STORYTELLERS: ALEXIS P. MORGAN

 
 
For the record: I’m feeling really vulnerable about this photo. It shows the weight I’ve gained in my face, my imperfect skin - flaws and all, y’all. This photoshoot was a deeply emotional commitment for me to make and an act of devotion to my own joy and self-love. XO
— Alexis P. Morgan

 Alexis having her head wrapped, an act of honor to ancestors and cultural reclamation. For more on the history of the head-tie, see " The History of Headwraps Worn by Women of Color ," and the work of Juliana Kasumu in   From Moussor to Tignon .

Alexis having her head wrapped, an act of honor to ancestors and cultural reclamation. For more on the history of the head-tie, see "The History of Headwraps Worn by Women of Color," and the work of Juliana Kasumu in From Moussor to Tignon.

There are many gems from my recent April photoshoot with Alexis P. Morgan, magic maker and Abbess of the Church of St. Felicia --- catch her interview below --- but I wanted to start with the one featured above, because it's the raw, real, most beautiful human spirit shining through. There was no make-up and none of this trying to fit a visual mold or popular fempraneur internet style. We shot in a tiny, tiny home space (literally a corner) amongst children being their awesome children selves and dear friends working nearby, with the natural light through the kitchen slider as our source, and Nina, Maya, and Audre as our energetic creative team.

 

Going into this session, my intention as photographer and guide was to create + hold the space for transformation and the deep recognition of the self, to help my client see the self as the miracle it really is. I've known Alexis for several years through our divination and energetic-workings communities, and I know how much heart-energy and trust was gathered on Alexis's end to enter into both this act of devotion to the self and this relationship with the camera.

*The notion of sitting for a portrait can often feel quite scary. Having to look at oneself in the company of others and the public can be terrifying. Judgement will want to join you. It doesn't have to.* 

 

Alexis's energy is a mix of fierce warrior, truth-teller and gentle spirit, evident in the sensitivity, compassion and fire of her work and writings on social justice, intersectional feminism, and change-making. Her voice speaks anger and raw truth, but also sincere and heart-felt guidance. She's walked through many a fire, and I wanted to show both the beauty of her energetic scars and the pure light of her spirit in these photographs. I wanted Alexis to leave with a tangible piece of evidence imprinted with the joy, old soul wisdom, natural beauty -- and that laugh! -- that her community feels, sees, hears, and buzzes from.

This is what magic looks like.

 
 
 

 

STORYTELLERS:

A interview series with the women who record and relay the stories of human truth, connection and history through a creative body of work.

Here is Alexis P. Morgan's take on art, responsibility and the power of story in her own words:

 

 

What inspires you? 

This is a really difficult answer for me to articulate in a way that doesn’t feel trite and generic to me. Because the answer - albeit the tl;dr version - really is ‘everything.’ But it’s more complicated than that because I don’t necessarily write or create art about everything, I do have a process, and I do have ethics and commitments I am devoted to. So the full answer is: living life, people’s stories, and how those experiences interface with my devotion to Truth, Justice, and Liberation, and my commitment to always trying to find ways to invite people to experience the world and reflect on ideas in a thought-provoking, embodied, and fresh sort of way.

 

Where are you when you get your best ideas?

Late at night, in bed, dicking off on social media — or on the phone with friends and mentors who know how to ask me the right questions, or be present with me while I ramble through my thoughts.

 

What are you researching in your work right now?

I recently went through a major move (from Denver back to Chicago), a significant surgery (wisdom teeth), and I’m still in my first year of mourning for my mother, who committed suicide last summer. So I’m in a very weird period of my life, with one book of my life closing, and another getting underway. But I’ve been reading, “What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets” by famed Harvard professor Michael J. Sandel and immersing myself in my spiritual practices and community. Just taking in the world as it is, with our very volatile political climate, trying to keep an eye on the seeds of opportunity planted deep in the shit that is the final death throes of kyriarchal, fascistic social norms at the hands of globalization and technology. Trying to tend those seeds through my writing and give people something to hope for, maybe.

 

How does your social identity impact your responsibilities as a researcher, interpreter and artist?

As a woman of color who is, irrespective of my identities, devoted to truth, justice, and liberation - I feel my work should always serve those aims. But as a woman of color, I feel like my responsibility is to my joy and modeling that joy and sharing it with the world. Too many women and girls of color are brutalized out of their joy by our society. I was one of those children. I reserve the right to live as fully as possible, in a way where my joy seeps into my work, and - ultimately - nourishes everyone around me.

 

What would you like to see more of from women artists?

From women of color artists: unapologetic joy. 

From white women: giving up your seats at the elitist tables of the various art worlds, being more inclusive in your consumption of work, and being willing to confront the privilege and barriers intentionally built into many of these professional spaces head on, fiercely, without apology, and without fragility. 

 

Who are the women artists you turn to for education and inspiration?

Audre Lorde. Nina Simone. Nayyirah Waheed. Rupi Kaur. Warsan Shire. McKensie Mack. Beyoncé. Octavia Butler. Solange. Amber Rose. Nicki Minaj. Rihanna. Angela Davis. bell hooks. Sam Irby. Shonda Rhimes. Shenee Howard. Kara Walker. Didi Delgado. This list is off the top of my head and incomplete. But every one of these women is an artist in her own way and brings something to the table that I draw from in terms of my own capacity for artistry and creativity.

 

In one sentence, leave us with a story about what it means to be a woman artist right now.

To have the capacity to expand joy and find freedom. 


"When she's not busy working or serving a good cause or organization, she's a pole-dancing, kickboxing bad example as the democratic socialist, feminist, Pan-Germanic Heathen witch Pat Robertson warned you about. She currently resides in the Windy City (Chicago), where she lives art, writes words, and makes the kyriarchy cry. #staymad" 

      -Alexis P. Morgan, intuitive, writer, artist and activist.

 

-Get informed: through Alexis's writing on Medium

-Be visually stimulated: by Alexis's digital painting.

-Then go: Hex the Patriarchy.

 

In need of portraits for yourself and/or your business that tell the truth of you? Start here.

WELCOME 2017

 
 

"Hi."

(looks at the mic. looks at you.)

*taps the mic*

leans in. looks back at you.

"Ok, let's do this."

**

 

Welcome, to my new site. (welcome back to life –my site.) It has been seven and a half months since I've written a journal piece, one year since I have had more than two pages, and I don't even know since when I've had a fully functioning website. In fact, this feels like the very first time since... 2009? I have had a site that is ready to invite viewers and clients, friends and peers into all the spaces of it's home.

 

There have always been pages under construction or pages under lock. And, the feng shui of it's digital front door was always lacking. I feel like my website -- which is always as true a reflection of myself as I can make it -- has been a home of constant tear-down, renovation, restoration, and re-do as I, it's creator, experienced the same in my soul, always taking the long way to find what I really wanted to become, what I really wanted to make, and what I was really meant to give to this world.

 

And, I've finally found my space. Or, at least the space I'm meant to occupy and decorate and nourish now. I know who I am. I know what my values are. I know what I want to make. I know how I want to serve and what I want to serve. I know what feeds my spirit, what I can and cannot tolerate. I know my boundaries, and I know what is going to leave me in burnout. I know the clear, clear difference between big YES's and big red FLAGS. I know how to listen to them too, and how not let the fears of being wrong or failing block those messages out.

 

Over the past seven years, and especially in 2016, my spirit has been stripped, peeled, sanded and raw. Often in private and silence. A series of experiences left me alone with myself and the voice I had such a hard time sharing.

 

I've always struggled with my voice. Last year was one big lesson in how to operate it. This year's lesson is in actually using it. And I am. Using it.

In portraiture. Through conversation with others. In visual and written storytelling.

 

This year, I finally feel grounded. I feel secure in myself – even when I get scared about the future and what might come. I feel secure in my capabilities. I also feel like I'm being reborn again. Opening the doors to this website is a re-birth. I've been really, really resisting opening the doors to this website.

 

I've been working on my about page since July of last year. JULY.

Do you know how many times I've changed it?? More than I care to remember. 

 

There are still things about this site that will see changes. There are still a few areas that need dressing. But the bones are here. The essentials are here. And it's a heck of a lot more than I've ever had before.

And this time, I'm not impatient with the process and progress of things. I know all will be appear in the coming weeks and months. Better pictures will be posted. The journal will grow. A body of work will be made. My core offerings will no doubt develop and evolve. One. decision. One photograph. at a time.

 

So, what's new around here?

 

Everything.

I've brought Space Clearing back as a public offering. (And, I want to emphasize that I love space clearing and feng shui for mom's to be. I worked with a few mom's to be in 2016 and our time together was so special. I loved helping these mothers prepare their spaces for their new miracles / humans-to-be.) 

I also love clearing for those who are wrapping up a transition and beginning a new chapter in their life. I'm here to help you honor the trauma and pain, thank it for the soul-strengths it's proven to you that you have, and then say farewell to it. It's time to use that emotional space for what want now.

 

Destiny Readings are also available this year during certain months throughout the year. Readings are 25 minutes in length and at a reduced cost because I want to see healing services available to more people. Which is why I am also providing Holy Hours, a free service of magickal work and sacred care to those whose financial status falls below the poverty line. This is an absolutely confidential service that I will not advertise nor mention anywhere else publicly because our time together shall be safe. The work we do together shall be safe. And, I trust that those who need to connect, will find their way here.

 

Portraiture services are here! They Are Here. One year ago, this month, I was the photographer taking her very first portrait of a sitter. During and after that session, I knew it was work I had do. I had to offer this service to all the souls who feel like they can't find accurate representation of themselves on the web or in any photographer's entrepreneur/artist portrait portfolio. This portraiture work is for all the souls who are done hiding because you want to be fucking done hiding. It's time to show-up as you and feel good about it. 

 

The Good Old Days project is my personal + community project. It is a visual essay that collects and collages stories about "the good old days" as a way to reveal the shadows behind our nation's history along with it's conflicting identities and contribute to the collective conversation about how we define “America” and being “American.” (*Update* This is project is on hold and has also evolved!)

 

kunst magick (coming April 26th, 2017!!! -- sign up for 10% off your first order hereand SACRED STOCK (coming April 2017!!!) are branches of my work that weave my loves for the fine arts, decorative arts, and sacred arts:

If you are in need of sacred stock photography for your blog, teaching material or website that features a diverse range of styles, subject matter and representation of practitioners, you will soon find that here on my website. If there is something you wish to see with more representation and more availability in sacred arts, occult and magickal stock photography reach out to me. Let's see what we can conjure up.


If looking for personal gifts and objects of meaning for your home or altar space, discover luxe ritual tools and decorative arts treasures from independent artisans and vintage hunts at my online bespokery, kunst magick. This falls in line with my commitment to shine more light on the talents of independent artisans that often go unseen. At kunst magick, we serve magickal workers and decorative arts lovers who desire a little more luxury in their magick and one-of-a kind occult and sacred objects to enhance the energy of their home. AND, we work with some amazing artists to bring you exclusive and limited edition functional art rooted in ritual and magick. (*Update* The shop has been placed on hold as all of the contents are in storage!)

 

The Gazette will be going out weekly beginning the first full week in April. I haven't decided on a day yet, maybe it will be mailed on random days, or, maybe they will be sent on Sundays – which is so inspired by my friend Mandy Ross's Sunday Love Letters. This woman doesn't miss a beat. I've always aspired to be that, but life really, really, really got in the way this past year and I was toast. (*Update* This obviously never happened, but the Gazette did go out this September!)

 

Well, Adios burnt toast. Adios crumbs. Adios anxiety over writing lengthy newsletters. We are taking the micro-blogging approach. Short and sweet. In the moment. This is what's up. This is what's new. This is what is being offered. I invite you. Simple, honest and loving.

 

In the past, whatever I have written, expressed, offered...it has always come from my heart and my truths at that time. I will continue to do the same. But, going forward, I'm also going to be more considerate about how I'm putting things out into the world and how those creations affect others, in addition to being more considerate toward myself. Last year, I went silent without notice. I stopped sending out the GAZETTE. I ceased writing weekly card forecasts. My inner self was collapsing...I didn't have enough energy to hold anything up but myself. I had to be silent in order to spiritually and physically function. I had to preserve what little energy I had left and use it to find and build myself again. That was a hard thing to do. This whole metamorphosis has been hard. No, actually, it was like my brain and body liquified. Do you know the caterpillar liquifies before it turns into a butterfly? My friend, colleague, and go-to animal medicine expert Sara Magnuson told me that. (btw, Sara runs a course called Animalia, it's "spiritual guidance through the integration of science, nature, mythology, folklore, and the divine," and it's awesome. You should check it out. This is not an affiliate plug.)

 

And last but not least, least, there is a whole bunch of other work coming. Everything I put down last year is getting picked back up and completed. Yes. I am in a triple 8 energy year. It is getting done.

 

Thank you for being here with me today and reading until the end. Thank you for your patience and support these past 12 months. I'm looking forward to making some beautiful work together this future. Love you.

 

-J     

 

 

International Women's Day Inspiration

 
image.jpg
 

 

For International Women's Day I celebrate all the creative sisters (not just cis-ters) who have impacted my life and work. Here is a tribute to just a few of the many many. (from top left across)

 

1. Salt-N-Pepa

One of my very first cd's (Whitney Houston's Bodyguard was my first -- thanks Steven Cohen for letting me keep it.) I think I picked up the Very Necessary album in 3rd or 4th grade. I can still sing you all the lyrics to Shoop and None of Your Business. Thank you for your incredible energy ladies. You help me feel confident in a flash.

 

2. Mariah Carey

I still remember the very first time I saw the video for Dreamlover with Mariah dancing in those wildflower fields, but it was Hero that stole my heart. In the third grade I sang Hero in front of the whole school during our talent show. I was so emotional I cried after singing the song. ☺

 

3. Frida Kahlo

Frida and I crossed paths when I was 15 or 16, when I was struggling with one of my most difficult waves of depression. I was drawn to the bold colors of her work and her use of symbolism. I had no idea what any of it meant, I just knew I loved her. On a trip to Venice, Italy, when I was 16, it just so happened that a gallery in St. Marks Square was holding an exhibition of her work. Our trip guide gave me directions to the gallery, and I walked my independent self through the city to see her work for the very first time. All of her famous works were in front of me! I stood in front of The Two Fridas breathing in Frida's spirit for as long as I could.

 

4. Beth Gibbons

Beth, your voice got me through some really tough high school years. You don't even know. I should write the evening shift Sam Goody music store employee who said, "Have you heard of Portishead?" a love letter. And I seriously love you too. Thank you for making the most beautiful Pluto-Saturn-Scorpio-deepest depths of the soul music for me and Stacey to drive around our neighborhood to.

 

5. Georgia O' Keeffe

Georgia was my high school art teacher's (Mrs. Stanik -- who I also have a special place in my heart for) favorite artist ever. It was Georgia O'Keeffe everyday, 180 days for all four years. And I'm thankful to Mrs. Stanik for it. I have always felt so comforted in O'Keeffe's desert colors and flowers...but now that I'm OLDER, and learning more about HER there is a much deeper connection between our creative souls I am appreciating. Georigia, I can't wait to see your work in Santa Fe this summer!

 

6. Kate Winslet

Winslet's work connects me with the deepest, darkest, most raw parts of the human spirit and soul. Thank you Kate for taking on the projects Revolutionary Road, The Reader and Mildred Pierce. We need more stories, characters, and truths like these in film.

 

7. Lynne Allen

Lynne, you are the best printmaking teacher ever. Thank you for being my mentor in college. Thank you for pushing my art, giving me the opportunity to attend Anderson Ranch, and planting lots of seeds in my heart about honoring Native American heritage. I miss you.

 

8. Julia Hetta

I discovered Hetta's work on Pinterest 1.5 yrs ago, and I was stunned. Her work was everything I wanted to make/be/dream/eat when I imagined myself as a working artist. I can't get enough of the light, the air, the color and the unusual in her photographs. Julia, thank you for coming into my life during a very critical time -- 6 months before the return to a creative practice after a 5 and half year hiatus. Your work is my guiding point on the horizon. I hope we can meet one day.

 

9. Haruka Sakaguchi

Haruka, your work is what sealed the deal for me on attending the Local Milk retreat in Japan during March/April of last year, a retreat and community that has brought so much incredible beauty into my life. Thank you for being my photography mentor this past year. Your work leaves me in awe and always inspires and challenges me to be a better seer and human. Your guidance has been invaluable. I super love you.

FASHION FILES of a CAPRICORN

Listen to the audio to hear the story behind this photo journal "FASHION FILES of a CAPRICORN."

 
 
Picara Tierney Virgo style
 
 

The style of this portrait session is quite the classic weave of Capricorn and Virgo.

Several of the pieces featured in this shoot are the model's, inherited from her grandmother (every Capricorn Sun/Rising/in Venus has something special from the generations before her), and are textures and natura we see in the fashions and portraiture of centuries past. The model also communicates an energy of being secure in herself -- an energy you will often find in the Capricorn and Virgo woman.

 

CAPRICORN

Capricorn is an Earth sign who's style is classic and comfortable. No fuss fashionable. Practical yet very chic. She's covered, never too revealing. Sometimes, her look can feel...almost cold and her energy very disciplined -- especially when a stiff collar is popped up or a chunky scarf is full around the neck and a dark pair of sunnies are on like armor.

Capricorn loves a uniform, something she can easily pull from her wardrobe to be quickly on her way. Solid colors in neutrals, navy, camels/tans and black are her go-to's. You can usually find a Capricorn in classic pumps, a fitted blazer, skinny jeans or leather pants, and garments that are well-made and say old money honey.

 

VIRGO

Virgo is also an Earth sign and her style is both sharp and delicate. No detail is overlooked. Virgo looks great in earthy brown furs, leather belts, pencil skirts, paisley, tiny prints, a caplet or polished suit and with piping on the pants or collar, a small and perfectly folded bow at the neck or in the hair. A tailored fit is a must. The Library chic look is perfectly suited for Virgo.

You will likely find her investing in a wardrobe of great pumps (all very well-made), classic bags with minimal hardware, and lots of spa treatments. She is never without creamed hands, a polished manicure, protected lips and a perfect brow. 

The pearls in this set-up are actually very representative of Cancer. (It was probably my Moon in Cancer that prompted me to bring these pearls to the shoot.) But, you might also find pearl details (such as in a button) on a Capricorn who loves maritime looks or who enjoys wearing an all black chic and CHANEL sweater dress.

 

 
Picara Tierney Virgo style V
Picara Tierney Virgo style III
Picara Tierney Virgo style IV
 
 

BLACK + WHITE - A VINTAGE LOOK

In the black and white looks below we see the beautiful back details of a strappy silk dress (very representative of Virgo) a solid gold cuff (that speaks to Capricorns and Leos) and a beautiful inherited fur vest (a Cancer would love this fur as a comforting office or living room throw.) 

Scroll down below for PDF guides of mini capsule collections for these signs.

 
 
 
 
 

MINI CAPSULE for Capricorn

(download the PDF version here)

 

Shoes

___Tan car shoe

___Black knee-high walking boot

___Brown high-heeled riding boots

 

Investment Pieces

___Dark brushed wool or cashmere blazer

___Cream floor-length sweater coat

___Classic little black dress

Tops

___Black silk blouse

___Striped boatneck long sleeved top

___Black T of choice

 

Bottoms

___Dark denim skinny jeans

___Black straight-legged suiting pant

___High-waisted tuxedo shorts

 

Accessories

___Long soft fringe scarf

___Shoulder pads

___Chain evening bag

 

MINI CAPSULE for Virgo

(download the PDF version here)

 

Shoes

___Black stiletto heels

___Neutral shade of classic pumps

___Black ballerina flat

 

Investment Pieces

___Tailored suit

___One-shouldered floor length dress

___Black cape

Tops

___Black lace camisole

___White collared button-down

___Cream colored blouse with cuffs

___Black knit “Jackie” sweater

 

Bottoms

___High-waisted cigarette trousers

___High-waisted pencil skirt

___Medium wash denim skinnies

 

Accessories

___Drop pearl earrings

___Crimson red and natural mauve lipsticks


A WEEKEND IN NEWPORT, RI

Listen to the audio to hear the story behind this photo journal "A Weekend in Newport, RI" and for more on the history of the mansions, what to pack and who to see for a weekend of self-care.

 

THE BREAKERS

 

The lighter and brighter areas of the Breakers.

 
 

ROSECLIFF

 
 
 

HISTORICAL NEWPORT

 
 
 

parks and gardens

 
 Roses at the Green Animals Topiary Garden

Roses at the Green Animals Topiary Garden

 Rough Point grounds and gardens

Rough Point grounds and gardens

 
 

NOTES

 

SEE

Rosecliff

The Breakers

Rough Point

Green Animals Topiary Garden

 

EAT

- Belles Cafe, located in the Newport shipyard, a cute indoor/outdoor eatery with a variety of egg omelets and fresh breakfast choices. GF available. 

Salvation Cafe, casual and fun dining with a quirky interior, healthy dishes, indoor/outdoor/rooftop, perfect for a group of friends

The Mooring - large indoor/outdoor restaurant at the marina, focusing on fresh seafood with GF options available. Perfect for groups of friends, couples, families, bachelorette dinners, and dinner dates. This place is loud, packed and at the center of Downtown Newport nightly action.

 

BUY

- The Third & Elm Press, Limited Edition Prints and Stationary

 

FEEL

Intuitive Body, Lisa Claudia Briggs

Perelandra, Vegetable Essences (not made in Newport, but some wonderful essences that were tried during my stay and that helped tremendously with anxiety amongst crowds.)

Frank Antonio Hair + Makeup

 

WHAT TO PACK

- James Perse Brushed Jersey Henley Dress/Classic Skinny Dress 

- Small tote bag to fit daytime essentials, water and camera (In the summers, I carry my Neverfull Damier Azur Canvas bag) 

Frye Melanie Slip-on 

 

ADDITIONAL

Duke Farms, Hillsborough, New Jersey

- "The Golden Age of American Gardens" by Mac Griswold and Eleanor Weller

- "Empty Mansions, The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune" by Bill Dedman

 

 

*there are no affiliate links in this post, all suggestions are personal recommendations of the author. 

A DAY OF STYLE IN LONDON, JULY '16

Listen to the audio to hear the story behind this photo journal: A Day of Style in London, July 16

 

COLOR

 
 
 

BLACK + WHITE

 
 

 

NOTES

 

EXPERIENCE

-Columbia Road Flower Market, London, England (not Columbia Road Flower *Street* Market as heard in the audio ;) )

-Local Milk Retreats

-Taking a Moment in Time, Retreat Romania

 

DECORATE

-Chikae O.H., Floral design & fine art photography, UK/JAPAN/USA

-John Moore, Coffee + Antiques

 

SHOP

-Owl in the Ivy, Bath, England

-Owl's Blog on a Wabi Sabi Lifestyle

-Karin Hossack, Pottery, London, England

-Hakujitsu, Tokyo, Japan

 

EAT

-House of Ho, Vietnamese, London, England

-June Taylor Jams, San Francisco, CA, USA

-Pavillion Bakery, Columbia Road, London, England

 

SEE

-John Singleton Copley, Portrait Painter

-John Singer Sargent, Portait Painter

 

Thank you to @7over10, @studio_cd, @chikaeoh, @owl_emma, @elena_delic, @takingamomentintime, @kchossack_pottery, @chaqueours for a dreamy day.