Then God Said “You Dif’Rent…”

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….Lately holding onto my dreams after I wake has been like trying to catch a moth! Well, maybe no one really wants to catch a moth. Okay, how about chasing a butterfly. Yeah! That’s better, eh?? Anywhoo, this can be quite annoying as I really do consider my dreams the road maps that guide me through my waking life, making navigation a bit easier and I am a nightly dreamer.   That being said, lately I’ve not been in the best of spaces. When this happens it’s even harder to grasp these dreams but the other morning was my first success in a long time.  In my dream appeared this random black woman who was “face portrayed” by a woman in my community. She is older than I but sassy and chic.  In real life the woman to whom this face belongs is a “bawse”.  She wore a tailored black suit with knee length tailored shorts similar to what this model in the photo is wearing.  She was busy, organizing some things, moving some things around.  Never looking up from her tasks, she finally spoke:

“See! We just gotta get you in some a’these shorts!”

She said it to me as if it was the cure all for something.  I scoffed but she said it like I would experience some coming together,  things would make sense or that better yet, I WOULD finally make sense.  I refuse her suggestion with a combination of snobbery and disdain wrapped in a simple, “No”. The sassy suit clad older woman blows off my NO as if I don’t know what’s best for me and as if she is not worried because there’s plenty of time for her to help me see things differently. I can tell that she is giving my response little to no consideration and as far as she’s concerned, we’re gonna get me into those shorts at some point! I’m irritated and feel like I need to make sure she gets it, so I launch into my whole “position on shorts”. I tell her not only won’t I wear the shorts — Not now, Not NEVAH! — ANY shorts evah. but that I don’t even BELIEEEVE in shorts! (which is in fact true by the way,lol). I am adamant and determined that she comprehend the idea that  I WILL NOT, I say NOT conform to her idea. As a random “split screen” to this dream, all of these older women around me were having babies. …Older like 50’s older. For some reason this was bringing me great comfort. While I think it was connected to the obvious, I felt like it was also a reference to time in some way. Letting me know I have more time than I feel like I do to birth new things, ideas, projects….or babies, into the world (though there’s only like 1 year at best left on THIS clock, lol}.

When I woke and realized I’d managed to retain this snippet of a dream, I held on for dear life.  The next question is always, “what did that mean?”. Before I could  finish the question in my mind, I heard the answer fire back like this, “It means you dif’rent. ….AND you want a baby”. Damn messages from beyond are simple and pull no punches. Messages from beyond are always delivered  in such a matter of fact tone. What is that?!! The inflection is not high or low, excited or subdued.  It just IS and they leave little room for debate.  I was taken aback at the translation, but it was funny too. –I’ve found over the years that sometimes my shortest dreams are the most telling, bringing crystal like clarity.

The day before this dream (in my  waking life), this woman gave me a “funny compliment” on my look, adding at the end of it that she felt like it was “good to be different”. I loved it. I took no offense, but it was inter-taining (that’s interesting and entertaining combined, lol). When I had this dream and opted not to challenge it’s translation, I thought about my encounter with the woman and laughed at myself for still being stuck on that. Playing back in my mind her tone, her face her everything. It was a classic moment. I concluded that if nothing else, perhaps this was the phrase for the day, the recurring theme for the week or however long: you’re different.  The evening after I had this dream, a gentleman says to me (in my real life),  “…I’m really not sure how to explain it you’re just….just dif’rent…“. There it was again.

I guess I was right about the recurring theme thing. It’s one thing to know your different. It’s something else when others make observation or comment on it. I know that to be different is not a negative which leaves me to think that perhaps this is about me being reminded to celebrate that more than I currently am. To STAY reminded that it is indeed the blessing and never ever a curse but rather exactly how it should be. While I do know this, it’s amazing the things we can temporarily lose sight of and REQUIRE reminding of.  People are definitely mirrors of sorts to us and I feel like that’s what’s happening now: I am being met with the mirror at every turn. The idea of being reminded to celebrate these things is a theme relevant in a few areas of my life, another confirmation on the accuracy of this message.  ….Perhaps you’ve noticed I’ve not touched on that baby part much, lol. Has anyone ever pointed out something to YOU that you weren’t even fully ready to admit to yourself? Yeah, that’s where that is, so we will leave that part for another day. Suffice it to say, Inner Voice, Spirit, God, whomever you dialogue with NEVAH lies.

…..I hope your listening ears are on even while your eyes are closed.

“…Watching and listening with ALL EYEZ, third and otherwise up in Studio5”

~hkai

 

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When You Remove Pics From Your Phone But Then U Want Them Back

 It would behoove you to try and make sense of this selection of photos. I wish I could say this was some incredibly awesome post but I’m afraid it IS exactly as the title implies. I’d cleared them from my phone onto my computer and now I need to download them back on! Now that sucked into camera photos like the rest of the world, I take so many sometimes I feel pressed to “make room” in my phone. But note to self, don’t do it before you’ve posted what you wanted from them! …Crazy girl.  …I’ve no idea what I was thinking taking these from my phone. They are some of my  fav’s at that. …I’ll chalk it up to “irrational artist thoughts under societal  and technological pressures and confusion”. Since they’re here, I may as well caption them. 

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Luvs Bridal at night during the holiday {Broadway}

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The Plate House

 

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….the art of plating

 

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The Purple Door coffee shop

 

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The Purple Door coffee shop honestly makes thee the most satisfying cup of coffee.  Not only that, they achieve the best foam and froth from almond milk which every coffee shop cannot do. Mmm. {Here lies a vanilla bean latte that enjoyed so much I was late on the photo.}

 

 

 

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Oops, just wanted to take a picture of the fruits and veggie mural behind me but then my initials surprised me back there on that wall. “Oh hello HH!” I could say, how random this is, but isn’t it more fun to consider them little messages or greetings from the Universe?

 

 

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More Luv’s Bridal at night. So dreamy. Hmm, do I want this one or……

 

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this one??

Let the phone download begin.

Hmm. Maybe this should be my new “space making vibe”. All up in Studio5

~h.kai

ArtYoGA Begins 1.26.2017

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…Do you say things like…”I don’t have a creative bone in my body” or “I can only draw stick figures”….or the worst one “I am not an artist”. If so then this four part workshop will help you dispel the myth within yourself. Experiment with various mediums and find the one that resonates with you.  You don’t have to be an expert to find your niche, just in possession of an open mind. Be ready to impress yourself with your natural ability and reveal the artist within you. Join my January 26th for some Art Yoga. Register in person or online at The Art Students League of Denver.  I think you’ll be glad you did.

Follow me on instagram “Ladygurlgrowing” {…cause I always am. 😉 }

A Star is Born: The Life of A Pie

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…It all started one Saturday a few weeks ago when the most precious homegirl and I found a moment to snag an impromptu bike ride.  We stumbled upon a yard library, scored the books we were meant to receive, took a sip of ice cold  life changing cantaloupe juice she made, renamed it the nectar of life and met a crab apple tree! We plucked a few to enjoy once we reached the park.  After taking a bite of the found fruits, my most precious friend alerted me that they were transporting her back to childhood.  Of course this excited me more so I followed suit!. …And right she was.

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We committed to going back to the tree later in the week for more and agreed we would make something from them. They were perfectly sweet and perfectly sour. We felt so lucky and blessed!  More importantly,  these apples wanted to be used. …To have their purpose realized. To feed someone! Not be overlooked or taken for granted as a tree that produces a “nuisance fruit” that we have no use for (as is often the case here).  …It was a tree that wanted to give when many don’t know how to receive.  Yep, a real life giving tree!

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I soaked them and cleaned them and fell asleep. …This made some of them very soft forcing me to begin the process of using them immediately the next day.  This little visitor reminds us how important the cleaning process is by the way. Now wet AND soft, slicing them was more difficult than usual.  After draining the water I put them back in the refrigerator in hopes that the cold would restore the crisp of the apple making slicing easier. It helped a lot and by that evening production was on again. .

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Do you know how small a crab apple is? And these were larger than normal!  I sliced off each side of the apple discarding the tiny core. They’re about the size of a golf ball but my fingers were souring on the slicing task quickly.  I tried to stay motivated and focus on the end result. It was already about 9p.m. Thoughts of “What have I gotten myself into” were starting to creep in.  I could see it was gonna be a long road ahead.  –I hadn’t even gotten to the crust yet! {shakes fist} Damn! Daaamn! Daaamn!

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I put the apples in the pan with some brown sugar, water and lime juice until they began to simmer.  While that was going I started on my crust but started to get excited when it looked like it was blending so beautifully! Eventually I dropped my fork and opted for my fingers. The feeling of crust forming between your fingers that is also just the right texture and consistency is so…so….i dunno. Lovely! I rolled it into a ball and placed it on a sheet of plastic wrap to begin the roll out. –Another thing I didn’t always do but now, always will!

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So smooth so lovely, no cracks! i poked a few fork holes in the crust and put it in the oven for about 15 minutes.

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I started falling asleep standing up during pie crust assembly. You know….what better time to incorporate some lattice pattern pie crust than at midnight when you really wanted to be in dream world an hour ago! But I’d come too far to turn back and had no option but to see it through to the end. Once I started I couldn’t stop so then I had to add some hand cut leaves.  I confess, toward the end here the fatigue was really setting in.  I was about to start pasting designs all over this pie! But I had to pull it back and remind myself that less is more, lol.  I also didn’t want to be appalled by my own work in the morning. 

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After all my hard work I almost sat up with tooth picks in my eye lids. I was not going to drift off and fall asleep. I’d be lying if I said was not pleased with the result. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wanna cut into this immediately but in my fatique I found restraint!  I went to bed and said I’d get a better image in the morning and enjoy some for “breakfast-dessert” with my coffee.

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Fresh and well rested, I got a better picture. I still wanted to dig right in, but I needed the proper “accouterments” to enjoy my slice.  In other words, not without the java!

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…To think, this all started from a simple bike ride…

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I have to say, I was so pleased with the consistency! Initially I wanted it to be a bit more soupy and gooey like a cobbler, but the consistency I got truly couldn’t be more perfect! It’s also a good consistency for it to be enjoyable hot or cold. …Like breakfast or dessert. They say crab apples are high in pectin and that is the truth! It is a real force to be reckoned with and would require adding significantly more water to your base. It will congeal at the drop of a hat.

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But my crust though ya’ll! …I really don’t wanna toot my own horn but, TOOT TOOT! The recipe for LadyGurls crust is 2 2/3 Cup of all purpose flour/1tsp salt/ Cut in 1 Cup of real butter/7-8 Tablespoons of cold water. The colder the better. This crust rolled out beautifully. I am an egg wash addict on all crust, lol. It really does polish the crust up so beautifully in every way.

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And the pie was enjoyed by many. Even the child who is often my toughest critic, was pleased. The End. Oh– I used my left over dough by rolling it out, cutting it into triangles and creating “pie cookies”. I sprinkled them with a little sugar, baked them and stuck them in our ice cream with some warm peaches. This crust goes a long way and freezes well too. I’ve said this before, but I hope you didn’t feel like this post lacked direction. Listen, it was about the pictures okay?! What can I say. But if you really want a more detailed recipe, just message me and I’m happy to send it or post it. I’m so much more about the visuals and the experience of it all. 😉  P.S. Are we all clear on the benefits of not only the apple, but our “bitters”? Make sure you read up and the next time you see a tree that wants to give, be open to receive and do NOT shy away from the work involved though it may be tempting.  These are the moments and projects that keep us in a space of present moment living.  …Something that all opposing forces are working to pull us away from these days. 

…Just talkin pie, in Studio Five.

~hkai

LadyGurls Scratch Biscuits in No Time Flat

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People are so quick to give all the excuses as to why they can’t eat foods from scratch. Almost always first on the list is time.  Lawd knows I can relate to that. Not only that, people’s definition of what qualifies as real food has changed as well. I always say that simply counting the number of ingredients on a package and comparing that to the number of ingredients you’d use to make it at home tells you all you really need to know. Like those pilsbury biscuits in a tube? Mhmm, don’t do it. I knoooow!– those biscuits are so good! Don’t even get me started on the Orange cinnamon rolls!! But no. Say no. You know how their “squoze” into that tube and then POP OUT when you start removing the label? Well, guess what, they’re gonna do that in your body too! Eeew!

Second people will think these foods too rich, or say they have too much starch, blah, blah, blah. As you can see this recipe only has a whopping 3 tablespoons of sugar and actually calls for more salt than you really need. After that it’s pretty simple ingredients! That’s a heap better than multiple sugars, multiple salts/sodiums and some other preservatives inserted into your biscuit so it could arrive “fresh” at your local grocery store. Eeew.  If you let it, some simple preparation can make all the difference in your world! This is one of my most favorite biscuit mix recipes and it keeps for up to 1 month in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer. I took it from a Marth Stewart mag initially, but then made my own modifications to it. It quickly becomes your own “add-milk (or heavy cream) + a shot of vanilla-and-mix” recipe. This does not take long AT ALL to prepare and once it’s done, requires even less time and labor to enjoy a true homemade biscuit.
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Mix:
6 Cups flour {for a whole wheat version substitute 2 of the 6 cups of flour for whole wheat flour}, 3 Tablespoons of sugar, 2 Tablespoons+2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon course salt {honestly I only use about a tsp. of sea salt}, grate 2 sticks of frozen butter OR cut in 2 sticks of room temp butter. Bake Time: About 10 minutes    Oven Temp: 350-375
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The quantity of milk or cream will vary based on how much biscuit mix your using.  I add it very sparingly and add just enough for my dough to be moist, a little bit sticky, but not so sticky that it’s STUCK to my fingers. Avoid GUMMY. If it goes there, add a little more dry mix to balance it out. ….Just let it retain a little “stick to the touch” if you will. This recipe makes what I call a more “rustic” biscuit (look i’m not a food blogger okay). It’s got a little fluff but it’s more hearty than anything.  If you prefer a lighter biscuit, increase your amounts of baking powder. It doesn’t take much to make a difference.  Whats great about this is you can make 2 biscuits at a time instead of 12 biscuits at a time. You can make this a sweet or savory biscuit, you can make it a cheddar biscuit by adding cheese, you could add herbs, you just add butter and honey or oooh!– Some of that cremed honey from Trader Joes! You’ll be so happy to have it on hand. Makes a nice gift too! Scratch biscuits in minutes and 6 ingredients instead of 60 that won’t be trying to make the great escape via your fat cells.

I’ve done experiments on myself eating packaged baked goods as opposed to home baked goods. The results were quite dramatic I must say. Just know you have much more wiggle room in your dessert/pastry/baked goods consumption when they are made in your own kitchen. Your body KNOWS these ingredients a bit better and can process them much easier.  Consuming processed pastries not only created rapid weight gain, it created “cottage cheese skin”, eeew!  So remember that, it really is more about the SOURCE of your food. You don’t have to sacrifice good food or dessert in order to stay trim. You just have to eat REAL food. Oh! And also remember that if you see it on a package and don’t recognize the ingredients your body probably doesn’t either and that’s when you can expect some internal funk and resistance now or later.

I hope this recipe doesn’t seem vague. It truly is as simple as it looks but if you have questions don’t hesitate to ask. Lastly, I recommend biscuit making as a tool for stress relief.  Rolling out dough works wonders. It is also a good “memory” food. Foods can be therapeutic in so many ways. I say get it any way and any where you can. No matter what it is, you will be WEARING these foods. Make sure you are choosing foods that your body isn’t fighting you about wearing.

…Keeping the art and benefits of biscuit makin’ alive all up in and through Studio Five.

~hkai

 

 

 

 

 

 

Furr’s Cafeteria Butter Chess Pie / I Gotta Testimony

furrsA while ago I came across some of the recipes for Furr’s Cafeteria online.  Now, depending on where you live, you may or may not know of that which I speak. In the late 70’s through the 80’s, Furr’s was the equivalent of a soul food restaurant here in Denver. It was thee place where everyone and their Grandmother (literally) gathered to dine after church on Sundays. It was a zillion times better than any Country Buffet and probably considerably less wasteful. You went through the line to choose from a selection of meats, veggies, sides, desserts and beverages.  Practically all of the women that worked there were black women that just stayed “putting there foot in it”* weekly.   Through various conversations I’ve discovered that for many of us (especially here in Denver), it’s holds some real childhood memories or what I prefer to call “Culinary Chronicles of Blackness”. While Furr’s Cafeteria has been closed many years, everyone I spoke to remembered exactly what they used to order which speaks volumes considering it’s been closed over 25 years I’m certain.  These days in Denver, you can count the number of authentic soul food spots on one hand. Hell, maybe two fingers! That being said, it’s hard not to drift back to the days when Sunday dinner really was such “a thing” that families did TOGETHER be it inside or outside of the home.

When I stumbled upon the recipes from Furr’s, I swear I thought I’d hit the jackpot multiple times! Last night I finally got around to testing the recipe. First I wanna say, it’s a rare occasion for me to blog the day after something occurred so this must be serious.  –Ya’ll know I’m slow. Even when it’s my intention, I start but often don’t finish for a myriad of reasons.  I won’t tell you how many drafts are sitting in my word press account.  Second, I’m no food blogger so I don’t really have a rating system or even the “proper” language to apply to these moments.  I’m just an artist who likes food and history.  I don’t have a number of stars to throw out, or spoons or…whatever–  so I’m just gonna say this and you can quote me on it. A’hem:  “This damn Furr’s Cafeteria Butter Chess Pie TASTES like a room full of black folks dining in Furr’s Cafeteria!”.  Can an image classify as a description for taste?  Today it will, lol.  If you are not a person of color, you may not understand that “rating” but it’s the best I can do. Those that are understand the richness that is present in the culture. The nostalgia often forgotten surrounding certain family members and the dishes they would delight everyone with. Church basement dinners and the warmth and connection of family reunions   This pie? This pie is a rich buttery mess of Southern goodness takin’ you all back up in and through memories you didn’t even KNOW you had transforming you from average citizen to Time Traveler in no seconds flat.

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This pie tastes like their faces. Mhm…..

I am sharing the recipe here as I certainly cannot claim it as mine.  But if you wanna impress your people with a pie that is relatively simple to make, go with this one.  I made my crust from scratch and still knocked it out in a few hours, but you could certainly go with a pilsbury ready made crust or a frozen pie shell. These are stressful times. Many things are healing, namely food.  If you wanna spread some love, massage some hearts or experience some REAL GENUINE quality time with some folks, bake this for them and let the pie do the rest.  Watch what ensues.  Everyone will thank you.

…Even you.

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“……Keeping your culinary DNA alive in Studio5”

~h.kai aka LadyGurl

 

*putting their foot in it: a term used in the black community to describe ones cooking success or success related to the preparation or reception of certain culinary delight. “Ooh she put her foot in that banana pudding!”

**Apparently there is one Furr’s Cafeteria left in Colorado located in Wheatridge. I cannot speak for the quality of their food these days though I welcome comments from anyone that can.

The Exhibit Nobody Knows (cue mysterious music)

The last month of  life has been incredibly busy.   Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines and an exhibit that I had to get work up for (another deadline).  When deadlines on my work jobs were getting pushed because my clients were behind on providing all necessary pieces it began to spill into the production time I’d alotted myself to finish my exhibit pieces. Before I knew it, I was down to literally 3 days and my work was already a week late.  The whole time I was hustling to complete the graphic jobs on the table I started getting a little “crochety” and was in my feelings.  Crochety because of late clients yes, but also crochety because I’d been doing so much art work but still had so much arting ahead of me that needed to be done but all of this was separate.  I’d been “graphic arting” daily like a mad woman and what was that? Chopped liver?!!!! I mean, I know…I know the 38 page graph job was not for the exhibit, nor was my super fun warhol esque event announcement job, but still.  What made it even worse was, while I can be my own worst critic, I was really diggin the work! But….these pieces would go quietly into the night and I still had at least two MAJOR pieces to complete in less than 72 hours. The good news is, I did it! I was not going to fail.  But after the brutality of completing those jobs, completing my work, making it through the reception, crashing hard for a FEW days and now having recovered, I decided I couldn’t let them go quietly into the night and felt like the best place for them to be displayed was here.  Besides…..I don’t think I’ve ever posted any of my graphic work here.  …’Cause I’m too busy talkin’ all the time, or workin on syrup, or clothing.  Here are the pieces from one job, a meeting of the minds of sorts at art students league of Denver

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ASLD . Graphics by Holly-Kai

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ASLD . Graphics By Holly-Kai

Layout 1This was the final invite. The original image was just black and white and kind of looked like a sketch.  Obviously I took it through some layering which I have to say made her look considerably more ethnic! I love it! It wasn’t necessarily my goal but a happy accident for sure. Ultimately I felt like going with one  allowed you to connect with the image better whereas four, as cool as they may appear, were a bit more distracting.  I may still stick them on my wall somewhere though….

 

 

 

This is the before imagery (2015) of the banquet brochure I was to make over for CABPES: The Colorado Association of Black Professional Engineers and Scientists.

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BEFORE: Cover

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Last years theme was ‘Engineering is the Heart of Our Lives’. I did not do last years book.  This is my first year working with them. This year their theme was CABPES heading to Mars. So I had to figure out a way to work that in…

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AFTER: Cover

 

I kept it pretty simple and clean.  While some people can pull it off, I am not a fan of cluttered or chaotic graphics.  I always try to be mindful and create what seems a “pleasant experience” for the journey from the eye to the brain.  …Not to be taken lightly, you know? A friend of mine just happened to be at this event. She didn’t know I’d done the graphics until she heard my name. Later she commented that “It looked very Holly”. …I thought that was kinda funny but now I wanna know what that means and I didn’t ask. Does all my stuff look like this?? I mean…i don’t think so…i hope not!.. but…..I do like outer space and old stuff, lol. I created all of the pages with an old newspaper feel. I felt like it was apropos considering what a big deal space exploration was back in the day. While it’s still a big deal now, it’s profound because we are reeeeally living in a time where we are talking more seriously about the exploration of Mars! …Just kind of a fun idea to play with and translate into the graphic messaging.  I also liked the idea of creating headlines to identify each page as opposed to simply listing, “Message from the president”. That’s so boring.  So I just created headlines that still spoke to the content enough to identify what the page was about.

 

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AFTER: Message from The President Page and Menu page

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I also wove in some places and spaces for information about famous black engineers and scientists to prevent blank spaces and chunks. I was amazed that there was no mention of such in the previous book, especially in an organization that deals with youth. There are so many that people are not privy too! Don’t get me started.  Little do they know I could go on about it all day! …As you can see I had to sneak some George Washington Carver in here ’cause we roll like that. Anytime I can, it’s my duty. …Love me some George. That is Lewis Latimer on that page as well. I really like this page. It is actually there Statement of Objectives page. I didn’t take a before picture, but it looked nothing like this. It was much more….more…how shall we say…”objective-ish”, lol.  They really liked it too and the pres. mentioned that his daughter was very drawn into the “Do you know” sections. That’s what we like to hear. If the adults liked it, of course that’s great.  But if you get the young people to look twice, even better!  🙂

{Sorry, I tried to turn that page around but it didn’t work}. Next up I’ll post my completed works from the art exhibit, ‘Recalibration: Honoring The Sacred Journey of Womanhood’.  You may like those too.

For now I can just be a little happier that these images didn’t just get stuffed in a closet somewhere, lol. We had our own private showing right here!

Much better.

“Shining light on the creative work vibes all up in and through Studio5”.

~h.kai