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.

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