Navani Knows Voodo Fe’ Mathelier: The Art of Freedom

voodofe

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 how to be a production assistant…

Running in creative circles like I do means actively supporting those around you in their endeavors. Most times it comes in the form of going to a friend’s show. Other times, as I learned this weekend, it
means picking up a new skill set. For example, acting as production assistant on an impromptu Brooklyn wide photo shoot. I received a crash course in styling, photography and British culture while on location with my singer/songwriter friend Kim Garrison. I may be in the midst of a career change as we speak people…GO KIM STREET TEAM! WOOT!

It was very reminiscent of an episode of America’s Next Top Model on a Brooklyn street challenge. Kim plays the contestant minus the crying, David Renfrey plays Nigel, the British Photographer, and I am the not gay, less glamorous art director Jay, minus the platinum hair. I shouted out directions and fixed her hair, but mostly just carried bags and sat with them. In any case it was a cool experience playing apprentice!

Highlights included:

  • Helping Kim get over her fear of heights on the Williamsburg Bridge.
  • Learning how to measure light with special equipment and having it added to my PA duties (along with watching the bags).
  • Playing fashion show while eating butternut squash baked pizza. YUM!
  • Pinning up a nightgown and pretending it was suitable to wear outside at 6 pm. (MAKE IT WORK)
  • Taking a picture of someone taking a picture. (STREET TEAM ACTION SHOTS WOO HOO)
  • Kim yelling at everyone as they walked into Rockwood music hall to go to the other room and not look at her.
  • Getting accosted by the park police for not having a permit to shoot pictures (after shooting for over an hour).
  • The park police not noticing the huge bottle of Jameson we had with us on location.
  • Skater guy watching us shoot at the park.
  • Skater guy following us around the block and watching us again.
  • Kim sprawled out on a purple bench.
  • Kim in the middle of the street with her dress and 4 inch heels, screaming periodically that she is NOT a street walker.
  • Finding the space invaders symbol painted on the wall.
  • Skater guy still watching us
  • Kim waving to the police hoping they don’t mistake her for a street walker.
  • Trying to find the damn pier.
  • Not finding the pier entrance, but stumbling on the best diner known to mankind (Relish Diner)
  • Learning terminology like “closer “(a closer body shot) and “neat” (drink without ice).
  • David reading his manual – um how long have you been a professional photographer?
  • David figuring out color saturation. We heart color saturation!
  • Kim and I getting hit on by an eight-year-old outside the bodega – “you so sexy, and your friend too:”
  • Me learning about embedding colors and the real definition of a flat in the same breath.
  • Saying, “of course” after everything.
  • Making David listen to Soko “I’ll kill her.”
  • David loving the song.
  • Getting scared by large groups of tourists in Dumbo.
  • Running away from Dumbo shortly thereafter.
  • Me speaking in a British accent for the remainder of the day.

So, it is very fitting that I am being sent to cover the AOL Fashionista photoshoot later today. Stay tuned for that blog…