February 10, 2015

Q&A With the Incomparable Nakeya B.

I recently reconnected with one of my favorite photographers and past featurees, Nakeya Brown. Her work has long captured my attention; I first interviewed Nakeya four years ago in the very first A Look Through My Lens posting I put together. Nakeya’s most recent photo series, Hair Stories Untold, explores elements of black female identity as it applies to the act of hair care. Drawing inspiration from her own girlhood experiences, Nakeya brilliantly captures the intimate, sacred, and often scrutinized aspects of beautification amongst black women.

I asked Nakeya a few questions about her “Hair Stories Untold” and "if nostaliga were colored brown" series. Her responses to my questions accompany the photos below.

GG: As is true with any piece of art, the meaning derived from the work varies from viewer to viewer due to differences in perspective. In the case of your work, a black woman will view your photographs very differently than an individual “outside of our circle” will.  Although your work will be perceived multiple ways, is there a singular message you wished to convey in “Hair Stories Untold” and “if nostalgia were colored brown”? If there is no singular message, what are the key messages you want a viewer to take away from both these series?

NB: The construction and reimagining of the black female identity is a singular theme that ties all of my works together. Hair Stories Untold centers on the multitude of hair processes we employ whereas if nostalgia were colored brown concentrates on creating a sense of identity through imagined feminine spaces and found objects.

GG: What guided your decision to utilize pastel colors in both these series?

NB: There’s something inherently feminine about these colors that compliment the feminine topics in my work.

GG: You’ve mentioned you draw a great deal of inspiration from your own girlhood experience, particularly regarding hair care.  Can you recount any of those experiences? How did they shape your current view on black hair?

NB: In “The Art of Sealing Ends, Part II” within Hair Stories Untold there’s an illustration of hands burning the ends of braids with a lighter. That photograph brings me back to when my mother would install box-braids in my hair and then seal the ends to give each braid a neater appearance. She would grumble here and there when she’d burn her thumb during the process—but not matter what, it was a vital part of the process. Hair Stories Untold represents the various forms black hair can occupy. I think black hair is very multi-dimensional and I’m interested in making work that displays its fluidity.

GG: I noticed the faces of the models are obscured in “Hair Stories Untold”, as opposed to “TROGH” – could you explain the significance of this difference?

NB: Hair Stories Untold represents the unknown, unspoken rituals within black hair care. I was intrigued by how far I could push a photograph to depict the level of obscurity that’s tied to our hair culture. Since I was more focused on revealing the act itself, the need to portray faces felt beside the point.

GG: The props used in both these series work well in what you’ve referred to as “constructing a sense of identity through objects and giving the pictures a sense of humanity that’s rooted in a black feminist aesthetic”. Could you expound upon the significance of a few of these objects, such as the hot comb, hair grease (as I affectionately refer to it), satin cap, etc.? What do they mean to you specifically?

NB: I think these objects are so special because they have the power to sustain a shared experience for women of color. They can communicate a piece of our history and it’s so important that we preserve those stories. That’s what I hope my work is able to accomplish as well.  

January 21, 2015

The GOOD Life: Sarah Diouf

It is often said that early adulthood is the pinnacle of one's life. It is a time to deeply indulge yourself in as many experiences as you possibly can, while you still have the freedom to do so. It is a time to look, to taste, to feel, and to inhale. A time to try, and to fail - and to try again. A time to wonder. And to wander - to get so lost that in the process of finding your way back home, you find yourself. As we continue to lay the groundwork for our futures and design the mappings of our careers, we must continually ask ourselves: is this my idea of the good life?

Sarah Diouf, Editor-in-Chief of Paris-based GHUBAR Magazine, is a woman I have looked up to for many years. Her passion for her brand, her work ethic, and her exquisite taste are endless sources of inspiration, and continue to lend to her success. Finding one's balance in life is a daunting and tiresome task for many. Sarah, however,  realized that finding your balance is a process - one that she completely surrendered herself to, and allowed to manifest in her work. She is the personification of the attitude that anyone, at any stage of life, should possess.


What is your definition of a “good life”? Do you feel as if that is what you are living?
I think the definition depends on your drive and expectations.
But I believe as long as I have the people that I love and the realest people around me, a roof above my head, some food, a work that I enjoy, and a little money to enjoy some extras - life is good, no? I mean, what else do you need?

How important do you feel it is for people to follow their passions, even if doing so doesn't seem like a “secure” life choice?
If you wake up every morning not loving your work or your life, find a way to change your situation, because it's like committing suicide. It will make you bitter. And this is how some end up hating on their friend's success and happiness, because they don't have the guts to go fight for their own.

Nothing comes easily. Security is a choice. True happiness is another.

Before I started finding my balance (because it's a long process), there were times where I didn't have a single euro for days at the end of the month. I put all I had into renting a studio to shoot. But hey, I wasn't even thinking about that, I just couldn't imagine not being able to do what I want. But thank God I managed to find a way to make a little money and afford doing what I like, when I want, with no pressure, because I think my parents were very scared (laughs). I always had a hard time working for other people if there was no purpose in the end. I would go work for a big company if I knew that after a certain time I will have that amount of money to launch this project, not just to be sure to have a check at the end of the month.

But I would never despise people who make this choice because we need them. The world can't only be filled with outcasts otherwise it wouldn't work.
Which aspect of your work makes you the happiest? Which aspect do you enjoy the least?
The happiest - I'd say the creative aspect. The whole process of researching, which happens mostly naturally; I visit a place, it touches me, or I meet someone and I am inspired and then BOOM : let's make an issue around that.
What I hate the most, is the whole legal paperwork side - you have to contract every-single-thing to protect yourself. Crazy. But that's the game.

What would you say has been the most important lesson that you have learned as a magazine Editor-in-Chief?
To read EVERYTHING, because culture isn't an option. And to make the effort to represent my publication. People will forget about a "not so great issue" but they will remember how you express yourself, how you carry your project, and how you present.

Where do you see yourself and your magazine in the next 5-10 years?
Enjoying life somewhere In Africa - I would maybe have more than one by then, who knows? 

Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew a few years ago that could have helped you along your life path?
Sh*t happens. (laughs)
If you could give someone a quote to live by, what would it be?
We will always be more than yesterday, and less than tomorrow (tattooed in Hindi on my shoulder).

www.sarahdiouf.com | www.ghubar-magazine.com

January 17, 2015

Writers Wanted

For the past few years, I have been the sole writer for this blog. I can’t begin to describe how beautiful of an experience it has been to share my interests and ideas with all of you – I've learned so myself and others through curating That GOOD GOOD Blog. However, as many of you have undoubtedly noticed, things have been a bit quiet on my end for quite some time (I've had a lengthy spell of writer’s block, if you will). Although I've been away, I am still very much invested in this creative space, and eager to see what new directions I can take That GOOD GOOD Blog in. So now, after much thought and careful consideration, I feel that this is the perfect time to open my blog as a platform for more than just my own work. This space will greatly benefit from the diverse contributions of other writers & thinkers who share my passion for writing, art, music, style, and entrepreneurship. 

If you or someone you know would be interested in becoming a writer for That GOOD GOOD Blog, please send an e-mail to thatgoodgoodblog@gmail.com with the following information:

-Your name, age, and location
-A brief description about yourself
-Any links to your blog/tumblr/instagram/youtube channel/facebook fan page (it’s okay if you don’t have all of these, send whatever you do)
-At least 1 sample of your writing, but feel free to send more if you wish 


I'm hoping to find 2 or 3 people to contribute regularly as a start with me functioning as an editor/writer, and we will build upon that as I see fit. Guys are more than welcome to contribute too, of course - this blog isn't just for the ladies. I am very excited to see what comes of this new direction, and more than ready to see That GOOD GOOD Blog return bigger and better than ever.

October 18, 2013

Gold Coast Trading Co. Presents: Imo Youth

Gold Coast Trading Co., one of my top favorite brands that I’ve previously featured on this blog, recently released a capsule collection entitled Imo Youth. In the words of the designer, Emeka Elams, “the capsule collection takes a nostalgic look at a home lost, the search for a new identity the churn of migration within the afro-triangle”. My favorite aspect of this brand is that Emeka makes it a point to draw inspiration from different points in Africa’s history and incorporate them into his designs. The pieces produced by this brand are much more than just clothing; they are physical reminders of the resilience and brilliance that resonates within Africa, regardless of the struggles that the continent has faced in the past and continues to face to this day.  

April 3, 2013

That GOOD GOOD Around the Web

Anyone who has been reading my blog for a while now knows that I am a lover of independent magazines, both online and in print. Spook Magazine is a “literary arts mash-up” which entered my radar back in December. What initially captured my eye was the first issue’s absolutely stunning cover, created by the brilliant Stephanie Matthews. As if the cover isn't stunning enough, this magazine is full of flowing, poignant, masterful pieces of writing. Those of you who enjoy devouring deliciously crafted poetry, fiction, and non-fiction writing, purchase a print and/or digital copy of Spook! You will not be disappointed.

Also, you all simply must listen to the glorious mixes on Spook’s Soundcloud page, Spook Radio. Good reads, good visuals, good sounds. What more could one ask for?

The Refutation of “Good Hair” is a powerful new project by the brilliant Nakeya B. In this series, Nakeya has chosen to explore the literal meaning of the historically used phrase “good hair”. In her own words, “In each image a woman of color is seen poised upright while consuming a handful of hair. Accompanying the portraits are a selection still life arrangements placing hair and traditional African-American cuisine in the same setting. Doing such suggests "good hair" is nothing more than something to be consumed as if it were food”.

In honor of its 125th year anniversary, National Geographic has taken to Tumblr to curate a number of iconic vintage images from the magazine’s archives, many of which were never published. It is safe to say that FOUND is quickly becoming one of my favorite Tumblr blogs. The images are absolutely breathtaking. If you have a minute (or 2) to spare, make sure you check it out.

This song has been on heavy, heavy repeat for the past few days. Fresh off of Tyler, The Creator’s new album, Wolf, comes a blissfully breezy tune featuring two of my favorite singers, Coco of Quadron and Erykah Badu. Click the play button below the photo to listen.

March 14, 2013

A Look Through My Lens, Part 9

A Look Through My Lens is an ongoing series on That GOOD GOOD Blog which features awe-inspiring photographers from all over the world. I have had the absolute privilege of interviewing 15 photographers thus far through this series and today I have yet another amazing addition to the ‘A Look Through My Lens’ family, 22 year old Lawrence Agyei from Chicago, IL. Lawrence is one of the many young creatives that my blog has allowed me to cross virtual paths with and I am so happy to be able to share a sample of his beautiful body of work with all of you. As always, I interviewed today's featured photographer and his responses to my questions accompany his photos in this post. Please enjoy Law's story as he shares about his passion for his art form and where his love of photography all began.

I have been doing photography for about 4 years. I took a photography class during my senior year of high school. It was eye opening. The course was about shooting film, digital and darkroom techniques. My teacher always told me that I had an amazing eye and suggested that I should never stop shooting. I started sharing all my photos on Facebook and Flickr. Before I knew it everybody started to recognize me as a photographer. I never stopped shooting, even with my small digital camera.
I take all kinds of pictures from fashion, live music and lifestyle.

Words I would use to classify my photographic style are real and lifestyle.
I like to take photographs of anything that I can reinterpret its beauty or moment through my own vision. My lens becomes the looking glass so that others can see into my world the way I see it. I tend to take shots of everyday people. Capturing the emotions and facial expressions of people is very remarkable.

I use a Nikon d3000 with a 50mm 1.8. Nikon is my first true love so I’m going to stay faithful with it. Maybe one day I'll shoot with a Canon.
I admire a lot of photographers: James Barnor for his amazing portraits of Ghanaian people back in the 60's and 70's, Vivian Maier for her street photography and self portraits and Jack Robinson for his unique studio portraits of famous personalities.

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