Navani Knows Voodo Fe’ Mathelier: The Art of Freedom

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This piece was originally published on www.livedancelove.com

When my homegirl Selene first told me she was filming a video piece about the artist Voodo Fe’ and asked if I’d be interested in interviewing him I was intrigued by the way she described his work. I am always up for meeting creative folk. But what really captured me about him was this overarching theme in his work to take items and materials deemed trash and make them something beautiful. It’s this idea of being reborn, reinvented and making something from nothing, that really resonated deeply with me. It’s what initially drew me to other art forms like Hip-Hop. On the heels of his latest exhibit opening I had the opportunity to speak to Voodo Fe’ Mathelier and get the story behind his many triumphant ventures in street art, music and fashion leading him to work with brands from Calvin Klein to the NFL. To my surprise, the most outstanding tidbits he taught me were not even about art, but rather how to live life. Here the Brooklyn-bred artist shares why he believes he has been able to make a living as an artist, what his greatest gift is, and what everyone’s number one job is.

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Navani Knows Art: STRAIGHT SHOOTIN’ MAMAS 2013

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It’s a rare occasion when I travel to the Bronx, despite the fact that I have family there. Maybe the occasional birthday party or holiday but that is usually it. My most recent visit came under the pretense of a much overdue visit with my titi. She lured me up north with a bribe of a home cooked meal to accompany her to an art show nearby. I like food and art so I made the exception. She lead me to El Fogon, a cultural center in the Bronx for an awesome photo exhibit celebrating women photographers in honor of National Women’s History Month. I was really impressed with the event itself as well as the work of the photographers featured in it so I wanted to take a minute to find out how STRAIGHT SHOOTIN’ MAMAS 2013 came to be. I caught up with Mia Roman, the curator of the exhibit to learn what went into putting together a strong exhibit centered on women artists:

How did you get involved as the curator of the STRAIGHT SHOOTIN’ MAMAS 2013 photo exhibit?

I was approached by a photographer friend of mine by the name of Elena “Mamarazzi” Marrero. She is more of a journalist documenting cultural events within the local boroughs of New York. She wanted to showcase the work of female photographers and had never curated or organized an exhibit before. Having worked with her in the past she thought i would be the perfect fit to bring her vision to life. So over dinner one evening in El Barrio of East Harlem the event was born.

How many artists submitted? How many were chosen?

Over 50 Artists submitted work and only 12 were chosen to exhibit. The decision was not an easy one. All the work was out of this world. Telling amazing stories through photographs, documenting lives and freezing memories to be shared for generations to come. We were working with a small venue so we were limited as to space and the amount of submissions we could exhibit. My vision was to create a story from around the world… taking Her-Story and creating History one image, one snap, one shoot at a time. We had photographs from Peru, Cuba, Columbia, Puerto Rico, New York, Buenos Aires, Morocco, Africa Dominican Republic and more. Celebrating the beautiful eye of the photographer and the lives of the women used as subjects.

Were all the artists Latina?

No, the Artists were from different backgrounds and from all over. My mission was to have women from different backgrounds unite as one, sharing their craft and passion for photography and celebrating their success together as a sisterhood. We have much to learn from one another. A true inspiration to see a fellow sister from another culture shares the same vision, purpose and passion for life and art.

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What was the inspiration for having a women centered exhibit?

The inspiration was all the amazing female photographers within our community that have gone under-represented as artists. Many of these women document the happenings of not only their communities but movements from around the world. Most of the time we never get to see or share these historical images and as part of my life’s purpose is to provide a platform for women to share their voices through a creative channel. March which is also recognized as Women’s History Month was the perfect time to showcase such an event.
Proceeds from the door fee went to a charity; can you talk more about the organization and its significance?

The STRAIGHT SHOOTIN’ MAMAS 2013 Photo exhibit was a huge success. Just days before the event as we were putting the final touches on the plans a tragic accident happened. Rachel Marie Price a young and talented pro soccer hopeful from the Florida area was killed by a drunk driver. Upon hearing about this terrible tragedy we decided to donate the proceeds to The Rachel Marie Price Scholarship and Education Fund through the Wells Fargo Bank in Florida. The proceeds of the event will go to scholarships that will benefit underprivileged soccer athletes and Educational programs for Drunk Driving and Bullying.

What is the significance of the name of the exhibit? Were there specific themes you were looking for from the photos?

The name although a catchy phrase does not have any specific significance. It’s a play on words suggested by Bobby Gonzalez. We plan on doing more playing with the title and phrases to tease a 2014 show of the same. The specific theme was “Women at Work” we wanted to showcase the many roles women play around the world. The many contributions she makes in order for this Universe to evolve. For centuries women have played important roles in making things happen, supporting roles, leadership roles etc. but in many instances they go un-recognized and merely expected. So we wanted to honor her and her work. Whether it is an artist, judge, cook, mother, politician, there is no position more important than the other. Our goal was to have a show created by women for women showcasing women and it was a great success.

How long is the exhibit up?

The exhibit closes on March 23, 2013 at El Fogon Center for the Arts in the Bronx, NY

Where can people get more info?

They can get more info on the show and future shows on my website…. www.artsbymia.com. They can also email me at artbymamamia@yahoo.com. As a curator and artist I am always looking for artist to join me in my mission in bridging the gap between artists from other countries…