On the morning of January 1, 2017… I woke up with a little idea. A very specific, very vivid, albeit small, idea. Maybe I had dreamed it, I don’t remember. But once awake, I immediately sent text messages to two artist friends of mine, both male, and asked if they’d be interested in being a part of a live art event in March (for Women’s History Month) that would showcase the work/contributions of Black male artists who have honored Black womanhood through their art.
I didn’t have an event title. I didn’t have a venue. I didn’t have a budget. I sent them exactly what you just read… and they both said yes. Immediately, I was terrified. Now that I had shared my idea, I had to follow through. YIKES!
I’m learning every day that the more you walk in your divine purpose, the easier it is for the right people, ideas and circumstances to flow to you. (In other words, we don’t have to work so hard or make the path to our destinies any harder than they need to be.) I was able to confirm 2 artists for a nameless, venue-less, dateless event at the top of the year and I had no idea how I would find other artists to be involved or all that it would take to mount a #TNSALive Event that I could be proud of… but I knew I had to make it happen.
TNSA’s Founder, Brittany Inge
Shortly after confirming those two artists, I got busy reaching out to other creatives who I thought might be interested. I also set out to put a team together to help me effectively plan this event, which now had a name: “TNSA Presents… The Art of Black Women through the Eyes of Black Men”. I also now had a better idea of how I wanted the event to be set up. I envisioned an interactive museum with various stations/displays, including a listening station, interactive art pieces (featuring live models) and various photographs and paintings throughout the space. I wanted everyone who entered the event to encounter art at every turn. In the end, I was able to create exactly that, with 7 artists’ work on display and over 12 artists/vendors involved to pull the entire evening off without hitch!
#TNSALive in full swing.
When I first decided to put on a live TNSA event, I knew I needed a solid team… not a large one, not an expensive one, just solid. A team who was down for the cause, had strong individual work ethics and didn’t need to be micromanaged. I found that in three people who I must name: Brian Jordan, Jr., Brittani McElveen and Nzingha Shaw. There are so many things I could say about these people individually but then this blog would never end! What I will say is that Brittani and Nzingha were both SO helpful during preliminary planning; taking it off of my plate to do research on certain event elements and helping me to draft contracts for the artists and vendors involved. They were both also extremely helpful the day of the event… with Nzingha flying in from Washington, DC to participate and Brittani coming to help set up AND clean up before and after a play that she’s currently in! (#BlackGirlMagic) Brian Jordan, Jr. was literally 3 team members in one, all by himself. He was my hands-on, in the trenches, right AND left hand man! On top of all the event planning and event design he did (Don’t even get me started on that flower wall! Handmade by Brian via his company: The BATCHELOR, Atlanta!), he was also one of the featured artists for the evening! He wrote and performed an original monologue: “I Promise”, which addressed the many stereotypes and boxes that society attempts to place the Black Woman in. I asked so much of him during the planning of this event and he delivered on EVERY front… you don’t find many friends or artists like that these days. Needless to say, my gratitude level is on 1000!
Brittany Inge & Brian Jordan, Jr.
Speaking of featured artists, let me tell you a little more about the other artists who were featured and what they do! Devin White, who also came in from Washington, DC, is a recording artist whose music video “QUEEN” was showcased as a part of the listening station. (FUN FACT: Devin is my best friend since high school. His presence at this event meant THE WORLD to me!) Spencer Charles is a photographer who puts particular emphasis on the Black female body in his work. His photographs were on display during the event. Beeombi is a fashion designer who created a custom piece specifically for our event which represented the Black woman being caged inside a society of white supremacy. Deep stuff! Gorgeous creation! Markelle O’Day is a content creator who developed a reality show sizzle reel for a buzzing, Black female entrepreneur; the sizzle reel was on display at the event’s listening station. Michael Gillespie is a fashion stylist who styled our five live models for the evening’s interactive art pieces; titled “The Closet Series”, because the models were styled out of their own closets to embody various scenarios. Craig Stanley is an artist whose paintings were on display throughout the space. He also did live airbrushing at the event and had one of his gorgeous pieces auctioned off to a lucky attendee!
Pictured L-R: Michael Gillespie, Markelle O’Day, Spencer Charles, Devin White, Craig Stanley, Beeombi, Brian Jordan, Jr.
Honestly, TNSA’s first event was more than I dreamed it would be! The space was filled with positive, supportive and creative energy. I believe every attendee left the event having learned/experienced something new, beautiful and impactful. If you missed it, you missed something special… but don’t worry, there’s more where that came from! There’s a first time for everything and planning TNSA’s first live event taught me A LOT! It was not the easiest or cheapest journey (LOL!), but it was absolutely worth it. Thank you to ALL who attended, all who bought tickets but couldn’t attend and the artists/models/vendors who gave of their time and talent to help TNSA bring this vision to life. God bless you! Onward.
Visit TNSA’s Facebook Page to see ALL the photos from Sunday’s event! Photographer Credit: Sherita Bolden
“TNSA Presents… The Art of Black Women through the Eyes of Black Men” RECAP Video
Videographer Credit: Ariel Hairston