life curation

Do You Know Your Black Art History?

In honor of Black History Month, I want to share some of my favorite Black women artists. These gifted creators established themselves during a time when most Black women were relegated to the roles of maid, cook, or caretaker. I love that these women dared to share their gifts and provide a diverse representation of Black womanhood.

Because I’m a geek for 3-dimensional art, I’m focusing on Black women that created sculptures. At one point, I was interested in sculpting as a profession: I even competed in art contests (and won a prize to boot!) So today, I’ll provide a list of notable Black sculptresses and then I’ll include some photos of their most famous works. There are literally too many of them to write mini-bios for each, but please take the time to check out a few of them. Their stories and their works are fascinating.

Tina Allen

Camille Billops

Erlena Chisolm Bland

Selma Burke

Fern Cunningham

Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller

Ruth Inge Hardison

May Howard Jackson

Harriet Forte Kennedy

Edmonia Lewis

Winnie Owens-Hart

Alice Patrick

Nancy Elizabeth Prophet

Augusta Savage

Beulah Woodard

Here are some of my favorite works by a couple of the artists above (I’m skipping Edmonia Lewis because I featured her in my Current Favorite App post, that I’m sure you all read and enjoyed):

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George Washington Carver, by Tina Allen (In the Missouri Botanical Garden)

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Bust of an Ethiopian Woman by Tina Allen

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Sojourner Truth by Ruth Inge Harrison

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Maudelle by Beulah Woodard (1937-1938)

The Talking Skull, 1939, Bronze

The Talking Skull by Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller (1939)

 

If I left out any Black women sculptors that you think should be added to the list, let me know in the comments below! I’d love for this to be a comprehensive list with lots of good links to information on how Black women have contributed to the world of sculpture.

 

 

art · culture

My Current Favorite App

As a fan of all things art and culture related, I find it challenging to locate tools and apps that satisfy both of my interests simultaneously. That is, until the Google Art and Culture App came into my life.

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I love being able to instantly access all sorts of interesting art and culture articles. Even better, I love being able to virtual tour museums that I have not yet visited in person. The app allows you to view famous artworks up close, without having to peer through crowds to see it (anything in the Louvre comes to mind).

It’s possible to find art by searching by the title of the work or by an artist’s name. For an example of what you can find on the app, I searched for Edmonia Lewis (I’ve known about her for a long time, but a recent podcast by Art History Babes renewed my interest in her story). Here is some screenshots of what Google Art and Culture had about Edmonia Lewis:

Even cooler, the app has a feature that allows users to take a selfie and find their art “doppelganger”. It’s a fun feature that’s sure to expose users to artwork they’ve never seen before!

Have you downloaded the Google Art and Culture app? How have you been enjoying it? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

food · international

An Ethiopian Feast!

On Sunday, I was inspired to cook an Ethiopian-inspired meal. I’ve been slowly gathering my supplies: teff flour, cardamom and coriander, turmeric and lots of vegan butter and olive oil, etc.,. And this weekend felt like a good one for jumping into some authentic Ethiopian cooking.

I absolutely love Ethiopian food, and have been a big fan of the cuisine for quite a few years. The truth is, I could eat Ethiopian food every week. And that would be a fabulous option, except I actually enjoy cooking. Instead of spending money on lots of takeout, I chose to try my hand at authentic Ethiopian dishes: misr wat (red lentils), tikel gomen (only cabbage) and potatoes and carrots alicha, and injera.

Here’s the finished product:

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Don’t be deceived: it may not look appealing, but it was so delicious. Now, I’ve definitely tried preparing these dishes before (all except for the injera: this was my first time trying my hand at that). Many times I’ve attempted to prepare Ethiopian food but the seasoning was just OFF. What I eventually learned was that my berbere seasoning (a spice blend I purchased from Amazon) was way, way too hot. And I’m not heat-shy at all: I love spicy foods, and I couldn’t handle the overwhelming heat of Frontier Seasoning’s berbere. In all of my time eating Ethiopian food, I’d never had anything as spicy as the berbere mix that I was using. I had to find another way.

It was time to make my berbere from scratch. And, to paraphrase Robert Frost, that made all of the difference.

Everything was DELICIOUS. The berbere was perfectly balanced and not too spicy. And no, I didn’t write down what I did AT ALL. But, I’ll share the websites I used to make everything. I did a mashup of a couple of recipes, so nothing on my plate is 100% from any particular website.

Since I didn’t adhere to any singular recipe, I’ll put out all of my other disclaimers and advice, too:

  • I didn’t let the injera dough ferment for four days, as recommended. I had an alternate recipe that recommended that fermentation could occur in as little as one day, which was the case for me. The sour flavor wasn’t as strong as it would have been, had I let it sit longer. But I was still pleased with the outcome.
  • Fenugreek is a critical spice for the misr wat, and I didn’t have it. I found out later that it’s pretty hard to find in most grocery stores. But one website conveniently compared fenugreek to a mix of celery salt and maple syrup. So I threw in a little celery salt, and I was delighted with the result.
  • The misr wat looked nothing like what I was used to (when I purchase Ethiopian food), but I loved the flavor. I’ll tinker with some more recipes and post my results in the future.
  • I still have to perfect my injera technique, but I liked the overall result. I used teff flour only (no wheat or barley flour added), so that created the super-dark coloring. It was mildly sour and tasty, albeit a bit thicker than most restaurant-style injera.
  • The cabbage was done more like a stir-fry, since I didn’t want it cooked to mush. Since I cooked it a bit firm, it reheats wonderfully (it isn’t too mushy).
  • Save yourself some time and just cut up several onions and start sauteeing them initially. Then, just portion off the onions you need for each dish into a separate pot or pan, add some more butter (in my case, Earth Balance butter substitute) and olive oil, and resume cooking.

These are the websites I used for my recipes:

Caroline’s Cooking (Ethiopian Injera and Tikel Gomen)

Hapa Nom Nom (Misr Wat and Berbere Seasoning)

AllRecipes (Ethiopian Cabbage Dish)

How to Cook Great Ethiopian Food (I looked up a bunch of different recipes on this one)

Daring Gourmet (Injera recipe)

Have any of you tried cooking Ethiopian dishes? If so, let me know how that worked out for you, or if you have a favorite Ethiopian dish that you’ve perfected!

 

style

Tracee Ellis Ross’s New Clothing Line

During one of my marathon chat sessions with a friend, I found out that one of my favorite actresses, Tracee Ellis Ross, is coming out out with her first fashion line. Tracee has been one of my favorite actresses for many years: I love her sweet, silly but fiercely loyal personality. She seems just as delightful offscreen as she does in front of the camera. That kind of genuine demeanor quickly endeared her to me.

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She is collaborating with JCPenney to offer some limited edition statement piece that are bold, unique, and distinctly Tracee. Funny enough, I like the pieces but I’m still undecided about whether I will purchase any of them. I love how Tracee is styled for the red carpet and her day-to-day life, but I’m not sure how I feel about the pieces in her line. Each item looks well-suited for her taste, but not like the fashions I usually gravitate toward.

But then again, who knows? Maybe the pieces are the kind that “come alive” when you actually put them on your body. The Glorious dress (see the photo below) is my most likely purchase, especially if it looks good on my body. I do like the colors and pattern, so I may give it a try.

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The pieces will be available starting November 12, so check them out and see if there’s anything that interests you. If you like Tracee’s quirky but cute style, you may find your next favorite signature piece within her line.

art · culture · international

Haitian Embassy Tour

Back in May, I participated in the Around the World Embassy Tour event in Washington, DC. This is part of the annual Passport DC event, which allows visitors to tour various embassies during the month of May. Generally speaking, the first weekend of May features African, South American, Caribbean and a couple of Asian embassies, the second weekend of the month is the European Union Open House weekend, and the following weekend is the Festival of Asia.

I’d never toured the Haitian Embassy before, so I was excited to visit this year. Funny enough, I’ve been to Haiti when I cruised with Royal Caribbean in the past, and I always loved the island. In fact, I’ve stated on multiple occasions that Haiti is my favorite Caribbean island. So it’s a marvel that I’d never gone to the Haitian Embassy until this year. In any case, I was eager to go. And the embassy DID NOT disappoint.

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I think the thing that I found most incredible was the prominence of Black mermaids in Haitian art. As a born-and-bred American, the mermaid image I see most frequently is the Disney version, with porcelain skin, red hair and blue eyes. Seeing the Haitian depictions of Black mermaids was deeply moving. These depictions are far more accurate to the creatures that Christopher Columbus reported seeing in his travels, and they also predate Hans Christian Andersen’s tale. Of course, practically every culture has stories of merpeople, but seeing the image of magical brown-skinned beings was surreal.

The embassy is a stately, breathtaking building, and the art that lines every wall is stunning and memorable. It looked more like an incredible museum than a political office space! It has multiple floors, and, sadly, I only toured one level.

My biggest regret? Not allowing more time to tour. But no worries: I will return next year!

 

beauty

Review: Ginger + Liz Nail Polish

During my massive beauty haul nearly two months ago, I purchased a bunch of cosmetics and also a few nail polishes. However, I hadn’t had a chance to try out the new polishes until recently. As a result, this review is a bit late, but better late than never, right?

I decided to try Ginger + Liz nail polishes. This indie brand isn’t quite so small anymore: it gained quite a bit of notoriety when Beyonce wore Ginger + Liz’s “Boss Lady” nail polish in her 2013 H&M Summer campaign. The line is known for creating nontoxic, vegan friendly nail polishes in both classic and trendy shades. The polish collection has a little something for everyone.

As pretty as “Boss Lady” is, I know that red shades with orange undertones aren’t flattering on my skin tone. So I opted out of purchasing that shade. But I was still curious enough about the brand to try some of the other shades. I ended up selecting Catch the Bouquet (CTB) and Happy Wife Happy Life (HWHL) (LOL, I see a theme with the names of the shades I chose!)

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(from the left: Catch the Bouquet and Happy Wife Happy Life)

“Catch the Bouquet” is described as, “a pastel pink with pearl undertones. The perfect nail colour for your demure looks, walking down the aisle, or catching the bouquet.” “Happy Wife Happy Life” is, “a textured rose pink foil metallic with contrasting pink tones of holographic glitter and tiny black specs for extra dimension.” I found the descriptions to be accurate for both shades.

The polishes dried in an average amount of time, and the smell was the same as your standard nail polish scent. I did two layers of “Catch the Bouquet” without any base coat or top coat, and I was pleased with the wear (it lasted several days without chipping). Just for the sake of seeing the color and intensity of the polish, I swatched the polishes on white paper and plain (unpainted) press on nails.

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Swatches on white paper: (left to right) “Happy Wife Happy Life” and “Catch the Bouquet”

(l to r: plain nails, one layer of “Catch the Bouquet” and “Happy Wife Happy Life”, two layers of the polishes)

Out of curiousity, I decided to layer “HWHL” over “CTB” and when I tell you I fell in LOVE with the layered look …

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The layered look (HWHL over CTB)

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(l to r) The layered nail look vs. two layers of HWHL

I love the colors and the lasting power. The line continues adding new shades, so I’ll be sure to try more of Ginger + Liz’s products in the future!

 

 

 

 

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