06 December 2014

BodyPower -- Sixteen Days: Art and Reflection on Ending Gender-Based Violence





"BodyPower" -- Sixteen Days: Art and Reflection on Ending Gender-based Violence by Angelique V Nixon and Krystal Ghisyawan. This video of Days 6 to 10 focuses on erotic autonomy and body power in the face of gender-based violence. Women and girls are not the only victims of violence. We remember trans-bodies, gender-queer bodies, male bodies, racialised bodies in our call to end violence. Our bodies matter.
from Beloved by Toni Morrison -- may we sing these words in our hearts today and everyday:
“In this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it. They don't love your eyes; they'd just as soon pick em out. No more do they love the skin on your back. Yonder they flay it. And O my people they do not love your hands. Those they only use, tie, bind, chop off and leave empty. Love your hands! Love them. Raise them up and kiss them. Touch others with them, pat them together, stroke them on your face 'cause they don't love that either. You got to love it, you! And no, they ain't in love with your mouth. Yonder, out there, they will see it broken and break it again. What you say out of it they will not heed. What you scream from it they do not hear. What you put into it to nourish your body they will snatch away and give you leavins instead. No, they don't love your mouth. You got to love it. This is flesh I'm talking about here. Flesh that needs to be loved. Feet that need to rest and to dance; backs that need support; shoulders that need arms, strong arms I'm telling you. And O my people, out yonder, hear me, they do not love your neck unnoosed and straight. So love your neck; put a hand on it, grace it, stroke it and hold it up. and all your inside parts that they'd just as soon slop for hogs, you got to love them. The dark, dark liver--love it, love it and the beat and beating heart, love that too. More than eyes or feet. More than lungs that have yet to draw free air. More than your life-holding womb and your life-giving private parts, hear me now, love your heart. For this is the prize.”


We have a right to breathe. We have a right to dignity and justice. We rage for our lives. We rage for the future. We rage with our hearts, our voices, our spirits. We will not rest. We will not be silent. We rage more. Make Furious Our Survival. 

*~*~*

Our first video of Days 1-5 -- "Outrage" - Sixteen Days: Art and Reflection on Ending Gender-Based Violence.  



30 November 2014

Trinidad Adventures

It's been a long time... I dove into my work and exciting movements in Trinidad... and well... haven't made the time to reflect or post on my blog... but the work continues... and with the assault on Black lives in the United States (and everywhere... cause anti-Blackness exists globally), it's been hard to share/express the sadness, grief, and anger... so I must keep working, keep writing, and keep doing. 

Instagram has been the place I've shared some of my adventures... through photographs and short reflections.
 
@sistellablack Instgram Page -- screen shot of October photos


The past four months have been filled with adventures, blessings, fulfilling work, and community, intellectual, artistic exchange. My time here has been truly inspiring, rejuvenating, and healing. I am related ancestrally to Trinidad, and so I have always felt a connection every time I've visited. But now that I'm living here, it really feels like home more and more everyday. I am working hard and enjoying every minute of it. Teaching my first graduate seminar on Sexualities, Bodies and Power, and also mentoring and working with incredible graduate students (at the Institute for Gender and Development Studies, St. Augustine Unit, UWI) has restored my love for being an educator in an academic setting. I'm so grateful for this time and for the Fulbright Award. I feel incredibly blessed and am confident that this is exactly where I am meant to be.

I've been able to share much of myself as an activist and artist in my workplace and through community building during this time. And of course, I've been writing and creating so much! I worked really hard on the final final edits for my book when I got here in September, and then on other articles and short pieces. Also, I worked on and completed some new art projects. And still engaged in several community-based projects.

Here are some updates/highlights and links to check out. Mostly this is for me to archive my work but perhaps some may enjoy seeing what I've been doing these past months - all in one place:








Repeating Islands, as well as Caribbean Commons shared the call.



  • I organized a roundtable on "Erotic Justice and Caribbean Feminist Organizing for Gender and Sexual Equality" at the National Women's Studies Association Conference in Puerto Rico -- with Tonya Haynes (CODE RED for Gender Justice and UWI Lecturer at IGDS, Cave Hill, Barbados) and Puerto Rican writers/activists Zulma Oliveras Vega and Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro. We had an amazing and vibrant dialogue about creating justice through poetry, praxis, community work, and visual art.

And thanks to Yolanda :) here is video of me sharing 
my poem "Grace of Wonder" as part of our roundtable exchange:



  • I've been working on my new media installation for NE7 - Antillean: An Ecology  (National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, Dec 2014 - May 2015). "Troubling Identities" multimedia visual & literary art (video -- 9min 50sec). This piece seeks to make visible the submerged & vexed sexual-racial relations that make up the Caribbean family. Digital collages of my oil pastels and photographs weaved in with my voice, featuring a remix of my poems "Caribbean Crossings, In Motion" & "Birth of Sistella Black." 

"Troubling Identities" -- sneak peek 

  • Working with my friend/colleague Krystal Ghisyawan on a Collaborative Art Project or Artivism -- "Sixteen Days: Art and Reflection on Ending Gender-Based Violence" -- using three art pieces and 16 messages. We are posting one piece of the art & reflection each day on facebook, instagram, and tumblr. And we are using video to bring the messages together in three different art pieces. Here is the first video:




  • Planning a Public Forum for IGDS on "Evolving Feminist and Gender Conversations: CyberActivism, Social Networking, and LGBT Organising" -- coming up on Human Rights Day -- 10 Dec. 



  • And finally -- my Current Tides creative partner (Tei Okamoto) for The Love and Affection Project encouraged me to share my story about my mother -- during a presentation he hosted at Columbia University about our project, and since I couldn't be there in person, I recorded my story and also a description of our work. In honor of World AIDS Day (Dec 1st), we decided to share the recording of my story on our website to pay tribute to my mum. This is a launch of our first sharing of stories we've been collecting over the past year. Check it out here on our new page "Crossings" -- a taste of what the Love & Affection art exhibition of stories will be in the near future (planning for summer 2015).


As always, your thoughts and comments are always welcome on conscious vibration.

peace, love, blessings & conscious vibes from Trinidad! 
Angelique


21 July 2014

Spring Highlights & Summer '14 Journeys

After a long hiatus, I'm finally getting a chance to share on my blog space. It's been way too long... but here I am after some months and reflection on how/if I want to keep up this space of conscious vibration. So I decided for now that I will continue using it as a "here is what I've been up to" and archive of my work... till I figure out what I want to do with this space.

So here goes it -- the last few months in highlights -- my TOP FIVE:

1) I'm moving to Trinidad in August! I'm going to be a Fulbright Scholar at the Institute for Gender and Development Studies at University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago! I am beyond thrilled and feeling incredibly blessed and so grateful! Found out in late March and its been a whirlwind of making plans and getting ready for my big move!!! I'm still giddy with joy and excitement! I feel like this has been a long time coming -- I am ready to be back in warmth and homespaces of the Caribbean. *~*~* I will miss being in the NYC area... and all my NYC peeps and community... but sooooooooo happy to be going on this new journey! I plan to write lots and post regularly about my work in Trinidad and hope to be more on the social media... I will be joining twitter (finally... I know... way late...) more on that soon.

*~*~*

Photograph by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn

2) Spring in New York -- Being photographed for a beautiful exhibit by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn called "You May Sit Beside Me: Visual Narratives of Black Women and Queer Identities"; Spending time with Angela Davis during her scholar in residence week at NYU's Institute of African American Affairs; Attending the Beyond the Bars conference at Columbia; and Moderating a really powerful series "Brother to Brother, Sister to Sister" celebrating LGBTQ artists at NYU's Institute of African American Affairs with Seyi Adebanjo, James Earl Hardy, C. Riley Snorton, and Q-Roc Ragsdale. (It was a dynamic evening of exchange and intensely beautiful conversation about Black genders and sexualities. Thanks to Jaira Placide for organizing and inviting us!) I started writing a piece about all these adventures... but alas never finished... I plan to get back to it... at some point and will post reflections and such.




Brother to Brother, Sister to Sister, NYU, 12 March 2014
Photo credit: Jaira Placide


"act as if it were possible to change the world"
Blessed to be in the presence and knowing of Angela Davis. 4 March 2014.

3) Getting published! -- a) I shared this here already but wanted to have it on this roll call of sorts / archive -- my essay "Magic and Fury of Audre Lorde" in The Feminist Wire. b) An article that I co-wrote with Rosamond S. King titled "Embodied Theories" in the Caribbean Review of Gender Studies launched early in Jan. c) I co-wrote an essay with Tonya Haynes published by Groundation Grenada titled "No Science is Neutral" -- (responding to the affidavit by a UWI Professor Bain on HIV/AIDS and buggery laws in Jamaica, his subsequent termination from working at CHART, and the aftermath of protests and the new slogan "speaking truth is not homophobia") -- Tonya and I offer a counter narrative and critical perspective. d) Most recently -- I was thrilled to be invited to contribute to a special Summer issue with Zora Magazine on Black Women and Anger. My piece is called "States of Anger: Black Women and Furious Survival" -- it is part creative non-fiction/essay and part memoir and poetry. 






4) Epic Summer Journeys -- a beautiful mixture of work, writing retreats, and spending time with my chosen family and beautiful peeps -- started in May with the Caribbean Studies Association conference in Merida, Mexico and continued in Fort Lauderdale for my bday/month celebrations and Miami for the S.P.A.C.E. annual writing retreat, and then early July with the Essence Music Fest in New Orleans! Prince!!! 30th anniversary of Purple Rain - Epic! Jill Scott and Mary J. Blige were fantastic! And as if the weekend couldn't get any better -- met Erykah Badu and got into special VIP after-party with Erykah spinning! We spent a magical evening in her freak-quency. The summer is still going and there are more journeys to write/reflect on soon soon... 

5) In April, I had the great opportunity to exhibit my new artwork "moon rituals in times of crisis" at Transforming Spaces in The Bahamas! It was an honor to be included and get to work with brilliant artists from across the region. See pics from the installation and more info below -- and also check out the audio file I created for the installation (my poem, "moon bathing"). Since my work was up at Popop only for a short time, I wanted to share it on this space. I also have a Tumblr page that will eventually have each piece uploaded so people can see each one in more detail. I planned for this project to exist digitally and so still working on how that will be and if I want to show this in the future... But for now, here is a taste! 

"moon rituals in times of crisis" 
mixed media (pastels, photographs, literary art, audio) 
by Angelique V. Nixon

Spirit revolution of 12 full moons during the Year of the Water Snake (Feb 2013 to Jan 2014 - following Chinese astrology). We are living during times of crisis — environmental, social, economic, and spiritual. The water snake year’s focus on rebirth and transformation has led us more fully into the consciousness shift we need to create and sustain real change. This installation honors the moon’s power over the earth and water, as well as our bodies and spirits. As the moon controls the ocean’s tides, she also affects our emotions.

This project explores these relationships and offers visual, spiritual, and ritual engagement with the moon. The rituals involve a process of spiritual practice and creation — taking photographs, writing reflections, and full moon meditation (based on various astrological readings). Photographs and short reflections are shared over social media — engaging in public honoring of the moon and the process of art making. During this time of planetary shifts, the return of the divine feminine, and the intense trouble we’re all in, this artist/poet/activist turns to the moon for self healing, intention setting, and ritual in order to participate spiritually and psychically in movements for radical social change. 

*~*~*
"My obsession with the moon started early — as a girl child growing up in Nassau — I remember vividly feeling the power of the moon. Always looking for her light. Believing in her magic. Once I found out that the moon controls the tides, I was fascinated and wanted to know everything about these connections — from the sea to the sky. And so my love affair with nature started long ago, worshipping the moon, calling on stars, talking to trees, and praying to the ocean."
*~*~*

Installation featured at Popop Studios for Transforming Spaces 2014 Art Tour,The Bahamas. April 2014.

Photo Credits: Holly Parotti

My full moon rituals involve a process of spiritual practice and creation — as I take the photographs of each full moon, write in my journal, and then engage my full moon meditation. During this time of planetary shifts, the return of the divine feminine, and the intense trouble we are all in, I turn to the moon for self healing and ritual in order to participate spiritually and psychically in movements for radical social change. I document one year of my moon rituals through photographs, literary art, and pastels on paper — with 12 individual pieces displayed together as one large installation, along with an audio recording of my voice performing my poem “moon bathing” which I wrote during the August 2013 Blue Moon.



"moon bathing" -- playing on audio loop with ocean sounds
Photo Credit: Holly Parotti

I'm still glowing in the light of all this -- feeling incredibly blessed!!! And celebrating myself in this start of my 38th solar return! I'm in the midst of packing up my life, putting most of my stuff in storage, planning for early August travels and then my big move to Trinidad at the end of August :) until then... I have way too much to do... so I'm bending time and working under the cosmic spells of moon magic.

reflecting conscious vibration...
peace & love,
Angelique

28 February 2014

Catch Up & Movements

This month has been intense... especially for me up in the wintery wetlands of the North... bitter cold days, snow storm after snowpocolyse and then some more... so I've been in hibernation mostly - working, creating, and in deep reflection about all kinds of movements and planning for what's next in my journey. I'm praying for springtime and sunshine and truthfully ready for summer heat! So much going on and too much to share... so just a recap - writing, teaching, and deep in the thick of figuring out my life... I feel like many of us that it's time for change... we are in times of crisis and major shifts in planetary consciousness. Our time is now... and so with all of that, this post is just about sharing a couple few things I've been working on: like this project I started with a good friend of mine (Tei Okamoto) last year - called Love and Affection. And this year, we have officially launched our website and creative partnership called Current Tides. Our first project is in progress!

*~*~*

The Love and Affection Project is an oral history project that will be the first archive of its kind to explore and record the lives of those who were affected by the epidemic as a child and/or young adult and lost either one or both parents/guardians to AIDS related complications. We seek to hear, record, and remember the stories and events that shaped a young person, now grown, whose parent/guardian/caretaker died of HIV/AIDS. While the project is based in the United States, we aim to include many of the voices of the epidemic internationally. We also acknowledge communities that are most affected by HIV/AIDS and would like to privilege voices and communities that are marginalized and underrepresented.
Creative partners Angelique V. Nixon and Tei Okamoto work actively in various communities and are dedicated to radical movements for social change. They are invested in contributing to the oral history archive of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. They have engaged in preliminary research through talking with people living with HIV who have adult children. Furthermore, both of them have been affected by HIV/AIDS - losing loved ones, caring for loved ones, and one of them (Angelique) lost a parent to AIDS in 1996. 
We have both experienced the myriad ways that stories about HIV/AIDS and death remain silenced - particularly in marginalized communities (i.e. poor and working class communities, immigrant communities, queer communities, and communities of color - and across the intersections of these). Together, we come from and represent these communities - poor, working class, migrant, queer, and of color - and though we exist at different intersections, we connect through shared experiences. Hence, our investment in this project is multifaceted - personal, political, spiritual, and emotional.

Find us on our Facebook Page and/or email me at angeliquevnixon @ gmail.com for more info.


*~*~*


And another thing I've been working on... excited to share on my blog -- my essay just published in The Feminist Wire as part of the Audre Lorde Forum celebrating her 80th Birthday. I was so honored to be invited and included in this powerful collection. During my final edits of the piece, I decided to start the essay reflecting on the power of her poetry and how much especially The Black Unicorn continues to be a force in my life -- especially the poem "A Woman Speaks" -- 
"I have been woman / for a long time / beware my smile / I am treacherous with old magic / and the noon’s new fury / with all your wide futures / promised / I am / woman / and not white."

-- which inspired the title of my essay... and here is the link:

"The Magic and Fury of Audre Lorde: Feminist Praxis and Pedagogy"

"i am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.
and i am not free as long as one person of color remains chained. nor is any one of you."
#audrelorde #blackunicorn #blacklivesmatter #toloveblacknessisradical #lovingdifference
*(on Instagram @sistellablack)*

01 February 2014

"Caribbean Crossings, In Motion"


"Ancestral Rage" - Oil Pastel by Angelique V. Nixon


To the Caribbean, with love...



*~*~*

"Caribbean Crossings, In Motion"

by Angelique V. Nixon


"What is the Caribbean in fact? A multiple series of relationships. We feel it, we express it in all kinds of hidden or twisted ways, or fiercely deny it. But we sense that this sea exists within us with its weight of now revealed islands." - Edouard Glissant, Caribbean Discourse 

I.

Under the surface, bursting
in my bloodlines
these genes of rememory
Trinidad feels like home

maybe I know here – this place
this space of my ancestors
I want to know about their lives,
my maternal great grandparents

what did they experience in these streets,
in these hills of Port of Spain, whispering to me
finally, you have returned,
we have been waiting

I know they moved to Inagua, Bahamas
these lines of African descent
movements across and inside
the Caribbean Sea, stories lost in motion

all I have is this picture of my great-gramma
in my head, a photograph mummy carried of you,
tall, poised, proud in brown flesh, long arms heavy
with salt, eyes full of wisdom, stature full of strength,
mouth curved and hard, from the experiences of your life

I will never know
but can wonder and imagine you,
wield you into an existence,
if only in my mind, if only on this page

these words come to me,
mummy telling me about you,
how you loved and held her up through
hard times, dreaming you into being,

the stories, these Caribbean gifts
of Anancy magic, walking with spirit
in this place, where I make sense
my face, my mix-up Blackness
my fyah, woman loving, cosmic warrior self.

II.

Jamaica, knows me
before I reach, get to know her
I was here before

by way of spirit, perhaps
through ancestors, for sure
my paternal great-grandfather
I hear much later through lost stories

moved to Nassau, Bahamas from Jamaica
by way of China, details submerged
like his memory

gramma born out of wedlock
these lines of Chinese descent
messy and spoken in secret shame
yet his blood rebukes this silence

haunting generations
mixed with great-grandmother’s
blurry ancestry and hushed tones

of Blackness, hidden through light-skin,
straight hair and light eyes,
separated from brown skin siblings,
these lines create forgetting

I trace myself back
through the streets of Kingston
seeing reflections, in motion

red, Black-Chiney, brown, mango skin, woman, sun kissed,
Bahamagal potcake, to make sense in this place,
rooting self in Reasonings at Blackspace, Woodside,
we people of the African Diaspora

I rememory for all of us (African, Asian, Indigenous)
diving into all we darkness
to make sense of we stories.

III.

Caribbean spaces of here and there, crossings,
linked through shared horrors and struggles, histories/herstories
(conquest, removal, slavery, the middle passage, death, plantation, 
labour, indentureship, another passage, colonization, control, 
migration, extraction, detention, occupation)

yet our differences, our uniqueness,
we be struggling still for emancipation
of our minds, bodies, and spaces

beyond geo-political-graphic location
spatially expanding, Caribbean communities
and identities striving to become whole
at home and abroad, rising with the tides

connective tissue around all these spaces
fiery mix up of people, cultures, languages
yet we twisted into silence and divisions
that serve us no longer

remember, the sea and bush know, we secrets
stories of defiance, strength, battles, rebels, trouble makers,
resistance, crossing lines of color, status, sex, and place,
from the magic of Boukman to Nanny and the Maroons
and Morant Bay Rebellion to the Grenadian Revolution

when we fought against slave masters, colonial walls, and oppression
fighting for we stolen lives, stolen stories, stolen resources
carving spaces for independence and self determination

but we still just surviving
when we need to thrive
and recreate we spaces to be

as complex and ever-changing as we see
interplay of being in motion – the past being ever present –
forging a future that is ours and free.


"We Resist" - Word Art, Oil Pastel by Angelique V. Nixon


for our blood, mixed
soon with their passion in sport,  

in indifference, in anger,
will create new soils, new souls, new
ancestors; will flow like this tide fixed

to the star by which this ship floats
to new worlds, new waters, new
harbours, the pride of our ancestors mixed 

with the wind and the water
the flesh and the flies, the whips and the fixed
fear of pain in this chained and welcoming port.


~ Kamau Brathwaite “New World A-Comin”