Watch this profile of 2017-2018 Citizen Artist fellows by The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
It’s #PiDay to the world, but to those of us in St. Louis, MO, it’s #314Day. To celebrate, I decided to challenge my friends across the internet to share the 3 places and 14 things they loved most about our city. With Vogue Magazine’s article, “An Insider’s Guide to the Magic of St. Louis,” as inspiration, the challenge included the following levels:
Simple Challenge: Write It Out
- List 3 places people should know about in STL.
- Share 1 experience you love most in St. Louis.
- Tag 4 people who’ve influenced your St. Louis experience.
- Post your answers using hashtag #314DayChallenge on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.
Bonus: If you use the Stories feature on Instagram and Facebook, use this photo to tag your favorite places and people in the city:
“Show Me” Challenge: Show the world what you love about St. Louis.
- Film yourself in your home or favorite place in the city and answer the 14 questions below about you and the things you love most in St. Louis.
- Post the video using hashtag #314DaySTL on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.
- Tag 3 people to do it too.
Simple rules: Make it awesome. Let’s show the world how much heart and pride the people of our city have.
Level Up Challenge: 3 Places, 14 Questions
- Film yourself in three (3) places around the city and answer 14 questions about you and the things you love most in St. Louis.
- Post the video using hashtag #314DayChallenge on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.
- Tag 3 people to do it too.
14 Questions to Consider
- How long have you lived in St. Louis?
- What neighborhood do you rep?
- How do you feel you contribute to the culture here?
- Favorite spot to eat?
- Best local artist or band?
- One person everyone should know in St. Louis?
- Best experience/memory you’ve had while living in STL?
- What’s one place that used to exist that you would bring back?
- What do you do on the weekend?
- If you told someone to “Meet Me in St. Louis,” where would you take them?
- Most underrated thing about the city?
- What keeps you living here?
- If you could envision one thing to make STL better in the future, what would it be?
- Who else do you think people should hear from? (Shout out three people)
Want to add more questions/ideas: Connect with the creator of this challenge, De Nichols, via Facebook message or Twitter (@De_Nichols).
I am overjoyed and grateful for all who participated in this one-day challenge. It was fun to watch the different social media stories throughout the day, and some people actually leveled up and joined me in creating videos. Here are three from YouTube:
On its second day of its 2018 issue, 28 Days of Black Designers featured a highlight of De Nichols and her work as a creator, entrepreneur, and thought leader within the design field.
In “Design as a Catalyst for Change,”—a course designed and taught by social innovator and designer, De Nichols—students learn and practice skills of community-based social impact design. The focus of this course emphasizes how values of empathy, equity, privilege, relationship building, and justice integrate into the communications design process when working with and within communities. As students identify and select a social cause on which to focus, they develop a series of print and digital works that communicate their chosen issue, pitch proposed design interventions, and visualize a collaborative implementation processes. Learning modules feature weekly readings, direct engagement with national social design practitioners, design charrettes, and on-site learning, allowing students to gain greater depth and perspectives for harnessing design as a catalyst for change.
De Nichols is a 2017/18 Citizen Artist Fellow of the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, and in this recent video, you can witness a snippet of the experience and the impact that it makes on each of its fellows.
This month, De Nichols is a recipient of the Safety Pin Box’s Black Women Being gift, which will reward one-time financial support to individual Black women who have demonstrated a commitment to serving Black people.
On this day 9 years ago, I gave a eulogy at the funeral of my best friend (and high school sweetheart), Santez Walker. The next day, June 1, was my 20th birthday.
I remember returning from Memphis back to St. Louis on my birthday–heavy-hearted–and entering my apartment where Erin and other friends had prepared a surprise cookie cake to try to cheer me up.
I still get emotional when I think about those moments. At the time, I thought celebrating my birth and life was unfair when his was unexpectedly and suddenly lost. I didn’t know how to appreciate my friends in the midst of my own jadedness about losing him. But in following years, I learned to honor the creative, daring, and loving spirit of Santez through my birthdays. I committed to making them a little more meaningful, a lot more creative (like him), and as full of love and friendship as possible. And for most of these recent years, I have kept this commitment because of you–my friends.
Thank you all who have celebrated past birthdays with me. You are my tribe, and your presence has meant more to me throughout these years than I have ever admitted.
I look forward to tomorrow, and I’m grateful for the reminder it brings to celebrate life, cherish friendship, and fill our lives with love/gratitude.
De Nichols was selected as one of five fellows for the 2017 John F. Kennedy Center’s Citizen Artists fellows program, which recognizes artists across the country who utilize their art form for positive impact on communities.
“The recognized Citizen Artists Fellows will be mentored by Yo-Yo Ma, Kennedy Center Artistic Advisor at Large, among other Kennedy Center artistic partners. Additionally, they will receive national attention for their impact in their local communities and opportunities to showcase their voice and work on stage, through exhibition, and at national convenings.”
To commence participation as a fellow, De will join thought leaders from the arts and related fields together for the Kennedy Center’s Art Summit to explore how the arts can propel our thinking towards new ideas and actions, including the leaders we look to for guidance and inspiration.
Learn more at https://www.kennedy-center.org/pages/specialevents/summit.
On Monday I re-read Rep. John Lewis’s speech from WashU’s 2016 Commencement. I also read my own words that I’d spoken nights before at WashU’s commencement ceremony for art students.
From his words, I kept courage.
“If you see something that’s not right, not fair, not just, do something about it,” he said. “Say something. Do something. Have the courage. Have the backbone to get in the way.”
From my own words, I was reminded to “start breaking the rules of what you’ve been told.”
I’ve been often told that if I don’t like something, that I should disengage with it. Don’t be in any way connected to it.
But I’m encouraged by Rep. Lewis’s notion that disliking something is sometimes the very reason to show up, the very reason to disrupt and break the rules/paradigms–to get in the way–and fix the issues or replace them with something better.
A lot of people have asked my thoughts on the women’s marches that are happening nationwide and if/why I was asked to speak at the one in St. Louis. One person even expressed, “why you let these white women set you up like that? It’s a trap.” Or why are you giving them your energy? What are you doing this for? Are you selling out?
None of the above.
My reason is not to feign unity–I still don’t personally feel that sentiment embodied in this effort locally or nationally, and I think we should not tell ourselves lies otherwise.
It is not to pacify white women and their or anyone’s post-election guilt (with over half voting for Trump) or their fears/tears, as it is not my role to fix those myriads of issues they must work out amongst themselves.
It is also not to speak on behalf of all WOC (or any other womxn/femme demographics that are constantly forgotten/silenced/sidelined/policed/ignored) and our numerous/complex issues, as I have not been given that authority, and it would be narcissistic to think I could.
My participation is, however, to hold space and be unflinching in addressing the tension and discomfort that circulates between us.
It is also to hold a mirror and a window up to our collective selves and challenge–force us to see–who we might become if we strip internalized egos/traditions/lies/stereotypes/privileges/grudges/biases/entitlement/prejudices/oppression/racism/complacency/supremacy/absentmindedness/fears for the sake of forging a more equitable and just experience for the most marginalized and disregarded of girls, women, and families in this country…and who we become if we do not.
It is indeed to hold the door and usher the possibility of finally actualizing intersectional womxnhood and womanism and not throwing any demographic of womxn/femmes away to fend for herself/themselves in this political mayhem and battle. I personally feel so many of these “marches” cater to non-radical, white, Christian, middle-aged, middle-class, able-bodied, cis-het women, and that irks me because this battle is deeper and more vast and more complex than the needs/concerns/issues expressed by “wealth gap” and “reproductive rights/women’s health” alone.
But like Audre Lorde, I believe in the embodiment of Gamba Adisa (warrior: she who makes her meaning known), and I’m not afraid of working through the tensions and cultural divisions that womxn face. For many, these marches are a starting point and Saturday is a first step. For me and many others, it’s another check point on a long journey, and I think we make a gross mistake of repeating history and its oppressive cycles once more if we don’t forge a different path forward.
So in short, yes, I will be present.
No, I will not march.
Yes, I will speak.
Image via AM Network