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Issue 45 | www.fokus.org


Atiba T. Edwards

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

Shani Cohen Curator

Shani is a Brooklyn based writer who believes in uniting our diverse communities through art and the power of words.

JoLillian ”Jozi"Zwerdling Curator

Jozi is an artist enabler and educator/organizer who loves the project of archiving emerging artists and connecting creatives to each other as a step towards reimagining and documenting selves, stories and worlds.

INSIGHT Magazine showcases and archives emerging contemporary artists from all art disciplines. FOKUS produces this magazine to provide insight into people who are creating art, traditional and non-traditional, in their own way.

Craftsmanship Contributors

LP Ǽkili • anonymous • Josué Jean Baptiste • Gigi Chen • Shani Cohen • Christian Ericson • Atiba T. Edwards • Britta Floyd • Hagop • Bernadette Higgins • Brittany Maldonado • Mikal Perez • Adore Poetry • Liza Quiñones • Yogi Taji

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Questions, comments and contributions can be sent to insightsubmit@gmail.com. To view older issues of INSIGHT, visit www.fokus.org/insight. Copyright © 2016. INSIGHT (ISSN 2164-7771) is a publication of FOKUS, Inc. All rights reserved on entire contents. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited.


INSIGHT magazine CRAFTSMANSHIP: Contents 4 4 7 10 14 20 23 25 32 41 48 50 51 52 56 66 72 74

Hagop Peace Pistol Hagop Mirage Christian Ericson Spiritual Architecture Shani Cohen 1st and 1st: Centre-fuge Liza Quiñones Handy Work Mikal Perez Gold Soul Atiba T. Edwards Assemblages with Chad Davis Britta Floyd How I Traveled to 30 Countries by 25 Yogi Taji Soul Dreamin’ LP Ǽkili Untitled Series Shani Cohen A Trip Down Grove Lane Adore Poetry Glue Adore Poetry Sky on Fire Brittany Maldonado Pieces anonymous Obfuscat / Obfuscare Gigi Chen Bower Crue Josué Jean Baptiste Observer Bernadette Higgins Fortunate Bones

Photography

Visual Art

Creative Writing

Articles


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Peace Pistol By Hagop

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Mirage

By Hagop

The craftsmanship in my work is found in the process, which has over the years developed into a practice. I create a workspace where I allow my materials to speak to me which enables me to manifest the creatures into existence.

Hagop is a self-taught mixed media/collage artist. His work explores and challenges society’s preconceived notions regarding race, gender, and culture by constructing unlikely relationships and thereby giving new meaning and purpose to the subject matter. www.madeofhagop.com 6 | www.fokus.org


spiritual architecture

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by christian ericson

gonna build me a shotgun four posts in cardinal directions four walls, haint blue gonna build me a shotgun and raise a pyramid atop the frame . . . Osiris Father

Isis Son

Horus Holy Ghost

gonna build me a shotgun ‘put a tin roof above the sky i’ll strike an antenna for my steeple from a Jacob’s ladder and house constellations free of charge gonna build me a shotgun gonna build me four one for each season plant ‘em inna row gonna sow me a garden plant sea glass and stained, painted soup cans with names and polka dot my trees with hubcaps chicken bones and baskets attend my doors and there will be no parking meters on my street meter shall run free with rhythm and syntax and parking . . . parking is encouraged gonna build me a shogun a house for pharaoh and queen quilted sarcophagus, patchwork vessel of sound and colour

Christian Ericson was born in San Francisco, California and raised in New England. He lived in Savannah, Georgia, for several years before moving to New York in 2001. He’s read his poems at KGB Bar, The Bowery Poetry Club and other NYC venues. He is a Time Out New York “Critic’s Pick”; he is also a visual artist and designer whose work has been shown internationally. www.fokus.org |

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1st and 1st: Centre-fuge Interview by Shani Cohen Photos by Atiba T. Edwards

In 2011, Centre-fuge co-founders Jonathan Neville and Pebbles Russell noticed construction trailers popping up across the Lower East Side. The gray trailers serve as temporary offices for those working on the massive 2nd Avenue Subway line and Houston Restoration projects. Instead of lamenting the drab structures, Neville and Russell found an innovative approach to the problem-turn the trailers into street side art galleries. Centre-fuge selects artists to paint the structures and manages the logistics of rotating the art every two months. Anyone can view the exhibitions free of charge simply by walking through the Lower East Side. Centre-fuge is based in NYC and Miami. Shani Cohen: What first drew you to street art? Jon Neville: Growing up in Brooklyn and having family in Queens, the graffiti along the BQE always drew my eye and fascinated my young mind. From tags and pieces that were seemingly unreadable to the general public to Andre the Giant’s face and later Neck Face’s crazy characters, the BQE spoke to me. As a teen, walking around my neighborhood, you couldn’t go a couple of blocks without seeing “NET” scribbled on a sign post, air conditioner or other surface. Some time around 8th grade, my older brother’s friends started to point out their tags on those same walls as the elusive, but everywhere, NET. I wanted in! Most of my childhood friends lived in downtown Manhattan, an area that was absolutely covered in amazing graffiti. On the weekends as a young teen allowed to “freely” roam the city (as long as my parents believed they knew where I was), I would walk across the Brooklyn or Manhattan Bridge to go meet up with my friends in Soho or the LES, absorbing the naturally occurring art around me. Chinatown, Soho and the LES were blanketed in graffiti and not just tags but full blown pieces in parking lots (RIP the lots on Wooster Street), throwies and fillins. In high school one of my best friends became addicted to graffiti. He would make his ink out of vegetables, fruit and glue (and probably other ingredients unknown to me). He would also make the biggest mop markers he could using tubes and sponges. We would walk around downtown Manhattan meeting up with friends at different parties while he got up.

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When I was 19 or 20, I went to visit a girl I was dating who was living in Oakland, California. She worked a nine to five job, so when she was at work, I would meet up with friends who were either from the Bay Area or had recently moved there. As I have a penchant for walking around, I would walk almost everyday from Oakland to Berkley to meet up with my friends. On this hour or so walk, there was an overpass I had to walk under. People would lock their car doors when they passed me here. The underpass had giraffes painted on the uprights. I thought this was a great use of an otherwise dark and creepy space that in NYC would probably be full of drug addicts or at least have some crazy looking extremely brolic homeless guy doing bench presses. When I ventured into San Fransico, I paid attention to the graffiti that peaked out from the rooftops. These graffiti artists were incorporating characters, portraits and other elements from what is considered “fine art” into their illegal pieces. In NYC, UFO was murdering Red Hook, Kenny Scharff Downtown and other graffiti artists were painting images other than their names, however there weren’t many. In SF it was a totally different story. That trip to Oakland got me reinvigorated in graffiti and my school notebooks once again became covered in strange drawings, scribbled tags and hollow letters.

THE LES ABSORBS ITS HISTORY -- IT DOESN’T ERASE IT.

SC: How has the Lower East Side changed since the creation of Centre-fuge? JN: The Lower East Side is an amazing neighborhood. Since Centre-fuge started in 2012, the LES has changed significantly. Almost every business on our block, East 1st Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues, has closed or is now something entirely different. 1st Street is a very special block full of vibrant residents and locals that have grown up and remained in the neighborhood their whole lives and by very definition are the ones who make the LES the amazingly vibrant and quirky neighborhood it was and tries to continue to be. Change is inevitable. When I was a teenager, going out to the bars in LES because they didn’t ID or they accepted my fake with no questions asked, the LES was still a tough neighborhood but gentrification was there and already occurring at a high rate. By the time I returned from college in 2010, the NYC I grew up in was almost completely gone, especially the LES. The LES has always been a place where immigrants moved to. It has always been a place of change. It has been farms and graveyards, it’s seen riots against the police and it has burned. It was full of Germans, Ukrainians and Irish. It was full of Eastern European Jews, full of Puerto Ricans and other nationalities and ethnicities. It has been known for its radical politics including anarchy, socialism and communism. It has seen crack and heroine epidemics. Despite the many changes, positive and negative, the LES has always survived and grown stronger. While this new change is culturally disheartening to many, the LES will survive and the handball players, George sculpting in the park, Flaco and his crew of life long 1st Street residents, Mehai and the artists working at Fine Line (the oldest tattoo shop in New York City), and the new residents who move in and not only appreciate but learn from these neighborhood legends will make sure that the history of the LES survives beyond any changes. The tall building developments may block the sun, but the LES’ culture can and will permeate through any new, over-priced, most likely illegal development and the history of this neighborhood will remain beyond the new. THE LES ABSORBS ITS HISTORY -- IT DOESN’T ERASE IT. www.fokus.org |

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SC: Do you view the transformation of construction trailers into outdoor gallery spaces as a confrontation of gentrification? JN: I get questions about gentrification a lot. This is actually one of the first times I have been asked a gentrification question with a more positive spin (phew). There is no combating gentrification in NYC. It is either going to happen or it isn’t. Are people going to flee NYC eventually leaving behind empty sky-scrapes and abandoned neighborhoods akin to what has happened in Spain? Are young affluent people going to want to move here 10 years from now instead of to a different city, state or country? I don’t have the answers. I have ideas and hopes, but no answers. Centre-fuge is less a combat against gentrification than it is a way to keep what makes New York City the cultural capital of the world alive. People moved and continue to move to NYC because of the immense cultural capital that exists here. Centre-fuge strives to keep this cultural capital alive. The vibrancy of New York has drawn people here from around the world and people from all over the world call this great city home. Let’s keep that alive. Forget the gentrification that is going to happen whether we like it or not as it has for a very long time; look at Queens and the multitude of changes a single neighborhood such as Jackson Heights has gone through since the early 1900s. Centre-fuge strives to bring back the authentic artistic expressions, the authentic urban experiences that have made New York the amazing and coveted place it is. It is a way of keeping arts education alive while more and more public and private schools cut their art and music programs. It is a way to visit a museum without being forced or guilted into purchasing an entry ticket, money that likely needs to go to food or rent. It is a means of introducing the populous to art in a non-intimidating way. Assuring them that they too can enjoy art. After all, there is no right or wrong way to view art, there is no “not understanding” it. It is what it is and you like it or not. If you are on 1st Street, you have no choice but to see art. If you don’t like it you keep walking, but even so you have learned more from not liking the piece than from not seeing it. You are growing your tastes and the aesthetics you like. You are creating the meaning in the art. The populous owns the meaning of the art, not the artists, not the white box galleries, not the curators, dealers or advisers. You own these murals.

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SC: How did the community initially respond to Centre-fuge? How has the community’s response evolved over time? JN: The neighborhood immediately loved it! When we, co-founder Pebbles Russell and I, met with the East 1st Street Block Association in 2011, the members were ecstatic to talk about the art project and what our goals were in transforming the newly placed construction trailer into an outdoor rotating mural project. We were the trepidatious ones with questions and comments! The block association is made up of very active community members who not only care about the block but also about the entire neighborhood. They have sat on the Community Board and have been leaders of this community for decades. As the project has grown, the community has been more than generous, not only through their appreciation of our work but by allotting us space to store our equipment, lending us ladders, roller poles and hot drinks and food on cold days. East 1st Street is a special block that has retained a very NYC identity. I encourage people to spend time on First Street, watch the guys play handball (give it a try), have a conversation over a coffee with the old school guys standing by the park and learn some history about the neighborhood. Get to know some of the shops and restaurants and the good people running them. The community on 1st Street and in the surrounding area has been extremely supportive. Fourth Arts Block & the Lower East Side Girls Club were and continue to be extremely helpful and generous. The community helped us get the project started and continues to help Centre-fuge grow!

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SC: How do you approach the artistic process as a curator? JN: I approach every Centre-fuge site differently. Every block has a different community and a different vibe. You need to be aware of everything around you. I have curated murals in extremely wealthy areas as well as extremely impoverished areas. Being aware of your surroundings just means that you are better able to engage with the community. When you show up looking like an outsider and start to paint walls people might feel a certain way about it. So be nice. Be courteous. Talk to the neighborhood. Share food and drinks. Art has the amazing ability to bring everyone together despite any and all differences no matter how grand or trivial. The most humbling experiences of my life have happened while painting or curating walls around New York City and Miami. Surreal moments that you can only feel lucky to experience. The trailer has a few specific rules about nudity and violence but we try to be very lax about who can participate or what is considered art. As a mural curator the number one thing you need to remember is that you are not curating in a white box gallery where you know who the crowd will be and what they expect from you. Anyone and everyone is walking down the NYC streets from the homeless to the CEOs of Goldman Sachs and Facebook. You aren’t appealing to one type, or a specific socioeconomic class. You are appealing to the general public. It isn’t my opinion about whether art is good or bad that matters, it is the opinions of the general public. I keep in mind that everyone is going to like something and that my least favorite mural may be (and probably will be) everyone else’s favorite. That’s just how things work out! You like abstract, I like cartoons, he likes portraits and she likes collage.

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When it comes to choosing artists we ask for very little information from them. We don’t care what galleries you have shown in, how many Instagram followers you have, your last name, hair color, race, sex or creed! Our number one criteria is that you love creating. Our submission process consists of sending us an email with a sketch of what you would like to paint along with a few reference images to other work you have done so we can have a better understanding of technical skill. The reference images don’t have to be murals; they can be paintings, drawings, or any work that exhibits that you will at least try your hardest to create the best mural you can. We have had many artists paint their first mural with us and it is always amazing to watch their growth as artists as they become completely addicted to muralism, street art and graffiti. I don’t care what color your eyes are, I only care if you are going to come out and try your hardest, have fun, meet other artists and hopefully make new friends and grow new relationships. SC: What has surprised you the most since Centre-fuge began? JN: Where do I start on this? Everything about Centre-fuge has surprised me! The most shocking thing is probably just that CF is as well known as it is. When we started creating the Centre-fuge concept in 2011, we had an idea that it would catch on, but we certainly didn’t realize just how widespread its reputation would become and how quickly it would happen. It’s pretty crazy when you get a call from your mom or your friend’s parents and they tell you that they met someone from a prestigious something or other and not only do they know Centre-fuge but they love it! Or when what you do comes up in casual conversation and everyone knows it. I get emails from around the world (yeah, probably on some NSA watch list) and have conversed and worked with artists from every continent excluding Antarctica. That shit is crazy! We influenced one artist to create a mural project in her hometown in Illinois and I enjoy watching her paint more and more areas of her community. Centre-fuge is a surreal world. It has created its own global community that I am truly humbled to be a part of. It is always full of surprises and I will love watching Centre-fuge continue to evolve.

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Handy Work

by Liza Qui単ones

Liza is driven by a strong passion for craftsmanship and a love of creating things of beauty. Taking time and love to create is essential in a world that seems to be moving ever so quickly. Liza Qui単ones is a Bronx, NY based textile designer and artist. With a concentration on home textiles and rugs, she also develops patterns for various markets including fashion and accessories. www.lizaq.com 14 | www.fokus.org


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Gold Soul

by Mikal Perez

Path Of The Flower Child

The golden skeleton depicted in all of my works is me but it could be anyone. It represents the gold soul theory. The gold soul theory explains that we have all the answers of the universe inside of us and we just have to tap into it. With my work I want to help people raise their level of consciousness. 20 | www.fokus.org


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Everyone Has A Fight Going On

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47 Seconds Til

Mikal Perez (aka SPAL) is a 17-year-old visual artist and aspiring designer from Miami. SPAL’s mission is to help broaden people’s consciousness through whatever he creates. 22 | www.fokus.org


Assemblages with Chad Davis

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Interview by Atiba Edwards

I discovered Chad Davis’ work online while doing some collage art research. I was intrigued with the materials composition of his pieces and also the role Detroit played. I was able to connect with him and get more insight into his work and process. Davis’ work focuses primarily on the materials and techniques he uses to create them. He collects the majority of his materials from old buildings, houses, and discarded debris using them to create something new while, at the same time, reflecting on and paying tribute to the past.​

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Atiba T. Edwards: How did you get started in this art form? Chad Davis: Sometime in the mid 2000’s I started urban exploring in Detroit with a couple of local explorers/photographers that I had been following and met online. I myself am not a photographer, but asked if I could tag along. I told them that I simply wanted to explore these urban ruins and experience them for myself and they agreed to take me with them once the were convinced that I wasn’t a cop. I was totally fascinated by these modern day ruins and the history behind them. It wasn’t long after that I started to notice things laying around such as bits and pieces of the structures and their contents or discarded debris that others might overlook. I would later call these easy to miss elements “visual defects.” While the photographers I was with would set up for their long exposure sunrise shots or whatever, I would wander around the structures and collect things that I found to be interesting such as old pieces of wood and metal. Little did I know at the time that these items would later become key elements in my assemblage work. AE: What is the meaning behind urban assemblages? CD: For me assemblage all started with the collecting of the discarded items and feeling like they still had a purpose or story to tell. In the back of my mind I always knew that I wanted to do something with them but I wasn’t quite sure what. One day while driving through Detroit I was stopped at a red light. I looked over at a streetlight or telephone pole that had an old wooden poorly made crucifix nailed to it as a memorial for someone who had lost their life there. The pole itself was covered in hundreds, if not thousands of old rusty nails and staples that once held signs of some sort. There were also a few additional scraps of wood nailed to the pole that obviously served a purpose at one time or another. Seeing that telephone pole on that corner that day and the crucifix helped me to realize what I was going to do with all of the materials I had been collecting for some time. After years of mixed media painting and collage, assemblage seemed like the natural progression and now I had a direction to follow. AE: Do you feel your work embodies the spirit of Detroit and the changes it has seen and is seeing? CD: Detroit is definitely making a come back! There is still a lot of work to be done and a whole lot of wounds to heal but good things are happening all over the city. There is a resurgence downtown right now with lots of people investing in and rebuilding the city. People are buying up old buildings, some of which I used to explore and turning them into something new. I’m taking the leftover or unwanted pieces of those same structures and turning them into something new in my own way. In Detroit there are a lot of possibilities for better things to come. AE: Complete the phrase “art is...” CD: For me “art is” all about telling a story visually. But it is also so much more than that. I myself am often more interested in the process and the materials that are used because without them there is nothing to tell your story with. My works consist of materials that once told a story or served a purpose. I am simply taking those pieces of the past and using them to create something new while, at the same time, reflecting on and paying tribute to the past. I am just trying to write the next chapter in the story.

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Detroit Made Me Do It!

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Lost and Found No. 1

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Jesus Was Poor No. 3

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Ambiguity

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One Step Closer

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Here’s To Tomorrow

Chad Davis is a Michigan based artist that works in mixed media painting, collage and assemblage. He is inspired heavily by popular culture of the 50’s and 60’s, but he cites Detroit and its rich history as one of his biggest inspirations. www.instagram.com/visual_defects 30 | www.fokus.org


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How I Traveled to 30 Countries by 25 by Britta Floyd

It’s a rarity for a girl from my neighborhood to have accomplished something like this. I grew up in the relatively affluent city Ann Arbor, Michigan, but my neighborhood was one where my white friends couldn’t come to for play dates, where government assistance was a way of life, where it’s possible you may not ever leave the block. Most girls I know have a few babies and only dream of attending the community college down the road. Being poor in a town where most people are wealthy reminds you everyday of what you don’t have and what most won’t ever afford. I’ve had so many need based scholarships, hand-outs, free food & clothes that at times it felt like it was all I was worth. The one saving grace is that I’ve always been curious and brave enough to try new things. My mother lived by the motto “find a way to make a way.” I adopted this too and my whole life changed. In a world that says that black women don’t matter, I achieved one of my grandest dreams. I feel sharp pangs of survivor’s guilt, I question whether I deserve it, I’m afraid even if I follow this path of upward mobility that somehow everyone will still treat me like the poe’ little girl from Arrowwood. It used to take me a long time to tell new friends about my early life because I was embarrassed. In my head I see the scene in Mad Men when Don Draper, with his kids in tow, rides by his childhood home and the kids stand there bewildered; I don’t want that to happen to me. Traveling was my antidepressant and my drug of choice. It was the only thing that made me happy and get out of bed. It allowed me to be able to use all my talents effortlessly, constantly challenged without feeling pressure. I navigated language and foreign cities, I learned more about history and politics and culture than I ever did in school. I started feeling fuller. By the time I became a flight attendant I had already visited 18 countries. I was inspired by a friend, Courtney, she had a list of things she wanted to accomplish by her 25th birthday. I decided right then that I would only set one goal, and that was to travel to 25 countries by my 25th birthday. That was almost a year and a half ago now. I passed 25 in January of this year, and my birthday isn’t until October, so I changed it to 30 by 25. As I escaped the physical classroom, I entered the worlds classroom. I walked through history books and learned first hand from locals. I’ve learned how to better prioritize my finances, I’ve met people from every corner of the world and some whom I call my friends. I learned you have to nurture the friendships you hold the dearest, finding your tribe is the most important no matter if they are near or far. Some sacrifices are worth it. Following passion will steer you to your happiness and most things take time. Approaching the world with an open mind and an open heart will help more than hinder your personal journey. It’s possible for us all to co-exist on this planet but it takes work. Britta is currently based in Philadelphia, living and creating all around the world. www.gosomeplacenow.com www.fokus.org |

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Soul Dreamin’ by Yogi Taji

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FreeSoul www.fokus.org |

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Duality

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Spread.Peace.And.Love My works connects to craftsmanship because training my eye to capture the photo and edit is a skill that I taught myself and strive to always perfect. In my images I like to keep the natural, raw essence of the subject with a creative twist. When I discovered that capturing images was my true passion, I never stopped taking photos and dreaming of all the possibilities that can happen with the craft of capturing beautiful, classical images. Through my pieces, I want to help break some barriers of the conditioned mind. We are forced to believe that beauty is only wearing makeup and keeping your hair done, that success is only having a degree and a full time job, that the laws of society are the true beliefs of the mind and this is all a lie. Through Soul Dreamin and the souls I capture, I hope to inspire everyone to believe in their dreams and believe that they can make it by creating something from their soul. Whether we connect in person or connect when you see one of my images, I hope for something to be felt deep within oneself that can heal or awaken.

Yogi Taji dropped out of college before completing an Associate’s Degree because her consciousness began to grow around that time and she started to realize how messed up society’s conditioned systems are. She has been pursuing her soul’s dreams and helping others accomplish theirs, thus creating Soul Dreamin. www.SoulDreamin.com 40 | www.fokus.org


Untitled Series

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By LP Ǽkili

Prismatic Abducte. Dry Pixels / Mixed Media (Paint, Vector, collage, texture [ Paper, Ink, Watercolor, Acrylic]), Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator www.fokus.org |

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Window Seat. Mixed Media, Dry Pixels, Paint, Vector texture [ quartz, stone, canvas, acrylic paint, oil paint, fingerprints ], Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator www.fokus.org |

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Celestial System. Mixed Media, Dry Pixels( Paint, Vector texture [ quartz, stone, canvas, acrylic paint, oil paint, fingerprints ]), Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator www.fokus.org |

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Not so Sacred Meeting. Mixed Media, Dry Pixels(Paint, Vector, Collage :Texture [watercolor, oil paint, canvas ]) Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator 46 | www.fokus.org


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Art is LP Ækili’s first language. He’s proficient in many visual disciplines including graphic desgign, fashion, design, and cinemotion photography. Art is the mutual exchange of communication. He uses this method of connection because it means making the most of those moments when he has someone else’s attention. www.LPAE38.com www.fokus.org |

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A Trip Down Grove Lane by Shani Cohen

In 2011, Falcon Griffith founded Grove Lane, a New York City-based label focused on high-quality, handcrafted leather ties and accessories, with Anthony Gill. Falcon is a fashion designer, photographer, visual artist and writer from Brooklyn. I caught up with them to gain some insight into the Grove Lane label. Shani Cohen: You describe Grove Lane as “the crossroads where innovative and conscious design meet practical function.” How have you been able to unify these themes at Grove Lane? Falcon Griffith: Great question. When Anthony and I first conceived of Grove Lane we were drawn to the idea of creating an innovative product that was at the same time practical and wearable. When I first met Anthony he was wearing a vintage red leather tie which was a nod to the 1980’s leather tie trend. With Grove Lane, we wanted to modernize this look by creating our version of a skinny leather tie. I’m a fan of slow fashion, the idea of getting back to basics and making things with my hands rather than outsourcing all our production on a large scale. Not only do you lose a sense of personal touch with the product but I’m sure most people are well aware of the impacts of globalization within the fashion industry such as child labor overseas. I personally value products that are sustainable and made to last as opposed to fast fashion which to me is cheap and disposable.  SC: How do you define Craftsmanship? FG: To me craftsmanship is the art of making things with your hands as well as taking the time to learn a craft, respecting that foundation and applying it to your own creations regardless of how traditional they turn out in the end. It’s also the notion of making things with an eye for detail; you notice things and create in a way a machine couldn’t just replicate. 

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SC: You stated, “I now finally express the person I am, not who others want me to be.” Tell us a bit more about how art and fashion in particular has empowered you? FG: Art and fashion have given me the freedom to design a life I love. I feel self-expressed and find comfort in knowing I surround myself with things that are a reflection of myself. Right now I’m wearing tie-dye yoga leggings that look crazy but I love how weird and colorful they are. To me it’s a statement that I hate boring black leggings. I’d rather stand out and embody a creative energy. I’ve been painting since I was 3, so art has been my comfort in processing my emotions and navigating the world around me. When I played guitar and wrote songs I would find solace in that shitty day because I knew I’d be able to write a song from it. Art is alchemy.  SC: As you reflect upon the evolution of your personal style, what are some of the elements that have changed through the years? What are some of the elements that have remained the same? FG: My personal style growing up was a bit of everything I wish I was. I had my Juicy Couture tracksuit phase, my skater girl phase, etc.... I’ve used fashion to exhibit a certain luxurious lifestyle and I’ve also rebelled against fashion by not purchasing anything substantial for two years. That being said, I wasn’t my happiest until I learned to use fashion to express my true self. Over the years the more connected I’ve been to myself the more my style has reflected my inner landscape and I feel that I look my best and dress the best when I’m feeling my best on the inside. 

SC:  What are some of the ways that your love of painting and photography has influenced how you design and craft your ties? FG: I’m always thinking of new ways to incorporate all my favorite art forms in what I create. With our ties recently I’ve been inspired to merge painting with leather crafting. One day I’d love to create a tie that I’ve hand painted--I love the idea of thick brush strokes and that contrasting texture against smooth leather. In the meantime though we’ve created our Distressed leather tie which we hand distress to create a rustic vintage look!

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Glue

By Adore Poetry

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Sky on Fire

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By Adore Poetry

Adore Poetry is a young and aspiring writer/poet from Amsterdam, The Netherlands. A wandering soul, not dead nor alive, just trying to survive. Looking for redemption through words. www.fokus.org |

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Pieces

by Brittany Maldonado

Breathe

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Fire Meet Gasoline My work connects to the theme because it requires a lot of handwork. Beyond just picking up a paintbrush and painting, my work is collage so it’s a matter of finding, cutting, matching, and glueing hundreds and hundreds of pieces of paper together to create the finished product. Very time consuming, but the end product is an image that doesn’t seem like collage unless you take a closer look. ​ www.fokus.org |

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Untitled

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What’s Left?

Brittany Maldonado is a Bronx-born artist, actress, and poet. At Sarah Lawrence College, she focused primarily on theater and dance, but after graduation she fell helplessly in love with creating visual art and spoken word poetry. www.facebook.com/missbrittheartist www.fokus.org |

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Obfuscat / Obfuscare by anonymous

Obfuscat / Obfuscare is a study of the modern-day enslavement of migrant construction workers and encroachment on human rights. Obfuscation through addition or subtraction of visual information is an integral part of this work. This book is comprised of two segments. The first segment is informative and presents extended research on modern slavery, but it retains some censored data. The second segment is visual and includes portraits of workers taken by the photographer during her visit in that country. 56 | www.fokus.org


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The portraits are digitally manipulated in order to protect the identities of the subjects. The compositions are processed through a specific strategy of disfiguration and aesthetic. The book serves as a visual stimulant, intending to examine the processing of contradictory information through the eyes of each viewer. The duality of this body of work aims to evoke questions about the issues of human exploitation, censorship and disinformation. www.fokus.org |

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Bower Crew by Gigi Chen

All That You Need I started a series inspired by the Bower Bird, a little songbird who is from New Guinea and Australia. He builds beautiful and elaborate nests in order to attract a mate. 66 | www.fokus.org


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Comfort & Honey

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Spanish Moss

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Elvy

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Some Thoughts

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Worship

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. Gigi’s philosophy is simple: Love + Fun = Art. www.gigichen.com www.fokus.org |

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Observer

by Josué Jean Baptiste

Neanderthal Skull

“Neanderthal Skull” is inspired by my observation of people and why we yearn for connection and pleasure. “Captain Awkward” is a self-portrait I worked on from memory. I started this in a moment of intense anxiety. I see it as a statement of bearing the weight of my own thoughts on what it means to have a disconnection between what are opposites.

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Captain Awkward

JosuĂŠ Jean Baptiste is an Haitian-born, Brooklyn-raised artist interested in exploring the world around him so that he can enter a world of his own. www.fokus.org |

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Fortunate Bones

by Bernadette Higgins

Minotauress Fortunate Bones is a jewelry line and ongoing art experiment, comprised of artisanal handcrafted pieces. A stylistic marriage between old and new, rough and refined, Fortunate Bones aims to make jewelry that evokes a mysterious family heirloom found after decades in a tiny locked box. Bernadette incorporates her love of animals, nature and myth into her work, and hopes that her jewelry may bring the wearer a feeling of peace, empowerment and home.

Bernadette Higgins approaches her craft from the discipline of sculpture. She began teaching herself to work with her jeweler’s bench in 2012, and her jewelry is made according to a self-developed, ritualistic method. www.fortunatebones.squarespace.com 74 | www.fokus.org


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Elephant ring Llamasus ring

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Goliath

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Femme Felines

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Thank You for reading INSIGHT: CRAFTSMANSHIP We hope you enjoyed the work shared with you. The theme for the next issue is: AWAKENING Read more issues @ www.fokus.org/insight


INSIGHT: Craftsmanship