From the start of 2017, ArtsyWindow has been collaborating with the Experience Magazine, an independent virtual magazine established by creatives from the Bronx that focuses on Black and Latinx artists. Please read the long form article by ArtsyWindow below featured in the Spring 2017 female empowerment issue on theexperiencemag.com starting on page 62 in the virtual magazine.
Female Creatives in the Art World Today
By Kiara Ventura
In today's political climate, black and brown female-identified artists have many notions against us including our gender, our culture, and identity. We are constantly being reminded by the media and US Politics that who are are is wrong and this can often result in feeling discouraged in our art and creations.
As of March 2017, Trump plans to eliminate essential arts program such as National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works, and Institute of Museum Services according to CNN Politics. After seeking to defund Planned Parenthood, he continues in attempting to restrict access to abortion and Obamacare`s important health benefits such as maternity leave and access to preventive services such as birth control as stated in Fortune.com. According to The Hill, even though the funding for Domestic Violence program before the Trump administration was already insufficient, he plans to cut from the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) even more.
With this triggering combination of attacks on our well-being and practice, we cannot help but feel personally attacked. Even with this increasing pressure, many black and brown females are responding loud and clear as an act of resistance. As a mode of making our voices heard, we are creating and uniting now more than ever and this wave of female empowerment within our community is especially affecting female artists and entrepreneurs in New York City. Because as we all know participating in the Women`s March and waving a sign in the air is not enough in the midst of the many voices that were not represented in the March (but that's a whole other story). Therefore, it's appropriate zoom in on three females in particular to get a glimpse of how female creatives and influencers are making their voices heard in the NYC art scene today.
With the lack of support from political systems, we are often left to take care of ourselves and eachother. This idea is part of the motivation behind Melanin NYC, an online publication that prides itself as a “Black Girl Collective,” focuses on sisterhood, and often writes articles about mental health, music, and lifestyle. Created by the Shavonne Taisha in 2015, Melanin NYC was partially pushed by her dealing with a relationship break up. While she was beginning the publication, she was battling domestic violence with her then partner. “During those times [of being a relationship with a person with a violent history against women] it was very hard cause that was when I started Melanin NYC and I sometimes paused in my creations,” Taisha said. She realized that getting through this personal struggle involved not only self-love but by being a part of loving sisterhood. “We are a group of women who celebrate one another and our accomplishments. As women, we carry so many struggles, and obligation and expectations but when it comes to sisterhood and we get together...we have to power to be completely powerful.”
Poet Roe Black literally uses her voice through the art of spoken word to emphasize the injustices against the black community, her spirituality, personal experiences, and sexism. Black produces work under the name “roeZart” and recently released an EP in early March of 2017. As she grows as an artist, Black battles sexism and tries to stay true to her values. “Especially in the music industry they feel like females have to be sexy to make it. And I don't believe that you can be smart and sexy at the same time. You can be a multifaceted women. So I`ve been really careful about the opportunities that I come across.” While listening to the EP, most might identify her flow as rap however she still identifies herself simply as a spoken word artist. Whether it's through spoken word or her music, her poetic flow and vibrant use of words make an impact on creating change within our community. When asked how she maintains herself despite the pressures of society, she responded, “I try staying around people that are positive, I cut a lot of negative people out of my life. Not that I lost love for them but you have to take care of yourself and guard your energy.”
Rocio Marie is known a unapologetic Dominican-American artist from NYC and her paintings of female multicolored emotional characters. As a full-time artist, she focuses her practice on painting and sculpture and her artistic style which stems from qualities she was once ashamed of having as a little girl. “As a little girl things that would make me self-concious...I have a bigger nose and my big hair, like things that would bother me, I`d draw out. All my girls have similar lips and big noses. I feel like they are all self-portraits,” Marie said. Through focusing on qualities that once weakened her self-esteem, Rocio found her strength as an artist: honesty. “As humans, we all feel like shit sometimes. I think my art is very honest about that and seeing it maybe can be healing or at least makes you feel like you are not alone. I want to show that feeling like shit can be beautiful or cute and colorful and sparkly.”
Through being open about themselves and issues in society these young female influencers are positively impacting the creative world and making a strong statement. They are part of the current push towards female empowerment and combating stereotypes of how society thinks a women should be. Whether it's through creating a sisterhood, performing spoken word, or creating art works, these women are prime examples of how women are currently making their voices heard in artistic ways and representing the female creative community with pride.
To see more, visit theexperiencemag.com
As part of my summer 2016 internship at the Brooklyn Museum, I choose to take on a personal project and interview a featured artist, VenusX. This article was posted on the museum`s Tumblr blog.
Article by Kiara Ventura
Posted on BK Museum Tumblr
Jasmine Venus Soto says her job title is “VenusX,” that includes creating and building the GHE20 GOTH1K movement, being a DJ, curating, planning parties for people of all ages in New York City warehouses, and much more. Being born and raised in uptown New York City by an Ecuadorian father and Dominican mother, taught her how to be her own boss and value her education. Venus continues to challenge the public and support those who feel like they don’t belong through her unique point of views, music, style, and underground parties. And now she is bringing that to the Brooklyn Museum on July 28th at 6pm, as part of the Tom Sachs Boom Box Residency series, along with Acyde, Tremaine Emory, and NY Theo. All four DJs will be selling red velvet cake, USB mixes, and T-Shirts in Tom Sachs`s Bodega while switching roles and playing sets in the Presidential Vampire Booth throughout the night.
In preparation for this upcoming event, get to know VenusX a little more though this conversation I had with her over coffee.
Kiara: How would you describe yourself right now as you navigate through the music and fashion world?
VenusX: Who I was when I started DJing and touring at 23 years old is different from who I am now. Before I was just living in the moment and now that I’ve been in the game for a while I realized that the industry is not equal. You really have to outsmart the system in order to survive it. The system is used to women being the sexual objects. They are not used to women who have their own definition of themselves that might not include men. I don’t go through the world using my femininity as a tool to get me access to places. I prefer to use my intellect. I prefer to use my ideas and creativity.
K: What is your daily routine like?
V: Lately I’ve working on opening my store next week. Before that I was on tour. I live two extremes. It`s either I work for 16 hours in the studio planning upcoming events and building my business, or I’m on tour and I just wake up, get on a plane, do a show, and do the same for the next few days. I don’t know how to live a normal life.
K: How do you handle your job as a DJ?
V: For me as a DJ, I need to be available because that is what DJing is about. It’s about providing that soundtrack so people can dance. People need to dance all the time. They don`t need to dance once a year when I drop an album. My job as a DJ is different from my job as a artist. I feel like it’s an intimate responsibility. I like DJing often and being reliable to a crowd of people who need that space and time to get some shit off their chest in a sweaty environment with great music.
K: There are many great things happening with GHE20 GOTH1K including that your store will open next week. What is your overall goal for GHE20 GOTH1K and what do you hope for its future?
V: I hope that GHE20 GOTH1K can become a go-to party, website, and store for people that they want to be a part of something that is more authentic. I have a system that might not make people rich, but it’s sustainable—it employs a lot of people and their good ideas. The intention is to constantly have a cycle where culture can be created. So we are motivating people to make music, design clothes, design their personalities, and to exist in the world that might not appreciate them or have a place for them.
K: You recently held a GHE20 GOTH1K party for all ages including Kanye`s creative director Virgil Abloh, last week you DJed at the Coney Island bumpers cars, and now you are coming to the Brooklyn Museum on Thursday which is open to everyone for free. I see this theme of accessibility across many of the events you’re involved in. Why is that important to you?
V: Sometimes people don’t understand culture unless you give them a taste of it. It’s not the same as being a commercial artist. I do some events for free because I believe that what I’m doing is important. If there is someone who goes to my event for free, maybe that will turn into them going to ten more shows after because they experienced it and they were so into it. This helps people understand that I really stand up for what I do regardless if I’m getting money for it or not. There’s always an opportunity to come the events I’m involved in and experience them one way or another.
K: How do you feel about the Brooklyn Museum and being a part of our DJ event on July 28th?
V: I’m really excited for it. I’m really excited to be a female on that lineup and to be recognized by these cultural forces. They can work with any rapper or DJ but instead they are supporting this specific movement. That’s very powerful because even with all the trending issues being brought up, there’s still not a lot of diversity in our world.
We still live in a heteronormative white world so if in the Brooklyn Museum Tom Sachs can bring three black men and a Dominican woman to play all different kinds of music. That’s powerful. Some kid out there who only knows of one person in the lineup and then discovers me there, might change how they see the world. In every lineup, you never know who’s going to walk away from it and what it’s going to inspire them to do.
K: You will be selling cake, USB mixes, and shirts in Tom Sach’s Bodega and performing a set in the Presidential Vampire DJ Booth. In this exhibition, the Boomboxes play a playlist curated by Sachs, his friends, and fans. How do you feel about his work and becoming a part of it through your participation?
V: I think the concept is amazing and I hope that kids are more motivated to go to museums as a result of seeing such a cool event happen. I think that’s the whole point is to bridge music and sculpture in these spaces that are traditionally western colonized spaces. When you take art from where it’s from for people to perceive it, sometimes you lose a lot of people in that process. So I think it’s cool that he did this kind of exhibit where you can engage with it, it`s music, and the different personalities inside that space. I’m excited for it because I never performed at any setting that has been this curated down to the DJ Booth.
K: What can we expect from your set?
V: A world of sounds. My friend and I are working on a mixtape that is predominately Brazilian music and contemporary rap music from the U.S. so I`m probably going to be playing a nice mixture of that.
K: What vibes are you aiming to give off at this event? What do you hope it will accomplish?
V: Always good vibes but I also like to challenge people by playing things that they never heard before in ways that they never thought. I definitely don’t aim to please. I hope that my style comes across because sometimes DJs just play a lot of rap and that doesn’t mean that they don’t have other types of music. They may be playing one type of music because of the pressure from the audience. With that said, I’m going to try to be the wild card out of the four of us.