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Atiba T. Edwards

Founder & Chief Curator

Atiba is an engineer focused on making and connecting creative people, nodes, networks and moments.

Allison Maritza Lasky Curator

Allison believes that children are the best artists—they are individual universes of infinite creativity.

Jolillian "Jozi" Zwerdling Curator

Jozi finds inspiration in those who understand timelessness and travel in alternate dimensions.


Tom Acevedo / Gigi Chen / chukwumaa / Stephanie Currie / Candice Danielle / Adam DesJardins / Atiba T. Edwards / Benjamin Ferguson / Maya James / Jordan Kifer / Reana Kovalcik / Allison Maritza Lasky / Lierum / Hari Lualhati / Hector Montalvo / Mariama Rafetna / Jason Rizzi / Meg Stiison / Katherine Toukhy / Srebrina Yanea / Jozi Zwerdling INSIGHT magazine is dedicated to showcasing the artists who are creating work today and shaping culture. We highlight artists from all art disciplines and artists from across the globe. FOKUS produces INSIGHT to provide just that - insight into the artists who are alive and creating art in traditional, nontraditional and emerging fields in their own way.

Questions, comments and submission inquiries can be sent to INSIGHT magazine is published by FOKUS, Inc. To view back issues, visit All rights reserved on entire contents. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. The opinions expressed in this magazine are those of the contributors and not necessarily shared by the INSIGHT staff or FOKUS, Inc.

INSIGHT magazine: Bitter / Sweet Table of Contents

4 Benjamin Ferguson The Tyranny of Numbers 5 Candice Danielle Romance is Smoke 6 Katherine Toukhy Untitled 7 Katherine Toukhy Their Eyes Grew Back 8 Katherine Toukhy A Different Kind of Soft 9 Jozi Zwerdling R!ot 10 chukwumaa Untitled 11 Hector Montalvo Skin, Soul and Sense 12 Hari Lualhati In The Name of Love 13 Hari Lualhati Never Let Me Go 14 Gigi Chen Sweeping Aspirations 16 Gigi Chen All Dressed Up 17 Gigi Chen For Your Enjoyment 18 Gigi Chen A Pile of Fuzz 19 Meg Stivison Untitled 20 Jason Rizzi Unyielding Love 22 Ebs Dreams in Silence 23 Adam DesJardins Untitled 24 Reana Kovalcik This and Other Moments Uncaptured 25 Maya James Love (or Something Like It) 26 Lierum He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not... 28 Mariama Rafetna In Time 29 Srebrina Yaneva Don't Look Back 30 Allison Maritza Lasky joven [youth] 32 Tom Acevedo Letting Go 34 Tom Acevedo Taking Inventory 36 Jordan Kifer Day 7 37 Stephanie Currie Who Can Block Your Blessing 38 Atiba T. Edwards Harlem's Temporal Resolve


Curator's Letter by Atiba T. Edwards Bitter / sweet - when crafting the theme we decided to include the slash to allow artists an opportunity to take either side of the word - or the entire word. The resulting work is very reflective of the rawness that the word "bittersweet" has on our lives. Just looking at the order of the twobitter then sweet- is telling. It lays a roadmap that deals with pain, sorrow and other words that evoke sadness as the first phase of things. Often times, bitter is the stronger emotion because it is one that we can define well. The ability to say what it is, what caused it and what can be done in hopes to escape it. Bitter is the easier of the two to know. Sweet is often viewed as the ideal aspect of things. It is that temporal and aspirational place in life that is perpetually one step away even while in the moment. Sweet is the happiness. That feeling where you are awaiting the other shoe to drop. It is that feeling of never fully satisfied. It is fleeting but it makes you happy. These next few pages provide insight into artists of today who are dealing with one or the other or the entire feeling. Bitter/sweet. Enjoy


Transcending Love


by Hari Lualhati Though I take into consideration the use of different techniques, I value more the feelings that I put into my works. I paint with my heart. For me, a painting is successful if it can make anyone who would look at it feel the emotion that it’s suppose to give. It is like delivering a clear message by touching the hearts of the viewers.

Transcending Love. Oil on canvas. 30 x 40 in. INSIGHT MAGAZINE | 3


The Tyranny of Numbers by Benjamin Ferguson

In "The Tyranny of Numbers", a bitter expressionistic face is buried beneath a jumble of numbers, reflecting the anguish many feel who despise math and a society which demands that its members practice this dark art. My work is heavily influenced by Expressionism and how it uses color and angles to support the depiction of its subjects. Giclee print on HP Hahnemuhle watercolor paper. 9 x 7.5 in. Benjamin Ferguson grew up in the South. He received a BFA in Drawing and Painting from the University of Georgia. He currently lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. where he concentrates on painting, music, and video. 4 | INSIGHT MAGAZINE

Romance Is Smoke


by Candice Danielle

romance is smoke-filled and sugar crusted lip licked and finger lusted my cool busted and your mojo runnin up and down my thigh and through it pulsing like a throb, your heart robs my fiend cluchin, go head and cheat me.

Candice Danielle is a poet and teaching artist scribing her family's history and culture as it relates to personal identity, while also telling stories that reframe traditionally oppressive female spaces by subverting them with new meaning. INSIGHT MAGAZINE | 5



by Katherine Toukhy

A collage of layered fragments: militarism, colonialist images of Arab women, and patterning. A bittersweet awareness of one's histories carried into a fragmented present.

2013. Watercolor, pencil, acrylic, thread, 9 x 12 in. Katherine Toukhy is an Egyptian American artist whose mixed media works use layering, cutting, and rearranging to assert a feminine language and free up outdated Orientalist and authoritative narratives. 6 | INSIGHT MAGAZINE

Their Eyes Grew Back


by Katherine Toukhy

The piece makes reference to protestors at Tahrir Square, who had their eyes shot out by the military. It's a testament to the fact that their vision grows back like a strong weed and the bittersweet price of revolution. 2012. Ink and water color. 20 x 32 in. INSIGHT MAGAZINE | 7


A Different Kind of Soft by Katherine Toukhy

The aura of this portrait is both soft and fierce, a kind of medusa-head, with surrounding lines as hair/branches/fire. A bittersweet portrait of femininity. 2012. Mixed media. 16 x 20 in. 8 | INSIGHT MAGAZINE



by Jozi Zwerdling

You try to practice detachment, still wake up with four hands stacked over your left breast and an uncertain woman’s kisses that stay clear of your mouth, though you have been inside her for months. Now you must write about all of it: the Styrofoam cup that bounces hollowly down the sidewalk and rocks gently in front of the steps you are borrowing. How you wake up, part 2, to a woman wailing, her ferret petrified, you have to hold its stiff body gingerly in between yellow dish gloved hands because you will not make her do it. And together you three ride the bus and the train with a shoebox between you, where inside she has laid natural peanut butter and a tampon in tribute beside the dead animal, and you smoke a joint in R!ot’s honor beside the rotting leaves and the climate change green, and Mila speaks to children kicking Kermit the frog balls and white dogs on leashes like she always does. You admit to yourself why you’ve distanced yourself from your dog Charlotte. Now you are starving, all this death and smoke and sex and the not knowing, so you go home to make some eggs. Jim is waiting on the corner though, that’s why you are writing this, he is 81 and notices you taking pictures of real pigeons perching next to their wheat paste portraits, and he tells you of snapshots he took here in the 1940s, when there was no dead end between Albany and Kingston Street, and the projects were a Catholic boys school, no vegetation on Grant Square, tells you to see his green eyes after he looks into yours. You accidentally reach to shake the hand he was using to lean on his cane and he tells you where he went to school, just around the corner, before the name changed, warns you to be careful, the devil is always working. He’ll see you when he sees you, though you want more stories. He is like the angel man you met in Cuba walking along the Maleçon, the one who liked animals more than people, inexplicably there and then gone.

Jozi Zwerdling hails from the Washington, D.C. area but lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. She's a student at Hunter College's Silberman School of Social Work, where she concentrates in Community Organizing. Her passions are working with youth to achieve social justice through education and the arts and loving as an act of freedom. INSIGHT MAGAZINE | 9



by chukwumaa

In America's recent history, candy and snacks became a symbol for the ill fate of an innocent young boy, this series of prints was my humble reaction and memorial.

Untitled. 2012. Screen print, candy, saliva, food dye. 7.5 x 12 in. Lagos, Nigeria born chukwumaa, (pronounced CHOO-KWOO-mah, all lower-case,) graduated from the University of Maryland in 2012. He has exhibited and performed at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, (e)merge art fair, Artisphere, Hillyer Art Space, and in public around Washington, DC and Maryland. 10 | INSIGHT MAGAZINE

Skin, Soul, and Sense


by Hector Montalvo

Hector Montalvo is a youth photographer influenced by political matters stationed at Chicago. He uses his surroundings as a foundation for conceptualizing his work. He is currently working on a project called "People without Homes." INSIGHT MAGAZINE | 11


In The Name of Love by Hari Lualhati

In The Name of Love. Oil on canvas. 30 x 40 in. Never Let Me Go. Oil on canvas. 30 x 40 in. 12 | INSIGHT MAGAZINE

Never Let Me Go


Like a blossoming flower, LOVE can be so alluring yet so fragile. It needs a constant supply of certain elements like sacrifice, care, loyalty, passion, and trust for it to sustain its beauty and for it to grow. This emotive quality is the inspiration for my latest series of works. My art is heading towards passionate figurative compositions built up by expressive line strokes and bold brush techniques necessary for certain emotions to show through. Together with this is my rich devotion to details that elevates the artwork’s aesthetics. The profound visual narrative and the techniques used aim to reveal the invisible within the visible. Hari Lualhati is an artist born in the Philippines who obtained a Degree in Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines, Diliman in 2006. Hari Lualhati has worked in Manila, Hong Kong and Shenzhen China. Hari is now based in South Africa. INSIGHT MAGAZINE | 13


Pretty Cute by Gigi Chen



Sweeping Aspirations, 2012. Colored pencil on paper. 18 x 24 in. INSIGHT MAGAZINE | 15


All Dressed Up. Colored pencil on paper. 8 x 20 in. 16 | INSIGHT MAGAZINE


For Your Enjoyment, 2012. Colored pencil on paper. 20 x 24 in.

"Pretty-Cute" embraces a temporary moment of calm. Basking in the lightness of love and warmth, the subjects are either in repose or standing within elaborate and often opulent surroundings. The creatures here playfully participate with the subjects, allowing the figures to breathe and take in the moment. The calm and solitude allows the figures to contemplate their surroundings and to aspire to a brighter and richer life. The stillness reminds one of loss and heartache. And the warmth reminds us that there is always more to come. INSIGHT MAGAZINE | 17


A Pile of Fuzz, 2012. Colored pencil on paper. 19 x 20 in.

Born in Guang Dong, China and raised in New York, Gigi Chen creates an aesthetic that combines her training as a traditional animator and her love of Old Master techniques. She has shown at the Queens Museum of Art, the Index Art Center, Deitch Projects and Mighty Tanaka Gallery in New York. 18 | INSIGHT MAGAZINE



by Meg Stivison

My mother's always waiting for a flash of intuition behind my father's newspaper she waits for him to hear the things she almost tells him she's a kettle always almost boiling while my father waits for tea she teaches her daughters to hear thoughts to read a need for sugar or lemon and to wait for our cups to be filled

Meg Stivison has worked on the development of games including Next Island, Empire Online, Verge Games' Grumpy Goats, and two Nancy Drew titles. She writes regularly on games and gaming culture for Indie Games Magazine, and Hardcore Droid. She blogs at INSIGHT MAGAZINE | 19


I produced this piece right after meeting my boyfriend at the time, and after being single for a while. The original colors of the flower were much more monotone and plain, but something inside of me wanted to make them deeper and more vibrant. I think all relationships, ones that last for a short or long time, go through a blossoming like a flower that is so passion filled that we all see even the simple things in life in a much more detailed way. I guess it is only bitter in the sense that it is a reminder to me that not all love lasts, but it is also sweet because it is a reminder about how being in love and loving in general is purely amazing. 20 | INSIGHT MAGAZINE


Unyielding Love by Jason Rizzi

Unyielding Love, 2010. Acrylic on canvas. 60 x 48 in. Jason Rizzi is a 28-year old artist, triathlete, and fundraiser trying to save the world and make it a better place in general by spreading positive vibes through different mediums. INSIGHT MAGAZINE | 21


Dreams in Silence by Ebs

Dreams in Silence: The Circle Series. 2013. Colored pencils, 22.5 X 28.5 in.

This summer I had a fascination about circles in motion and color. I researched the artists Robert and Sonia Delaunay and their theory of Orphism. In what is now called my "circle series," I wanted to bring together the feelings of color, light, sensation, motivation, and inspiration. All in complete silence and with little distraction. I wanted to experience the natural movements of noise from my surroundings of serenity and quietness. I always play music when I'm creating, but this summer I wanted to experience silence and the creative process. With that said, I've come to believe that silence can be both bitter and sweet. Silence is sweet after a long hard day. Silence is sweet after a long conversation with an old friend. Silence is mostly bitter when there are no words or feelings to express.

Ebs was born and raised in Mamaroneck, NY. She studied Studio Art as a painting major and Art History at Manhattanville College. 'ART has become a major part of my life; without it I'm lost.' 22 | INSIGHT MAGAZINE



by Adam DesJardins

Everybody wants a taste of the well-dressed bad boy biting his lip & tying his shoes. He makes sour look so sweet. 'My name is accidentally biblical.' Adam is a student at the University of Michigan spending some time studying & interning in DC, but a full-time creative. INSIGHT MAGAZINE | 23


This and Other Moments Uncaptured by Reana Kovalcik

Bittersweet: I was in a romantic relationship with someone who, for various reasons, I was only extremely rarely able (or felt able) to photograph. As someone who has documented their life through a constant stream of photographs since I was 12 years old, this caused me a particular amount of consternation. We were together during hurricane Sandy, which was a literal catastrophe for my partner and a foreboding metaphor for everything that happened afterward. We've since had a rather painful separation. Looking back, I realize I have almost nothing to look back on- in a literal sense. I find our lack of photographic evidence to be rather symbolic of many of the elements of that relationship: secretive, protective, hidden, not shared- realizations made too late.

Reana Kovalcik is a Chicago-born artist living in Brooklyn. She has been a photographer since before she can remember; in recent years focusing on the street art scenes in Chicago, NY, and internationally. She also enjoys writing, drawing, and painting. 24 | INSIGHT MAGAZINE

Love (or Something Like It)


by Maya James

I was in love once (i think) There was a celebration sparkling in my chest like Galveston, Texas 1865 (all jubilant and volatile inside) when he would slew-foot it across the yard, wearing his camera in rope chain elegance circa 1983 Hollis, Queens It was like that I would exclude common sense and up jump to stupid in his nearness (silence) as day broke night on his face (he smiled) I released the words that had formed a goiter in my throat since awareness of his light took hold (it became dark later) Comfort began to circumvent bashful Then we'd trade Moneta Sleet for Mari Evans until dusk shifted dawn Then harmony between the holy and hedonist took over My body became wrapped around his head like a gele We were a mass of dermis, dentes, and dilated eyes Then damage to ventricles and valves Now, I am still waiting to collect residuals off the confidence he gained like gold records from what I gave, my chastity belt looped in his jeans as he passes me over and bye Damn I was in love once (i think)

Maya James, a night writing child of the moon who resides in Brooklyn, has been getting in trouble for telling stories since 1987. INSIGHT MAGAZINE | 25


He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not... by Leirum 26 | INSIGHT MAGAZINE


He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not. Colored pencil on paper. 8.3 x 11.7 in. Muriel Fonseca (Leirum) was born in Manhattan, NY in April 1979. Raised in Portugal, currently living in Long Island, NY. "Leirum´s art is a mixture of surrealism with violent tenderness which catches your eye at first glance." INSIGHT MAGAZINE | 27


In Time

by Mariama Rafetna i hopped in a time machine to a place where, I didn’t know you. didn’t want you. didn’t need you. didn’t know you were an option. where we never danced in each others thoughts shared long nights laughs and found peace in each other’s arms. where I never fell victim to your smile misplaced intentions misguided words a time where things are clear and free and no such thing exists as you and me.

Mariama Rafetna is from Brooklyn, NY and creates Art (via prose/poetry, painting & photography) celebrating the simple beauties that unite us in this ever-changing fragile life. 28 | INSIGHT MAGAZINE

Don't Look Back


by Srebrina Yaneva

Moving to Milwaukee has been a leap of faith, it’s been in many ways, kismet. The feeling that I am meant to be here for this year even though I never planned to be is present every day. Leaving Ann Arbor—leaving the safety, the love, the bubble—defines bitter/sweet to me at this moment. My heart is full of Ann Arbor in these early months of Milwaukee. I begin each morning with the mantra, “There is no reason that today is not as ripe with possibilities as any other day.”



This and othe

by Reana Kova

joven [youth]

by Allison Maritza Lasky Living in Greenpoint, I'm reminded of three key things: 1. I'm not a hipster, 2. Parks are even more beautiful if situated near water, 3. I'm getting old which is both bitter and sweet. On a cool sunny Sunday, I sat with a friend in Transmitter Park. There, at the apex of Greenpoint Ave., and the East River, we saw candid wedding photos snapped with the backdrop of the setting sun against midtown Manhattan; couples pass hand in hand; late afternoon picnics with hidden flasks and reusable cups filled with wine; and plenty of pets. Out of all the scenes, though, the one I enjoyed most was that of two young girls -whom had met [I assumed] for the first time that day in the park- running in and out of the waterline rocks, through seagrass bushes, and landing cartwheels on the grass. Whenever I see active girls at this age, I wonder about what memories I invoked in strangers when I was their size. I snapped this photo in the last few minutes the girls were allowed to play before it was time to go home. Instead of a quick, adult "later," the girls engaged in a few last morsels of play - and I had to capture this- if only to keep the sweetness of free play fresh. That was, until the sun completely set, and it was back to the bitter reminder that tomorrow was, for me, anything but doing handstands in the sun. Allison Maritza Lasky feeds herself creativity at every juncture - whether its while reading JAMA articles for work, making playlists for her commute, or taking candid pics with her droid when something catches her eye. "Being me IS being art... art is ME." 30 | INSIGHT MAGAZINE


er moments uncaptured






Letting Go

by Tom Acevedo Acrylic on canvas. 20 x 32 in. INSIGHT MAGAZINE | 33




Taking Inventory

by Tom Acevedo

"My paintings can be a source of healing and inspiration, as well as something pleasing to the eye. The subjects, painted in acrylic, convey a masculine vulnerability, capturing a moment in time when the spirit of consciousness is pure."



Day 7

by Jordan Kifer

Moving to Milwaukee has been a leap of faith; it’s been in many ways, kismet. The feeling that I am meant to be here for this year, even though I never planned to be, is present every day. Leaving Ann Arbor—leaving the safety, the love, the bubble—defines bitter/sweet to me at this moment. My heart is full of Ann Arbor in these early months of Milwaukee. I begin each morning with the mantra, “There is no reason that today is not as ripe with possibilities as any other day.”

Jordan is a recent graduate from the University of Michigan and recent transplant to Milwaukee WI. She believes that following one's passion leads us to the right people and places. Art is...serendipity. See her photo blog at: 36 | INSIGHT MAGAZINE

Who Can Block Your Blessing


by Stephanie Currie

Who can block your blessing, Is it you or someone else, God is waiting on you with open arms, You need to get aligned with God so you can receive yours, Time to get focused on him, Stay on the straight and narrow, Don’t get distracted by Satan’s tricks, As you get closer and closer to your blessing, You will be tested and tried by the enemy, Fear is not of God so don’t be scared, Be obedient to God by reading and staying in the word, God loves you and wants only the best for you, He sees you as a precious treasure in his eyesight, God I can see your light shining bright as ever, Serve God wholeheartedly, God knows your heart, I want to enter the kingdom of God on his terms and no one else’s.

Stephanie Currie is from Havelock, North Carolina. She loves writing poetry and taking pictures. INSIGHT MAGAZINE | 37


Harlem's Temporal Resolve by Atiba T. Edwards 38 | INSIGHT MAGAZINE


Born in St. Vincent & The Grenadines and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Atiba combines chaos into streams of thought. Sometimes inviting others to join along the way. INSIGHT MAGAZINE | 39

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INSIGHT Magazine: Bitter / Sweet Issue