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My 21 Most Memorable Moments: A Year in Review

It's the last day of 2021! What a year it has been. The other day I watched Death to 2021 on Netflix. If you haven't seen it, don't worry. There are no spoilers here. Watching a rundown of what happened in 2021 could be depressing all around from a global political perspective down to what happened to us personally this year, not to mention the ever persistent pandemic that we are still in.

Traditionally, every year I post my most memorable moments as an artist. It helps me remember and appreciate progress I've made and reflect on what I want to bring with me into the next year. I'll be honest. I almost didn't do this post this year. It's so easy to focus on the negative. There's something about the end of the year and feeling like maybe enough didn't get accomplished or there was so much stress and tragedy that the next year couldn't come fast enough. For me, I need to be intentional about remembering the good parts. So this is my despite it all post, my not all of 2021 must die post, my this is how we're going into 2022 post.

Here we go! In no particular order...

1. I opened up the year with this exhibit with Keion Hennessey! And we did the damn thing! It was really a beautiful experience to collaborate on this show. If you missed it, here's a virtual walkthrough of the exhibit. It was awesome to host it at Collectiveffort and if you want to see more artist work, they have an exhibit up now that you should check out!

2. This is me working on a mural at Connect Center in Cohoes. I was excited to help facilitate a generative workshop there and paint with some awesome budding artists! And collaborating with Albany Center Gallery is always a joy!

Photo credit: Robert Cooper

3. Opening up for Natalie Merchant! "Kind and Generous" is the jam and it was great to do this to raise money for Gwen Wright's campaign.

Photo credit: Robert Cooper

4. Virtual school tour with Sandglass Theater for Rock the Boat! I wrote the poems for this creative show bringing attention to the stories of refugees and getting to spend time in different classrooms with the cast and director talking about was fun. Getting an illustrated book of my poems in the mail was pretty sweet too.

5. I can't say enough about working with this wonderful human and all things Amplified Voices! Here, Jade and I are painting a part of the mural at the Honest Weight Food Co-op in Albany. I was pretty proud of my fire.

Photo credit: Robert Cooper

6. Painting this Black girl for Troy Waterfront Farmers Market! I just love her.

Photo credit: my humble cell phone :)

7. Hosting and reading poetry for Make it Upstate this summer! I have missed hosting open mic in person and reading poems outside on a summer day will always sound amazing to me.

Photo credit: Robert Cooper

8. Reading poems on the Old Mill Trail! I really encourage you to check out all the trails That the Berkshire Natural Resources Council cares for. I had to choose one of them to inspire some poems and collaborate with a scientist to help bring climate history and science together with art. I chose the Old Mill Trail for its rustic car and reclaiming spirit.

Photo credit: Robert Cooper

9. Facilitating workshops and painting with youth at Risse! It was really, really hot outside but overall we all had fun. Thank you to Albany Center Gallery for this opportunity too and Karina for being an awesome workshop and paint partner!

Photo credit: Karina's cell phone magic

10. Featuring at The Linda and being heard on NPR! I also enjoyed sharing space with Caity Gallagher and band. Shoutout to Albany Poets for the opportunity to read my work!

11. Conversation with best-selling author of The Other Black Girl, Zakiya Dalila Harris!! I had an amazing time talking on and off the stage with Harris and if you haven't read this novel yet, go get yourself a copy yesterday! I'm already in line for the next book. Thank you to the NYS Writers Institute for hosting us!

Photo credit: Robert Cooper

12. Show with Five by Five in Rochester, NY! For this collaboration, I was asked to draw something live while the band played their closing piece and write a poem from live audience tweets posted on a big screen in real time...all simultaneously! I'm glad I did it. It really challenged me in a great way as an artist and I had such a memorable time with the band.

Photo credit: Robert Cooper

13. Being chosen as a Fence Select Artist! Every year, The Arts Center of the Capital Region holds their Fence Show. I've entered a couple times before but this year was the first time a piece of mine got picked and on top of that, I sold the other painting I entered.

Photo credit: Robert Cooper

14. Frankly, this one is a bunch of moments crammed into one slot. Whitewashed: the racism project has been a part of my life for years now. Adapting this theater production to film, working with this beautiful group of people and seeing the culmination of our work on the big screen was absolutely something I will never forget. Priceless. Stay tuned for more collaborations with Creative Action Unlimited!

Photo credit: Robert Cooper

15. United Way of the Greater Capital Region video! I teared up at the premier of the video. Another big screen moment! This time at the Times Union Center and since then, I've had folks message me saying they've seen me on TV when this video airs. I'm grateful United Way GCR trusted me to write with poem for their fundraising campaign.

16. Reading poems for this year's YWCA-GCR Resourceful Women's Luncheon! And then getting to share lunch and space with women I would describe as badass gamechangers was the best part of the day for me!

Photo credit: one of our cellphones y'all. I don't remember which one.

17. Featuring for Poetz Realm in Fort Myers, Florida! Let's just say when I said "Sak Pase?" the whole audience said, "M-ap boule!" without blinking. At the end of the night a Haitian man who had lived in Cite Soleil approached me to let me know how seen he felt in my poems and he was among so many others. I love the love I felt in the room.

Photo credit: Robert Cooper

18. Signing and reading my poems on the wall at Albany Center Gallery! I also had a painting in the show but I have to say it's pretty cool to see your writing on the wall, lol.

Photo credit: Robert Cooper

19. Reading at The Poet's Passage in Puerto Rico! This trip filled my whole soul. And the timing of it could not have been more perfect. I had plans to fly from Puerto Rico to Florida for my uncle's funeral. This open mic was medicinal for me on top of the fact that the entire space is pure art. I get to go back in March to host and I just cannot wait.

Photo credit: Robert Cooper

20. Being honored next to Toni Morrison and Robert Kennedy at Albany International Airport...just wow and on my way back from Florida, I made up my mind to find where it was to see it with my own eyes. I am both humbled and feel called to do even greater work.

Photo credit: Paul Grondahl

21. Closing the year with a featured performance at the Nuyorican Poet's Cafe! I say from Poet's Passage to the Nuyorican is pretty sweet!

Photo credit: Robert Cooper

While I was doing all this art, I ran for public office this year too! Although, I didn't win, it was a major accomplishment to campaign and even more surreal to cast a vote for myself. I would need a whole separate post to talk about this adequately but in short, I'm proud of the work me and my team did! The other major thing that happened to me this year was getting engaged to my beloved best friend, Robert Cooper who you have noticed took almost all the photos in this blog post! (Click here to see more of his work.) As the year ends, I have wedding plans to look forward to and I would have it no other way than to enter 2022 experiencing life and all this art with him. Wherever you are, I'm wishing you a Happy New Year and may we all remember, even if it's not all happy, that there are always some things worth celebrating.

Photo credit: You already know (but if you don't, Robert Cooper)

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