Poet Chris Lilley Reads From His Collection, “Je Suis Noir”

Up and coming poet and musician, Chris Lilley, shares his inspiration for his new poetry collection Je Suis Noir. The 24-year-old lives in the Bronx, and studied at the Manhattan School of Music for both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in opera music.

The collection, Lilley shares, was first conceived in November of 2015. Je Suis Noir (or, I Am Black), is a stringing together of the author’s responses to the #BlackLivesMatter Movement and individual tragedies that have taken place. The poem “Phobia” initiated this responsive writing, which was written after the Paris terrorist attacks.

“I looked at the collection of poetry I had in my notebook and it seemed to have a common theme” says Lilley. “There was a yearning to put something together I could call my own”

Much of Lilley’s background and upbringing serves as the foundation where this project was built upon. The artist expresses a disconnect he felt from his school and church after these events in the news would take place was what lead him to penning many of these verses.

“I understand why the disconnect would be there” the poet shares. “But it didn’t lend itself to an environment where I could talk to other black Christians about”

Lilley began writing spoken word poetry 3 years ago, and committed to performing and writing regularly in 2014. He has performed with the Christian-based poetry group True Voices since the start, as well as the New Testament Temple Church of God’s previous ministry “Word Up”

Lilley plans to work on a new book of poetry that is centered around suicide and the aftermath of his own story of an attempted suicide. Though a difficult topic, Lilley shares a newly found bravery and courage that derives from both his faith and his writing. “I’m still trying to get over that shame” Lilley says. “If I wasn’t an artist I wouldn’t of had the courage to share my story”

Lilley read two of his poems for CreativeNYC during his interview. Listen to both “The one where bullets are like flowers” and “Phobia” below




Singer Songwriter Kohli Calhoun Takes Rockwood Music Hall

Kohli Calhoun of Brooklyn, NY puts on an enticing and impassioned performance Wednesday evening at Rockwood Stage 1. Originally from Ohio, Calhoun has been playing the ukelele for 7 years, and began faithfully performing around New York in the last year.

“I’ve been a singer my whole life” says Calhoun. “And then about 7 or 8 years ago I saw a friend just lazily plunking around on a ukulele and I sorta thought, only 4 strings, hey I can do that.”

Ever since, Calhoun has been writing music both intimate and universal with lyrics formed from her personal life experiences. The product is captivating and honest music, where a story is told within the songs. The music’s sounds contain elements of indie, rock, and jazz, yielding a fresh and unique performance.

In photo: Sam Favata on guitar, Kohli Calhoun on ukulele, Jason Smith on bass, and Morgan Karabel on drums. 

Calhoun shares she’s in a “brick by brick mentality” for her music’s growth, granting her career an authentic and gradual trajectory. Calhoun put out an EP in 2010 titled “Friendly Camp Sessions” and is currently working on releasing a debut album this summer.

Calhoun’s music has also been featured on This Is Not The Radio‘s program where she recorded a solo acoustic version of her song “Take Me Away” to her promote the program’s show back in January. Watch the video below:

Receive updates on Kohli Calhoun’s future performances and her upcoming album by following her Facebook page

Photographer Paul Rabinowitz Captures Portraits of Artists in “Limited Light”

Paul Rabinowitz of Brooklyn, NY breaks the barriers of portrait photography in his collaborative series Limited Light. Working exclusively with other artists as his subjects, Rabinowitz attempts to visually portray each artist as what he likes to call, a “Modern Day Saint.”

“I guess what I’m trying to do is go beyond the physical being” explains Rabinowitz. The Limited Light series has now branched off into multiple collaborative projects, creating a ripple effect of artwork that combines his photography with art forms practiced by his subjects. Painters, dancers, actors and poets have contributed to this now evolving project.

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Rabinowitz’s process for this series is carefully designed to insure an authentic, yet intimate result. “All of what I do happens organically” the photographer explains. These photographs are all taken in natural light, utilizing no lighting equipment and taken in black and white. After the photos are taken, Rabinowitz stresses it is crucial he does not manipulate the photos with editing and retouching. Additionally, each shot is taken within a one hour session. Rabinowitz goes into each of these sessions asking “How can I  figure out who you are through the shoot?

Another distinct requirement for these sessions are how he chooses his subjects. Rather than basing the decision off of looks or being “photogenic”, Rabinowitz explains that it is solely inspired by the artist’s work. Whether they are a writer, painter, or jewelry maker- it is the art that precedes the subject. Rabinowitz shares of instances where he inquired about a Limited Light session without knowing what the artist looked like, and only knowing their artwork.

“I’m trying to sketch [the artist] in sixty minutes through the camera” says Rabinowitz. The essence of what is being captured, he shares, correlates with the subject’s own artwork.

As of last year, Rabinowitz is in the process of an extensive collaboration with a painter in Utah who takes the photographer’s photos and imposes artwork onto it to create different characters. This project is still under development, and will soon be cultivated into a more elaborate series that includes poetry as well.

To find out more about Limited Light, follow updates on Paul Rabinowitz’s blogspot.

Authentic HeARTwork Artist and Founder Shares Story Through Colors

Within the halls of the Oyster Bay Public Library hang vibrant paintings by emerging artist Celicia Cargill of Kingston, Jamaica. Now residing in Long Island, the 33-year-old artist tells her story through paintings; a story she begun actively telling 3 years ago when “Authentic HeARTwork” was first founded.

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“I was picking up my kids from school one day, and I just started crying” Cargill shares of how she became in tune with her vision for HeARTwork. “I don’t know what it was, but I had this inkling to drive.” This drive, she shares, lead her to the first contact that propelled her vision into realization.

Cargill found herself that day at the community center in Massapequa, NY, where she mustered the courage to walk inside and introduce herself to Monica Higgins, the head of the Town of Oyster Bay Rotational Art Exhibit.

First initiated by the desire for a better life for her sons, Cargill currently has her artwork displayed in Roslyn Savings Banks in Syosset and Woodbury alongside the Oyster Bay Library (full list of exhibitions can be found here). For her first International event, Cargill is having her paintings displayed in Dubai at the World Trade Center from April 6th-9th.

Cargill made the bold decision to share her story of both immigrating to New York and pursuing her artwork in her book released last year titled Reset:My Notes on Life. “It introduces me, to myself” Cargill shares. “I have a responsibility with this gift, and I have to share my story.”

Celicia Cargill, with her painting featured on the cover of her book Reset

Cargill’s story and artwork is now being recognized by figures such as NAACP President Alicia Figueras. This month at the Brentwood Public Library in Islip, Cargill will be receiving the NAACP “HerStory” Celebration Award in an event that honors female artists of color. “I thought it was so fitting” Cargill shares. “Last month was Black History Month, yesterday was International Women’s Day, and today is a solar eclipse”

With the stars aligning for Celicia Cargill, this artist plans to continue engaging with her community and expanding her book Reset into a volume series.

Fellow painters can learn from Artist Celicia by joining her for a paint class. Follow her schedule on her website here to participate in her next Paint Party event.