St. Louis host
“We are in control of the story we tell ourselves about the events that unfold before us.We can view chaos as a freight train hitting our soul or we can see it as a catalyst for clarity.” September’s theme CHAOS! Join us this month as we hear from Elizabeth Vega speak clarity into a world of chaos. Elizabeth Vega is a Chicana activist and community artist. She is co-founder of the direct action group Artivists Stl, a collective of artists who strive to make social justice visual. Artivists organized and planned the Requiem for Mike Brown, Monday Mournings and deployed a balloon banner at the base of the St. Louis Arch. Their Mirror Casket project created for Ferguson October protests was collected by the Smithsonian in March 2016 for its National Museum for African American History and Culture. Vega is founder of ART (Achieving Resilience Together) House a collaborative community for artists and activists located in the heart of St. Louis. Art House not only provides affordable housing for activists but also does grassroots programming for the neighborhood including a food share and art programming for neighborhood children. A graduate of UMSL’s clinical mental health program, Vega is committed to using art and writing to facilitate emotional justice in communities impacted by violence and helping to build a solidarity economy in her neighborhood.
Come connect with other Creative Learners as we listen to Fine Arts Artist, Benjamin Lowder talk Community! Lowder has dedicated his life and profession as a Creative Consultant, to living on the creative side of life. This past spring, he founded Cherokee Street Gallery, a new art gallery located in the heart of St. Louis’ art district. Cherokee Street Gallery will be hosting exhibitions that explore the intersection of nature and iconography. The gallery will curate artwork that evokes the miracle of the natural world through humanity‘s distilled symbolic language.
August’s theme is COMMUNITY! 🌍 It was chosen by CreativeMornings/Philadelphia and illustrated by James Olstein (jamesolstein.com).
JOIN US THIS MONTH AS SPEAKER JERMAIN TODD SHARES HIS WORLD OF CRAFT
A craft is the instrument in which the authenticity of your being is communicated. Your craft is like a portal to your inner world, and as an artist, it’s your duty to pull it out of the vortex. Craft is a catalyst for our identity and the soil for cultivating meaning.
Jermain Todd is a self-taught wood furniture maker and operates from his studio in St. Louis, MO. With over 10 years of furniture making experience, Jermain has made custom furniture for over 100 commercial projects and nearly 200 residential projects. Some of his most noted commercial projects include Kohler, Four Seasons, Holiday Inn, Grand Center Arts Academy Plaza, Urban Chestnut Brewing Co., Saint Louis University, Jilly’s Ice Cream Bar, The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, The Libertine, Sump Coffee, and Pi Pizzeria. Named a “Tastemaker” two times by Feast Magazine, Jermain is also a brand ambassador and marketing partner for New Balance and Dakota Grizzly and has been featured in short films and tv commercials. Averaging four projects at one time in his 6500 sf studio, he is one of the most sought after custom furniture makers in the Midwest
Commit to joining us this month with speaker Marsia Geldert-Murphey!A commitment is a promise to show up whether you’re having a good or bad day. It’s a behavior and mindset that signifies the posture of a professional. It’s about saying yes with your whole heart. It can feel like a leap of faith. But is that not the very essence of leading a creative life?
Meet our May speaker, Marsia Geldert-Murphey, P.E., M.ASCE. Marsia was chosen as one of the St. Louis Business Journal’s Most Influential Business Women of 2010 for her commitment to the St. Louis Region, and her strong presence in the engineering community. Marsia has a passion for inspiring others to dream big. In 2006, she built an entrepreneurial venture from start-up to $8M in revenue in five years and has continued hitting new achievements in the field of engineering. Her success is based on a culture of reliability, hard work, collaboration, and above all –commitment. Join us May 19th at Flamingo Bowl in St. Louis!
Step into a world of Game with Sean J. Jordan this month!
Sean is a Research Director of The Research & Planning Group in St. Louis and Graduate Lecturer for Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s School of Business, and has worked in the worlds of comic books, video games, product marketing and publishing. Come hear Sean talk about how modern gaming styles such as role-playing, cooperative play, speedruns, trophy collecting and streaming all have a lot to teach us about how we can be better and expect the most out of life.
April Spotlight: CreativeMornings chapters around the globe are discussing this month’s theme, “GAME”. Which game are you playing with your art? It’s a question worth asking every day. Is this decision, this attitude, sending you down a short game or long game? This month, CreativeMornings St. Louis shines the light on local performing artist, Rain Jennings. Rain is an 11-year-old ventriloquist and business owner of Rainy Day Ventriloquism who is playing the long game with his art. CreativeMornings/St. Louis believes that staying in the game often requires action and demands constant learning. Rain is a self-taught ventriloquist and admittedly, when he first started learning ventriloquism at 8 years old, he did not fully understand what it meant to be a ventriloquist. Rain spent many hours day and night reading and researching ventriloquism. He further explained that all he thought about was mastering new lip control techniques and learning how to bring a character to life through the art of ventriloquism.Playing the long game also often means “keeping your eye on the prize”. Rain stays in the long game by refusing to let his art stray too far from sight. Rain explained that practicing takes a priority over many things in his life. He works hard every day to write new material, perfect his showmanship and book gigs. Rain is approaching his fourth year in the “game”. Since this time, he became the sole proprietor of Rainy Day Ventriloquism and has booked dozens of shows at local schools, community centers/events, businesses and private events. Rain also has professionally involved himself within the ventriloquist community. Rain has attended two International Ventriloquist Conventions (VENT Haven ConVENTion) and is a member of two professional societies: International Ventriloquist Society and Puppet Guild. But, most notably for Rain, was his cameo performance on NBC’s Little Big Shots with Steve Harvey earlier this month. When asked what has kept him going, Rain stated, “Opportunities”. Rain strives to see the opportunity in everything and has been happy to have many supportive people around him. Aside from his parents, he contributes his success to Lisa, with theVent Haven Museum (The world’s only ventriloquist museum), the Team from Happy Up Inc. and his 4th grade drama club teacher, Mrs. Wagner. He said all these women played a huge role in supporting his art. This is why CreativeMornings St. Louis thinks Rain is an extraordinary example of how we all can play the long game with our art. #CMGameThis month’s global exploration of Game was chosen by our Liège chapter, illustrated by Jeffrey Phillips, and presented globally by MailChimpPhoto Credit Bshara
In honor of March’s theme, “Courage” and Women’s History Month, CreativeMornings St. Louis put the spotlight on local creative women who display acts of courage in our community. For our last spotlight, we turn our focus to Activist, Cultural Organizer and the founder of St. Louis’ Art House, Elizabeth Vega.
We have learned that when writing or speaking about courage, other traits often fall into the mix: risk, vulnerability, curiosity, empathy and action. Elizabeth Vega, who has a master’s in counseling, embodies all these traits and more.
To better help our readers understand Art House and Elizabeth’s work, CreativeMornings STL can only describe her as St. Louis’ very own “Patch Adams”, but with a cultural and community twist. Elizabeth and her vision/reality of Art House “breaks” and “challenges” the molds of society. Art House is a space that gives people the freedom to connect, freedom to create, freedom to improvise, collaborate and transform. Elizabeth describes Art House as a direct action that came out of the Ferguson Rebellion, which continues by providing a prophylaxis response to human rights issues in a community-centric space using art, poetry, music and outreach.
Realizing the need for space and security to connect, Elizabeth risked everything to make Art House a reality. After three years in, Art House has been the heartbeat of many movements and actions within St. Louis that excites change, healing and hopes for a better tomorrow. Collective Art Builds, Art Outreaches and Food Shares are direct actions that come out of Art House.
Art Builds at Art House, is the collective work by artist and activists (artivists) who bring to life visual representations of causes that are important to them. Many actions that raise awareness on social justice issues within St. Louis begin at Art Builds at Art House. Additionally, Art Outreach programs are used to inspire imagination and break cycles for neighborhood children by providing space for exploration, creation and problem solving.
Food Share is another grassroots effort that comes out of Art House and addresses food insecurity in St. Louis. Through collaboration with Whole Foods, Art House hosts Food Share every Wednesdays, which provides food to hundreds of individuals every month at no cost. Food Share redistributes food to community members, that is in surplus, and would otherwise end up in garbage bins. All that Art House embodies and more, began from a dream and a desire to do something. When we asked Elizabeth, what was one of the most challenging parts of this journey with Art House she responded, “Not giving up”. We are excited to see all the great things that lay ahead for Art House and we thank YOU, Elizabeth, for your courage and not giving up.
Courage is often act of humanity, choosing to take an action that is risky because it demands vulnerability and curiosity. Meet Yusra and Sadia Ali, two Muslim American Women (sisters and best teammates) who created Missouri’s First ever, Muslim American Art Exhibition. Yusra Ali is a native St. Louisian who always had a passion for art. She grew up struggling with speech impediments and rarely ever talked as a kid. Which is how she described her art became her voice, and ultimately, the catalyst for her advocacy of Muslims rights and recognition.
Yusra studies Islamic Sciences and Psychology and is currently researching a scientific approach on interpreting art where it is utilized as a tool to enhance the conceptualization of realities. With her research she aims to contribute new definitions and ideas on Islamic Art.
As an artist, Yusra utilizes a variety of mediums to create her pieces such as: pottery, calligraphy, photography, sculpture, and painting. Her artwork ranges from cultural and religious inspiration, to nature, surrealism, and abstract art. Her theme of art has always been inspiration and courage. Her concern was to always manifest deeper meaning through art since it was her best voice for communication.
In early 2017, she and her sister Sadia teamed up to curate Missouri’s first American Muslim Art Exhibition, featuring several local Muslim-artists. Their idea behind the exhibition was to introduce a new category of American art: American Muslim. Their goal with creating Missouri’s first American Muslim Art Exhibition was to challenge the stereotypes associated with Muslims and prove how unity can be achieved through diversity. We think this is uber courageous and this is why they are in our Spotlight as Courageous St. Louis Creatives worth being honored! Happy Women’s History Month! Photo Credit: A. Bshara
Throughout the Month of March CreativeMornings St. Louis will be honoring Women’s History Month by spotlighting four courageous women who are making history through doing creative things in our community!
Our first Spotlight falls on Dr. Sandra E. Weissinger, Sociology Professor, from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Please read her story and tell us how you have displayed acts of courage!
Sandra E. Weissinger is a professor of Sociology. She teaches and writes about the hard stuff - issues of oppression, resistance, and resiliency. And she’s not afraid to pinpoint our roles, as individuals, in practices that hurt and disempower others. Her recent books look at the broken policing system in the United States (Law Enforcement in the Age of Black Lives Matters: Policing Black and Brown Bodies) and the myriad ways “good” people and institutions continue to engage in anti-Black racism (Violence Against Black Bodies: An Intersectional Analysis of how Black Lives Continue to Matter). In a society that constantly participates in group level denial (a type of cowardice), rationalizing social injustices away, Weissinger’s work is both brave and necessary. She reminds us that our collective well-being relies upon our individual agency and desire to heal the dangerous injustices caused by prejudice and discrimination. These injustices can be covert or bold. They occur at the individual level or are at the root of social institutions. Regardless of form or perpetrator, it is courage to do this work and equip others to be thoughtfully engaged too. And courageously Weissinger acts, holding workshops and public lectures in the Saint Louis area.