Thursday, September 5, 2019

Percy E. Sutton Educational Campus / High School



This morning I got to witness something remarkable!  Congratulations to the principal and administration of the Percy E. Sutton Educational Campus for such a spectacular job in welcoming back your high school students on their first day back to school. You have raised the bar by setting an excellent example of how vested you are in our children's future. Other educational institutions should take notice!
The welcome back included staff and parents cheering, hand shaking, pats on the back and many words of encouragement. The experience was complete with several african drummers!!!
This made me want to be in high school again.
GREAT JOB!


Percy E. Sutton Educational Campus
 6 Edgecombe Ave, New York, NY 10030

Friday, January 27, 2017

FriendZ World Music





In the latest episode of Artistic Expressions, Michelle Thomas interviews FriendZ World Music, a dynamic and highly energetic musical group from Hartford. They bring deep African drumming and cultural dancing to our community. Enjoy! 



Artistic Expressions is dedicated to supporting the arts through casual interviews with artists to help promote their creativity and offerings to this world. Art is life!

Remember to always support the arts and your local artists!

Please subscribe to our YouTube channel (Artpeace Studio) to catch the buzz on Artistic Expressions.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Michelle Thomas - Solo Art Show @ Canton's Gallery on the Green - "Know Thyself : Sankofa"



Michelle Thomas – Solo Art Show
Gallery on the Green
5 Canton Green Rd. (on Rt. 44)
Canton, CT 06019
860-693-4102

Opening Reception:
Upstairs Gallery
Saturday, September 3, 2016
6pm - 9pm

KNOW THYSELF :  SANKOFA                                                                                           
-Ancient African Proverb
  

THE MEANING OF  SANKOFA

“You must reach back to reclaim that which is lost in order to move forward”

The “Sankofa” is a word in the Twi language by the Akan people of Ghana, which translates as "Go back and get it." Sankofa also refers to the metaphorical Asante Adinkra symbol depicted either as a bird with its head turned backward taking an egg from its back or as a stylized heart shape. It expresses the importance of reaching back to knowledge gained in the past and bringing it into the present in order to make positive progress.



The body of work in this art show represents my personal journey of looking back upon my life, retracing past lives and experiences to glean knowledge of self.   No matter how painful looking at our past is, there exists an extreme benefit to learning from ones mistakes and misfortunes in order to change the course of the future.  The human story may at times be wrought with injustice, discontent and outright hatred, yet our resilient spirit and resolve rises above and overcomes all obstacles.  My mission is to encourage healing in this hurting world.  As we journey back, we can reunite with spirit, taking us to the very Source of existence where all knowledge and wisdom reside, shifting energy to manifest action that changes the world and ourselves.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Death and life...

Up early thinking about the fleeting quality of life. We toil.  We run around according to watches,  rushing to places only to wait in line. We drive. "To-ing and fro-ing". We obsess. We worry. It's easy to miss the miracle of life.

Feeling stagnant, emotional and powerless I went for a run. I was arrested by the vision of a lone tree. So I stopped to enjoy a leafless tree amongst the backdrop of a full moon. The image inspired me to pause... to stop and feel the air on my skin.... to stop and notice life flowing through my veins. I noticed my pulse.... a vital sign of life. It became clear that 'in the moment' I have the power to change direction... to change my course. I can move slower, more deliberate with conscious intention. I can celebrate life.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Where am I today?

art heals...
     Once again, 2 a.m. is the bewitching hour. Silence wraps around me like a warm blanket. Subtle noises throughout my space creates a comforting familiarity....from the soft hum of my favored neon peace sign....the gentle rhythmic mechanical cooling fan of my laptop....to the deep throaty moan of the hidden furnace, I am at ease. This is MY time to reflect and create. While the world sleeps, I am wide awake in mind, body and spirit.

     I spent the past two mornings fully engulfed in research. Freddie Grey, Trayvon Martin, Emmett Till, Frederick Jermaine Carter, and Laquan McDonald are my recent honorees. All young Black men. The names I investigated started as a mild curiosity then exploded into an all encompassing absorption of personal narratives and history. Thankfully the media is the culprit. From the time I witnessed the video of Eric Gardner being choke out to death for the world to see I have been trying to somehow make sense of inhumanity. Questions swarm in my mind. How is life truly valued in these moments in history? A jumble of created mental equations topple each other. Just as I am horrible at math...I don't get it! The most precious means of passing on our DNA and legacy is often so easily snuffed out as if life is expendable because of fear or misunderstanding. In my mind, there is no acceptable justification to steal a life, but then, I am an idealist.

     I am plagued with a new mission in my art. For the past year and a half I have heightened senses concerning humanity. I personally feel the pain and injustice of victims of violence. It can be tough at times, seeing, reading and hearing about so much negativity, discrimination and abuse. It is bound to have a profound affect on my day. Hot tears stream my face regularly as I remain vulnerable to the countless accounts of known and unknown names recklessly killed. However, I believe I am somehow personally healing through the horrific deaths of so many taken too soon. Their life and death become my platform to fight against injustice. Through my art I am able to speak a language when words fail me. 

     There is something deep within me that cries out in outrage against oppressive means. One looking in could easily say that because I am Black or African American or simply of African decent it is obvious that I'd be sensitive to the plight of my people. I, however, know "there are layers to this thing" (Freedom) Injustice and oppression are not exclusive to the black community. As a woman artist I feel a double portion of a different kind of discrimination. Had I been Greek in 336 – 323 BC  (Hellenistic Period) I'd be considered a hero.

     The Black community is my focus because we need the most support and healing. In 2016 we are still recovering from generations of oppression. The affects of slavery did not just dissipate. We feel all too real the residual affects of mis-education and lack. Our communities are diseased with self-hate and hopelessness. PTSD is real! (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

     My goal and mission is to become a beacon of light.... of hope. When we understand and accept our full story (starting in Africa, BEFORE slavery) we will see our greatness and feel the generations of love, honor and dignity transcend time and space. My art is focused on education and uplifting black consciousness to encourage living out our full potential and capacity. With love as the standard, I pray we are all encouraged to value human life.

Monday, December 21, 2015

I humbly accept

Asthma ain't fun! Watching my son struggle for breath is excruciating. I'm painstakingly reminded how our bodies are helpless and susceptible to all sorts of physical maladies. It is the spirit that is resilient and the mind that is determined.

He tosses... turns... coughs... repeat. Fighting for a single comfortable breath. I'm sitting here taking for granted the ease at which I effortlessly inhale and exhale. My mind is free to wander off to far away places unencumbered. While he is shackled to only thoughts of breathing.

This is the time I contemplate life.  Choices. Paths. Direction. ....guilt...
My relationship with my son has evolved into a dance of sorts. Back and forth debates. Mental jousting. As he develops into a young man, I feel the responsibility of helping him grow in character. Love. Patience. Kindness. Respect. Generosity. Responsibility. Ownership. Confidence. Resolve.

These lessons can come from me in an aggressive manner, as if seizing the moment requires a stern hand. Wave can feel under attack by me. I dismiss the very attributes of the character traits I'm trying to employ. Gentleness is my lack.
Looking at him helplessly struggle for air,  the only thing I want to do is embrace my baby and give him the very breath in my lungs.

Over the last 8 years I have made marked changes in my approach to "handling things." I used to be quieter, non-abrasive, non-confrontational, willing to let others opinions take the floor. Life can change you. In my frustration of feeling my perspective was always ignored or belittled, I was told repeatedly.... "the sqeaky wheel gets the grease." I took that to heart, but it has taken on a life of its own, where now, I embody a clanging gong.... wordy, loud, forceful aggressive, not willing to let others over talk me....or out wit me.

My confession: as I watch my son struggle for air, I feel guilty for all the times I aggressively tried to change him. He is truly a sweet soul.... and I'm left here wondering just how damaging my aggression is to his overall well being. 
The lesson here is for me.  To return to my true self... to nurture, listen, love, gently guide, be open, welcome differences, be humble and allow others to just be and be ok with that. My opinion is not the only or best in the room. I can stand to learn a thing or two from someone else's struggle. It's not all about the "wisdom" I'm trying to impart all the time. True wisdom is seen over time in action. Consistency. Speaking volumes visually without words. I miss that part of me. I'm reconnecting.
I lost sight of how truly powerful transformation is through humility.

I love you my son,  be well. Continue to teach me. 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Great Equalizer



The Great Equalizer
              I awoke from a dream with a pulsating headache. Typically, it takes some real effort to recall the details of my dreams unless I wake up from a half-sleep-half-wake cycle. Most times it doesn’t matter what the details were as long as I can capture the essence of what the dream was about. There seems to have inherent in dreaming a message that is trying to transcend from the sleep world into the conscious world. Especially when I am exposed to a challenge or problem to transverse in the conscious space, my dream life works to find viable solutions. Such was the case last night. I awoke with an epiphany.
              My headache is indicative of ‘a lot on my mind’. By process of elimination I am able to dissect its cause. It is definitely related to thinking. Although I keep a busy schedule, I get ample sleep. I also have not been debaucherously frolicking about in the arts of drinking and smoking.  My nourishment has been adequate and I am well hydrated. I can honestly say I am of sound mind and body. So, the culprit lies with the heavy conceptual thinking I have been habitually engaging in over the course of several weeks. My brain is full and tired, if that is even such a feat.
              You’ve heard it said that “everything happens for a reason.” Before I get into my epiphany, let me entertain the journey of my current barrage of seemingly random activities. As I embark on obtaining my teaching certification, there are several prerequisites I must accomplish in order to move on to the next level of coursework. One requirement that needs satisfying is a comprehension test – The PRAXIS. The PRAXIS is a series of tests that gauge a level of basic competencies. It is used as a foundational assessment of reading, writing and arithmetic. I took the initial three-part test and passed two sections. I failed the math portion. In order to progress through my program of study I will need to retake the math portion and pass it. My solution to this quandary is to take on a tutor. I meet with a live person twice a week to help me navigate through the world of ‘simple’ math. I also take on the role of self-learner and visit the KHAN Academy website for easy to understand math tutorials. I’m becoming more and more confident in my ability to absorb some of this math ‘stuff’.
Being a visual learner all my life, I have adopted ways in which to problem solve through images and pictures. My mind works more with concepts as opposed to linear thinking. That is why I have trouble with timelines and incremental thinking. Unfortunately, I have developed some crippling habits along the way. I never really understood the process of math. In my younger years I classified myself as having a ‘math phobia’. I no longer subscribe to that notion. I now have an intense awe and respect for math. This understanding did not come by way of me finally figuring out how to do math, but rather through listening and watching those who have a passion and love for the discipline in the same way I have for art.
Which now brings me to the topic of language. Math is its own language. Art is its own language. Language is its own language!
Language [lang-gwij] noun
1.      a body of words and the systems for their use common to a people who are of the same community or nation, the same geographical area, or the same cultural tradition. (dictionary.com)
People use language to connect to each other and the world around them.  I have been gaining new appreciations for different types of languages that go beyond linguistics. The sciences have many intriguing sects: Chemistry, Botany, Physics, Biology, Psychology….the list goes on and on. Even what use to be my arch nemesis – Mathematics. There are specialists in every field who eat, drink and sleep the language of their chosen discipline. They all have a piece of the puzzle. Humanity is an array of different creations, all with their own way of absorbing and transmitting their existence.
              Back to math. I love listening to a mathematician describe the world through numbers and equations. It’s like a scene in the movie the Matrix where Neo was finally enlightened and possessed the ability to see the world through the lens of binary code. For the people that speak that language, that must look simply breathtaking. For people like me who gravitate towards the language of art, I prefer my lenses to be the color pink! However, whatever the language it seems to me we are all trying to describe the same things and some of those things are big invisible stuff like Hope, Patience, Faith, Kindness, Charity, Love or even God.
              In an intense series of inquiry and contemplation with my best friend Freedom, we have embarked on the quest of answering the bigger questions of humanity about the necessity or abandonment of the concept of religion. That’s a lot of words to capture the thought, ‘What or who guides our lives?” That question is loaded and can go in a million different directions, so for brevity I will omit our commentary.
What is important to note is that the series of conversations were occupying the reserves of my mental space. I bring it up to come full circle on my dream of last night and the epiphany surrendered.
              In one of my math tutoring sessions we were going over the basic functions of converting percent to decimal to fractions and back. I admit it was a challenge to swiftly execute the conversions. Lots of numbers and their visual symbols were swirling in my head, hence the headache. Upon retiring for bed after a long session with Freedom about the existence of ‘God’ and what man ‘needs’ to guide his life, I was mentally exhausted. I must have still had some residual math problem solving kicking around in my head that needed resolution, because during my sleeping hours I dreamed of numbers. These numbers were all jumbled in a pile reminiscent of fall foliage raked into a big pile. The pile of arithmetic symbols began to swirl around in a typhoon fashion. Then they began to group themselves. Numbers and symbols began to gravitate towards one another grouping in specific and comfortable ways. 5+2=7. The geometry symbols came together and formed a 3, 4, 5 triangle forming a Pythagorean triple. More groupings took place, but the most outstanding of them all were the fractions.
              The fractions were frantically jostling about trying to find their place above and below the line. Lots of bumping and shoving and claiming positions happened with the excitability and frequency of a chemical reaction. But, suddenly as if in a synchronized swimming dance, they effortlessly found their familiar configuration of ‘the common denominator’.  All the fractions lined up in order with all the base numbers the same. THAT was the epiphany! The hyper activity of the images, thoughts beliefs, doctrines, philosophies, charts, graphs, figures, books, numbers and symbols swimming around in my head were magnetized and began grouping together. Common associations formed; Chaos turned to organized chaos turned to minimalist simplicity. All the languages markedly proclaimed the same sentiment. All cultures with their variables of content merged to form humanity. All divisions were solved and remainders described.  All choices were balanced against the same parameter. All the questions of creation, God, religion and text culminated into one simple answer. A common denominator formed.

Here is my final equation on the matter: God = Love.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Art Opening - AWESOME evening!

Last night's Veterans Art Show was a huge success! The other veteran's artwork was deep and insightful. Their words were moving and brought tears to many eyes. It is an honor to be part of such a high caliber group. I look forward to many more shows with the Veterans Art Foundation.
Thank you to all my friends and family who came out to support this event or to those who sent an encouraging word. I truly appreciate the love! It motivates me to get back into the studio!!!
Peace

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Veterans Show!

TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT!!! My art opening is tonight! It's a big one! It features five of my most recent work and the other artists are all veterans! It's a great opportunity for me. I'm very excited about it. The gallery is at 100 Pearl Street, Downtown Hartford. From 4-7pm. Please come out and support my efforts in the arts. Thank you.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Veterans Art Show!

OK....THIS IS THE ONE!!!
For ALL the people who frequently ask when am I showing my artwork...HERE'S THE SHOW TO GO TO!!!
Five pieces of my most thought provoking artwork to date is being featured in a Veterans Show.
The pieces submitted reflect how my Year of Silence influenced my current body of work. Such topics as social injustice, denied freedom and historical honor grace my canvas and ignite social commentary. Seeing the pieces in person is electrifying.

I was also selected as one of the veteran artists to speak about their selected artwork at the Fundraising Reception on June 10, 2015. (4:30pm-7:00pm)

The Greater Hartford Art Council in partnership with the Veterans Art Foundation are featuring veteran artists in an art exhibition from May 18 to July 17, 2015. 

The GHAC is one of the most prominent arts organizations in our State. The Opening Reception is on May 28th from 5-7pm and the Fundraising Reception is on June 10 from 4:30pm-7:00pm. The June 10th fundraiser will feature 2 veteran speakers (one of which is Michelle Thomas) and veteran musicians.

We encourage you to attend both receptions as supporters of the GHAC, the Veterans Art Foundation a.d the veteran artists. GHAC would like you to meet and greet the artists featured in the exhibition.

Art Space - Corporate Building
100 Pearl Street
Hartford CT

Exhibit runs from:
May 18 – July 17, 2015
Opening Reception:
Thursday, May 28, 2015 
5:00pm-7:00pm

Fundraiser Reception
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
4:30pm-7:00pm

Please come out to both receptions and support my endeavors in the arts!
Thank you.

Blood on the Leaves - Michelle Thomas

The current juried show at the West Hartford Art League is showcasing some beautiful artwork from the New England area.

One of my recent pieces is in the show, entitled "Blood on the Leaves" (Michelle Thomas). The subject matter of my new series of work deals with honoring the unknown or forgotten lives of African Americans lynched in this country. It stems from the united energy protesters in current times display while holding signs that say, "black lives matter".

Please go down to the gallery and check out the show and see my piece in person. It's raw and thought provoking yet the treatment of the subject matter is handled delicately.

CT+6, April 23 - May 31, 2015.

THE WEST HARTFORD ART LEAGUE | 37 BUENA VISTA RD WEST HARTFORD CT 06107 | (860) 231-8019

Gallery Hours:
Thursday-Sunday: 1-4 pm


Sunday, May 17, 2015

The mission of peace...

     It's so easy to feel and embrace peace in the early morning. All is quiet. Most are sleep. Less activity going on. The early morning is peaceful. Serene.
It refreshes the soul and gives life to the body. My mind is clear and ready to embark on my day.
     Keeping that peace throughout the day is my goal. As of late, with two teenagers to guide, I find myself losing patience which leads to frustration. I must remember to look beyond whatever the current challenge and set my sights on the bigger picture. Give love and grace.
Amen

Friday, May 15, 2015

Unlearn Learned History

The Destruction of Black Civilization - Great Issues of a Race from 4500 B.C. To 2000 A.D. By Chancellor Williams
This is the newest book on the reading list and follows the enlightened reading experience of The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter G. Woodson.

     I'm only in the Preview portion of the book where Williams spells out his inquiry and methods into the research of African history, specific to the fall of Black people.  Immediately you get a sense of the author. The book reads very conversational and candid. Williams is thorough and methodically captures the details of a lost history. I'm hooked within the first few pages!
     I am sure this book will flesh out old theories and abolish certain lies taught in the Western world.
     The hunger for knowledge will be satisfied.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Drop of Water

     Nature is the best place to quiet ones mind and get back to our true essence. The man made world is a harsh and crude place. Man surrounds himself with all kinds of activities that feed his flesh, leaving the mind and spirit to wither.
     Sometimes getting back to purity requires recognizing purity and staying in touch with things that are pure. My proximity to what taints my soul is too close. If one is not watchful and you surround your senses with the negativity man spews, he can creep in causing you to believe his lies.
     If I am an ink droplet and I fall into an ink well, I become even more saturated with ink. But if I am that same ink droplet that falls into a clear pond, I do not contaminate the pond but rather the pond in its vast pure-ness over powers me and diffuses my statin until you can not recognize me from the pure. I become purified.
     My spirit craves a return to its original pure creation.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Up All Night

     When the body and mind are not in sync it feels torturous. I know my body could use the rest but my mind will not shut off. My mind could use the rest but my body is fidgety. Random thoughts and images of conversations never to be had. Opinions never to be voiced. Should have, could have, would haves fill space time uselessly. All the activity of an inactive person. So why allow the mind to wander to such empty places?

     There seems to be no choice. Something I am plagued with since a little girl. Split personalities. I have multiple characters living in my head. They have been there long before I can remember when they emerged. But they are there. Undoubtedly there. They take over when "i" am not performing to their liking, filling my head with chatter to steer me of course, onto some superficial plane of nothingness.

     Then came a break through where they seemed to merge. A necessary person entered my life and showered me the path to myself. On this journey I became intimate with the artist within. My own voice was being heard not in an auditory way but silently and even stronger than the many. My artwork became personal and raw. I reached deep into the recesses of my past, lived in the moment and foresaw the future all on the same surface. Maybe they fell silent because they were in awe. The statements on canvas were so full there was no room for another voice. Or maybe they knew to just sit and wait....

     I mistakenly thought we all became one. I was right to be mislead. Since there were no longer multiple voices and personalities vying for center stage, I was fooled to believe they melded together with in me and WITH me. I only heard one voice now...my own. Finally united. One person. One voice. Freedom.

     However, the truth is I was fooled. There are two of us. Me and them! They silently watched as I arrogantly thought my thoughts were my own. Man's folly is his arrogance. I became confident that I was in control. I think, debate, analyze, think some more...analyze some more. I thought my way back to inactivity. That is their in! This carnal mind/body duel is a trap. I was never in control. I am a mere prisoner of this mind and body. My true freedom is outside of myself.

     I reason within myself....and herein lies the problem! Thinking too much about thinking. Action is needed! Art is needed!
I'm allowing space and time to be filled with useless chatter! They win when I am stagnant. Sensing my weakness they surface and engage in a hostile take over. They fill my mind with all my flaws, misgivings, failures and shortcomings allowing in the judgement of others. They are the masters of replaying negative tapes of lies.

     My art is the key. And when I say "art", I mean all avenues of expression. (Visual art, music, writing, poetry and the like) That is where true freedom lies.
When I am active in creation there is no sound. No voice. No chatter. No one.
The most powerful place to reside is where you lose yourself. Submission to the universe is where real oneness exists.

I am writing.

Monday, May 11, 2015

20-Artistic Expressions-Verbal Slap-Poets prproj





This episode of Artistic Expressions is HOT! The poets of Verbal Slap turn up the heat!! Michelle Thomas delivers a comfortable interview leaving you wanting more. Please watch. Remember to support the arts and your local artists!

Friday, March 13, 2015

15-Artistic Expressions-Tangsauce





Be inspired as Michelle Thomas interviews TangSauce & The Optimistics.  They bring an array of talent, skill and entertainment. This upcoming group offers a dynamic spark of energy with  effortless synergy. Enjoy this episode of Artistic Expressions! 

Remember to always support the Arts and you local artists!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

13-Artistic Expressions-Aariyan Googe-021315





 
Michelle Thomas interviews Aariyan Googe on Artistic Expressions.
Watch as self taught photographer Aariyan Googe shares her secrets behind the camera! This light spirited deep soul gives her gift of capturing life. Enjoy looking at the world through her lens.
Remember to always support the Arts and your local artists.

Friday, January 2, 2015

11-Artistic Expressions-Chef Jay



Michelle Thomas interviews Chef Jay Lewis!!! A DELICIOUS episode!



Watch Artistic Expressions and learn about how Chef Jay's is a master in the culinary field and talks about his newly published cookbook: "The Gentlemen's Cookbook", where he cooks up not only tantalizing recipes but also manly advice on being a true gentleman.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

10-Artistic Expressions-Kwanzaa Special





Jambo! Kwanzaa comes to Artistic Expressions! Enjoy musical performances by Brother Abu, Jedda, Sistah Nandi, Mixashawn, Maxine Martin, Richard McGhee, and Tim Mercik. Learn about the 7 principles of Kwanzaa led by the honorable elder Brother Abu. Ashe.

Friday, December 19, 2014

09-Artistic Expressions-Joe Young-121814





JOE YOUNG is on Artistic Expressions! His movie Diamond Ruff is showing in theaters in January 2015. Watch the interview and always remember to 'Support the Arts and your local artists!'

Sunday, December 7, 2014

"Permission to Kill Me" -New artwork by Michelle Thomas


"Permission to Kill Me"
-Michelle Thomas
Artpeace Studio

In the wake of the decision NOT to indite for both Michael Brown and Eric Garner, my spirit is unsettled and crying out.  The tension and dissatisfaction in the black community is like a festering abscess in need of lancing.  Current images on the news are more reminiscent of 1963....not 2014.  Riots, tear gas, protests, marches and public outrage are the crescendo of social unrest. 

You can't keep a broken system the same and expect different results. That's INSANITY!  The deep rooted issues of racism that manifest themselves in ways of unequal treatment and racial profiling can not go unchecked without the black community getting 'fed up' with the injustice. When there is no satisfactory justice, the feelings of abuse swell inside.  The pressure builds and if there is no relief, we have an explosion on our hands. 

THIS is what I'm feeling. Explosive! 

We all have our gifts. Thank goodness for people who have the gift of leadership and community activism as well as public speaking.  These are the people who lead, take action and make real change. 
One of my gifts is creating art. Art is a powerful tool to help reveal truth. It can be used to influence minds to contemplate deep issues in hopes to stir the soul to action. 
So yesterday I used my focused energy to respond to the plethora of emotions swirling inside of me concerning the social climate of today and created a painting entitled, "Permission to Kill Me".

The painting is a mixed media piece using acrylic paint, ink, newspaper, photocopy images, tape and charcoal.  The treatment of the surface is rough and raw like my emotions. I focused on the imagery of black males with their hands raised. This sends a different message depending on the context. 
In the painting there is a drawing of Eric Garner being choked with his last words before he died, "I can't breathe" on his chest. His raised hands signifies being subdued. 
Throughout the news there were many protesters and celebrities raising their hands as a symbol of peaceful protest. The center figure in the piece is a black man raising his hands during a peaceful demonstration. He has the words, "PEACEFUL PROTEST?" near him. The question mark is there because in the news where people were standing with their hands raised, tear gas was being thrown at them. 
Above his head is the preliminary autopsy report on Michael Brown that says, "Bullets entering the inside of Michael Brown's right arm and Brown's right palm suggest Brown had his arms in the 'surrender' position when Officer Darren Wilson killed him." So although he was in the surrender position, he was shot anyway. This is where the title of my piece comes from, "Permission to Kill Me", because apparently it doesn't matter if you 'surrender', you'll get killed anyway. So I included the silhouetted black male with his hands raised and the written question, "Surrender?" between his hands. Is this position of surrender a signal to the aggressor to 'stand down' or a green light to kill?

Art is a weapon! So I'm fighting back!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made!


As I sit in the solitude and peace of my studio, hot tears stream down my cheeks as my heart explodes inside of me. When things change, and they inevitably do, submission to the universal forces of goodness and truth must prevail. Trying to cling to the past will only pass through your fingers like sand in an hourglass. I submit to the will of goodness even when it hurts.  Even when it rips through me like the massive claws of a tiger slicing through the abdomen of an antelope, leaving me completely vulnerable and exposed.

Submitting to the will of goodness does not mean I am infallible. On the contrary, I tend to put up an aggressive and futile fight against the truth I do not wish to face. My humanness shines through like a beacon. And I have the potential to invent ways to hold on to my reality when matched up against truth.  My humility and submission to goodness and truth allows healing, so its a wonder why I'd ever think to fight against it.  Its a paradox that seems foolish to fight...and it IS foolish to fight truth. My pride NEVER wins. Knowing that my human pride is an ill match for truth becomes my saving grace. I am able to submit.  Even when it takes every fiber of my being, losing my pride, and using my intellect to submit. I submit.

One thing is clear, I will side with good at ALL costs. It sometimes feels as though it kills me to do so. But the reality is, it is NOT killing me, it is making me stronger.  Even if I'd rather rebel against the thought of submission because of misguided selfish pride, it is wiser to choose truth. When I am brutally honest with myself, I know I'd rather throw a tantrum, kicking, screaming and throwing my body about before giving in to to obvious truth before me. Truth cuts like a two edged sword. A scripture I remind myself of to stay grounded in truth:
23 "Everything is permissible"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"--but not everything is constructive. 24 Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. 1Cor 10:23-24
Every man faces his true character alone. I alone am responsible for the good I do or don't do!  I no longer say I am lonely...I know better than that! Manifested creation lives inside me.  However, I FEEL---deeply and I sometimes think I am alone in how I deeply I feel about things.  I can't hide it. It shows in my walk, in my talk, in my furrowed brow, or distended forehead vein whenever I am stressed beyond my borders. I am wrestling angels right now!

There are specific times in my personal spiritual walk where I actually question, "Why was I made this way?" Should I live this life being so sensitive to humanities ills and hardships? Especially when I am surrounded by people who have the ability to suppress, hide, ignore or dismiss emotional appeals as easy as donning and doffing their clothing. So many times I feel like a fish out of water, suffocating as I gasp for sustenance. I MUST REMEMBER---
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14
The focus must shift from self to others in order to be effective for goodness and truth.

There is so much loss in this world. All types of loss, from death of a loved one to the break up of a loving relationship. Any type of withdraw creates a ripple in the universe felt by the "sensitives" moving about this earth.  Even the deaf, dumb and blind one can feel the powerful energy of human suffering transcending all physical laws of time and space. We only need to tune into its frequency. Adjust our perspective to include the external pulsating energy of another human being, whether next to you or half way across the globe. Pain is a chosen condition of the mind. I am grateful for my painful experiences. They keep me relate-able to other people who hurt deeply.  We can respond to the sufferings of this world first with compassion. Compassion leads the heart to action.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

08 Artistic Expressions Tee Tee Soul 112014





Enjoy episode 8 of Artistic Expressions where Michelle Thomas interviews Tee Tee Soul a talented local musician. Watch and listen as Tee Tee Soul shares a riveting musical selection.



Artistic Expressions is dedicated to bringing awareness to the vast talent throughout Hartford, CT and its neighboring towns. We are in the beginning stages of producing videos that highlight local artist. 

  

Come check out Artistic Expressions on Hartford Public Access Television,   Saturdays at 4:00 pm on Channel 5!

Remember to always support the Arts and your local artists!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

07-Artistic Expressions-Mixashawn-110414





Enjoy episode 7 of Artistic Expressions where Michelle Thomas interviews L. Mixashawn Rozie. He is a jazz musician known as the "Wave Artist" and educator. Mixashawn delights us with his musical prowess on the flute.



Artistic Expressions is dedicated to bringing awareness to the vast talent throughout Hartford, CT and its neighboring towns. We are in the beginning stages of producing videos that highlight local artist. If you know an artist who would be a great candidate for an interview on Artistic Expressions please contact us at 860-655-6685. Leave a message for Michelle Thomas. Thank you



Please subscribe to our YouTube channel so you can receive the latest episodes of Artistic Expressions

Monday, October 27, 2014

Egypt Diarra-Kai



I love you baby girl....
On the anniversary of the passing of my daughter, I'm posting a poem I wrote 16 years ago soon after my baby girl breathed her last. Those were the best 5 weeks a mother could know!

EGYPT

Ahhhhhhh... Angels awaken me,
     or was it
     the sudden chill?

Wait---Was that a sigh?
Dear God, let it be a sigh.
My heart skips a beat
but does not
stop.

The blood rushing 
through my veins
feels
hot.

You see...
The timeless truth about tranquil turmoil
is that
going back 
is not an option.

Her limp limbs in one hand
chest compressions with the other,
     one one thousand
     two one thousand
     three on thousand
breathe.
     one one thousand
     two one thousand
     three one thousand
breathe.
nothing.

An eternity happened in that moment
An eternity---happened---in that moment

Existence ceases to exist.
My life swirls about me
colliding with past worlds
     with repeated rights
     and record wrongs.
Was this punishment?

The universe unraveling 
at it seams...
like a dream.

As Motherhood conspires with Death
she withdraws her embrace
leaving me
barren
once more.

I offer a sacrifice
     my own breath
     my own life.
Was I too late? or 
on time.
Time with his cold insistent hand
was on me.
He pinned me
threw a blanket of despair
about me---
     then laughed.

I could not see
the next moment
suffocating me.

It was not my time.
It was hers.



Sunday, October 26, 2014

Art Opening "Reflections" @ Studio Montclair, New Jersey




Studio Montclair Presents Portfolio Series: Reflections
at Montclair Public Library November 2 – 28

Media Contact: Yvette Lucas  | ylucasw@verizon.net  | 973-809-8261

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MONTCLAIR, NJ: On Thursday, November 6, 2014, from 6:30 to 8:30pm, Studio Montclair Inc. (SMI) will host the artists’ opening reception for its exhibition Portfolio Series: Reflections, on display at the Montclair Public Library from November 2 through November 28. This exhibition showcases the work of five artists whose work depicts the theme “reflection.” Each artist explores the theme in a highly personal and subjective way, with no two artists using the same medium. Collage, photography, fiber arts, animation and drawing are all employed to their fullest in the hands of these five very talented women. Most of the artists will be in attendance at the reception, which is free and open to the public. All of the artists are SMI members.
The five artists in the show are Rachel Kanter and Paula Stark of Montclair; Roshanak Elmendorf of Ringwood; Linda Jacobs of Maplewood; and Michelle R. Thomas of Hartford, CT.
“Some of the works are about light and its many forms of reflection,” says Curator Lisa Sanders, “while others depict the theme in its meditative sense, as in carefully considering and reflecting upon experiences, cultures and personal relationships.”
SMI Gallery Director Amy Becker explains, “Every November, the library is the site of an SMI Portfolio Series exhibition that provides an opportunity for SMI members to showcase a body of work.”
About the artists
The works by fiber artist Rachel Kanter portray the theme “reflection” as the revisiting of Jewish ritual objects through the lenses of tradition, domestic roles and modern ideas. Kanter uses embroidery, aprons, kitchen towels, and other household objects as the substrate for her artistic and personal reflection.
Paula Stark’s landscape-inspired paper collages capture the subtle variations of reflected light, color, texture and space found in nature. Her work draws upon observation and contemplation, which bring an especially fresh point of reference to the landscape genre.
Iranian-born Roshanak Elmendorf uses moving images—animated drawings, photographs and film—to represent her inner reflections of memory and culture. Her work intertwines memory and poetry to create a unique personal and cultural narrative.

In the work of multi-media artist Michelle R. Thomas, the theme of reflection harkens to the phrase, “pause and reflect.” Thomas is a retired airmen of the U.S. Air Force/Connecticut Air National Guard, and her works for this exhibition reflect the many facets of her experience in the military and the people with whom she served.

Photographer Linda Jacobs’ photogram images capture the reflective qualities of light. Her careful selection of objects used in the images reveals a fascinating interplay of memory, free association and abstraction that compel the viewer to respond to the work at a very personal level.
About the Curator
Lisa Sanders received her MFA from the New York Studio School in 2011. Her work has been exhibited twice at the John Davis Gallery, Hudson, NY; outdoors in Art in Nature at Greenwood Gardens in Short Hills, NJ; at Gallery 202, DUMBO, NY; Reverol & Co., New Rochelle, NY; Governors Island Art Fair, New York, NY; the Box Gallery, Galesburg, IL; and the Arts Guild of New Jersey, Rahway. She has received awards from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts (2014 Artists Fellowship), the New York Studio School (sculptor in residence), and the Vermont Studio Center (fellowship residency). Lisa lives and works in Newark, NJ. Lisa is on the SMI board and serves as Exhibitions Coordinator.
About the Gallery Director
Amy Becker is the SMI Gallery Director for exhibitions at the Montclair Public Library. Ms. Becker is also a Studio Montclair board member and serves as a Communications Coordinator. Additionally, she serves on the board of the Madison Arts and Culture Alliance. Ms. Becker is an award-winning fine art photographer. Her work has appeared nationally, and regionally in such institutions as the Morris Museum, Noyes Museum, Hunterdon Art Museum, George Segal Gallery, Aljira, and in New York galleries Soho Photo, Pen and Brush Club, and Ceres Gallery.


Montclair Public Library is located at 50 S. Fullerton Avenue, Montclair, NJ. Gallery hours are Monday – Thursday 10am – 8pm; Friday–Saturday 10am – 6pm; Sunday 1-6pm.
http://www.montclairlibrary.org
Studio Montclair Inc. (SMI) is a nonprofit organization of exhibiting professional artists and others interested in the visual arts. Its mission is to promote culture and education in the visual arts and encourage emerging artists.
http://www.studiomontclair.org
This program is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. These funds are administered by the Essex County Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

I Appreciate You


For What? I'm glad you asked...

For stimulating and provoking minds,
For being passionate about the process of creation, 
     and have that excitement spill over.
For being passionate about the plight of our people
     and have a mission to act.
For being passionate about kindness and equality
     and have it take the form of grace.

My personal gratitude bubbles over 
because of statements you made 
     to half prying ears - at the bar.

You gave me nuggets of knowledge 
     to chew on.
I've been digesting the concept of the lesser mystery
     and the greater one ever since.
What is our legacy?
Why are we here?

Discussing vulnerability,
     gracefully opened a door
     I've been trying to pry open.

Figuring out the inner workings of a person
     is always the goal.
Leaving behind the superficial. 
Its invigorating tangling with a soul 
     who can show their true self FIRST.

This is an artistic and human gesture,
     to say I appreciate you.
     
     I believe in you.




Artistic Expressions episode 6 - Kemet Maroon





Watch our latest episode of Artistic Expressions. Michelle Thomas interviews the EXPLOSIVE Kemet Maroon (poet, musician, Arts & Crafts jeweler and community activist)
Please hit the subscribe button so you can receive the latest episodes as they come out. Thank you and REMEMBER TO ALWAYS SUPPORT THE ARTS AND YOUR LOCAL ARTISTS! peace

Come check out Artistic Expressions on Hartford Public Access Television, channel 5 on Saturdays at 4:00 pm!