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Hyde Park Storytelling

A refreshing space for honesty, compassion, and vulnerability, Hype Park Storytelling brings Austinites together one shared experience at a time.

A refreshing space for honesty, compassion, and vulnerability, Hype Park Storytelling brings Austinites together one shared experience at a time.

As COVID-19 forces millions to self-isolate and remain apart from those they love, communities like Hyde Park Storytelling remind us of the gift that is being together. Tune in to this special Party For ONE podcast episode, featuring this Austin, TX storytelling group, and return to simpler days.

Listen on Apple Podcasts or SoundCloud

WELCOME TO HYDE PARK STORYTELLING

Five years ago, Erin Givarz and Matthew Stoner became roommates in Austin, TX, after crossing paths via Craiglist. Realizing they held the same love for sharing human experiences through storytelling, Matt and Erin decided to do something radical; invite hundreds of Austinites to gather in their own back yard, every couple of months.

At Hyde Park Storytelling, local storytellers share their real-life experiences all centered around one common theme. On March 7th, the theme of the night was lucky, but unlike other storytelling events that are highly curated, no one knows exactly what these storytellers will share until the moment they reach the mic.

And I’m like “Oh my God, you look so amazing,” and she looks up from her phone and  she says “thanks” and it was Jennifer Lopez, you guys.

– Michelle, Storyteller

As a stand-up, comedian, co-founder Matthew hopes Hyde Park can be an empowering space for those who wouldn’t otherwise have the stage, because  “everyone’s stories matter”. From heart-wrenching tales of love and loss to hilarious moments with a loved one or simply once in a lifetime moment of pure luck, these storytellers captivated the audience.

More than an outlet for simply sharing these captivating moments of life, Hyde Park Storytelling is a community that unifies Austinites of all walks of life. For Matthew and Erin, it’s all about bringing people together. “It’s really hard to hate people when you hear their stories,” Givarz explains.

I’ve since discovered that only 4% of attorneys in Texas are Asian, and I’m so proud to be part of that 4%.

– Tiffany, Storyteller

While no two stories at Hyde Park are the same, storytellers and audience members alike can find comfort in the fact that they’re never truly alone. It’s this space’s refreshing dedication to honestly, compassion, and mutual vulnerability that makes “Austin feel a little bit smaller,” according to co-founder, Matthew Stoner.

Learn more about this group or attend an upcoming virtual storytelling event by visiting Hyde Park Storytelling on Facebook.

A note from Chloe

Although millions globally are now sheltering in place, I hope this episode reminds listeners of just how thankful we should be for the ability to share our lives with communities we love. For Austinites, like myself, Hyde Park storytelling gives us a space to look forward to returning once life becomes more normalized again. For now, however, take whatever measures you can as an individual to stay safe and healthy, but also to stay connected to those who make you who you are. Remember that the people, places, and communities you miss most are only ever a call, click, or memory away. Visiting Hype Park Storytelling reminded me of just how universally shared our experiences are as human beings. No matter the situation or circumstance, you are never truly alone. Whatever you’re experiencing right now, there are millions of individuals currently navigating those same struggles and strides alongside you. No worldly force, not even COVID-19, can change that.

XOXO, Chlo
This special episode produced on the behalf of the University of Texas at Austin Journalism School.

4 Key Takeaways from the Blasey Ford Kavanaugh Hearing

Your Morning M I X

Despite nationwide turmoil over the allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, the Republican party judge was confirmed early last month with a 50-48 vote. What this decision reveals about the American attitudes toward women and their stories of sexual assault, today:

A nation-wide scandal

The confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee, appeared to be a set victory, however, after allegations of sexual assault from Kavanaugh’s school mate, Christine Blasey Ford, immersed this summer, doubts, fears, and confusion encapsulated the country.

The Palo Alto University professor reported being sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh in high school, over 30 years ago. Her allegations were proceeded by two other women: Deborah Ramierez reported that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party when they both attended Yale, and Julie Swetnick, who although did not report first-hand harassment from the Judge, said Kavanaugh was seen attending parties in which women were sexually violated and even raped, during their high school years.

On Thursday, September 27th, a hearing was held for Christine Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh before the Senate. Blasey Ford’s testimony was detailed and moving, however eagerly denied by Kavanaugh who argued no memory of the event.  When questioned of his drinking experience, as a youth, the judge replied with vagueness and snark responses.

Provoking more doubt than certainty among senators of both parties, Trump ordered a week-long FBI investigation “limited in scope” to take place immediately following the hearing.

Senators were allowed individual access to a singular copy of the investigation’s results, earlier this week, however, according to both parties no new information was revealed. According to Democrat Sentor Dianne Feinstein, the FBI report was “the product of an incomplete investigation”.

The following Friday, a vote was held confirming Kavanaugh as the newest Supreme Court Justice, but with a 50-48 split, it was a decision met with wide division among party lines. While Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer called the decison “a low moment for the senate, for the court, for the country”, Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell stated Kavanaugh’s confirmation would “turn the page toward a brighter tomorrow”.

After weeks of nationwide protests and an final decision not supported by half of the United States’ the question of where the country’s attitudes toward women and sexual assault, present day, linger.

Here are 4 key themes we can take away:

1. The #MeToo era has made a visible impact

2018 Women’s March in Philly, Philadelphia

When Anita Hill testified that Supreme Court nominee, Clarence Thomas, sexually harassed her in the workplace at the University of Oklahoma, in 1991, unlike in the case Blasey Ford, Hill was met with searing disposition from the Senate. This hearing is “now viewed as a low moment for the Senate”, according to the New York Times.

Although Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony was ultimately not enough to stop the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh, Blasey Ford’s accusations were taken with great seriousness compared to those of the past, as seen with Hill. The majority of the Democratic party sided with Blasey Ford, thanking her during the hearing for her bravery to come forward. Her testimony was powerful enough to stir doubt among certain Republican senators, such as Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, and Jeff Flake of Arizona.

In conclusion of the hearing, Republican Senator Jeff Flake stated that he would not move forward with Kavanaugh’s confirmation until a week-long FBI investigation took place. With more doubt than certainty in the air, President Trump issued an investigation to immediately take place following the hearing. Despite the alleged corruption found within the limited scope of the FBI’s investigation, the mere fact that this investigation was issued speaks volumes to the impact that #MeToo has made on the country. Although improvement is to be made, the Senate proved through the Blasey Ford Kavanaugh hearing that as a collective, American men and women are truly beginning to respect sexual assault survivors and believe in their stories.

2. Our voices have power

On September 28th, Maria Gallagher and Ana Maria Archila, confronted Senator Jeff Flake, holding open the doors of an elevator he was taking to the Senate Judiciary Committee, urging him to holt Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

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In their powerful altercation with Senator Flake, the two women shared stories of their own experience as a sexual assault survivor. “What you are doing is allowing someone who actually violated a woman to sit in the Supreme Court” said Archila, co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy. “You have children in your family,” Archila said. “Think about them.”

Look at me when I’m talking to you,” Maria Gallagher cried to the quite and unresponsive Senator, his head bowed to the floor. “Look at me and tell me that it doesn’t matter what happened to me.”

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Once confident in his decision to confirm the Judge, Senator Flake proposed that an FBI investigation take place prior to Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote, just moments after encountering Archila and Gallagher. Without the testimonies of these two women, it is likely that an FBI investigation would have never been issued.

Your voice as a woman has power and can truly impact those around you.

The bravery of Christine Blasey Ford has also led millions of women around the country to come forward about their own experiences as a victim of sexual assault. In my home city of Dallas, the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center received a sharp influx of calls after the September 27th hearing. According to the Dallas Morning News, a majority of callers have identified as “women in their 50s and 60s who were sexually assaulted as teenagers and never told anyone about it.”

Whether you’re one voice in a sea of protesters or the founder of a progressive political organization, like Archila, your voice as a woman has power and can truly impact those around you. Blasey Ford’s allegations may have not been enough momentum to stop the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh, but her testimony has and will continue to impact American men and women and the attitudes toward sexual assault for years to come.

3. Truth isn’t black and white but red and blue

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What began as a pursuit for justice, the Blasey Ford Kavanaugh scandal quickly turned into a vicious brawl between Republican and Democrat parties. For Republican Senators, Kavanaugh’s confirmation meant vast progression, as the new Justice intends to support and enforce Republican ideals The loss of this confirmation would result in a defeat for the entire party. Despite a convincing testimony from Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh along with many a majority of Republican senators, including the President, claimed these allegations were malicious obstacles plotted by Democrats in an effort to win back the senate.

Moments after the hearing, President Trump tweeted his support of Kavanaugh’s “powerful, honest, and riveting” testimony, commenting that “Democrats’ search and destroy strategy is disgraceful and this process has been a total sham and effort to delay, obstruct, and resist”.

A fervent supporter of Kavanaugh, Senator Lindsey Graham attacked Democrat Senators at the hearing saying, “What you want to do is destroy this guy’s life, hold this seat open and hope you win in 2020,” Refraining comments on Blasey Ford’s testimony, Graham continued to support Kavanaugh, telling the judge, “You’ve got nothing to apologize for”,

These harsh and elaborate accusations between parties put many Senators in a tough spot, particularly red state democrats, as their decision on Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation would be perceived to prove more than whether they believed Blasey Ford but the whereabouts of their political loyalties. Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota is one of many red state Democrats who has put her re-election on the line by voting “no” for the confirmation of Kavanaugh. A historically red voting state, many North Dakotans claimed they would not be voting for Heitkamp unless she supported the Judge’s confirmation.

Originally, stating that she would vote in support of the President’s nominee, after witnessing Kavanaugh’s behavior at the hearing, Heitkamp announced her new decision to vote against the confirmation, saying the hearing “called into question Judge Kavanaugh’s current temperament, honesty, and impartiality.”

a white house mandated Investigation

With Republican Senator Jeff Flake stating that he would not vote for Kavanaugh before a full back ground check was completed, the President issued a week-long FBI investigation “limited in scope” to take place. How exactly this investigation was “limited” is unknown, however, according to Democrat senators, including Dianne Feinstien (CA) who called the report “the product of an incomplete investigation”. the investigation’s findings gave little to no new information into Kavanaugh’s past,

On capitol hill, truth and justice are no longer black and white but red and blue.

Unlike a criminal FBI investigation that allows zero government interference, a White House mandated background check results in a client and contractor relationship among the White House ad FBI, according to TIME. Under these circumstances, investigators hold no legal authority over witnesses and cannot force individuals to come forward with information. Democrat senators were particularly unhappy with the FBI’s selection of witnesses, as two of the 10 witnesses interviewed, Kavanaugh’s room mate Mark Judge and Ford’s friend Leland Keyser, had already reported not recalling the incident. According to a report from NBC, More than 20 individuals who know either Kavanaugh or Ramirez, who has accused the nominee of exposing himself to her while the two attended Yale University, have not heard from the FBI despite attempts to contact investigators…”

Although the conclusion of corrupt government interference is mere speculation, the immense impact political bias played in the hearing, investigation, and confirmation of Kavanaugh is without question. Ultimately, the Blasey Ford Kavanaugh scandal surpassed a pursuit for justice, becoming a quest for power among Republican and Democrat parties. On capitol hill, truth and justice are no longer black and white but red and blue.

4. progress to be made

Blasey Ford’s testimony will go down in history as one of the first times a sexual assault victim was taken with genuine seriousness and respect by the Senate, Unfortunately, allegations of sexual misconduct were not of enough value to stop the judge’s confirmation. With a 50-48 vote split almost entirely along party lines, Kavanaugh’s confirmation was far from a landslide, but those 2 votes will ensure Kavanaugh the highest position in our nation’s court for the rest of his life.

What really happened between Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford is something the world may never know: the U.S. Senate, the FBI, and possibly Kavanaugh himself. “I drank beer with my friends,” said Kavanaugh. “Sometimes I had too many beers. Sometimes others did.” Yale roommate, James Roche, later came forward saying he believed the accusations against Kavanaugh as “he was a notably heavy drinker, even by the standards of the time, and that he became aggressive and belligerent when he was very drunk“.

During the hearing, Kavanaugh was questioned about how his drinking might have skewed his recollection of past events.. “I don’t know. Have you?” the Judge responded to Senator Klobuchar of Minnesota (D), after she asked if Kavanaugh had ever drank to the point of blacking out. The Judge later apologized to Klobuchar for his remark.

For Blasey Ford, it was a moment she remembers with “100 percent” certainty and is unable to forget. “What is the strongest memory you have?” asked Senator Patrick Leahy (D) Vermont at the hearing. “Something you cannot forget?” “The laughter. The uproarious laughter between the two, said Blasey Ford, as she described Kavanaugh and Mark Judd as two friends having a really good time together, implying that while the violation she experienced was scarring, it held little importance nor impact on the two boys. As the age old saying goes, “boys will be boys”.

“Two friends having a really good time together…”

  • Christine Blasey Ford

womanhood in 2018

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Nearing the end of 2018, we’re a year out from the beginning of #MeToo. Hollywood icons such as Bill Cosby. and Harvey Weinstein are finally facing the consequences from years of silently assaulting women. Months following the election of President Trump, the 2017 Women’s March was recorded as “the largest single-day demonstration in recorded U.S. history”, according to the Washington Post. Slowly but surely, American women appear to be gaining the confidence to come forward with their stories of sexual assault, however, justice for the majority of victims remains a rarity as “63% of sexual assaults are not reported to police“.

Where we stand, present day

  • More than 80 women have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. Present day, he remains a free man.
  • Two weeks ago, a Flordia man was arrested for grabbing a woman by her genitals on a Southwest flight. The 49-year-old defended his actions saying, “the president of the United States says it’s OK to grab women by their private parts“, referencing to a comment made by Trump in 2005.
  • Now, the nation’s newest Supreme Court Justice may or may not be a perpetrator of sexual violence. For many, this possibility is reason enough that Kavanaugh should not hold one of the most esteemed positions at the pinnacle of American law and justice in the Supreme Court.

Moving forward

Supporter or not, however, Kavanaugh has been confirmed into the Supreme Court and will hold this position for the rest of his life. As advocates for women’s rights, feminists, such as myself, can only learn from this experience, recognizing the strides and setbacks America has made, when it comes to sexual assault.

A young woman living in America, present day, I remain truly grateful for the privileges I have been granted that the women before me weren’t. I can go to school where I please, pursue a career I love, and do all these things while one day building a family. Still, however, sexual assault remains a fear for myself and the majority of women, daily. I advocate for change, not for myself, but for the women who will go after me; that my future daughter won’t have to wrestle with the fear of someone violating her body. That the importance of consensual sex will be taught in my children’s schools, making sexual violence less taboo and giving young girls the resources to report it.

As women, the rights we fight for and support today will be responsible for the quality of life for women to come. By coming forward, Christine Blasey Ford taught America that it is our civil duty to hold those in power accountable. She also reminded us that sexual assault has never-ending consequences, even after 30 years. Only through the bravery and boldness exhibited by Blasey Ford may we change the way our nation views gender and sexual violence. How will you help create a better life for women in America? It’s your turn now.

 

I advocate for change, not for myself, but for the women who will go after me…

 

Ep. 3 – Self Discipline and Success with Nikki Naghavi

We all want success, but are we willing to make it happen? Violinist, Nikki Naghavi says our work and wants fall hand in hand.

What’s not to envy about a child prodigy? So much talent at such a young age and so unfair, right? Not quite…

17-year-old Nikki Naghavi is one of many Dallas artists proving that success in the art industry is about much more than natural ability and luck but a never ending hustle, including long hours and sacrifice.

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MEET NIKKI NAGHAVI

At age 4, Nikki Naghavi’s parents asked her to “pick out an instrument”. She chose violin. Not long after, Naghavi had fallen in love with her new musical best friend and went on to become one of the most talented young violinists in Texas.

After years of competing, winning grand prizes in the Dallas Symphonic Festival and Collin County Young Artists Competition, Naghavi made her orchestral debut with the University of Baylor Chamber Orchestra, in 2018. From there, she’s has gone on to solo with the Plano Symphony and play alongside the Dallas Symphony in the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra.  In 2017, Nikki Naghavi placed 1st chair in the Texas All-State Orchestra, a process that includes multiple vigorous auditions against high-school violinists, across the state.

To an outsider looking in, Naghavi plays with such confidence and poise, it seems that she was born playing the violin with ease. The journey to where she is today, however, has been no easy journey according to Naghavi, as her daily routine consists of 3-4 hours of practicing.

She speaks, in our interview, of the immense self-discipline she’s had to implement into everyday life. Whether it’s saying no to hanging out with friends or substantiating from the Netflix binging much-loved by adolescents, Nikki Naghavi isn’t following most habits of her high school peers. Sacrifices and all, Naghavi finds contentment and happiness right where she is, as she is able to pursue the art she loves. What more could a musician want?

Tune in to Episode 3, with Nikki Naghavi, where we talk about what it really takes to earn the luxury of a profitable music career.

You can listen and subscribe to the Party For ONE podcast on iTunes, or Castbox, and let us know what you think, by leaving a review.

Another way you can share, comment, or give Party For ONE tips on the podcast is by tagging us on social media using #partyforone.

Keep up with Nikki Naghavi on Instagram @nikkinaghaviviolin

Ep. 2 – Mariel Pohlman on art as a business

Quit that day job; make that money… 

Talented artists exist everywhere, but those who manage to pay the bills pursuing their creative passions remain in the rarity. Perhaps, that’s because marketable art takes more than an impeccable gift, but the professionalism of a business.

In this series of “Celebrating Young Artists”, Party For ONE is sitting down with young artists making big moves in North Texas, to find out just how one can cultivate creative career success, and that’s where professional artist, Mariel Pohlman, comes in.

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MEET MARIEL POHLMAN

Mariel Pohlman is an artist from Dallas, TX, who specializes in murals and small illustration. If you’re a resident or regular visitor of the Dallas district, Deep Ellum, you’ve probably come across Pohlman’s work with local businesses such as Walmart, the Common Desk, Smart City Apartments, Local Hub Bicycle Company, Fiction Coffee, and many more.

There’s more to Pohlman’s story than simply creating great art, although. After college, Mariel Pohlman first began her professional career in accounting, but after six years in the corporate world, decided to sell her things, pack her bags, and leave on a 10 month excursion, to travel the world.

Now, back in Dallas, she’s established her lifelong passion into a career in freelance art, however, it was the skills she learned in the corporate field, that Pohlman says has led to her ultimate success.

Join Party For ONE, in episode 2, as Mariel Pohlman talks taking your art to the next level, as a business.

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You can listen and subscribe to the Party For ONE podcast on iTunes, or Castbox, and let us know what you think, by leaving a review.

Another way you can share, comment, or give Party For ONE tips on the podcast is by tagging us on social media using #partyforone.

Keep up with Mariel Pohlman on Instagram @marpohl

Introducing the Party For ONE Podcast

Party For ONE is now celebrating the power of positive media through a new platform, the Party For ONE Podcast

For the past year, Party For ONE has celebrated individuality, striving to empower individuals in fully embracing their personal potential and power, as diversified human beings. Now, Party For ONE continues the celebration with the introduction of a podcast that focuses on all things complicated, also know as all things life- that including careers, relationships, art, politics, and so much more.

Each episode, on the show, we’ll discuss:

  • What it means to be an individual?
  • How to access our most authentic identity and how to do so, comfortably and confidently?
  • How one can truly reach their full potential?
  • What it means to have a sense of personal power?
  • And how a lifestyle of celebration can allow us to do such?

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Series #1: Celebrating Young Artists

For the first series, “Celebrating Young Artists” we’re highlighting the multi-sided capabilities of individuals that do not only possess an incredible gift or talent but have discovered how to create a successful career and market for themselves in a field where the competition is tough and opportunities, scarce.

Art that pays the bills is a phenomenon in its self, however, these young artists are proving that success in the art industry is about much more than mere luck, it’s about strategy, hard work, and a never-ending hustle.

Join Party For ONE, every other week, as we talk with a variety of young adults on how they’re able to make big waves in their industries, and how you can do so, too.

You can subscribe to the Party For ONE podcast on iTunes, or Castbox, and let us know what you think, by leaving a review.

Another way you can share, comment, or give Party For ONE tips on the podcast is by tagging us on social media using #partyforone.

Ep. 1 – Meet Bailey Womack: fashion stylist, college student, and professional side hustler

Party For ONE is “Celebrating Young Artists”; those proving that success in the art industry is about much more than mere luck, but strategy, hard work, and a never-ending hustle.

Bailey Womack, a stylist and college student, at The University of North Texas, in Denton, is doing just that.

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Ep. 1 Meet Bailey Womack: fashion stylist, college student, and professional side hustler

LISTEN TO EPISODE 1


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Photo by Chloe Young

Meet Bailey Womack

Bailey Womack has caught the attention of my own and many others on fashion’s favorite network, Instagram. Not only is she compelling through her bold, yet seamlessly polished looks, but by her passion and drive made apparent through her work.

Whether it’s pursuing a degree in Fashion Merchandising, styling for local photographers, modeling agencies, or creating her only brand, the pop-up shop, Gold Fish Thrift, Womack has a history of making things happen. Recently, Womack was interviewed by the women’s style magazine, Marie Claire, and will be featured in upcoming issues, this summer.

At just 21 years old, Womack is well on her way to the career of her dreams, so we sit down to learn just how she does it, and how other young creatives can, too.

You can listen and subscribe to the Party For ONE podcast on iTunes, or Castbox, and let us know what you think, by leaving a review.

Another way you can share, comment, or give Party For ONE tips on the podcast is by tagging us on social media using #partyforone.

Dallas Contemporary Introduces New Exhibitions for Spring/Summer Season

April in Dallas is an exciting time for art. Here’s what you can find at the Contemporary, this spring.

Dallas Art Fair celebrated its 10th year running, this past weekend, and adding to the festivities, the Dallas Contemporary opened brand new exhibits, featuring artists, Eric Fischl, Harry Nuriev, and Sarah Rahbar.

If Art Could Talk – Eric Fischl

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Fischl’s premiere large-scale exhibit displays a series of both seemingly insignificant and contrasting powerful moments that commentate on human vulnerability, and more specifically, the international art scene Fischl is so familiar with.

6 Fears – Harry Nuriev

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This minimalist piece features dozens of tire swans, placed through out the room, a large glass with window cleaning robots, and bright purple carousel, strategically placed at the center of the room. By highlighting the ever changing nature of urban-ism, Nuriev, both an architect and artist, explores the relationship between design and architecture.

Carry Me Home – Sarah Rahbar

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Carry Me Home illuminates the complexities of war through three rooms; the first of which bronze body parts are carefully dissipated. From there, Rahbar displays sculptures composed solely of wooden riffles. An army cot splattered with a bloody world map, sets the exhibit’s final scene. The most compelling and grandiose piece, however, is an American flag stitched with the words “You are safe here with me”, asking what the safety and freedom, associated with home, costs a world, a nation, and a life.

Exhibits will be open, free of charge, until August of 2018.

Visit the Dallas Contemporary for more information on these exhibitions.

#DALLASCONTEMPORARY

#CELEBRATEART

#PRTY4SPRING

Dallas March For Our Lives

Dallas’ students spent their Saturday peacefully protesting, and that’s something worth celebrating.

In wake of the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, student survivors have gained national media attention, except this time, not as victims, but advocates for political change. Demanding that America takes notice of the voices of youth, these students took their frustrations and birthed them into a movement for stricter gun laws and safer schools, March For Our Lives. On Saturday, March 24th, students, in over 800 cities worldwide, marched in their respective cities to bring the effort into their communities.

I met with the student masterminds behind the Dallas, TX march, learning more about their stories, their hopes for this march, and their hearts for their city. Read the full story here.

Although legislative action is yet to be taken, surrounded by thousands of my fellow students and Dallas citizens, last Saturday, March For Our Lives felt like history in the making…

The RECAP:

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Joey and Jonah: high school juniors

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Kundai: high school junior

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The march begins, in front of city hall.

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Moms Demand Action encourages student marchers.

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Emma, Merritt, and Valentina: high school juniors

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Back at City Hall for the rally.

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Guardians line the street, in support of students.

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The crowd is urged to make room for thousands of marchers.

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Waed Alhayek, student at UT Arlington and march organizer.

#CELEBRATEYOUTH

#CELEBRATECOMMUNITY

#PRTY4LIFE

Dallas Women’s March 2018

More than just a moment of female empowerment, the Women’s March has given birth to a global movement towards wide-spread equality.

From Washington to Dallas, Rome and Beijing, millions gathered for the second annual Women’s March, that took place on January 20th, 2018. A Dallas local, I took full advantage of the opportunity to attend my respective city’s march, organized by Texas State Representative, Victoria Neave and local politician, Rhetta Bowers. It was my first demonstration and an experience that was truly liberating…

We were marching for women’s rights, but my brothers and sisters had more than gender equality, on their minds [and poster boards]. The Women’s March has given birth to a wide-spread movement towards equality– reproductive rights, an end to the wage gap, just immigration policy, and rights for trans and gays, and it’s a movement that has only just begun.

As march co-chair Rhetta Bowers says, “Last year, we said this was a moment, but now, it’s a movement”.

Below is the recap of the Dallas Women’s March 2018.

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and that’s why we’re here. #prty4equality

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Thousands gather at St. Paul Methodist Church, downtown.

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Mother and son, marching.

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All smiles.

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Resident supporters gather the streets.

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Griffin and Anna

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Approaching Pike Park

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#metoo

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The rally begins at Pike Park.

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Peaceful resistance

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The march begins…

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“Anything you can do, I can do bleeding.” #preach

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“Tweet all humans with respect”

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Say it louder!

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The sun comes out at 11 AM.

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Little ones enjoying the rally via playround.

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Finding the best view.

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Marchers fill Pike Park and overflow into the streets.

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“I love everybody.” Best sign award.

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Victoria Neave, Texas State Representative and Dallas Women’s March Organizer, speaks to an ecstatic crowd on the importance of women within our national, state-wide, and local communities.

#CELEBRATE GENDER EQUALITY

#PRTY4FEMINISM

Celebrating Artists: Meet Artist, AJ Addae

From self-doubt to self-celebration, in this Q & A, young adult writer and activist, AJ Addae shares the multi-dimensional complexity that comes with being, not only a human, but an artist.

I’ve always had a strong connection to art. As a child, this meant performing: on the school’s cafeteria stage, a grand auditorium, and most frequently, in front of the living room fireplace. Fast forward a few years or so, early adolescent Chloe found herself exploring new mediums of artistry, spending Saturdays binge watching independent films or making spontaneous trips down to the art museum. Sophomore year, I ventured into a world of online blogging, which slowly morphed, from a hobby, into a dream career. Now, at 17, I truly believe that it is my calling to be a journalist for news media, hoping to positively impact a transforming field.

Many will dream to become an artist, however, with growing age, a society fixed on money, status, and perfection, stands by, as these, once so passionate and promising dreams, begin to die away. Whether it be external pressure from our peers to find a “real job”, or the crushing weight of student loans, and never-ending bills, with hardship, artistry fades. Some, will persist on, and to these brave artists, our society remains truly ended-ted.

Cleansing our minds and souls, connecting us to people we’ve never met and places we will never go, and most importantly, stirring our thoughts, and calling us to make change, artists are the true revolutionaries of their time. Artists are something to celebrate.

Meet AJ Addae

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Photo by: Chloe Young

AJ Addae is a 17 year old writer, with a heart for literature, and and an even larger heart for activism. Producing her own magazine, The Gray Area, snatching an internship with Frisco STYLE Magazine, and self-publishing a book of poetry, Forget Me Knots, all within her senior year of high school, AJ Addae serves as an inspiration to myself and young artists everywhere, proving that age equals not wisdom, nor success.

Currently, a student at Northeastern University, in Boston, pursuing literary writing and women studies, AJ continues to create and share her writing, focusing on topics such as art, politics, the human experience, woman hood, and what it means to be a woman of color.

Below is the un-cut, un-edited Q&A.

Q: Why do you write?

A: I’ve always felt like I’m good at thinking. I’m good at putting thoughts together, really good at communicating those thoughts, and I think about big concepts like being human and art and politics, what it’s like to be a woman, girl hood, the intersections of girlhood in my country. I feel like I have so much to say. Having so much to say combined with thinking well, combined with being able to write, I thought, you know what, I should really put my thoughts out. My English teacher told me something this semester. She said, “AJ, you know that quote ‘everyone is entitled to their own opinion’? I feel like everyone’s entitled to your opinion. That really summarizes why I have all these mediums in which I write.

I feel like I have so much to say…

Q: What do you feel is your purpose, as a writer?

A: As a black woman, especially as a dark woman, especially as a dark women with all these identity intersections, I don’t really see a lot of people like me. When I modeled for this beauty brand, they would post pictures of me on their Instagram, and people would say things like “Wow, you never see dark women.” “You never see dark slim women.”

Everyone has this expectation for black women to be super curvy. Everyone has this expectation for the leader of a movement to be white, or a male, and that’s a really surface level way of describing what my purpose is, but when people think women, they think of white women as the standard, or they think of someone of higher class as the standard. People don’t really know that, at the end of the day, there’s so many voices out there, and we don’t hear any of them. I feel like my purpose comes from that in being that I can be the representation for other people and, at the same time, letting everyone know that it’s okay to be human is a big thing that I focus on in my writing.

Q:What do you believe makes you an individual?

A: Well, I feel like when I first realized that I want to write was when I was a wee girl, and I just had a fascination with words. I would sleep with the dictionary under my pillow just to memorize more words. I started a wiki how page, when I was 8 about beauty blogging, and I got like hundred thousands of views, like for what? I was 8.

I have always been good at thinking.

One thing that I realized, from having this fascination with words, is that it really expresses something that I find myself to be saying a lot to people- it’s okay to be human. I don’t think people know that. A lot of people come to me for advice and ask, “is it wrong that I feel this way? Is it wrong that I feel this or that?” It’s not wrong to feel. I’m an extremely emotional person. Extremely emotional. A lot of people don’t embrace that, and by saying that it’s okay to be human, I feel like I’m embracing that.

There’s so many voices out there, and we don’t get to here any of them.

Embracing the human aspect of myself is one of the best things I’ve ever done for anyone and for myself. I often find that a lot of good things came from that like finding out that, as a woman, I am under no obligation to be beautiful, and as a black woman, I’m under no obligation to fit the narratives that society poses onto me. Being human is one of the greatest things that I’ve ever done for myself.

Q:How have you seen individuality grant you power?

A: In the South, people are weird. People say hi to you, even if they don’t know you. Living in the northeast has made me realize, I’m really out here! I’m on my own. Often times, people say be nice to everyone; be nice to everyone you love, but they forget to tell you that you should be someone that you love too, and once I realized that, it was over for y’all…

I’ve been really focused on identifying with my authenticity. People like music, for example, and I often wonder, do I like the music that I like because of what I’ve been told is cool and told is not cool, or am I being authentic to myself? Not just with music, but with everything, I’ve found that authenticity has really granted me my own power in that I get to tell other people, “No. The way that you are is how you are” and that’s where it starts and ends.

Authenticity is a really big thing to me, especially for my art. I feel like there’s so many stories to tell just through the principle of authenticity and it’s granted me power in that it empowers other people. It’s empowered myself. It’s made me un-apologetic for who I am.

Embracing the human aspect of myself is one of the best things I’ve ever done for anyone and for myself.

Q:I best embrace my potential and power when _____________.

A: Zora Neale Hurston once said that “I often feel the most colored when placed against a white background.” That really completes the sentence, because I feel the most like my own identity, when placed upon a white background, whatever that may mean. Northeastern is a PWI which is a greaaat experience. Frisco is a PWI in itself, so I really found that I embrace my potential more when I’m placed against a white background, period. Regardless, whether its a bunch of white people or a place where people aren’t really in tune with their own identities, I feel the most empowered when I stick out. Often times, I find myself sticking out, so I have no choice but to embrace myself, and I think it’s a really beautiful thing because I learn more and more about myself everyday, when I am placed against a white background. I’m never within my comfort zone, which is really good for me.

I often feel the most colored when placed against a white background.” – Zora Neale Hurtson

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Q:How do you overcome the fears and doubts that come with being a young artist?

A: I feel like I can do anything. I’ve always felt like that. I’ve never thought, “when I grow up…” No. I’m here now. I might as well write a book, while I’m alive. There is no “when I grow up”.

The only thing is that insecurities are a thing, and often times, it’s easy to look at other people’s art and think, “Wow. they’re doing that, and I’m not doing anything”, but that’s not true. I am doing things, and not just me. Everyone is an artist in their own way. Even if you’re not an artist, that’s your identity. If you feel like you can’t put color down on paper, you can’t put words down on paper, you can’t put a film together, that’s fine. Everybody is okay in their own way, and owning my okayness is so important. I can draw, but I can’t do portraits, and stuff like that, but owning my okayness is a really really big thing that I had to learn in 2017. I ran track, and I was really good at it. Then I got to high school and I started competing with bigger districts, and I could only run so fast. I’m still good at it. There are people who are gonna run faster than me, and I’m still a fast runner.

Q: As a young artist, have you ever had an “I don’t know what I’m doing” moment?

A: Oh definitely. All the time… all the [freaking] time. I actually never know what I’m doing, and I know it seems like I do, but I don’t. Nobody actually knows what they’re doing , so that makes me feel even more confident, because nobody knows what they’re doing, but I’ve had moments like that.

Owning my okayness is so important.

When I started out with Frisco STYLE Magazine, I didn’t know if I was able to put my own voice into it. Writing to be consumable, versus writing to be proud of yourself- those are two completely different things to me, and I’m still trying to find myself, meeting myself in the middle, because I’m always going to have an audience. Frank Ocean is so [freaking] cool in that, he makes art for himself and he dips. That’s what I’m trying to do. Writing for Frisco STYLE has made me realize that there is a threshold that I have to cross, in terms of writing to be consumed versus writing to be proud of my own art. Audiences vary all the time so that’s my safety net, in that I know that there’s going to be somebody looking at my work that can identity with it, and that’s what I’m writing for.

Q: You’ve managed to expand your skill set, as a writer, into so many different facets. Do you find yourself preferring to write opinion based pieces, such as editorials and self narratives, or traditional news content?

A: Definitely opinions. It depends on what the news is. Writing for the newspaper is great and all, but I can’t put too much of my voice in it. At the end of the day, my voice is always going to be there, and that’a a satisfying feeling, but I can’t put my two cents in there. I love putting my two cents in, but sometimes, it doesn’t need to have my two cents.

Something I’ve also been kind of straddling the line with is my poetry slams. Writing to be read out loud versus to read on paper are two completely different things. When you read things, you apply your own voice onto them, but when you hear me say it, you know that’s AJ. You know it’s my two cents. I started writing so that I could put my voice out there, so I’m gonna feel more comfortable where I can put my voice.

I feel like I can do anything.

Q: Last Question. How does AJ celebrate herself?

A: I celebrate myself by investing in art that looks like me, that feels like me. Sophomore year of high school I went to an all girls private boarding school, in North Carolina. I took this class called Renaissance history, and it was the best thing ever. I love Renaissance art. I love it so much. I went to Italy. I studied all the art and it was so much fun, until I realized a year later that I can’t be investing in art that doesn’t look like me or feel like me, all the time. The more that I consume that, the more I don’t feel okay about myself.

So I went on this detox where I decided… I’m only going to look at art that looks like me. I’m only going to read poetry by marginalized voices. I’m only going to consume art that feels like me, which means I had to cut out Renaissance art, because I don’t look like that. They weren’t painting for me.

I’m gonna feel more comfortable where I can put my voice.

That really helped my art a lot. It made me feel like my art was valid. My words are valid. I stopped reading that poetry they give you in English class about the girl with the long blond hair, because no, that’s not me. It made me feel valid about my art, and at the end of the day, that’s my self-celebration, because I belong here. You know when you’re walking down the street and men won’t move for you? You gotta not move for those men. They’re not there for you. You’re there for you. That’s how I practice my self celebration and validating my art- by looking at other art.

I celebrate myself by looking at art that looks like me, that feels like me.

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Photo by Chloe Young

#Celebratingartists