Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hey Ladies!!! Interview with AUTHENTIC, a Philadelphia-based female artist collective

I had a chance recently to catch Simone "ease" Banks & Carrie Y. T. Kholi, the founders of AUTHENTIC collective for women of color in aural and visual arts, and two of the hardest working female community-builders-movers-and-shakers in Philadelphia for an interview. Humanitarians at heart, these ladies have been shaping Illadelph's cultural landscape for years shining light on the feminine wing of the creative force.

Your name? There are two ladies under AUTHENTIC...Simone "ease" Banks & Carrie Y. T. Kholi

What do you do for a living? Simone: I'm a gallery assistant and will be pursuing my Masters in Art Administration @ Drexel University this fall. Carrie: is currently working towards her PhD. in English at Rutgers University ... and we live and breathe AUTHENTIC. We're basically trying to get as many women participating and networking so that one day AUTHENTIC will run itself.

Where do you live? Simone: I live in Philadelphia/illadelph/city of
brotherly love...whatever works! :) Kholi: lives in New Brunswick, NJ ... okkk ... really Highland Park.

How is the Philly art scene? Is live art as big as it's been in New York City?
Simone: The Philly art scene is interesting. So far I haven't seen much live art displayed during events until we, AUTHENTIC incorporated it at our events. People really liked the idea...because it displayed the practice of raw talent right before your eyes. There are relevant galleries that hold gatherings fusing visual art and music, but live art is not as well known (without actively searching) unless you are in the art community. AUTHENTIC really wants to challenge this with events that feature music and art; both live! We make events for all sub-communities to not only attend, but participate and learn something new. AUTHENTIC wants to create a live art scene in some ways similar to New York City, but also bring what's real and raw about Philadelphia to the forefront. We want to do this by working and featuring artists like yourself (whom many in Philadelphia don't know) side-by-side with some of Philadelphia's greats! We're into energy ... potential and kinetic. We're into new energy most of all...and thinking outside of, next to, above and beyond the box is how we cultivate it.

I believe that there is an artistic renaissance going on, and there are more and more female artists getting out there, making things happen. It is like a creative liberation process...would you agree?
Simone:YES! that's the reason why I started AUTHENTIC. It was more than necessary, it was vital to establish a platform for female artists to expose their skills and network with other artists. The idea of creating AUTHENTIC stemmed from writing for an online magazine that covered mostly males and after pitching the idea of doing an all female issue, AUTHENTIC was born. Kholi's love for art/music and the advancement of women is why she's my partner...working together and executing the events we've done so far is liberating! We're two powerful women, i have to say. :) We're aiming to take over Philly's art/music event at a time and bring new artistry in the process. We see the need and AUTHENTIC is how we're going to do it.

Kholi: I would have to say I absolutely see the renaissance ... I mean I feel it. I think we're living it right now. As far as the work we are doing with AUTHENTIC ... these women have been at their hustle for a very long time. We are simply providing them with new resources, new means of marketing themselves, and CONSTANTLY trying to present them to new audiences. I think the art is often our activism. The art is what we provide to the revolution because it is incredibly personal ... and often incredibly political ... and incredibly necessary.

What made you decide to found Authentic, a female creative collective and networking site? When did it launch? Simone: Well, AUTHENTIC started early 2008...our social networking site was launched this past summer. It was a great find for us because all of our members could see each other. We have artists from across the country and some in different countries. We are really growing! At first we focused on only visual artists and musicians...but now we work with and feature any female "artist" and most recently have been working with poets and writers. As women, we need to come together and I know that's cliche, but it's true. It's empowering to host all female events from visual artists to just don't see it often in Philly, so we're really presenting a new wave of thought when it comes to art/music.

What makes Authentic stand apart from other similar networking sites?Simone: everyone wants to be an AUTHENTIC chick!! ;) Nah, seriously...we're different because we have an online presence, and a physical presence. We see an artist, invite her to join, feature her on our blog; and figure out how we can
work with her during an event! We want to provide exposure and not just the kind people read about. That's how we are different.

Projects for 2009? Simone: We are currently promoting an event called De Leche, it's an all female mixer to promote resources in Philadelphia regarding domestic violence. We are also working with a venue to schedule an Art for AIDS event featuring live artists; YOU! and many others. Both events will be an all female show and fuse visual art and music.

Who are your favorite contemporary artists you follow? Simone: I love
the work of Fahamu Pecou, Lorna Williams who uses wood and paper as her medium to create portraits, Flyygirl who paints images of women and I follow your [Lichiban] work as well! I remember coming across your page and saying to myself, I have to work with her!! :)

Kholi: Most of my favorite artists are my friends honestly. I love your work. I, too, love Flygirrl's work. I love Yacira of Cocolah's sketches ... I love the work of Dayna Marie Hood, Corey Whitehead (awesome artist who knows the female body well) ... and honestly there are SO many more, I'm sure I'm forgetting people who are gonna be spicy with me later. lol. [art by Lorna Williams]

3 favorite art/music spots you would recommend for someone visiting
Simone: Well, as you know Philly is known for its underground music scene..if you find yourself in Philly on a Monday, I'd say stop
by Silk City for Back to Basics featuring King Britt, Friday night (2nd and 4th of the month) make your way to the Social Club to experience The F.I.X. which features underground artists of all sorts. Saturday...FLUID! ?uestlove, sometimes Rich Medina and others spin
here. Otherwise, Old City has a First Friday event every month and there are lots of galleries to frequent in walking distance of each other...and of course free wine! ;)

Kholi: I completely agree with Simone. Right now The F*I*X is my favorite spot because Selina Carrera and Jovi Baby are really making awesome things happen as far as underground art and music go. But I'm also a poetry fiend ... so I dig Queen of Sheba, Just Words at Dowling's, The Fuze on Fridays, even the open Mics at Pearl of Africa. They are just cool down to earth places to catch music, poetry, anything representative of artistry at its finest.

How do we find you? You can find AUTHENTIC in three places!>>.JOIN IT!>> READ IT!>> FRIEND IT!!

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