Amber Henry, Dez’Mon, Sotonye Jumbo, Theda Sandiford, Xavier Kelley
Dez’Mon Omega Fair is a teaching artist and a writer living in the Seattle Washington Area. Their visual and video poetry work, as well as immersive installation and performance work has been shown all over The U.S. and abroad: as far away as The Williamsburg Brooklyn Public Library in New York City and La Galleria in A Coruña, España to as near as, Langston Seattle, in the annual Seattle Black Film Festival, and Wa Na Wari. He-they are a member of The Film and Video Poetry Society, leading expressive art workshops at its bi annual symposium; sat on the board of Carnegie Picture Lab, a nonprofit providing art based programming for Walla Walla county, where he-they facilitated Art Scholars at Davis Elementary, a social emotional learning course using art to navigate one’s inner life.
About Prayer III: Art loosely becomes Religion. As an artist saved by Art, I preach that Art is Medicine. I preach that Art isn’t just for artists to practice, however an innate tool for which every human can clearly commune with the self: get right with the self. When writing and meditating on this text, this prayer, I recalled all the mediums I’ve used in Faith: Astrology, Baptist thought, Chi in Igbo cosmology, and reflections on the re-emergent history of The Black Madonna. When visualizing and producing this poetry film, I recall moving out west to the open California sun and sky and recall the saints there under. Saint Tupac’s The Rose That Grew From Concrete was the first book of poetry I’d ever read. At this point in my young life, I had never experienced such a level of emotional disruption in my home for the death of someone unrelated to us; and from that mournful time on, I would grow to know deeply the importance of Art and Poetry and Purpose.
Xavier Kelley’s abstract and saturated artistic style has evolved from a childhood practice of sketching graffiti in blackbooks with his cousin, transitioning to the canvas more heavily in 2019. Kelley likens his artistic practice to that of a music producer sampling records of various time periods and places to craft new soundscapes. Afrofuturism is a powerful theme in Kelley’s work as a primary creative focus for him is examining and reimagining historical lexicons and iconography. Time travel, quantum physics, and abstract scientific concepts are heavily researched, sampled, and referenced in Kelley’s creative process. The result is the construction of a greater narrative throughout his pieces, a deviation from the linear concept of time. By stepping into this perspective, Kelley hopes viewers are inspired to open their minds to varying interpretations of the human experience, unlocking potential for an emergent understanding of the future. The burgeoning of this multi-dimensional world that Kelley inhabits in his art has been catalyzed by a specific biological subject: The Jumper’s Foot. The Jumper’s Foot, present throughout Kelley’s work as a visual motif, represents the athletic form, technique, movement, and planning required for marginalized people to move up in contemporary society. Certain groups are not afforded the privilege to maneuver society flat-footed, metaphorically speaking. Marginalized people in contrast are kept on their toes, requiring the power and agility of the Jumper’s Foot to leap from low to high.
Theda Sandiford: Triggered, Truth & Transformation
Despite the growing commitment to racial equity, the day-to-day experiences of women of color are not improving. Women of color face similar types and frequencies of microaggressions as they did two years ago – and they remain far more likely than white women to face disrespectful and “othering” behavior.
The weight of these triggers underpins very real consequences… stress, anger, frustration, self-doubt and ultimately feelings of powerlessness and invisibility. These triggers come with a hefty toll of emotional baggage.
Extensions of rope, wrapped, knotted, woven, and embellished with recycled textiles, zip ties, ribbon and yarn, gingerly invite the audience into off the-wall conversations about the “respectability politics” of black hair. My Emotional Baggage Carts are vessels for this racial trauma. The act of making, weaves the sting of daily microaggressions into the cart, freeing me from these constraints.
Rope Making Workshop: Triggered, Truth & Transformation, Sunday, April 23 12pm-2pm
Microaggressions are defined as subtle, intentional — and oftentimes unintentional — everyday interactions or behaviors that communicate hostile, derogatory or negative racial messages or assumptions toward historically marginalized groups.
The weight of these interactions triggers very real consequences… stress, anger, frustration, self-doubt and ultimately feelings of powerlessness and invisibility. These triggers come with a hefty toll of emotional baggage.
The act of knotting rope transforms the sting of microaggressions. The rope making process is easy, slightly addictive, and most definitely meditative.
Join Theda Sandiford and learn to turn old textiles and scrap fabric into rope while participating in a conversation about “respectability politics” of hair and whatever else may be on your mind.
All are welcome. Materials provided.
Amber Henry: Trust Fall
Trust Fall is a short film about building the courage it takes to trust your own self when there is no one there to catch you. In life, it seems that we truly are the only ones who can show up for ourselves when we need it most. It can be scary but also liberating.
Amber attended Mississippi State University where she participated in the school choir and majored in Mechanical Engineering. She enjoys woodworking and being around her family in her spare time.
“Growing up in a small rural town, I was surrounded by friends and family. They truly supported me and fostered the mindset I have that anything is possible.”
Amber’s love for acting began at a young age, as she explored it through performing skits with friends and family. She began pursuing the craft seriously in 2018. Amber has trained with That’s A Wrap Studio based in Mississippi and The Barrow Group based in New York. She has written screenplays for feature length film Alley Cats (not yet produced) and short film Lucky, Paige (in post-production). Amber also directed and starred in her short film Lucky, Paige.
Amber’s filmography includes work on feature films Troop Zero, Five Feet Apart, Through Her Eyes, Untitled Soldier Project, Mistletoe Flip, and short films Wednesday’s Child, Over the Hills and Far Away, and Lucky, Paige.
Amber has authored two books: I Hear the Black Raven and A Leaf for Bongani. Her book I Hear the Black Raven won a Bronze Medal in an IPPY Award category for her audiobook narration.
“My book I Hear the Black Raven is a short memoir about my life and how I have overcome the obstacles presented to me. Everyone comes to a fork in the road of life; what path we take is what determines our story. A Leaf for Bongani is a novelette about a herd of giraffes in the Congo. This book was also a passion project of mine. I love giraffes, and when I discovered that the species threatens endangerment, I wanted to do my part to spread the word about these majestic creatures.”
As an artist, Amber’s woodwork has been featured in the Meridian Museum of Art, the Laurel-Jones County Black History Museum, and has placed in several art competitions.
Amber is founder of the media company Equal Age, a company with the goal of raising awareness about human equality in all its forms. Under Equal Age, she has been host of the podcast The Real Exchange. She has interviewed guests including Sebastian Jones (President of Stranger Comics), Wyatt Moulds (consultant on the film Free State of Jones), and Brandiilyne Mangum-Dear (participant of Showtime film L Word Mississippi). She is also a poet and spoken word artist.
As a musician, Amber has written and produced several of her own works under the name Slim the Phoenix.
“Music has been an integral part of my upbringing. From participating in musical groups to producing my own tunes, I have loved its contribution to my journey.” Her catalog includes songs such as Black King, Galactic Love, and Inquisitive Proposal. Her song Inquisitive Proposal has a music video titled One Destiny.
Her website is www.claireishiayetoro.com
My practice integrates four evolving bodies of work. My plein air paintings, Breakout Series, Radiohead Series and Freedom Series represent distinct areas of focus as well as essential quadrants of my artistic journey.
With roots in naturalism, I’ve become increasingly curious about exploring an expanded identity through my work, based on imagined imagery rather than physical references. My current works reflect this through expanded materials including pastel, ink, chalk, oil and acrylic as well as subject matter that explores traditional and contemporary themes through the lens of my surrealist subjectivity.
I hope to engage with the viewers of my work by encouraging active pareidolia that produces a personal experience and an overarching connection to the vibrations and sources of my subjects.
Sotonye Jumbo was born in Rivers State, Nigeria in 1989. He obtained a B.A. in Visual Arts in 2015 from Cross River University of Technology and received additional professional training at Universal Studios of Arts, Lagos.
Since 2012, Sotonye has participated in several group exhibitions including Next of Kin and Telling African Stories in Lagos. He is Studio Assistant at the Bruce Onobrakpeya Art Foundation.