Thursday, October 31, 2013

Luca Guardabascio

Luca Guardabascio began his tour in Detroit, where he had a very successful stay. On Oct. 27 he held a lecture on his new book, Padula-New York-Pittsburgh:Emigrazione Sangue Speranza - La storia di Joe Petrosino e del suo migliore amico Giovanni Esposito at the Laurel Manor Banquet and Conference Center in Michigan. The following day, Guardabascio held a screening of his documentary on Angela Volpini at Wayne State University. Click here for more information on those events. Both events were sponsored by the Italian Consulate in Detroit and the Italian Program in the Department of Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at Wayne State University and hosted by the Dante Alighieri Society.
He fell in love with the city because of its sublime nature despite it being in decadence and the wonderful people he met there. He plans to put Detroit in the title on his book on Joe Petrosino and began shooting scenes in this city on Oct. 29.
"The city of detroit needs help to show her power to the world so I wish to help," said Guardabascio.
He will be in Pittsburgh from Nov. 1 to Nov. 14 for lectures and screenings at Robert Morris University and Chatham University. He will have a lecture on Italian Neorealism at Oberlin College on Nov. 19. The 21st, Guardabascio will present his documentary at the Italian American Museum in New York.
Dates for presentations in Philadelphia and Cleveland will soon be announced.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Moonlight and Mangos: The Artist

Photo by Sabine Cherenfant
"I finally know what I want to do when I grow up," the artist behind Moonlight and Mangos writes on her personal blog. "I want to color… Paint. Create… I am an artist…"

Her hair probably tied back or falling on the side, her sweats covered with a rainbow of paint colors, she leaves her garage door open to listen to the sound of the wind blowing through the entrance, the cars passing by and the birds singing their morning lullabies. She paints with no before-thought. She lets the brush take its own course because painting comes from within.

That's exactly what she tells her students from her art class at the 5 Star Sports and Entertainment Academy in New York. She refuses to dictate their drawings. Instead, she encourages them to let their feelings guide them.

The Artist, who prefers to remain nameless and refuses to be categorized, obtained her bachelor's degree in psychology and hopes to pursue a master's degree in art therapy.

"Painting is my therapy," she stated, and it was a part of her she kept private for a long time until a recent life transformation.

"Last year I fell in the street leaving SOBs," she recounted. "I broke my knee open. It was too wide to stitch and too deep to heal."

For six painful week, she was unable to work and stayed home while most of her loved ones turn their back on her.

"People don't understand how you could be so injured from a fall," she said. "They thought I was being a baby."

Confined to her home, painting was the only thing she could do. She never stopped painting from then on. She realized in life you can't rely on anyone. You have to take control of your life.

She hoarded all of her emotions in her paintings.

"I asked God 'why are you punishing me,'" she said. "[Then] I realized that it was not punishment rather something to make me stronger. I had to get up, get better and move on."

Looking back at the work she produced during that time, she remarks how different they are from her more recent work.

In her dearest painting, Mother Nature, a tear trickles on the right cheek of a mournful face.

"[Looking at it] I always go back the emotions I felt when I painted it," she confessed. This painting to her is an emotional photograph of her mindset during a painful time period.

As her emotion changed, her paintings became more vibrant, and as she became more confident in her work, she began to make it less private.

"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you," she said quoting Maya Angelou. Aside from the paintings depicting the pain, she also wrote a poem, posted on her blog to remind her how far she has come.

Six months ago, she quit her job of 16 years as a lab technician to find more time doing what truly fulfills her as a person. Furthermore, this has allowed her to spend more time with her kids.

"you will never find happiness living someone else's life," she declared. "If something makes you miserable, get rid of it."

Optimism and the quest for happiness are her intents in life. This optimistic goal is unintentionally shown in her paintings almost never drawn with sharp edges and colored frequently with glitter. It is her way of making her paintings less threatening and bringing a little bit of optimism to the complex, dark emotions.

There seems to also be a correlation among the circular lines in her work, the name of her company and her personality.

"I can see the moon from my bedroom," said The Artist, who is a nocturnal woman.

In addition to paintings, she also has a collection of bottles, titled bottled emotions. She is also an interior, landscape and graphic designer, making promotion and invitation flyers. As a writer, she published two informational pieces on relationship on a blog and occasionally posts poems in her personal blog.

She is an innovative thinker and forward-minded artist, who stopped watching TV because of the vicious coverage of Haiti after the earthquake. Her free time is dedicated to her kids and her artistry.

"Sometimes, desperation is the best inspiration," she said regarding her ability to create art from nothing. Art crafts are expensive. Thus, she creates 3D art or mixed-media art from tiles, wood, glass, nail polish, hand sanitizer, stones, ink or anything else she could find around her.

Some of her paintings and bottles are sold on Etsy [click here to be directed to her shop]. On december 7th, she will have an art opening in NYC. Location and time are to be announced.

Her blog is filled with quotes from respected figures, such as Alice Walker, Pablo Neruda and Bob Ross. In fact, Bob Ross's quote, "whatever makes you happy, you put in your life," is her life mantra.
Sh strives to expand her knowledge of the world.

"What is the opposite of 'ignorance is bliss?'" She asked to explained the importance and effect of knowledge in our life.

Everything she does is to inspire emotional freedom, empowerment and strength.

"[In Haitian paintings], even if a woman is sad, her chin is always up," she pointed out. In her own painting, she emphasizes the strength of women. Eyes, which are the windows to the soul, are also an important aspect in her paintings.

She wants to transform her brand into a household name, while bringing other innovative Haitians together.

"Something I noticed is that Haitians are proud," she said. "[Moreover] our generation is our future."

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tanguy Exume: "My work is a reflection of who I am and who I want to be"

Photo provided by Tanguy Exume
"I like to see writing as a mirror... and as a writer I believe I am a mirror," revealed Tanguy Exume, a young and passionate Haitian writer with a fierce voice diffused through postcasts accompanied with soft melodies on his blog. "I absorb conversations, sounds and feelings. That's what I try to depict in my writings."
He becomes highly critical of his surroundings, fetching for bits and pieces that he stores for future creative work.
This love for writing mellowed while he lived in Montreal. Far from the homeland, conversations about Haiti erupted among Exume, his friends and his elders.
"...But when you're a kid, you are not heard," he explained, so he began to put his thoughts into papers transforming writing into his voice and bearing his multi-performed piece, Haiti Parle (Haiti Speaks). Yet this very love for writing started much earlier than that with teenage love letters to girls.
"You listen to songs," he divulged with a chuckle. "We didn't have internet back then, so you write lyrics and you start familiarizing yourself with how beautiful those lyrics are. But, more precisely, my love for writing comes from my father."
He described his father as a heavy reader and quoted, "I've never known my father without a book. He used to joke: 'When he's dead, the only thing that he would leave us is a bookshelf.'"
Through books, Exume noticed the important of literature in conveying messages. His goal is to send messages marked mostly by the political landscape and the strong sense of community and family in Haiti.
In the midst of the interview Exume remembered his earliest, most vivid memory as a 4-year old child on a troubled January 1986. His father and mother, then pregnant with Exume's younger brother, led him to a demonstration against Duvalier.
"I remember the day Jean-Claude Duvalier left," he related. "We were living on Rue Capois then, not too far from Palais National. We went out in the streets and chanted."
A song came to mind, and Exume began to sing: "Se nan riyel vayan ohhh! Yo tiye neg vanyan ohhh!"
This song, depicting the massacre of November 29, 1987, resounded in his mind as if it were yesterday.
In his household, the political and social situations in Haiti were the main topics. Under a sweltering sun, his brother and he, grey or brown from the soil, played soccer in the large backyard while the parents and friends from the balcony, discussed the political situation of Haiti.  Furthermore, outside was where most of his cherished and vibrant memories took place.
This desire to be outdoor stayed with him. Unable to write at home, he finds inspiration when he is outdoor.
Outside, little ideas pique his interest and develop into bigger ideas. Writing for Exume is a slow and meticulous task that takes time.
Photo provided by Tanguy Exume
His poem, Petit Pays, posted on his blog on July 29, 2013, engendered from a regular day of him listening to Cezaria Evora's song, Petit Pays. In this poem, he opines on the inequality between Creole and French and the complicated political situation in the country.
"Petit pays, petit pays, je t’aime beaucoup," he concludes in the poem because as he stated, "despite all this, you can't deny the love you have for this country."
Amid his purpose to describe the crude reality of Haiti, he recounts in Nan Fon Ke'm the pride of Haiti, the pride of being among the descendants of "those who helped Bolivia, nurtured minds like Guevara and Lumumba" ["Men tankou sa-a yo ki te ede Boliva,/ Ki te bwode lide Guevara ak Lumumba]. 
Yet, Exume, who is a multilayered writer, embraces diverse topics aside from Haiti. Questions, such as are we practicing what we preach?, are we happy? and can we believe we will not exist one day? are addressed in his works. 
In two of his poems, Perdu and Nan Yon Kafou, he invites his readers to travel inward and discover the different avenues of their mind. He uses the dilemmas that he faces and present them in his work.
His poem, C’était comme ça dans le temps, was triggered by a twofold question asked by one of his student: What is the difference between abortion and suicide? Isn't it the same thing? [the student gave him permission to write a poem based on the question]
Exume currently has two projects ready for publication. The first is a collection of 31 poems, titled Sur Mon 31, he wrote in 31 days for his 31st birthday. He will also produce a CD version with 12 or 13 of the poems. He intends to have a rap collaboration with Justin Mizzy Mejia on one of the poems. Exume previously recited a poem as the intro track of Mizzy's albumComMiZZerate Your Soul (CYS).
The second project is a novel about a mathematician who, unable to find a pertinent job, worked at a call center and discovered another side of society. The title of the novel is, Le Centre, and the novel was revised by Gilbert Mirambeau Jr.
Soon, he will posting some of his performances on Youtube not for visual purposes but rather to give his audience a chance to see how he is on stage.
Exume is also venturing into Spanish while finding inspiration from the Chilean poet,  Pablo Neruda because of his ability to condense emotions and send it out to the world in the form of concise, powerful poems. However, his favorite poet remains Michel Welbeck.