SweetLeigh

A Sustainable Life. Make Magick.


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Summer Vibes, Creative License & Healing

 

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I was watching music mogul TomSturges address some teenagers in a talk for the Aspen Institute. He quoted songwriter Allee Willis “The path to self-respect goes through creativity”.  In  his book  Sturges expands on Willis’s words and writes, “The more we create the better we feel about ourselves. The better we feel the more we feel like creating. The more we feel like creating, the more we get out of it. The more we get out of it the better those ideas are. The better the ideas are, the more we respect ourselves for having them. And so on. It’s an endless cycle of good, a never-ending circle of growing self-respect.” And all I can say is YES!

Seeing myself with love and understanding was very much born out of the respect I rebuilt for myself while putting my mind and hands to work. While seeing projects I had envisioned through. While filling my creativity vault with visits to the museums, late nights on the interwebs researching artists I’d only just heard of or watching a tv show that made me genuinely laugh aloud. Spending time caring for myself allows me to percolate, and my mind explodes into synaptic fireworks flashing. Spending time creating allows me to automatically refill my empty well.

To be creative is to be curious. If you follow me on Instagram you will see that I am returning to my yoga for self-care and am really delving into tarot! Which is exciting! I am doing a spirit guide challenge with is both challenging and a great comfort. I am also doing a lot of shadow work through Tarot. I have been looking inward for a long time and I am seeing great benefit from doing so.

 

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Shadow Working with The Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr

 

What I am working on now is my health. Mentally and physically I am changing, as we all do throughout life. I am choosing to treat those issues with as much curiosity, love, and admiration as I do my creative process. It is the priority. Part of that attention is getting back to prioritizing making art. Wearing art. Celebrating art. The Mood Board at the top of the page is a cross between my summer make plans and the good vibes I am inviting in.

There has been a lot of death this year, a lot of collective grieving this year. I have struggled through three beloved idols passing, two family members dying and the traumas around the world including Orlando in this quickly moving year. The struggle is real but we’re still here and that’s worth celebrating. Practicing being loving, kind and patient with ourselves is maybe the most important thing of all. Be well lovelies.

xoxo

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Cinephile: Inside Out

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This is not a review. This, however, is a dead-on review by Mayka Mei. I didn’t know anything about the latest Disney/Pixar movie until my friend Nati posted lots of adorable videos and pics and FB statuses about it. Then I watched it and cried my little eyes out with Joy and Sadness. The big reveal is so simple but really has been one of the hardest lessons of my life.

I was angry for so much of my adolescence, depressed and in denial throughout my late teens and early 20s. In my mid-30s I was given a label/diagnosis by a Dr. and started to acknowledge and embrace my sadness. It wasn’t until my late 30’s that I owned being a depressive person and stopped feeling shame about it.

Honoring your feelings is the thing. Honoring your feelings and moving through them if you can, is the thing. There is no shame in feeling depressed, asking for help when you need it to cope or manage your feelings. Sometimes honoring those feelings is just riding the waves of emotion.

I am a cinephile and I have come to realize that movies are a huge emotional release for me. It is rare for me not to cry during a movie. Even a rom-com or silly comedy – if done well – will lead me to tear up if not have a full on bawling episode.

I don’t use film as an escape, but as a way to passively connect with my feelings. Especially when I am too much inside of my own thoughts. Since I began doing self-acceptance work, hard work, I realized that so much of it was about finding my motivation from my heart instead of my head. Inside Out is a beautiful reminder of that.

Feeling like you have to be happy all of the time is not the way to honor your experience. It is for most people not authentic. And it hurts people to see happy as the end goal. Living a beautiful life includes tears and sorrow. There is no joy without sadness.


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The Priestess of Whispering Fire

Leo1 The title alludes to a fabulous Tarot Card Name quiz my soul sister and Untamed Style sister Pia introduced me too.  This is so very relevant to my existence.  At 21 I worked at the Psychic Eye Bookshop where I dabbled in palmistry, new age books, discovered the tarot, had a psychic reading (which petrified me), and my chart done.  I ‘ve loved tarot, the goddesses, and astrology ever since. zodiac1 This month, the #UntamedStyle theme is the Zodiac! What’s your sign? I am a Leo. Which I strongly identify with. We love adornment, the  dramatic, are confident and natural leaders who can be a tad bit controlling… Ah well. Leo is symbolized by the lion, the ruby, the metal gold, the sunflower and is ruled by the element of fire. I found all of these great detailed descriptions of Leo symbolism on this website. 10453470_10152767331232003_7291692965751592852_n Sekhmet was a lion-headed Egyptian goddess known as the Eye of Ra. Like the sun, she has the power to protect and nurture “the good” and annihilate “the bad”. I love Sekhmet. I relate strongly to the power of the sun. Although Lions are associated with the sun, the Lioness is a lunar animal. My growing affinity for the moon is explained…. The lion apparently shares the world of both night and day and promotes balance.

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In alchemy, lions are associated with gold. Gold is a transitional metal symbolic of flexibility. Sunflowers are also symbolic of friendship, sharing and being open to new environments. Leo shares these same qualities. Sunflowers move their heads in the direction of the sun as do we, Leos. We seek the light.

11312592_10152767345397003_2900326741626733103_o The Ruby symbolizes loyalty, confidence, and faith. “Leo’s are encouraged to wear rubies to enhance their sense of loyalty to a group or cause. When worn by a Leo, rubies can also augur calm and clarity.  This is an excellent influence if a Leo is going through bouts of anger, frustration or confusion.” I will definitely be seeking out rubies or garnets now that I have read this. Zodiac4 I found these lovely words on a guide to your Astrological Goddess Power.  “Never underestimate this awesome power that you have, which is really a gift to everyone. Your purpose on the planet is to help others see, if not feel, if not experience the loving gifts you accept so graciously. Receiving positive energy from others is really a form of self-love that many reject.  You are here to teach others and give to them this wonderful energy. And in giving to them, you take nothing from yourself, which makes you totally fabulous and a true Goddess.” 11133823_10152767114957003_6547777249684904707_n

I am attaining.

For more fabulous Zodiac Signs, check out my Untamed Style Sisters throughout the weekend!

Michelle, Veronica, Aarti, Margot, Pia  & Zadry!

xoxo

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Inspired: Manifest Justice Exhibit

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May 1-May 10 I participated in events and volunteered at Manifest Justice here in Los Angeles. An amazing experience, in which the organization Manifest Exhibit sponsored by Amnesty International and the California Endowment, displayed works of 150 artists showing 275 works in a former movie Theater in Baldwin Hills – a neighborhood of Los Angles. I took all of the  photos of art from the exhibit in this post, for artists and info please check the Manifest Justice website.

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On my first day at the exhibit I got to speak to one of the lesser known filmmakers of the L.A. Rebellion a group of African and African American independent film and video artists that formed at the University of California, Los Angeles, in the 1970s and 1980s. The most famous of them being Julie Dash writer and director of Daughters of the Dust. I enjoyed hearing about the history of the Baldwin Theater, an independent theater for the Black community built in 1949 and eventually torn down in 1994. It seemed a tribute to the space to house this amazing exhibit.

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The stunning space built out for the exhibit was also home to workshops and panels through out the ten day pop up. Particularly of note was the presence of Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin who lead a conversation moderated by Rosario Dawson on how to move forward. Of note was a discussion on Prop 47 which would reduce non violent felonies to misdemeanors in CA allowing many citizens the rights to vote, better job opportunities and resources.

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I had conversations with so many amazing people, attended a great discussion on Stop Telling Women To Smile, by the artist who created the posters of the same name, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. A discussion on sexual harassment that was rich with perspective including the sexualization of youth as culture. Afterwards those of us who wanted to take photos with Tatyana for future potential works and shared what we had to say to those who sexually harass women. It was  such an empowering event. Along with so many others.

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Art is the ultimate platform for sharing important messages and starting conversations around hard to discuss issues. I went to this event feeling, overwhelmed, oppressed, depressed, and enraged with the system that is selective at best around the issue of justice. I left feeling both engaged and empowered. Share your thoughts, these images and start a conversation.

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Manifest Justice and don’t turn away from justice in Baltimore, and for  Aiyana Stanley-Jones , Rekia Boyd, Tanisha Anderson, Yvette Smith, Christina Grand Infiniti, Penny Proud,  Lamia Beard, Ty Underwood, Michelle Vash Payne, Taja Gabrielle de Jesus, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice,  and Tony Robinson.

#BlackWomensLivesMatter #BlackTransLivesMatter #AllBlackLivesMatter

Let us start to manifest justice. 


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CineStyle: ZuckerBaby (1985)

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Percy Adlon stole a piece of my heart when I first saw Zuckerbaby (Sugarbaby). I suppose its because, like his films to follow, it is centered around quirky characters with kind hearts the only way I’d truly be happy with someone describing me. Zuckerbaby is a German (formerly West German) film that quickly became one of my favorite films and still is. I rented it from the little VHS video shop 3 blocks from my house in 1986 or 1987.  It was just before the movie Baghdad Cafe came out. Another favorite Adlon film of mine. I also fell in love with his favorite leading lady at the time – who starred in both films, Marianne Sägebrecht

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Marianne is a lonely funeral home assistant who cares for the deceased. Her daily routine is captured in her lonely little apartment, dreary place of work, and even her sad supermarket that seems to further depress her. One day she is awoken from this monotonous existence by a voice. A man’s voice that carries her away on her subway commute home. Finding herself far from home she gets off the train to see before her the train’s conductor. A young handsome man who has seemingly given her a new found purpose.

Due 8 weeks vacation, 38 year old Marianne negotiates 5 weeks off from her job and sets out to seduce this 25 year old young man. Plotting to determine who he is and how to find him she undergoes a metamorphosis. She goes from a shy and reclusive lonely woman to an emboldened, fearless huntress who not only finds her prey but wins his heart.
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One of the things I love most about the film is this candy colored world  that Marianne lives in. The colors of her world begin to transform from oppressive to brightening and from sad to sultry. Long before the Visible Belly Outline started to trend among fat activists, there was Marianne in that pink dress circa 1985. Needless to say I love her wardrobe. Chic, sexy and yes she is braless in most of her ensembles. And those shoes above. My goodness….

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I have been told by people my entire adult life how impressed they were with how comfortable I was in my body. That hasn’t always been true and although I feel comfortable in my skin, I am often affected by other people’s assumptions on my person. As we all know our feelings of self worth and self image can fluctuate on any given day. But watching this film as a teenager gifted me an image of a fat/larger women finding her joy and celebrating her sensuality and sexuality as a fact of life.

When you consider the limited imagery of people of size living their lives much less being represented as sexual beings, is it any wonder fat women especially have been so maligned and marginalized? Perhaps having seen this film gave me an advantage over many of my peers growing up. I saw this character, and believed that it was possible to be fat and desired, fat and confident, fat and content.

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In the U.S. not long after the film had been released Ricki Lake starred in a made for TV remake. You may have seen it, its called BabyCakes. Unlike Sugarbaby/Zuckerbaby the leading man in BabyCakes has no intention of accepting Ricki’s invitation to dinner at her house. He shows up only because he’s too drunk to make it home and had her address in his pocket. The “American” spin is one filled with cliches and excuses for why an attractive man has to be won over to a large woman based on her personality. In Babycakes it is thought unthinkable he might desire to get to know her, or desire her period.

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What is most impressive about Adlon’s screenplay for Zuckerbaby is that it never slights its subject or characters by reducing them to cliches. He merges the bittersweet realities of life with the fantastic joy in pursing ones desire. He creates a magical realism that is hard to resist and easy to believe.

xoxo

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Girl Gang: The Dinner Party

March is Women’s History month here in the U.S.  Women are spectacular and women’s day is every day in my world. Well some of my favorite women, the women of #UntamedStyle, have gotten together for March to celebrate Women with this month’s theme of Girl Gang. I was reminded of feminists icon, Judy Chicago’s feminist art installation, The Dinner Party which I had the chance to see when it was installed in the Brooklyn Museum. If I could gather any group of women together  for my Dream Dinner Party it would be much more intimate then over a 1,000 women represented in that work of art. Maybe 6 iconic living or dead women who fascinate me. I would love to pick their brains, share our experiences and lure them into becoming members of my girl gang.

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I’d take a page from Frida Kahlo’s cookbook and prepare a Zucchini Salad, have a wine seltzer and fresh fruit bar for improvised Sangria. I would invite everyone to  bring a dish of their creation, after all,  we’re all creatives here. We’d mill and settle as we please around a lovely outdoor area with candles and faerie lights for when the wind picked up. I imagine lots of foliage and lush flowers. More lanterns to move with us as our engrossing conversation leads us easily all night. 15150459048_13eacb5727_b

THE GUEST LIST Nona Faustine, a radiant artist whose projects rock my world! In her artist statement, Nona says that her “work starts where intersecting identities meet history. Through self-portraiture, I explore issues about the body within photography.” One of her most mesmerizing works is the “White Shoes” series. She tours locations of New York City’s 250-year history of hidden slavery through photographs. In these locations, she takes nude self-portraits in white shoes. Stunning, shocking, and moving are these intersections.  Nona Faustine currently has a GoFundMe along with amazing photographer Marilynn Nance to fund their travel to “Black Portraiture[s] II: Imaging the Black Body and Restaging Histories”, conference in Italy.  Yes Nona, so much yes.

“From Her Body Sprang Their Greatest Wealth” 2013 Site of Colonial Slave Market, Wall Street Copyright of Nona Faustine All Rights Reserved

Iris Apfel is a Style Genius, in her youth she worked for Women’s Wear Daily, became an interior designer and along with her husband ran a textile imports company. Let’s not even mention her huge collection of vintage costume jewelry. GaH! I would love to sit down with her and pick her brain for fashion and design stories for days.  At 93 years old her wit is as sharp as ever and she is about to finally be the star of a documentary of her life. I’ve been waiting for this one for a while. But I’d rather sit and talk to the woman whose wardrobe was worthy of a museum exhibition, fabulous Iris.

Carol Rossetti,  you know. If you don’t know her by her name you know her by her deceptively simple and kind Women Project. The illustrator and designer created a series of biographical images of named women, some inspired by women she knew personally and many more as a result of fans contributing to her work.  These simple illustrations are lessons in identity politics. In her project statement she says “I feel very disturbed by the world’s attempts to control women’s bodies, behaviors, and identities; so I’ve started a series of illustrations in a friendly tone hoping to reach people about how absurd this really is.” Her illustrations of women with names and identities completely their own, and without apology have been translated into innumerable languages. Any woman can relate to this important body of work that will soon become a book. Carol inspires!

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Maya Angelou was lost to our physical world in May of 2014. She posthumously released a recording completed before her death of a collaborative hip hop album of her seminal work I know why the Caged Bird Sings. The album is called Caged Bird Songs and it is amazing. What is most interesting for me about the project is that through it I learned that Maya Angelou – before she was one of our most revered poets – was a musician, a calypso singer, and modern dancer. I have fallen in love with Maya all over again. I would love to spend some time with the divine Ms. Angelou. slide_351348_3790147_free

Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski. There is little I can say that can begin to summarize the work of this Queer mixed Afro-Latina artist. Her artist statement speaks for itself. I can only offer the final paragraph of it for you to – like me – imagine how amazing her company might be. ” I call my works experiments because I don’t see them as conclusive or original.  I am acutely aware that whatever I make is in constant dialog with what has been made before, and see my practice as a continuation of variables that are in the persistent rotation to produce unending results.  I experiment so that I may allow myself the freedom to change my mind, to be pushed into new ways of thinking, making, and naming.  I am interested in using the future as a site of experimentation, as well as a space to gain freedom and visibility around the conversations of race, gender, sexuality, and class. I see this making a kind of sympathetic magic. Not because it calls into being that which is rendered, but because it calls into question that which has already been, and dreams up that which could be.” Sounds like magic to me.

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Storm Sayer by Amarylis DeJesus Moleski

Ruth Asawa was an incredible artist. She is known for both her large-scale public sculptures in San Francisco, co-founding the Alvarado Arts Workshop for young students developing a teaching method for arts and gardening used all over the bay area.  She died in 2013 after living with Lupus since 1984. My favorite work of hers are her wire sculptures, pictured below. I would love to engage with this forward thinker and creative mind.

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Portraits of Ruth Asawa with her work by Imogen Cunningham (Left) Her work as displayed on her living room (right)

And there you have an amazing Dinner Party my loves and secret Fantasy Girl Gang. I think I would call it a gathering of Unicorns.  Who would be on your Guest List? Check out some members of my real life Girl Gang, my #UntamedStyle Cohorts on their amazing blogs: Michelle, MargotVeronica

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The SweetLeigh Indie Gift Guide!

Sending lots of love and out to some amazing independent women of color owned shops, artists and curators. It may be too late to receive these awesome handmade and hand curated pieces before Christmas, but some of these amazing gifts could be rocked for New Years, and obviously enjoyed year round. Some of my favorite Makers and Curators of 2014. I am obsessed with the pure talent and divine art of these shops so sharing the love!

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The Vintage Black Glamour Book by Nichelle Gainer

When I first discovered the tumblr sight Vintage Black Glamour I went crazy. My best of 2012 Online featured the site. Nichelle Gainer is a meticulous amazing woman for having located, researched, dated and shared vintage photographs of Black American Life in the 20th century that was no where else to be found online or on bookshelves! Since she came on to the scene some of those things have changed!  The site of course took off! And now she celebrates the victory of having the first Vintage Black Glamour Coffee Table Book. Nichelle is totally one of my heroes. Vintage Black Glamour Love.

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Brandi is the maker of PurlBKnit. She is so glorious in her techniques, style and if you hadn’t guessed is an amazing photographer as well. I am just in awe of her skill and want everything in her shop. So good! The original design goes on and on and on. Infinite Creative Love.

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Lingua Nigra Jewelry by Alicia Goodwin

My friend Alicia Goodwin is the creator of Lingua Nigra Jewelry. A luxurious line of original handcrafted jewelry made from precious metals, precious stones and other fabulous organics. Her pieces are all unique and stunning. The kind of pieces that you wear forever…. Adorn me.

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Klub Kid Vintage

My boo Ramdasha picture on the right is the brainchild of Klub Kid Vintage. She serves some 90’s RealNESS in alt style. The shops collection of coats is ridiculous! No end to the 90s finds, loud patterns, loud sweaters, mesh tops, sweater dresses styled to perfection. There is some serious inspiration to be had while doing your sustainable shopping!

Whitney Mero Onion Clothing up to size 26-28

Onion Apparel by Whitney Mero

I just discovered Whitney Mero’s clothing line, Onion. Her rayon and jersey draped pieces are instant necessities. Her shop is simple and perfect. If I had to only wear one designer for the rest of my life, she might be it. Capsule Inspo written all over it! I like things easy chic and finished. Whitney is giving me all of that.

Yokoo by Yokoo Gibran

Yokoo by Yokoo Gibran

Y’all Went crazy! when I rocked my first outfit post on the blog in Yokoo Gibran’s Three Ring Chain Scarf. With reason. The woman’s style is divine and taste is impeccable. Her Instagram is a must see too. There is a luxury of simplicity in her work that makes me happy.  So good.

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Peace Images Jewelry

Peace Images Jewelry is beauteous! There is so much to love. Working in brass, copper some precious metals and wood, Maker and curator Cami is my kind of bohemian.  She has made me a fan for  life with these Vision Studs Pictured above. Giving me Life.

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Art prints by Tabitha Brown

Finally, Tabitha Brown whose shop The Pair of Birds houses her illustrations. From favor cards, Alt kids of color “Yearbook” studies to her geometric and space illustrations I am in love.

I hope you are too! The next time you want to support some great work by some amazing women, check out these beautiful makers and curators!

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