly working. Bedridden for five months, she discovered new ways to create and while recuperating, organized art shows and youth art activities.

McDaniels’ unapologetic work in showing the beauty of Black people and their contributions and her continued commitment to seeing Black artists have a seat at the table led to her selection by The OBSERVER as its 2022 Person of the Year.

Before her injury, McDaniels could be found running the Sojourner Truth African Heritage Museum in her beloved South Sacramento. She founded the museum in 1996 and has expanded it from a one-room space to a must-see cultural destination.


Local artist and museum founder Shonna McDaniel's has made a conscious effort to paint her people, educate the community and create opportunities for others to shine. Verbal Adam, OBSERVER


“We want to have information on great African kings and queens and individuals that they don’t speak of when they talk about art history, that they are too afraid to speak of when they talk about our history,” McDaniel's says of the space.

Visitors often encountered her going seemingly 100 mph, urging them to discover all the museum offers and pointing them to other activities throughout the building. She’s still going full speed, only these days, it’s in a wheelchair or a motorized scooter donated by a community supporter.

The museum is located inside the Florin Square complex. McDaniels’ roots in the space date back 30 years to when she worked for Barbara Nord, the first Black woman to own a payee service in Sacramento. The building was known as the Business Incubator at the time. It’s now home to a number of Black-owned small businesses and the African Market Place, which takes place every first and third Saturday. McDaniels also organizes Second Saturday activities as a way to include Blacks in activities that expose people to art and culture as they do in other parts of the city.

“We need that for South Sacramento,” she says. 

African Market Place leader Ra West hosted an art exhibit featuring McDaniels during Second Saturday earlier this month. West says the spotlight was long overdue, as McDaniels usually is uplifting other people’s work.

Black Like Me
Where others see a blank canvas, McDaniels sees possibilities. When she sees voids, she seeks to fill them. When others push back against her desire to see people of color depicted in public spaces, she just paints them with bolder strokes.


She focuses much of her artistic energy into painting Black women in all their melanated glory. Former mentor Akinsanya Kambon says that’s a skill in itself.

“You can’t just make Black skin by using one color,” says Kambon, who first taught McDaniels at the tender age of 4.

“Black skin has all the colors in it and I see Shonna is doing that,” he says. “You have to use reds and blues and greens, and purples, and yellows; all those colors come from the sun and the sun reflects off the melanin in the skin.

“The first thing in being an artist is you’ve got to learn how to see. The average person doesn’t know how to see those things, but when you study it, you learn how to see it and you also learn how to paint it. But it’s not easy. So when somebody does what Shonna’s doing, you can see that they put in a lot of work studying those skin tones or skin colors.”

McDaniels’ work has been featured in the recurring “The Black Woman Is God” exhibit at the SOMA Arts Culture Center in San Francisco. Co-curator Karen Seneferu says as an artist, McDaniels embodies what “The Black Woman Is God” is all about.

“Shonna McDaniels is an unsung heroine,” says the fellow artist. “Like the exhibit, Shonna’s art celebrates Black women as essential to building a more just society. Shonna McDaniels creates spaces that are sustainable to the community’s future.

“When she produces art, she expands the intersectionality of race, age and gender, dismantling stereotypes of Black women.”

McDaniels has taught art classes and conducted numerous workshops and exhibits. She also has been involved in such collaborations as the Visual Arts Development Project, Zica Creative Arts and Literary Guild, Kuumba Collective, and the Sacramento African American Nonprofit Coalition. She also advocates for Black inclusion in public art projects such as Wide Open Walls.

“Shonna is pure light and love in action,” says Sandy Holman, founder of the Davis nonprofit The Culture C.O.-O.P.

Holman met McDaniels at the African Market Place and says her life is better for it.

“She is fearless, committed and talented beyond measure, but I love her most for what she does for our community and her zeal to give back,” Holman says.

‘Woke’ Walls 
“Woke” is a fairly contemporary term, but McDaniels says she always has been that way. She participated in her first Kwanzaa at age 5 and attended an African-centered Saturday school where she learned Swahili and was immersed in culture.

She credits her mother, Ollie McDaniels, who helps run the museum, for laying the foundation early.

“We had African masks, African paintings and images of Black people all throughout the house,” McDaniels says. “She was a part of the Black Panther movement. We would go down to Oakland and participate in the marches and other activities, so she kept our minds stimulated.”

McDaniels’ father, William McDaniels, spent time behind bars and was changed by the experience. He passed on that knowledge to his children.

“When he got into prison, he started to cultivate his Black mind and he started sharing that information with us as young people,” she says. “He started writing letters to me as a young child and sharing information about historical Black leaders. I’m getting letters with all these powerful history lessons in them.”

Her mother also joined the Nation of Islam and exposed her children to its ideology and self-sufficiency message. Both have influenced her art and community-focused activism.

“I definitely was inspired by the fact that the Nation had an entire block in Oak Park of businesses,” McDaniels says. “ It was like a Black Wall Street. I had never seen anything like it before.”

Today’s kids need similar exposure, she says.

“My mom involved us in everything that she could possibly imagine that would cultivate our Black minds and a lot of the parents are not doing that. That’s one of the biggest mistakes that’s happening today for our youth. Of course, we know they’re not getting that information in school.”

While educators were being damned nationally for teaching the realities of American history, McDaniels was educating local youth about their place in it through a docent program at the museum that gives them money for their pockets as well. While school districts across the country added classical Black titles to their lists of banned books, McDaniels was introducing youth to Black authors on the walls of her museum and supporting the local business, Escape Velocity’s Boys in The Hood Book Club, a literacy program.

For McDaniels, who hosts a Black memorabilia fest and the annual Festival of Black Women’s Hair, Body, Mental/Financial Health, Beauty and Art, it nearly broke her heart to hear a local teen say she “didn’t know anything about being Black until the George Floyd incident.” Also troubling, she says, are upper middle-class parents and celebrities with far-reaching platforms, who shy away from their Blackness and denounce the importance of young people knowing about their culture and their past.

“What our community does not understand is that our children are out here acting foolish and running amok and it is because they don’t have a knowledge of self,” she says. “If they had a knowledge of self and they loved self, then that would allow them to love others in their space. If they knew that they come from greatness, they wouldn’t be out here calling each other the n-word and the b-word; they would be on a whole other level of consciousness.”

‘This Work Is A Part Of My Soul’
During the pandemic, McDaniels and the Sojourner Truth Museum have minded the gaps for the community, hosting senior activities, providing weekly meals and hosting youth pop-up events and art lessons, complete with supplies. Some of the events were covered by city COVID-19 money, but McDaniels continued the activities even after the funds stopped this year.

“This work is a part of my soul,” McDaniels says. “It’s my life’s work and I want parents to get it, I want our children to get it; I want them to succeed, I want them to love each other. It doesn’t matter if the funding is not there. Like Malcolm said, ‘By any means necessary.’ So, if I have to come out of my own pocket, which, in the past, and still, sometimes today, I still do. I’ve always had that mind-set. I’ll go without to make sure that my community has.”

Kambon, a former Black Panther Party artist, is proud of McDaniels.

“I’ve seen her develop as one of the most accomplished artists in Sacramento, in terms of African Americans,” he says.

Kambon is also happy she has stayed true to her activist roots.

“We as artists have a responsibility to speak to our people’s struggle in this country because that’s why our ancestors gave us this talent. They gave it to us so we can carry the fight. We have to intensify the struggle,” Kambon says.

Supporters often caution McDaniels that she’s “doing too much,” but those words don’t seem to be in her vocabulary. She’s already focused on 2023 and getting an early start on securing funding for her annual Banana Festival that is a major fundraiser for the museum.

“A lot of people tell me, ‘You’re going to kill yourself trying to save your people,’ ‘You’re going to make yourself sick,’ or ‘You have made yourself sick,’” she says. “It’s just embedded in me to continue to do this work, and hopefully, before I transition, some type of major change will be made.”

THE OBSERVER proudly salutes Shonna McDaniels as its 2022 Person of the Year.



Sunday, February 5, 2023

YaYa Porras - Berkeley Poetry Festival 1999


YaYa Porras reading at the Berkeley Poetry Festival in 1999. The event was held the first weekend of October at the University Art Museum and sculpture garden.




J. Andrea Porras / yAyA is a Queer, 2Spirit, Coahuiltecan descendant Chicana, madre of JAH’Sol Amaru, cultura cura curator, producer, intersectional artist, practitioner; with over 25 years experience in performance, organizing, facilitation, grant making, grant reviewing, philanthropy, and mentoring. Porras began their performative journey as a roller skating waiter edutaining and serving up Tex -Mex campo to mesa cuisine at her familia’s local Bordertown haven/ restaurant. Amezcua’s was located in their beloved barrio and birthplace of San Felipe, Del Rio Tejas.
They have been offering intersectional multimedia arte between edutainment and story sharing, storytelling ceremonias through solo and collaborations for over 25 years.. Porras’ brings viewers into the past, present and future via Charcoal Foot Travels spoken palabra and improvs, teatro y movimiento as relative and guest upon Sacred Indigenous Lands 4 decades and counting. They are self and community funded as well as an honored culture bearer via commissions, grants, invitations, research, opportunities. Porras también curates visual exhibitions, creates site specific installations, ritual performance, teatro y flor y canto movimiento. Most recently Current Classy Broadway Curatorial Resident in Oak Park, Sacramento.

Porras earned their B.A. degree from California State University Sacramento, Theater Dance and Cultural Anthropology Departments, where they specialized in Black, Indigenous, and Chicano/a Theater.. They focused on acting, improv movement, playwriting, producing and video documenting. Porras dedicated their early years at CSUS recruiting hundreds of first generation students from Sacramento high schools. They were recruited by the Education Opportunity Program as a student teacher / peer mentor in Ethnic Studies, Acting, Chicano Theater, Cultural Anthropology and African- Caribbean Dance. Simultaneously, Porras spent years as an artist in residence at elementary and middle schools in Sacramento, funded by The Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission. They studied, taught, performed and participated in Inter-Tribal ceremonies as an Afro- Caribbean, Danza Mexika traditional dancer predominantly connecting and building in Northern California across through the Southwest, and later in Cuba, Mexico, Africa and NY.

They crossed over from teaching artist and community cultural producer to Arts administrator and philanthropy focus in joining the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission. They served as the cities Arts Education coordinator and later Co founded, Directed and Facilitated a Roots, Altars and Movement course at World Arts Space. The WAS project brought together 8 artists for 8 weeks 8 hours a day, offering free and accessible Arte y Cultura . An intergenerational community Artist and apprentice residency/ building relations with 100 emerging youth artists through an all-immersive arts training safe space embedded in the community of Oak Park in the Summers of 2004/ 05.

Porras also served as a community development organizer with Mutual Housing of California. In their 4 year term, they created civic leadership engagement and arts and cultural revival pop-ups workshops in multiple incredibly diverse and intergenerational family-subsidized housing communities they served throughout the Sacramento region. Later came the call to action as manager, community, and art gallery curator at Taller Arte del Nuevo Amanacer, founded by Malaquias Montoya and Carlos Jackson and directed by Maceo Montoya. TANA is based in the rural community of Woodland, CA. Mentored by Malaquias, and leading an amazing and talented mentee /student/ artist staff, they collectively recruited and grew new generations of political poster makers on the satellite location for the University of California at Davis Chicana/o Studies Department.

Porras recently exited their 5-year role as Arts Grant Specialist for the California Arts Council, where they managed a portfolio totaling approximately $9 million in funding per year. Currently, they stand for love, dignity, and transformation as an agent for BIPOC communities as a member of the Caltrans Office of Race and Equity, Native American Liaison Branch Headquarters. They are a 2004 NALAC Leadership Institute graduate and an invited peer for the 2017 Advocacy Leader Institute. They are currently attending IAIA as a student in the Native American Art History certificate program. Porras, co-founded Movimiento Molcajete (1997) Contemporary Indigenous Teatro Co. & MA Series Arts (2018), a 501c3 non-profit MA Series Arts nonprofit 2018: dedicated to supporting performance, research & practice by women y queers of color, honoring the full spectrum of cultural and gender identities.

Berkeley Poetry Festival


Since 1998, the Berkeley Poetry Festival has honored activist writers by creating space for performance and presenting a lifetime achievement award. In 2013,  Sharon Coleman and I, MK Chavez, took over organizing the festival. We dedicated ourselves to building an equitable event by uplifting the voices of BIPOC, LGBTQI+, and other writers who experience systemic violence and oppression. 
It was with great heartache that we read the bold public letter written by two anonymous sexual assault survivors who are calling for accountability and healing from transgressions committed by former lifetime achievement award recipient Rafael Jesús González. You can read their letter here:

In 2015, we honored Rafael Jesús González because of the key role that he has played in our community as a leader and mentor. The Berkeley Poetry Festival Lifetime Award is not an award that can be retracted because it is an acknowledgment and an event that has already taken place. However,  we are extremely hopeful that because of his background,  Rafael Jesús González will step up as he has against other injustices and violence in the community and the world and do the work that must be done.
 
We know our community is hurt and in need of healing, and we are committed to supporting a process that honors the survivors in whatever way we can. Berkeley Poetry Festival celebrates the work and words of the survivors and simultaneously acknowledges that the burden should not be on survivors to do this necessary work. 

To support the requests, we commit to: 
• We will remove the celebration and centering  of Rafael Jesùs Gonzalez from Berkeley Poetry Festival social media and future promotional materials, including the list of past lifetime achievement award recipients, to hold space for the healing work that is ahead (no later than Monday, August 21, 2022)
• Rafael Jesùs Gonzalez will not be included in any future Berkeley Poetry Festival events. 
Berkeley Poetry Festival also acknowledges the work of LA DASS  , which makes the invisible visible while holding values that seek to humanize and heal.

Monday, October 31, 2022

 Taurean Webb

Having just completed a national search, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary is pleased to announce the appointment of Taurean J. Webb as director of the Center for the Church and the Black Experience (CBE). In addition, Webb will be joining the faculty as an instructor of religion and race and will be named an assistant professor of theology and race upon completing his dissertation. Webb will begin his position on May 1, 2019. A leading center of Garrett-Evangelical, CBE was founded in 1970 and has empowered and trained generations of leaders for the African American religious community and society.


Webb, who has been serving as the interim director of CBE since July 2018, will focus on building a solid financial and programmatic foundation for the center. With experience in pastoral ministry, intersectional justice movement building, cultural education, non-profit governance, and interracial/interfaith coalition training, Webb aims to engage a broad cross-section of professional domains as the director. He is particularly interested in engaging faith communities, educators, and civil society organizations to enhance current Garrett-Evangelical students' experiences and help maximize CBE's impact outside the seminary.


"We are delighted that Mr. Webb has accepted our invitation to join the Garett-Evangelical faculty and to direct our historic Center for the Church and the Black Experience," said President Lallene J. Rector. "His work in black theology, commitment to interfaith dialogue and activism, and expertise in critical race theory are gifts that will enhance and strengthen the seminary's commitment to preparing spiritual leaders for today's church and world. Welcome, Taurean!"



For nearly five decades, CBE has been a beacon of hope and inspiration for Black students, pastors, churches, and communities. In addition, it has been instrumental in fusing Black people and Black religious life into the entire seminary community. As the director, Webb seeks to address the unique challenges facing Black students—across the diaspora—while educating and inspiring all persons who live, work, and study at the seminary.



"In so many ways, CBE stands in such a storied lineage of Black institutions that came of age in the thick of twentieth-century liberation struggles. For this reason and others, I count it such a great honor to lead this center into its half-century mark—a historical moment in which Garrett-Evangelical, its denomination, and Africa-descended people the world over are urgently wrestling with important questions about God, equity, and justice," Webb noted. "I'm grateful to the search committee for its tireless work and Garrett-Evangelical for its commitment to liberation-minded ministry."


Webb is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Morehouse College with a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy and religion. In addition, he holds a master of arts degree in Black and cultural studies from Columbia University and Northwestern University. He is currently in the doctor of the philosophy program at Garrett-Evangelical, with doctoral research that looks at "Blackness" and "Palestinian-ness" as racial formations and how an internationalist theological hermeneutic of [visual material] culture can uncover how these communities organically move against white supremacy and Judeo-Christian hegemony. His work is supported by the Forum for Theological Exploration.

Previously, Webb served as Scholar-in-Residence at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, where he produced writings, researched, and managed the organization's Palestine justice portfolio. In addition, he formerly served as director of staff and academies at the W.E.B. DuBois Scholars Institute in Princeton, New Jersey.

Instituted in 1970 as one of the primary emphases of the seminary, the Center for the Church and the Black Experience (CBE) focuses on African and African American experience and ministry. Part of its purpose is to ensure the integration of the Black religious experience into all aspects of seminary life, including student recruitment, faculty development, curriculum planning, and special programs. Its aims are instituted by incorporating African and African American experience into existing curricula, rather than establishing separate Black studies programs; by the endowment of scholarships for black students; and by establishing a parity committee made up of equal numbers of Black and white faculty. 

To learn more about CBE, go to Garrett.edu/CBE.


Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, a graduate school of theology related to The United Methodist Church, was founded in 1853. Located on the campus of Northwestern University, the seminary serves more than 450 students from various denominations and cultural backgrounds, fostering an atmosphere of ecumenical interaction. Garrett-Evangelical creates bold leaders through a master of divinity, a master of arts, a master of theological studies, a doctor of philosophy, and a doctor of ministry degrees. Its 4,500 living alumni serve church and society around the world.

Friday, June 10, 2022

Garden Flowers and Spring Blossoms.

The Sense of Smell 

My favorite scents growing up in Fresno California were the four 0'Clock's, Mexican morning glories. In the springtime, olive blossoms smelled so good with the morning dew. I grew up on a street called Lemon, that street was lined with olive trees, chinaberry trees, maple trees, and in our back yard we had trees that framed the yard. 

@Photos from The Farmer Fred Rant

@Photo is from The Farmer Fred Rant

I remember my mother's little flower garden, which grew outside of my bedroom window, with roses, ferns, bachelor buttons, and wildflowers.  There was also an almond tree, a walnut tree, several varieties of peach trees, pomegranate trees, a mulberry tree,  a persimmon, 3 small canning peach trees, 3  maple trees, a loquat tree next to the house, in the front yard there was an orange tree, a Myers lemon tree, and 2 olive trees. 

Photo by Ina Lunkenheimer, Pankow Berlin Germany 2011

This summer while I was in Pankow I visited a neighborhood park, where we painted the landscape. While sitting there calming my spirit I was reflecting on my childhood memories. The trees I remember most because we had shade in the summertime, and we also hugged the trees. I climbed the trees as far as I could go up until my mother called me down. I loved those trees I loved how excited I felt climbing from limb to limb, searching for fruit, and perching on the just-right limb as I watched the other kids playing.

Friday, May 20, 2022

To Inherit the Earth-

 


Taurean J. Webb, an instructor at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and a Harvard Divinity School fellow, presented a collaborative art exhibition called “Ye Shall Inherit the Earth & Faces of the Divine” at a virtual event sponsored by the Divinity School.

The event — “A Home for the Human Spirit: Cultural Activism and the Moral Imagination in the Inherit Art Project” — was part of a series by the Religion, Conflict, and Peace Initiative at HDS to showcase the work of its fellows. The virtual event included a preface to the work by Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary professor Brian Bantum, a video trailer, and an interview with a featured artist.

In spearheading the project, Webb said he hoped to reimagine links between Black and Palestinian identities and highlight “Black-Palestinian transnational solidarity and the shared joys and the shared fears.”

“While this project and this conversation isn't a move to kind of universalize Blackness or Palestinianness or exceptionalize them in these weird sorts of ways, it is an argument for and a project about constantly recasting and recasting and recasting and redeploying how we might imagine what I sometimes call these transnational resonances,” Webb said.

Webb said he hoped to build on the work activists and scholars have already begun in recognizing these connections and create a new “entry point” for those who were not as familiar with Palestine.

“I wanted to offer them a place to enter, hoping that when they saw people who reminded them of themselves, and they aunties and they sisters and they grandmamas and they cousins that they begin to see humanity a bit more broadly,” Webb said.

Webb’s project features both the work of and interviews with various artists to highlight the Black-Palestinian experience and connect it with a broader discussion of humanity.

“I gathered about 15 artists — visual artists — from both the African diaspora and Palestinian exiled migration together into a visual arts exhibition that uses portraiture as a way to reflect on the relationship between humanity and the sacred,” Webb said.

A traveling exhibition created from the project will continue to move around the U.S., and Webb plans to release a film in 2023 including artist interviews and footage of the exhibits.