Rock Your Drop: Drop of Consciousness

The National Veterans Art Museum Teen Council was established in July 2014. Since then, teenage artists have come together to explore art-making, collaboration, the artist practice, and the veteran art movement as a whole. Working alongside artist mentors, the Teen Council members considered how their individual experiences living in Chicago fit into the larger context of promoting peace. The artwork featured includes individual and collaborative ideas in response to peacemaking using installation, painting, graffiti arts, drawing, and mixed media collage. There are specific references to Chicago, using symbols of the city: skyline and landmarks, the Chicago flag, flowing water in reference to the lake and river, cleansing, healing, and rebirth, hands reaching out towards peace, recent articles and text about gun violence, and flowers as symbols peace, tranquility, and purity. NVAM Teen Council uses art-making as an instigator of change and asks the question: How do we come together?

20160803_103641

Reaching for Hope
Elias Gallegos & Juanita Rodriguez
Often when we see something shining into the water it gives us a sense of loss or something fading away. Lately, people have seemed to lost their sense of compassion or remorse for others and even their ability to grasp the significance of taking a life. The Drop of Consciousness represents those feelings, so using the necklace as a symbol of these values, I had it sinking as a way to show how we’ve lost these values. The hand reaching in to grab it was a way of showing that we can get these values back if we try to. I want to thank Juanita for helping me paint that water even when she was helping with another project. I also wanted to point out that the lack of skin color was mainly to show the lack of need to identify a specific race other that the human race.

 

20160803_103603

Who You Are Today
Kate Pensamiento and Juanita Rodriguez
My project is addressing issues that relate to being a young adult today. There are many events that have a huge impact on an individual that can change their perspectives. Violent events leave a negative view in their eyes that can make them fear certain parts of the world.  No one should fear life but some people have no other option due to the violence happening around the world.

IMG_7333

The Chicago Drop
Joseph Torres
My piece uses 3 separate but valuable symbols: the Chicago skyline, the Chicago flag and the tear/drop of consciousness.  Each individually has its own meaning but the way in which I am presenting them combines the flag with the tear/drop and uses the skyline in the background as a sense of “home.” The drop on the flag represents a universal sense of sympathy for the families of Chicago.  The tear being on the flag is also stating that as an individual we are small, but if we all come together for the sake of the city then we are strong and can overcome the struggles.  The skyline offers relief and harmony. The flag is a symbol of our loyalty to Chicago and being united for a better future.

20160803_103626

Celestial Drop on Tragedy
Michelle Duran, Isabella Garza, Grace Deer, Camila Cortez, Jaliyah Lodygowski, Layla Bowling
Our project was made of many complex parts coming together into one unified message and work of art. In one part of this project, a textured gold canvas was covered with building and clouds at the bottom. This was done to represent the landscape in heaven. On a separate canvas, a lotus flower was placed within a body of blood-red water.  This symbolizes hope in the midst of violent conflict.  We considered the meaning of the lotus flower which includes: rebirth, purity and creation. These images are layered on top of one another to add emphasis to the many sections. Our use of 3D and @d was done in order to show that hope exists in the real world, not just in fairy tales.

 

IMG_7329

Drops of Society
Christopher Lopez, Mya Gonzalez, Michael Gonzalez, Layla Bowling, Matthew Gorski
The inspiration for “drops of society” was shootings that have plagued the American society. We used paper machè to create three drops and made three yarn balls filled with articles of shootings that have happened throughout the U.S.  The reason why we made so many drops was to symbolize all the tears that people have cried over these tragedies.

20160803_103607

The Rising Rose City
Sema’J Young
I originally got my idea from the internet when I saw a white rose. THe white rose had a black background, so I interpreted the rose as being pure. I took that idea and colored the rose a bit more than half way to say the red rose was becoming pure again. The tear drops falling from the rose causes the rose to lose color which makes it pure again, or it’s rebirth. The drops that land on the city are cleansing the city by making it innocent again. The city is rising from its bad aspects and from the ground. That is how I obtained THe Rising Rose City.

The Healing Flood
Alexis Yracheta
The message behind my watercolor painting is against gun violence. My painting is based on the handful of neighborhoods in Chicago that are facing gun violence everyday. The gray girl walking down the center of the painting represents an unidentifiable nationality, meaning that it can be anyone who can be hurt in these places. The “Drops of Consciousness” are falling from her hands and creating a flood at the bottom of the painting. The flood is then cleansing the neighborhoods from the gun violence. With more people joining the movement or contributing to stopping gun violence, we’ll all be able to cleanse every city from gun violence.

IMG_7332

Conscience & Peace
Christopher Funez and Deasija Kelly
As a citizen in Chicago I worry about being safe in my neighborhood. We collaborated together and created a poster to voice our opinion and stop the violence. In the poster, Conscience & Peace, there are different colors, shapes, and sizes of hands reaching towards a tear drop. The hands represent the different citizen ages and genders. The teardrop represents consciousness. The message our piece is sending out is that the Chicago community should attempt to find the conscious to end violence and enforce peace.

 

Summer Intern: Joe!!

Initial Reflection/Response: 06/30/2015

Upon entering the National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago, my interest immediately skyrocketed. The halls, doors, counters, walls, and floor, basically every foot of the museum, were filled with vivid, eye catching artwork. The collection is comprised of artworked created and published by Veterans from several wars, such as Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Several youth programs from the surrounding communities are brought to NVAM in order to actively engage students in multimedia and visual art projects. Students work with mentor artists and Veterans in order to raise awareness of the Veteran community and culture, via expression of unique and supportive art.

As a new intern with NVAM, I will help organize and educate students in the NVAM Out Loud Teen Council. In this program teens learn about leadership, career skills, and exhibition installation, all while creating powerful artwork and seeing the ‘behind the scenes’ of the museum. As an intern, I expect to aid in planning academic lessons for students, organize student activities, coordinate and prepare for such activities, and facilitate student work and reflections. Through these roles, I hope to gain some awareness as well. Not only do I hope to be more aware of the Veteran community and culture through art and expression, but I also hope to become aware of how students react to such expressions. I would like to notice how they react emotionally to both what the Veterans have to say and what they show them. Are they surprised? Do they feel angered, happy, or sad? Do they care? I would also like to notice their physical reaction. What do they have to say? Do they want to respond somehow? How the

students respond to a topic that may be a bit violent, saddening, troubling, or even not well ­known at their age, will be an interesting and insightful experience I am sure.

I am confident in saying that the past four weeks spent with the
students from Teen Council at NVAM has been a luxury. I am truly
grateful for experiences I had and the lessons I learned. I did not
know what to expect when beginning this internship, so I was
determined to remain open-minded and engaged. The artwork and
artifacts exhibited at NVAM are, in my opinion, essential to the
education and expression of veterans artwork and the veteran
community. The exhibit is mind-blowing, to say the least. I was lucky
enough to meet and work with several of the artists and NVAM staff.
Their experiences and lessons are fascinating and worth listening to.
I will surely remain in contact with them so I can continue learning
from them. I am also grateful for the opportunity to work with such an
intelligent and hardworking group of teens. The students in Teen
Council proved that they had what it takes to think critically and
work hard. The projects they have worked on in the past and continue
on today have such an impact. They have the opportunities to not only
engage with veteran artists, but also the community at large. I hope
that I left at least a minor impact on their lives, considering they
left such a large impact on my own. I hope to see what they will
become and do in the near future.

Best Regards,

Joseph R. Zolper

 

IMPACT Family Center: Flowers for Peace Project

Early this summer, NVAM Education welcomed teens from IMPACT Family Center who participated in a Creative Community workshop with veteran artist Stuart Hall.  IMPACT and NVAM Teen Council members worked with Stuart to learn more about his art practice and what inspires him to make art.  Primarily, they learned about his art intervention work called fleurs de guerre (flowers or war) and participated in making these poppy inspired flowers as well as consider where they would place these flowers as symbols of peace.  IMPACT shared what they did with their flowers after the workshop as well as a film they made that reflects their experience at NVAM and with Stuart.

 

I place this flower at Impact Family Center because peace brings unity and Impact Family Center has a way of bringing people together as community.
I put this flower on my couch. The reason why I have put this on my couch is because this was a couch my grandmother gave to my family, and she passed away. I cherish this couch, and value it.(JPG 51-215 Sent in Previous email)
Every individual deserves to live a prosperous and healthy life full of blessings; the lighting was too bright so I couldn’t take a picture with the words showing. (JPG 7209) 
 
I decided to place my Poppy at Robichaux Park , located on 9247 S Eggleston. In July a neighborhood friend was shot at this park 2 days before his college orientation, and died. I have a lot of friends that still go to this park , along with little kids. This is why I placed my Poppy here. This is a place where peace is needed.
I place this flower here for peace because we need better lives and better people that’s not killing each other over they most craziest things in the world. 
I put this flower on my couch. The reason why I have put this on my couch is because this was a couch my grandmother gave to my family, and she passed away. I cherish this couch, and value it.
My  flower will be placed at Altgeld Park, on the West side of Chicago.  I practice football here in the mornings and there is a large homeless community.  When I walk from the train, you see a lot of them in the stands of the football field just waking up.  I place the flower here for peace in these peoples’ lives as they struggle living every day.

These flowers represent the love that we need to share the world because in order to be peaceful, you have to be loving and spread love to everyone and everywhere.

I put my flower on the stairs to show my steps to greatness.

The Invisible Population- a film by Monique at Free Spirit Media

The Invisible Population is a short film that explores the complicated role of women historically and currently serving in the military.  The film offers insight into veteran affairs and the special needs of women serving our country while offering insight into what is and can be done to aid our returning female veterans.

 

Working with Stuart Hall– reflection by Sema’J

Stuart is a fantastic person to work with. He’s so passionate about his work and what he does. He taught about appropriation and installation. I never had so much fun doing work before until I met Stuart. He’s easy to talk to and chill with because he is a chill person. At times, he can be a little too goofy but he’s still fun. I enjoyed being with Stuart. He has left a long lasting impact on NVAM Teen Council.

FDG-Humboldt Park

Over the past two weeks NVAM Teen Council has had the time to work with the featured artist, Stuart Hall, on his ongoing body of work entitled “Fleurs De Guerre”. Stuart has been an Artist and Curator in the Chicago Arts Community for over four years and spent 2 weeks with our Teen Council sharing his art practice with us but also teaching us how to make art that re-appropriates and activates spaces around us.  Following our Fluers De Guerre project (which you can also read about on our blog) we developed an installation that would be set up in Humboldt Park.  We divided into 3 groups. Each group focused on a current event or issue that they felt passionately about and came up with a gesture that represented and symbolized this cause.

1–A figure with a watering can:

“The watering can represents water usage and natural resources.  The message of this piece is to represent the many ways people use water as well as the excessive use of water and the need for increased conservation of our natural resources.”- Erin A. and Chris F.

 

2– A figure holding signs over their face- each representing a different Social Media website

“We chose to make our silhouette represent social media because it is a big part of the world today. Also because a lot of people are letting it control who they are and how they behave.  Our silhouette is holding symbols from different social media sites that cover the face to change our opinion of who he/she is.” -Daryl G, Asia J and Keunte W.

 

3– 3 figures with their hands up showing innocence, out to the side showing vulnerability and one pointing its fingers like a gun representing Gun Violence

“My group did a silhouette about gun violence. These silhouettes show how guns are used to hurt many people. Cops are killing colored teens and kids while gangs are killing other kids their age and harmless bystanders.” – Keon C., Jalean, Sema’J Y., Jessica T, Jessica D, Kayla, and Chris L.

 

We cut out silhouettes of these gestures and in only 3 days made 6 cut outs and over 200 flowers to install in the park! It was a lot of fun to set up the art outside and to experience how people walking around the park repsonded to the art.  Most of the people we talked to really liked the work.  It was very windy so we learned a lot about how to fix problems on the spot!  The art work was left up in the park for 2 weeks.

Fluers de Guerre and the Ed Pashke Art Center– Art as Intervention! (by: Sema’J)

 

IMG_20150722_232639_resizedWe did a project with Stuart Hall that called for us to make little flowers and hand them out to people on the streets. On the flowers had little notes that strengthen people and gives them hope. A lot of faces were lit up when we gave them flowers , so the mission was completed. When we got to the Ed Paschke museum it was so cool. His art is different and has many colors. The significance in his realistic drawing look so amazing.  We also learned a lot about him and how he thought things out. Overall, the trip was awesome.

IMG_20150722_233954_resized IMG_20150722_234237_resized IMG_20150722_234527_resized IMG_20150722_234742_resized IMG_20150722_235025_resized IMG_20150722_235209_resized IMG_20150722_235328_resized IMG_20150722_235507_resized IMG_20150722_235616_resized IMG_20150722_235820_resized

FIRST FIELD TRIP! First Division Museum & Cantigny Park!

IMG_2121

NVAM Teen Council went to the First Division Museum at Cantigny Park in Wheaton, IL.  This was the Teen Council’s first field trip together. Here are some quotes from their experiences there about how the First Division Museum differentiates and is similar from the National Veterans Art Museum:

“I was intrigued by the various artifacts and exhibits that vividly depicted the Vietnam war era and the environment in which soldiers were located in the jungle was truly exquisite, as the exhibits and mannequins made history stay alive and still make an impact on the visitors.” – Jessica T.

“The exhibits really had a lot of detail to the point where you felt as if  you were there. It gave a lot of history on the different phases of how the war had changed over time. I also felt like the museum touched on a lot of different era involving the war instead of just focusing on one area of the war.” – Daryl G.

“Yesterday’s museum shows veteran stories through artifacts by showing the facts and the memorabilia from that time. This tells the story because we can look at the artifacts and make conclusions of what it was like for the soldiers at that time. NVAM is a narrative art museum which means that we collect art by veterans for veterans.” – Chris L.

“The museum we visited did a great job at acknowledging veterans through stories. We were able to know more about individual peoples experiences in wars. Similar to the veteran’s museum, it opened up new perspectives”- Jaliyah L.

“There were a variety of differences between NVAM and Cantigny. Cantigny had a more interactive display of their artifacts/art, such as the trench. At NVAM, it’s more of a sleeker look. White walls, art evenly apart from each other as well as an overall gallery walkthrough”- Jessica D.

“The museum had a lot of interesting things inside. I like how at the museum they made out the things of the wars and things of that nature.”- Jalean EG

“The First Division Museum at Cantigny Park was large and had more actual items such as uniforms, weapons, etc. While NVAM’s art is neither pro-military or anti-war, their museum was mostly about the facts about war showing how war evolved over time.”- Carlo F.

“Cantigny park museum focuses on the Vietnam War through the soldiers point of view rather than a civilians point of view unlike NVAM.”- Keon C.

Summer 2015– Teen Council!

This summer is off and running with a new set of expectations and challenges!

First– WHERE will Teen Council be taking place??!!  We have outgrown the space we used last year and the main gallery space needs to be utilized as, well, a gallery space!  So now what??  While visiting an empty store front where NVAM will be hosting the After School Matters Cross-Regional Art Exhibition on Aug 14 (save the date!) it occurred to me that this was a lot of unused space that would be AWESOME for filling with art in the making!  Thankfully, the building owner agreed! As he put it– if we never say yes to crazy ideas, where would we be?

The move in was…challenging…but now, with 2 weeks under our belt, the impact of this new space is starting to be felt!  New and developing art is on the walls in our open critique space, we have an inspiration wall and our social contract hung proudly for all to see and we are utilizing an old chalkboard wall to keep our schedule on display (so we never miss break time!).   The teens are moving past their initial shy phase and are making meaningful observations and making big plans for the rest of summer!  Starting next week, we begin a 2 week collaboration with veteran artist Stuart Hall. The potential is tremendous. I LOVE SUMMER TEEN COUNCIL!!!  (Stay Tuned!)

Teen Council Spring Showcase: Art as Activism

Developing a sense of self and an understanding of one’s place in the world is a journey that teenagers are particularly attuned to. The Spring Showcase features work by NVAM Out Loud members prompted by the themes of identity and art as activism. Supplemented by the workshops of veteran artists Eric Garcia, Mel L., and Maurice Costello, the Spring program emphasizes the importance of identity-based artwork. The final art projects are a result of the teens’ reflections about what they value and how they can connect their individuality to an idea larger than themselves. We feel fortunate to have a teen council that represents a variety of backgrounds and as a result, brings rich and distinct perspectives into the process of finding yourself and what you stand for.

 

IMG_1737  IMG_1749IMG_1868 IMG_1862 IMG_1762IMG_1847IMG_1739  IMG_1785    IMG_1810IMG_1811IMG_1743IMG_1757 IMG_1825  IMG_1823   IMG_1744 IMG_1814 IMG_1815 IMG_1809erin final art projecterin final art project detail IMG_1834 IMG_1831IMG_1835 IMG_1838 IMG_1840 IMG_1841 IMG_1842 IMG_1845  Ginel art installation ginel installationGinel artworkIMG_1791NVAM teen council art showcase flyer

NVAM Out Loud sculpts! (With reflection by Natalia S.)

The teen council took their clay making skills to a whole new level by expressing themselves during a sculpture activity. Since this occurred around the same time as midterms, the lesson was left open-ended, allowing for the teens to create whatever was on their minds. Check out the results!

sculpture1sculpture2 adam sculpture 1adam sculptiure 2 IMG_1660 jayline sculpture erin sculpture  erin sculpture 1erin sculpture 2 daryl sculpture chris sculpture 1        skye sculpture 2 roselle sculpture

 

Here’s a reflection by NVAM Out Loud member Natalia S.:

“I thought that the sculpture activity was pretty interesting. I was able to physically use my hands and fingers to mold something that appealed to me. At first, I really wasn’t so sure what I should make. I tried making a turtle but it was a bit of a dramatic choice for my first time sculpting and I wasn’t really sure how to go about making it. I kept rolling around the clay and practicing with it in my fingers and then BAM I decided to make corals. I love marine biology. My desire to learn more about the topic inspired me to create an oceanic creature. To add a little more texture and make it stand out, I decided to blend pink and yellow together to create a two toned coral sculpture. It actually turned out super cool! I can’t wait to see how it looks when it dries.”

sculpture3natalia sculpture 3 natalia sculpture 2 natalia sculpture 1

NVAM Volunteer and Vietnam Veteran Ned Ricks: Revisiting the 10th Calvary, Vietnam 70-71

“When I first viewed Ken Howard’s collection of pictures, it was as if I had encountered a long lost cousin or brother and started sharing memories. We would start with, “Do you remember the time we…” And we would  end up nodding and  smiling, not so much at what had occurred, but more from the experience that someone else had the same memory, the same album of experiences and impressions in their mind as well. His work took me back over forty years to bring some of those memories to just yesterday.”

-Ned Ricks

Ned Ricks, along with being one of our most dedicated volunteers at NVAM, is a retired Major of US Army Reserve and served as the Commanding Officer of  Troop C, 1st Squadron in the 10th Calvary in Vietnam from 1970-71. We are honored to have this video as a testament to the service of Ned and his squadron. We would like to thank Ken Howard for sharing this video with us and giving permission to share it online.

NVAM Out Loud reacts to 100 Faces of War Experience

The National Veterans Art Museum (NVAM) teen council completed an activity where they learned how a shared experience can produce multiple perspectives. Each teen was tasked to find three veterans who had different attitudes concerning their service in Iraq and/or Afghanistan. The experience of the combat veterans was grouped into three categories: positive experience, negative experience, and in-between/unsure. The teens discovered that it was possible for a veteran to have conflicting perspectives when remembering his or her service and that a shared experience as complicated as war never has a straight forward answer. In this video the teens present their findings in front of a veteran’s portrait of their choosing.

100Facesresponse2 100facesresponse1

NMMA Field Trip: Johnny G.

Well I had a great time at the National Museum of Mexican Art. I learned a lot about art from my Mexican heritage. For example there was an installation of a real sit-down lawn mower that looked a low-rider. I was interested in that piece, attracted to the golden steering wheel and seat. Our group took pictures in the NMMA as well as outside at a tree. We went on a walking tour of Pilsen. There were a few murals painted on the sides of buildings. One mural that stood out to me showed an old man laying down with barbed wire wrapping around him. That stood out to me because it seemed like the man was locked inside of the barbed wire and could not escape.

908048701_be6088a3d6_b

Now we are planning our last project. I have a couple of plans. I either want to create a song or a mural. I want to create a song that expresses the different things that we have done and worked on in Teen Council. I would create lyrics for the song, inspired by a workshop we had with Mel L. I was also thinking of creating a mural: there would be a lyrics of a song (that I wrote) on one side and then two people (representing Veterans) painted next to it.

love art peace.

by:johnny j. g.

NVAM Teen Council create self-portraits based on work by Maurice Costello

On March 17, veteran artist Maurice Costello led the teens in an art making activity where they transformed a high contrast selfie into a larger self-portrait. The teens began by taking selfies with a black and white filter which was then enlarged and projected onto the wall of the NVAM Out Loud workspace. Using a technique similar to what Maurice Costello does with his self-portraits, the teens traced an outline of their faces and decided how they would represent themselves using color, shading, and overall design. The resulting self-portraits were a wonderful reflection of the diverse talents and perspectives each teen brings to his or her work.

portrait1portrait5portrait7portrait6portrait8portriat2portrait10skyeportraitportraits total better file

The teen council self-portraits will be on display during Maurice Costello’s Creative Community workshop on April 18th.

 

National Veterans Art Museum at the Chicago Childrens Museum at Navy Pier

Tell Me a Story I DON’T Know!
NVAM Education workshops at the Chicago Childrens Museum at Navy Pier

The art in the National Veterans Art Museum collection showcases the memories, experiences and histories of our nation and the veterans who have served to protect it.  Each work of art shares the unique stories of the individual who made it and provides the opportunity to start a conversation resulting in a deeper, more meaningful learning experience. The art brings history to life through the eyes of those who lived it.  For our younger audiences, the museum is careful to select age appropriate art from our collection that allows children and their families access to understanding and exploration of veteran voices through art.

In March, NVAM was excited to have the opportunity to work with young artists and their families at the Chicago Children’s Museum.  The Tell Me a Story I DON’T Know!  workshops  invited museum visitors to share stories while creating a portrait of one another.  The workshop theme was inspired by the 100 Faces of War Experience and the process of meeting and speaking with each veteran the way Matt Mitchell did over the course of his 9 year project.

Check, one, two! MC workshop with Mel L.

Mel workshop1mel workshop 5Mel workshop 3

On Saturday February 28th, veteran artist Mel L. conducted a free workshop where he taught basic rhyming skills and writing techniques. The NVAM teen council was in full attendance along with some fellow veterans. To get things started, Mel had the whole group engaged in exercises that activated the abdomen which helped with our enunciation. We then did a stream of consciousness writing activity to generate ideas for our rhymes. After refining our thoughts through a cappella writing, Mel played some beats and we adapted our rhymes to become amateur hip hop artists!

The teen council had some questions for Mel and he ever so graciously replied:

How can I improve my graffiti skills?
Practice, practice, practice. Figure out the best way for you to hold the can to get the results you want.

What inspired your technique for your style in graffiti?

I was inspired by the culture. I remember watch old Hip Hop videos and movies back in the day, like Wild Style, and wanting to be a painter. Because I was self taught (I didn’t really know any other graffiti writers in  my town) I would say my technique was inspired by what made me the person I was/am today.

What is the name of your crew?
The Microphone Misfitz

Do you like doing workshops?
I love it. Its a good feeling getting to work with people from so many different ages, cultures and backgrounds.  I get to create art while I’m teaching and I like building and feeding off of the people involved.Plus, its cool to know that something I’ve said or done may inspire the group of people to step up in the arts. 

What led you to pursuing teaching the youth?
My first job in education came from me being hired as an actor/interpreter at a local museum teaching classes about the exhibits. At the time I had just started my theater company and I was approached by someone who was working there who said I kinda looked like someone the museum wanted portray. I loved working there and since then I have grown to love education as much as the arts.

What inspired or led you to go into the music industry from acting?

I been singing all my life even though acting was my first love. I would sing all the time and even started break dancing and rapping as a kid at school dances. At a lot of my shows we would sing and have competitions to see who was best. When I was sophomore in high school when I was cast a musical, Fiddler on the Roof, when i figured that could do both. because Hip Hop allowed more freedom of speech to say what I felt, how I felt it and me growing up in and embracing the culture as a whole it just kinda took over. 
As a veteran, do you find a lot of inspiration from your time serving in the Marines?
Yes, it has influenced my life as a whole and I draw inspiration from my life in general. I did a lot of writing during my time in service. Plus it made making songs, like Ready for War, easier to write.

What inspires you?
My family, life, politics, comedy, silly things I see people do on the train, my students, education, things I’m passionate about, books (I read a lot esp. biographies and comic books), people.

Who is your favorite rapper?
My two favorite rappers (I’m a Misfit I can’t name just one) would be Scarface and E40. 

How do your words flow so naturally?
Practice, even the most naturally talented/gifted people have to work at it.

What do you do in your free time?

Hanging out with family, listening to music, and occasionally play video games(Madden, Batman, or war games the don’t remind me of personal experiences).

Is making music your career? Have you gone on tour before?

My career is a mix of arts and education that some people refer to as Edutainment. I make a living a Site Manager for an After School program as well as teaching and performing across the country. I have been blessed to apart of several tours over the years from Comic Con to The Cross State Connection Tours. I usually tour a couple times a year and since my evenings, weekends and sometimes summers are free it really helps.

Did you always like music or did you just pick up on it?

Always, from listening to the blues and in Mississippi with my grandfather, to listening to soul and funk with my mothers aunts and uncle, to picking up country music in the south, classical and jazz in the theatre and Hip Hop in the neighborhood. Music has always been with me.

How do you get yourself to focus on writing a song?

Its never the same. Sometimes I lock myself in a room with the music, a pen, and paper until I have what I want. Sometimes it just comes to me and I have to drop what I’m doing to get the thoughts on the paper. I do a lot of free writing when I’m writing songs as well.

What should I do to sound better?

Speak clearly and enunciate. Your voice is yours, play with it until you find one that you are comfortable with. The tone, inflection and intensity of my voice changes depending on my mood and what message I’m looking to get across. 

What should I do to flow when reading out loud?

The more you read over something the more comfortable you become with it so before you read it aloud in front of others read it to yourself a few times and if possible read it out loud to yourself a few times.
For more information about Mel’s work, visit http://themicrophonemisfitz.bandcamp.com/

Check One, Two!

The National Veterans Art Museum celebrated African American History Month with our “Check One, Two!” free emcee workshop hosted by USMC veteran and artist Mel L.Workshop attendees explored voice projection, creative writing, and freestyle rhyming in our interactive gallery space, marking the second successful creative community workshop in February.

The Things I Carry: Jaida

We all carry different things in our bags. We might not all have the same things but most of our things might relate to each other. We all like different things – the things in your bag describes who you are. For example, my lip stick shows that no matter where I go I will have it on me in the bag. In the Things They Carried, there are different items on display. For example, bullets – soldiers will always need their bullets or ammo. I noticed my lip stick was shaped like a bullet in The Things They Carried – objects that have the same shape but different uses.we also all had a conversation about how we feel safe her and we all have a good relationship with in the teen council.

IMG_1241

The Things I Carry: Melissa

The object I chose was a grenade and it relates to the wallpaper on my phone of Luis Coronel because he is the bomb. I think the contents in my bag show that I don’t carry much and don’t need much to complete my day. The bag I looked at shows that the person is very organized because she had placed her objects in an organized way, for example all of her makeup was placed from largest to smallest. This lesson taught me that every teen is different. I got to see how the contents in our bag can define who we are.

IMG_1239

The Things I Carry: Clarissa

In my group we chose a grenade. In war the grenade is a common weapon used. A common thing I use is my phone. My phone relates to this object because people are always blowing up my phone. In my picture I have my earphones and my phone. When I listen to music from my phone the bass would be exploding in my ears. Then you see my lip bomb. Who can’t live without lip bomb. Doing this task made me realize that our bags really can reflect who we are. So if your messy you probably don’t care and/or your lazy.

IMG_1239

The Things I Carry: Quinn

My item was grenade I think it was very interesting how it had rust on it. It made me wonder how long it sat out after the time of explosion. The items at the NVAM are full of history and all have very interesting stories behind them and the process in making them. During my observation, two items that I felt were related were the grenade and my lighter because the lighter is used for fire but a lot less aggressive amount of fire and a much smaller amount of damage to the environment. When I looked around the room at my peers’ items I noticed people’s organization skills and I learned about their preferences in hygienic items.

IMG_1239

The Things I Carry: Christopher

On Tuesday we all dumped our book bags and laid things out and I saw somethings in peoples book bags that i didn’t expect from some of them. Some people didn’t have much or they didn’t really have anything school related. I had some school related things, but I noticed a lot of similarities. I had my charger, headphones, and my phone and a lot of people had those things, too. I realized that we all may live different lives and have different things, but there was at least one similarity that we had within all of our things.

In addition, since I have my charger, it relates to other people because they need their charger due to emergency, perhaps if their phone was to die or their phone didn’t charge at all at night. no matter what we all need are chargers due to those things because anything could happen.