PORTRAITURE

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.

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 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.