Have you ever seen 200 artists crossing a busy city street before? Imagine being surrounded by hundreds of like minded creatives eager to work with someone new. That's what it’s like attending one of the Philly Create artistic meetup events. Organized and supported by…Read More
“It’s empowering to be in a space solely created by women because it shows just how powerful and what a force of nature we can be. It is even more exciting because it is a creative experience and such a wonderful expression of women” -Anezka Kurian, Guest (@anezkalicek).
On Saturday March 30th, 2019, a group of women were given a chance to showcase their art, talent, and success stories at ‘Phenomenal Women 3’, the third part of the series celebrating phenomenal women in the community. It was taken place at Circle of Hope, a thrift store in South Philadelphia. The event featured four female panelists, 20+ female artists and vendors, and a female DJ.
The night begun with people filling into the space with all the artists’ work spread across the walls. Everyone was slowly walking around admiring the pieces, with the artists nearby to talk about their inspiration. The atmosphere truly felt radiant, rich, and stimulating to everyone’s emotions and mind. One of the artists, Sarah Alahmadi (@___sharika.art), shared her feelings about being at the event, stating “It feels really empowering, even though I am just a small part of the making of the event, but seeing all the women here makes me feel empowered to see how creative they are. I feel very inspired.”
As people were walking around, there was an eye-catching and beautifully made art installation called “The Illusion of Scarcity”, created by the talented Sam Colon of OEM. It was an all pink backdrop with pink chairs stacked up on top of each other and one chair sitting right in the middle for people to sit. The installation represented the idea of having more than one seat at the table for women, despite society telling us otherwise. People constantly came up to take a picture with it, as it was such an aesthetically pleasing piece of art. “I’m not a woman so I will never truly understand the struggle they endure daily, but I have a mother and grandmother and while building this I attempted to put myself in their shoes to try and understand.” -Sam Colon, Artist (@thankyousam)
I personally felt really moved by the four panelists during the panel discussion that happened towards the end of the night. The panelists were DJ Diamond Kuts, Tina Wells, Melissa Alam, and Ashley Primis. Each one provided insight in their respective fields, and made me feel like I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. I felt that everyone was relatable in a sense of how they got to where they are, their mindset, and their drive. The segment was full of inspirational moments:
“In the very beginning I definitely wanted to be more than just a female DJ, I wanted to be an all around great DJ.. I put in so much work that now I AM that DJ. I’m not just put into a female DJ category, I can stand with the guys” - DJ Diamond Kuts, Entrepreneur/Producer/Radio DJ (@djdiamondkuts)
“Jump into anything that you can do because you’re going to learn the skill set that’s going to translate, even if you change fields” -Ashley Primis, Deputy Editor for Philadelphia Magazine (@AshleyPrimis)
“If people tell you that it’s not possible it’s because it’s not possible for them, not because it’s not possible for you” - Tina Wells, Founder/CEO of Buzz Marketing Group (@tinacwells)
“I had such a great time at the event and was so happy to be invited. I loved what Tina said about “embracing our chaos” because that’s exactly what I feel like I’ve been doing!” -Melissa Alam, Entrepreneur & Brand Strategist (@ringthealam)
Overall, the night was uplifting for all women. Only Elite Matters curated an experience that allowed everyone to feel encouraged to be their best selves and to have no limitations to their goals, dreams, and aspirations. This was the perfect ending to International Women’s Month and I am happy to be have been a part of a space that exuded inclusivity, creativity, and just PURE togetherness.
“To all my phenomenal women – Often times society makes women believe that there is only room for one woman to be at the top, causing women to compete against each other. But, there is room for more than one woman at the table” -Victoria Chhor, (@therealslickvick).
-Leilani Encarnacion, (@leilaninicolex)
The Illusion of Scarcity was an interactive art installation that we built for the annual Phenomenal Women in Philly event that took place on March 30, 2019.
The purpose of the installation was to illustrate the idea of there being more than enough room for women at the table and the idea of scarcity was an illusion while incorporating the ability to take photos inside of it and share the idea with others.Read More
We asked 11 women visual artists at the 2019 phenomenal women in philly event what being phenomenal meant to them, and why it was important for women to collaborate more.
Take a look at some of their answers below:
“To be a phenomenal woman is to be extraordinary, purposeful, and unique. A woman whose presence is drastically different than of her counterparts, yet is always impactful. She is a genuine and strong force in every encounter. She is confident, resilient with every endeavor, and remarkable.”
“To embody the essence of a phenomenal women is to constantly amaze everyone including yourself. If your performance doesn’t amaze yourself every time, something is missing. Artists should constantly create to astonish. It is important for women to continue to collaborate to show this sometimes oppressive world that we are capable of the unimaginable.”
“To me, being a phenomenal woman means not only being confident & unapologetic with who you are, but also uplifting other women to feel the same about themselves.
It’s SO important for women to collaborate because in this male-dominated industry, so much is taken from women who are trying to succeed, by the men who currently have the power. We need to show them we don’t need to sacrifice who we are to get where we belong, at the top!”
“I strongly believe in collaboration. I think it is important to bring people in when you have access to a space that your counterparts might not be privy to. Collaborating allows for great ideas to be continuously generated while also providing something for other people to be a part of. I think it is really important for women to collaborate and we need to do more of it. Many women do not have access to the spaces/areas where great things are created. As a woman, it’s important for me to leave the door open to others that might not have even known that door existed. I think that collaboration leads to more opportunities for those involved and that’s why women need to actively seek out ways to bring other women in.”
“What being a phenomenal women means to me is simply being your true authentic self while walking in love everyday. I like to think of myself as a very sensitive, passionate, and loving person. I pay close attention to details when it’s comes to anything circling the idea of love. I’m not perfect, but I’m willing to learn, keep trying, go through experiences, and have it shape into my being. Whether it’s self, platonic, romance, short-lived, or unconditional; it all matters and means so much more. I go by a motto of never letting this world turn me cold, but to respond with love.
It’s very important for women to collaborate together because someone could bring something uniquely different or open up a new perspective that wasn’t initially intended. We are unstoppable when we unite. It’s cheesy to say, but we can learn so much from one another and possibly help each other with creating amazing stories.”
“I think it’s super important for women to collaborate more because of the stigma surrounding women in art, especially when it comes to modeling. Society teaches us to be in competition with each other CONSTANTLY. Women should be helping each other rise up rather than trying to tear each other down, and by collaborating more it definitely helps break through that stigma. Women share a lot of the same struggles in the art field and working with one another I feel definitely breeds some beautiful art as well as friendships. Nothing better than women empowering women.”
“Being a phenomenal woman means to never lose touch with your inner self (your essence; the soulful qualities of yours that no one could ever reach let alone alter).
Being a phenomenal woman means to seek, to create, to speak, and to play so freely and so far away from every “should” and every “must” you have ever heard or been subjected to.
Being a phenomenal woman can simply mean to “be” outside the boundaries of prepackaged notions about who you are, how you should be, and when you should be.”
Being a phenomenal woman means being effortlessly extraordinary by force of nature. It means what ever may challenge us we work hard to overcome it and make it our strengths.
We live in a world that has constantly tried to divide us by pinning us against each other but I’ve learned over the years that we are more powerful when we work together. We can accomplish so much more when we bring all of our gifts together.
I feel like being a phenomenal woman is being a person who can create something that is bigger than themselves and someone who can navigate through this often times intense world with kindness and positivity. To be able to take from this harsh reality and make something beautiful is the capability of a phenomenal woman
Being apart of an identity that is marginalized socially, sexually, politically, and being that we do often times face violence because of our identification, I think it’s important that we as sisters create safe inclusive spaces of solace as much as possible. This way we can celebrate and stand in solidarity while at the same time be resources for each other.
It’s important that woman collaborate because communication is the first thing that sparks change. The nature of collaborative art is very engaging and it functions like a conversation. There’s compromising and learning when to assert yourself and when to let someone else have a spot light.
Inherently, Art is political. Artists are trying to say something and engage an audience, and there’s no better way to do that then include many strong voices.
Being a phenomenal woman means being me. Just being a women stamps us with pure dopeness. Women are the warriors, and that fact alone is why we should she build on that momentum together. It’s important to collaborate with women because it’s all about energy transfer. When women get together there’s undeniable magic that fills the air. Instead of constantly going toe-to-toe, I rather work along side my sisters hand-in-hand. What’s better than one dope chick? A tribe of dope chicks.
On March 9, 2019 friend, artist and self proclaimed mental health advocate Shanina Dionna hosted her 8th Annual art show Embryo VIII in Philadelphia, PA. This was my 3rd time attending Shanina’s Embryo art show and this was the best one yet.Read More
Representation Matters. For some this is simply a statement, but for influential black educators like Terrance Sims, it’s a lifelong mission.
The students in Sims’ sixth grade book club are celebrating Black History Month by recreating the book covers of influential Black figures they've been reading about throughout the school year, from Michelle Obama to Assata Shakur. The recreations will continue throughout the month of February as part of an ongoing project called “Representation is Key”
I reached out to Terrance to discuss the inspiration behind this project and the impact it has had on his students.
One of Sims’ 6th graders poses as Michelle Obama as part of his
“Representation is Key” photo series
Tell me a little more about yourself. Where are you from and how long have you been teaching?
My name is Terrance Sims and I have been teaching for 6 years. I was born and raised in Milwaukee Wisconsin and I work for Milwaukee College Prep as a music teacher. My work started going viral a few years back with a Hidden Figures picture I recreated with my students, and then again with the Tee Grizzly - First Day Out remake with my students. I enjoy teaching and working with youth through artistic outlets.
What was the inspiration behind this concept? What sparked the idea?
“Representation is Key” is a project I complete with my students every February. Each year we choose African American leaders and recreate some of their most memorable photos. This year my class created a book club, and we thought it would be powerful to use the books we were reading to start off our February project. Students are currently reading the book covers they recreated.
How do you feel about all of the positive feedback? Were you surprised at how quickly it blew up online?
The community has been very receptive of my work. They are familiar with me from my past projects and look forward to my posts. I love my Milwaukee community because we support each other and want to see each other win in whatever we choose to do. I appreciate when the public value the work I do with my students and it means a lot. I wasn’t expecting the project to go viral but my students and I are excited it did!
A lot of our readers are creatives; can you tell us a little more about the photography/graphic design process of putting this project together?
I am a photographer and videographer so I have all the photo equipment at my school. I set up
white backdrops and photographed my students and then used Photoshop to insert them into historic images. The students helped dress with the wardrobe.
We’ve heard that you’re planning to continue this throughout the rest of Black History Month. Any ideas on what black trailblazers you’d like to highlight next?
We just uploaded a few more pics, but we plan to venture into African American music and film. I can’t give out full details on who we are working on but we are hoping it comes out great!
Do you feel like this kind of representation is essential at this stage in a Black child’s development?
Yes, I think it is crucial for African Americans to see success that looks like them. It was in fact the exact reason why I started this project. It allows them to research trailblazers in our history that found ways to be successful in spite of the odds they were up against. Hope, role models, and living examples of what it means to be great are all foundational reasons for this project!
3 of Sims’ students pose as the protagonists from Hidden Figures as part of his “Representation is Key” series in 2017.
It’s mid January and the 4th installment of our Philly Create photographer/model meet-up is upon us. Ironically, just like our first official meetup, our main concern the night before is the weather. Back in July 2018, we found ourselves face to face with an afternoon of straight rain showers. Today, the weather app says 58 degrees but it’s been changing all week - 4 days ago it said we’d be getting snow. Who knows if the weather app can really be trusted?Read More
A mental health art show hosted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by Only Elite Matters. This event and the visuals were inspired by Alice in Wonderland and her trip down the rabbit hole. Watch our documentary of the Funeral 3…Read More
Philly Create, Philadelphia’s biggest creative meet up brings out close to 200 creatives to connect, collab and create with each other. This time we had people come from New York, Maryland and DC to meet with us at Race St. Pier to tour through downtown Philadelphia and the art district on 2nd st. The energy was palpable and the weather was so perfect that the majority of the photographers shot until their batteries died and the sun went down.Read More
Philly Create 2: College Edition was hosted at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pa. We had the opportunity to connect with almost 100 creatives from colleges around the Philadelphia area. Temple University, Drexel, Lasalle, UPenn, St. Joes, West Chester, Villanova, Lincoln, Cheyney, Rutgers, CCP and more.
This Philly Create Event was for college creatives new to the Philadelphia area that wanted to connect with other college creatives in the area. We had an amazing group of featured models, photographers and videographers that really made the space dynamic and fun. Each creative brings different ideas and energy to the space. Below you can check out the video and photos from the Philly Create event.
Video: Sean Higgins
This shoot was inspired by 50's and 60's greasers. We shot it at Temple University during an Only Elite Matters creative meetup.
Creative Director/ Photographer: Sam Colon Instagram: @ThankYouSam
Models: Jessica Harmon, Felipe Roacha, Mitch Smith, Venise Alcedo
Event: Philly Create
Its the week before the first ever Philly Create and the event numbers are looking good(we have 91 rsvps) but the weatherman is calling for rain and 2 of our team members find out they are going out of town. We have 2 options...A. Reschedule the event to the following weekend or B. Continue despite the 100% chance of rain (info via weather.com). We decide to wait until Thursday in hopes that the weather might change to make the announcement.
Thursday rolls around and now we have 2 days until the event, 145 rsvps and 100% chance of rain on event day. Our rsvps is a good mix of photographers, models, artists, stylists, creative directors and more but this rain is really in the way. We go with the logical answer...B. Continue despite 100% chance of rain, now the work of communicating well enough that models and photographers will still join us in creating art despite the rain.
We developed the Rain or Shine Campaign (for Instagram story only) where we explained why it is important for creatives to create regardless of the elements. We also mixed in tips for shooting in the rain and inspirational figures that would create regardless of the rain including Thanos, Beyonce, Nemo, The Superbowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles and more.
We post the campaign to Instagram and event day arrives and its raining and people are still rsvping all day despite the rain. Our final count of rsvps is 169. We had a total of about 65 people participate in the event despite the rain and the event was amazing. We shot at City Hall, Cret Park and Spin Philadelphia, everyone endured the rain and maintained good energy the entire day. Thank you to Spin for allowing us to use the space to create and thank you to all of the Philly Create community that came out and made the event successful
Our goal is to share artists that don't get the recognition they deserve so we searched the tri-state for some of the Most Slept on Lyricist around. For this list we weren't focused on followers or clout we were focused on the artistic talent and lyricism. Here we have Jules (@YBJules), Chuck Acid (@_chuckacid) Sic Soul (@Sic_Soul) Saturn, Alexander (@WelcomeToSaturn) James Allen (@JamesAllenRaps) MC Knowledge (@McKnowledge215)
Videography: Darrly Loke, Sam Colon
Sound: Dylan Rhudd
Production Assistant: Amaria Estes @AmariaEstes
Behind the Scenes: Jaycee Homsher @Jokestar
Installation: Sam Colon, Dylan Rhudd, Joseph Asemota, Amaria Estes
Photography: Dylan Rhudd @D_Rhudd
Edits: Sam Colon @ThankYouSam