"Our entire pattern of socio-sexual interaction is non-existent here. The Gethenians do not see one another as men or women. This is almost impossible for our imaginations to accept. After all, what is the first question we ask about a newborn baby?
Yet you cannot think of a Gethenian as "it". They are
not neuters. They are potentials; during each sexual
cycle they may develop in either direction for the dur-
ation of that cycle. No physiological habit is estab-
lished, and the mother of several children may be the
father of several more.
There is no divison of humanity into strong and weak
halves, protected/protective. One is respected and
judged only as a human being. You cannot cast a
Gethenian in the role of Man or Woman, while adopt-
ing towards "him" a corresponding role dependent on
your expectations of the interactions between persons
of the same or opposite sex. It is an appalling experi-
ence for a Teran..."
- from The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin (or a Sacred Text of CHEEKY LaSHAE)
A work for collaborative
performance by Kenya (Robinson)
Questions are the entry
point for human creativity. This search - for the whys and hows; and the whos
and whats - has inspired everything from scientific discoveries to spiritual
quests. But most importantly, young humans explore their new world by questioning
and building a sense of themselves, by collecting answers, or, making them up as stories. Vivian Gussin Paley
suggests that stories are simply “play in narrative form”. I would like to test
this conceit by creating a series of bilingual play workshops that use the
cultural histories of particular geographic spaces, and Black folktales from
the Americas, as material for storymaking.
(Basically though, I want to learn to speak Spanish. I think that testing my skills in the context of early childhood is a worthwhile pursuit - AND I get to emphasize the material of identity. Which is a main thrust of my artistic practice anyway... Identity is not this static thing but a notion of fluidity that connects us with others.)
For the purposes of this project I've identified 4 storymaking tools:
ORIGIN: "In comic book terminology, anorigin storyis an account orback-storyrevealing how a character or team gained theirsuperpowersand/or the circumstances under which they becamesuperheroesorsupervillains. In order to keep their characters current, comic book companies, as well as cartoon companies, game companies, children's show companies, and toy companies, frequently rewrite the origins of their oldest characters. This goes from adding details that do not contradict earlier facts to a totally new origin which make it seem that it is an altogether different character. "Origin story" orpourquoi storyis also a term used in the study ofmyths. It can refer to narratives of how the world began, how creatures and plants came into existence, and why certain things in the cosmos have certain qualities."
METAPHOR: "A metaphor is a figure of speech that identifies one thing as being the same as some unrelated other thing, thus strongly implying the similarities between the two. It is therefore considered more rhetorically powerful than a simile. While a simile compares two items, a metaphor directly equates them, and so does not apply any words of comparison, such as "like" or "as." Metaphor is a type of analogy and is closely related to other rhetoricalfigures of speech that achieve their effects via association, comparison or resemblance including allegory, hyperbole, and simile."
EXAGGERATION: "Exaggeration is a representation of something in an excessive manner. The exaggerator has been a familiar figure in Western culture since at least Aristotle's discussion of the alazon: 'the boaster is regarded as one who pretends to have distinguished qualities which he possesses either not at all or to a lesser degree than he pretends...exaggerating'."
ACTION: "Action is the mode fiction writers use to show what is happening at any given moment in the story," states Evan Marshall (Marshall 1998, p. 142). Jessica Page Morrelllists action as one of six delivery modes (Morrell 2006, p. 127). According to Jordan E. Rosenfeld, action scenes help the " . . . reader to feel he is participating in the events . . . " (2008 Rosenfeld, p. 173). Although action is widely used in fiction, the most-effective techniques for its presentation are a subject of ongoing discussion."
My first foray into the wilds of true adulthood, sans
semester and financial aid, I found myself, and two others, in the San Fernando
Valley. Studio City to be exact;
off Coldwater Canyon in a two level apartment building that was a doppelganger
for Melrose Place. The
manager was, appropriately, a Scientologist, cautioning the three of us against
psychiatric drugs and urging a diligence to what she called our ‘tone scale’. June was delightfully
English but her skin was disturbingly orange. Not from tanning but from carrots, I think, and I imagined
that me and my mates would become rich and famous from a line of t-shirts we
inexplicably managed to sell at Fred Segal, and, more successfully, in front of
But I also had a day job -- held in tandem with my Apparel
Design and Production studies at Los Angeles Trade Technical College -- before
The Recall and Schwarzenegger and the shift in higher education funding.I worked as a sales clerk at a designer
resale shop in Sherman Oaks.A
lengthy stroll from our apartment, down Ventura Boulevard, and supplying a
sporadic dose of celebrity sightings, a la Alicia Silverstone and Justin Guarini’s
mom.A red blooded consumerist
American, I’ve always loved stuff, but I considered being surrounded by barely
worn Gucci and Prada and Balenciaga more as extra-curricular support to my
fashion studies.Plus I got
fantastic pickings and an employee discount on top of the discount; but the
best part about the gig had to be the furs.Before arranging itself into a resale shop Casual Couture
was a full service fur boutique.It’s proprietor, a Polish Holocaust survivor and Argentinean transplant;
he still kept cold storage on the premises along with conditioning and glazing
services, which I found out were a requirement if you wanted to keep your full
length at its best.Cold storage
is essentially an industrial closet, kept frigid and filled with every kind of
beaver, lion, ocelot, mink, fox, ermine, leopard and Persian lamb.Stoles, car coats, scarves, full
lengths, jackets, hand muffs, hats and jumpsuits, each with assigned spaces for
ease in retrieval.Mary Wilson the
Supreme kept her pieces there.It
was luxurious and fascinating and creepy.The idea that you would have to pay rent for an item of clothing was
just so beyond, especially since the rent on our apartment was monthly
And so it
goes, nearly 15 years later - storage and its malcontents. And the NYC rent
struggle too.But I still like
stuff.Clothes are my weakness
though, having died and gone to heaven via Bill Cunningham - but these days I
make stuff in hopes of creating a physical legacy.My art practice is enamored with objects and ephemera, and
I’m trying to figure out the logistics what to do with the work I can’t
sell.Which, as an emerging artist
means there’s a lot.As in mainly.Overwhelmingly.Unfortunately? My uncle, who is an economist,
once had a project where he calculated empty storage spaces in the U.S. as a
variable for the gross national product, as in the emptiness actually had
calculated value.Perhaps that’s
the lesson from my latest no-money move.The angst about storing my work could be obliterated by (gasp) giving it
away. I don’t have the answers, but I don’t believe that developing artists
should be suckered into commodifying our work as the only assignment of
value.Maybe, by creating a
network of sharing, emptiness becomes a vessel – an add-value space to push the
I fancy myself a bibliophile (I get it from my mama) and I have yet to meet a bookstore I haven't loved. It's a wonderful problem to have and my eventual nesting impulse is evenly balanced by a need to have a home base and a home for my library. As illustrated by my love for Strawberry, I do not not have discriminating tastes. Hood Lit or Ghetto Fiction is a particular pleasure. And, while some use American Black Vernacularto reveal the nuances of more mainstream classics, I believe that 'Hood Tales' provide and enviable examination of contemporary culture. My collection and interest in these literary morsels is substantial, so much so that I've included certain details in my creative practice - the latest of which will be on view at Rush Arts come October, via an exhibition entitled GIRL-BYE. Check below for a sneak peek of Grand Duchess Publications... (None of the titles are available for download...YET.)
COME HOME TO ROOST
By Yvette Moore
Dorothea Cash, Camille Banks,
Evelyn Price and Zenia Benjamin compose the core members of an elite group
assembled by the FBI’s CoIntellPro.Intelligent, charming and stunning - these beauties each has their own
terrible secrets – hanging debts now collected by the federal government, in
sharecropper’s daughter, is a long way from Mississippi, but the life she longs
for is farther than she ever thought possible.Frustrated by a career in academia that is never to
be, Camille uses her brain and body
to get what she wants.Evelyn, of
fair skin and straight hair could easily pass into whiteness but a true love
keeps her in sepia’s shade.While
Zenia’s past seems to be the only thing she can’t outrun.
Expertly trained in the seductive
arts, their latest targets are a reverend in Atlanta, a community organizer in
Harlem, a lawyer in DC and a Hollywood entertainer.A plan well executed could mean lack of want for
the rest of their days, but also the destruction of the most important social
movement in U.S. history.But what
happens when fate brings four women together and they realize that any true
happiness has a legacy?
THE GUNSHINE STATE
By Shavonté Cheek
The year is 2050 and Florida has
been transformed into an armory pleasure dome.Airports, hospitals, schools, strip clubs and theme parks
throughout the state are the only places that require checking your
weapon.Church tithes can be
remitted via cases of ammunition and all matriculating students must pass a gun
safety and target test for admission.It is state law.The T. Martin Statue, passed in 2025, stipulates that vehicle and gun
registration are mutually contingent.Eligibility of gun registration is determined by the legal acquisition
of a gun by the applicant’s paternal grandfather.
There have been many deaths.
Ballistics expert Cassandra John
loves the science of guns.A
veteran of the Miami-Dade Police department she has served with pride for
nearly 30 years.Her son Trayvon
would have turned 30 this year, along with Michael who would’ve been 27 and,
her baby, Sean, who might been gearing up for college if his daddy’s father
hadn’t been a preacher and a pacifist.
They are all dead.
But she and her husband Matthew live with the
…and the technology to make a body a weapon.
BABY DADDY KNOWS BEST
Pop Duwop is a midmarket
superstar who has never encountered a problem with the ladies that he couldn’t
solve with a heavy dose of the “d”.A two hit wonder, Pop Duwop, has shrewdly managed to parlay his success
into neighborhood chicken joints, cell phone emporiums and strip clubs; all
while racking up an impressive harem of 11 baby mamas.Latoya, Diamond, Precious, Stephanie,
Mercedes, Wanda, Michelle, Porsha, Taj’ee, Ursula and Kelendria have become
sister wives of a sort, bound together by a love for their patchwork family and
a collective desire to give their 13 children the best life possible.But the annual baby-mamas’-only-trip to
Anguilla ends in tragedy - the result of an overloaded aircraft.
Now Duwop is a full time
Pop.Can he handle the rigors of
fatherhood without adding another member to the tribe?
JESUS BE A LACEFRONT
By Princess L. Wallace
It’s Minneapolis, but this ain’t
Shirelle “Belle” White and Denise
“Niecy” Adams have been sisters in style since they first put scissors to a
Dreamdate Barbie.Growing their
business from kitchen sinks, to garage washbowls, to a full service salon
frequented by the most discriminating clientele; they’ve enjoyed local
celebrity and an impressive cash flow.But ambition runs deep and these two will stop at nothing to make Belle
& Niecy’s a global brand.
Their latest venture is a range
of hairpieces and lacefront wigs handcrafted from human hair of impeccable quality.These natural blond bundles require no
extra processing to achieve its luxurious golden shade. Their sources are a
mystery – a heavily guarded trade secret, but there have been a rash of missing
person reports.Mostly white,
young and male.And rich.Very rich.