Monday, April 7, 2014

Moonlight and Mangos on Communication Corner Part Deux

On this second episode of Communication Corner, the Moonlight and Mangos artist chatted with Gail Lewis on what inspires her to paint and on her work as an art teacher in the 5 Start Sports and Entertainment Academy. Viewers had a chance to see the artist in action as she dedicated the rest of the episode to painting alongside Lewis.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Hilary Clinton has a few advices for you

I just wanted to share this article on former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's speech at the Association of American Publishers this year. Her lessons are worth taking notes of. Click here to be directed to it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Elsie Augustave: Discussion with a reader

Photo by Sabine Cherenfant
I met Elsie Augustave not too far from Times Square in a cold Thursday evening. She wore a black fur collar coat and her hands were busy with a canvas bag and a purse hinting at her life as a teacher at the Stuyvesant High School in New York. After a "quick" stop, we made our way to the last floor of a building to talk about her debut novel, The Roving Tree, published by Akashic Books.
The novel depicts the brief life of Iris, a young Haitian adopted at the age of five by a liberal American family in the ending years of the Civil Rights Movement. The book takes you to the course of her life as she struggles to fit in and reconnect with her past. She moves from one place to the next all in a subconscious search for identity. Many topics arose from the book, including political struggles, racism, Africanism, cultural boundaries and the mere history of humanity.
"Iris is a survivor," concluded Augustave as we discussed this heroine's ability to rise above all challenges and keep her head high despite all traumas.
As a reader, you begin to admire Iris' strength, and her independence becomes inspiring.
Yet, ask Augustave why she decided to write this book and she won't have an answer. Truthfully, she just knew she wanted to write a book. She was not trying to convey a message rather she wanted to express herself leaving the readers the choice to find their own message.
"It wasn't so much that I was going to write a book about this or that," she explained. "The first thing I decided was I was going to write a book. The second thing was 'what about?'"
That is where her strong interest in the Haitian culture and her experience spinning the globe came into play. They guided her in writing the novel.
Even though Augustave life is distinct from the life of Iris's, they are both travelers and seekers in nature.
"our itineraries are the same," said Augustave who have traveled or lived in all of the places mentioned in the book. Life circumstances led Iris from Haiti to the United States to Senegal, Zaire and France.
I asked Augustave about her most memorable experience traveling to South America, West Africa and Europe, and she recounted her time studying anthropology and archeology in Colombia in the 1970's, stubbornly visiting San Basilio de Palenque, a village founded by escaped slaves, for her final project. The mayor of the village took her in since there was no hotel in this isolated but historical community near Cartagena.
Just like Iris, Augustave grew up in Haiti under the Duvalier era and left at a young age.
"I was much older than miss Iris," she said. "I must have been 12 or 13 years old. It was quite a different experience."
Iris lived in Westchester with her family. Augustave's family first moved in Spring Valley, where few Haitians lived at the time.
"There were only three families [then]," she remembered. Her sister, the son of her father's friend and she were the only Haitians in the school they enrolled in.
On weekends they would visit family members and friends in brooklyn and the city. Seeing how happy those visits made her sister and her, her parents decided to move closer to the city.
Moreover, in addition to their early move to the US, dancing also united Iris and Augustave. Dancing connected Iris to her culture and transported her to Zaire where the second part of the novel takes place. Dancing gave her a purpose. Dancing also connected Augustave to her culture.
"I started dancing in Haiti but nothing structured," said Augustave who used to participate in neighborhood plays in Cabaret, Haiti.
She took ballet and modern dance classes when she moved to the US, studying under a famous Haitian dancer and learning Katherine Dunham's techniques. Augustave went on to choreograph a major production for the National Dance Theater of Zaire.
She also found another way to reconnect with her culture when she received a grant from Howard University and traveled to Haiti for a summer to study Haitian folklore. She spent a large amount of time in the north of the country, attending voodoo ceremonies with a historian friend. That time will shape Iris's return to the land.
"I wanted to write about that kind of world where people believe in life under water," said Augustave. "Monn Neg is an invention of my imagination. I wanted Iris's experience as a Haitian to be from that world."
That supernatural world also feeds this search for identity. We talked about the global aspect of the book, the common need among African descents in the Americas to know the past.
Augustave, who is currently writing her second novel, previously stated writing as her mission.
"When something becomes an obsession, it has to be because it is something you're meant to do," she replied when I asked her to elaborate on writing being her mission. "I'd like to know I have written before I die."
She is a reader at heart though her busy life makes reading and leisure almost impossible.
"I haven't used the word fun in my vocabulary in so long," she joked.
Lastly, I asked her what would be her advice to young writers to which she replied, "... perseverance and discipline are the two most important qualities one needs to achieve a dream."
"You have to persevere," she added. "Your desire to achieve that dream should be stronger than any obstacle."

Monday, February 24, 2014

Moonlight And Mangos on Communication Corner

The artist behind Moonlight and Mangos, Jessica Mitchell, stopped by Communication Corner to chat with Gail Lewis about her artwork and the role of emotions in her pieces. The different pieces varying from canvas painting, bottles to 3D art lit the Queens Public TV studio with their vibrant and sparkling colors. Lewis and Mitchell went around the room discussing the different pieces that were present and represented only a small sample of the more than 250 pieces Mitchell has in her catalog.
They talked about the recurring theme of moving forward in life seen in her art, the message of positivity she is promoting, the different things she incorporates in her work and the story behind each work. They also talked about her moonlight collection and her similarity to Jean Michel Basquiat.
Please view the video!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Moonlight and Mangos and Her Projects

Listen to Moonlight and Mangos talk about her art and upcoming projects by clicking here to be directed to the radio interview. Moreover, her art will be auctioned this Saturday Feb. 15th at the 11th Annual Elmont Online taking place at Adelphi University at 5:30 pm. Her TV appearance will soon be available for viewing.

Friday, January 31, 2014

2014 Benefit Concert featuring Moonlight and Mangos' s Artwork

Photo by Sabine Cherenfant
This Sunday Feb. 2nd, Moonlight and Mangos' s artwork will be featured in a benefit concert at the Elmont Memorial High School. Please click here to be directed to the page to RSVP and attend this event.