Transcript: E16 Marc Bamuthi Joseph & Kirsten Magwood — Black Dignity, Future Classics 

“I hope that this work helps people experience blackness in a way that is not traumatic, that is peaceful, affirming. I hope for collectors of color that they find some moment of peace and healing in this black existence through what these artists have shared to heal.”

— Kirsten Magwood

“Artists ask questions, and it’s that open-endedness that leads to design thinking, repositioning settled history as open possibility.”

— Marc Bamuthi Joseph

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Read the Show Notes

[0:13] BW: Welcome, everybody to this new episode of Pixels & Paint. I have with me Marc Bamuthi Joseph and Kirsten Magwood from Black Dignity Future Classics. So I guess my first question for you guys, first off welcome, is maybe you could give our audience a brief introduction to yourself. Kirsten, maybe we can start with you.

[0:45] KM: My name is Kirsten Magwood. I am a producer, connector, content creator, troublemaker, disrupter. I am here with this particular project to disrupt a bit of the NFT world and the art world, all for the good of advancing Black dignity through classical arts and music.

[1:11] BW: Cool, thank you, and Marc.

[1:13] MBJ: Sweet. Pleasure to be here. My name is Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and I am a first-generation American. My people come from Haiti. I’m a father and an artist. My medium is primarily written language for the live moment, whether that’s the musical moment or the operatic moment. My square job is here at the Kennedy Center where I’m joining you today. I’m the Vice President of Social Impact here and the Artistic Director of Cultural Strategy.

Introducing Black Dignity Future Classics

[1:55] BW: Right, thank you. Maybe you guys can give me a little background on Black Dignity Future Classics, which is the drop series that we have coming up, but it’s also related to other projects that are going on at the Kennedy Center and elsewhere.

[2:15] MBJ: Kirsten, do you want to grab that?

[2:17] KM: Sure, I’ll start by saying that Marc started the good trouble of creating a project at the Kennedy Center called the Cartography Project. He commissioned composers and librettists of color to create great symphonies and operas to restore Black dignity to communities that have been robbed by racial violence. Each of those pieces was dedicated to African Americans. The collective of artists, the composers, the librettists, and visual artists that came together for that project are really the foundation and the core members of Black Dignity Future Classics, joined, of course, by other artists who have the same desire to create classic art of the future, reflective of Black dignity in new and interesting ways.

[3:08] MBJ: Yeah, here’s where it started. The genealogy of Black Dignity Future Classics is rooted in this idea that we have these Western traditions. Here at the Kennedy Center, we have two larger classical organizations, the National Symphony Orchestra and the Washington National Opera. In my role as Vice President of Impact here, the gig is to serve as an architect of our impact strategies, focusing on the idea of design infrastructure. I have known Kirsten for a long time, and as part of the Cartography Project, wanted to enlist her creativity and intellect, as well as her curatorial savvy, to see what the relationship might be between these musical compositions and visual culture. Kirsten brilliantly thought about how we could intersect composers and librettists from around the country with prominent and emerging visual artists, especially in the digital space. There might also be a way to create a financial ecosystem that could pair the sale of NFTs inspired by these compositions with certain foundations aligned with Philando Castile or Breonna Taylor. Due to a lot of red tape at the Kennedy Center, we weren’t able to fully realize that vision, but being independently spirited, we came back around to creating this independent entity that draws thematically from these ideological roots, but operates with greater freedom, foregrounding visual culture even more. This is not just a project; it is also our passion to foreground Black dignity through the arts.

[6:02] KM: I think of it really as a purpose project. When Marc first tapped me in to pair the musical work with visual artwork, I wanted to give it a visual light that reflected the people honoring this. It was going to involve two very large bodies of musicians, all white, playing these songs about murdered African Americans. So the idea was to create an aesthetic that reflected the tone and purpose of the music. Marc’s focus is on social impact, so the bigger question became, how does it become an impactful project, not just an important one? What we learned through Cartography was that in large bodies of classical musicians, and as a long-standing fan of opera and symphony, you don’t see Black people, maybe an usher. But we have one of the foremost Black composers as a part of this project, Black composers who are on the rise but not finding space. The idea is to create space and support for artists going against the grain of their industry and family’s expectations. We want to provide support and visibility for these important artists who will be shaping what we call classic tomorrow. Hip hop just celebrated its 50th anniversary; we now acknowledge classic hip-hop the same way we recognize classic rock and classical music. The goal is to celebrate these architects and artists by creating a fan base and direct cultural relationship to NFTs. I first fell in love with NFTs during the pandemic as a tool for artist empowerment. In America, artists don’t get residual income for secondary sales, but NFTs solve that problem. They give you a direct-to-collector relationship to always track art. As a curator, I saw NFTs as having many solutions.

[9:00] KM: But the idea is that NFTs really are an amazing tool for empowerment, a way that artists can have a relationship, track their artwork, and most importantly, get a secondary sale. I find that the fine art world often preys on dead and starving artists. Art is an important renewable resource, but only if artists can make a living. So the idea with this particular project is to raise money to create a pipeline and support network for these amazing artists.

Support for Black Artists in Classical Music

[9:37] BW: I want to take a step back and talk a little bit more about Black artists in the classical realm, classical music, and opera. What are the existing support structures or incentive structures that are available to help young Black composers and classical musicians or singers?

10:04] MBJ: That’s a great question. I mean, the prevailing service organization and conduit for artists in the classical realm is the Sphinx organization, founded by Aaron, and now run by Afa. It’s been an incredible space to pipeline musicians into the space. There are always academies and institutions; I think of two of my favorite composers, Carlos Simon and Daniel Bernard Romain, who both came out of the University of Michigan. 

But this is a curatorial game. We rely on the artistic directors at prominent opera companies and orchestras, the musical directors, to bring them into the fold. What you’ll often hear, like at the Kennedy Center, is these musical directors don’t know where to look. From where I’m sitting, that’s just a matter of perspective and effort. Clearly, there’s an abundance of talent. It’s not about not knowing where to look, but how committed you are to looking and why. Most orchestras and opera companies want to diversify their programs and audiences, but that’s the wrong question. 

There are four levels to it: How do I diversify my audience? How do I get my audience to belong? How can I serve the community? How do we serve the future? If you want diverse audiences, you have to be in service of the future. You don’t diversify audiences or the canon of classical composers unless you’re committed to the horizon. That’s why we’ve occupied the particular posture we have. 

This isn’t about diversifying the classical music space; it’s about an equitable American future. To get there, you have to be in service of the idea of shared stakes and responsibility. The Sphinx Organization is a shout-out to space, but we need more specific curatorial theories that diversify the landscape for deeper purposes beyond the topical.

[14:06] BW: I wonder if there might be a place for these composers in the TV and film world, since through repetition, music starts to become popular. Are there young or old Black composers in TV and film working today that our listeners should keep an ear out for?

[14:39] KM: Absolutely. I recently came back from an amazing film festival called the Black Star Film Festival. One of the most notable things about the films I experienced was a beautiful and diverse Black sound palette, representing South Africa, classical music, Roman bass, and every kind of music. If you look at the history of all music, it all goes back to Black music. So when you ask if this is in all soundtracks everywhere, I think you hear that.

Certainly, Black Panther was a huge showcase of a wide sound palette of Black music. Sometimes we exist in a very narrow understanding of who we are as humans. Part of the future of classics movement is to show a bigger range of Black music and art. When you go to the symphony, opera, or an average museum like the Louvre, the absence of Black people is glaring. When we look at tomorrow, it can’t be that homogenous. We are actually the global majority.

So if the global majority is not represented in the future, what does that actually mean? Creatively, we have to have a voice that resonates with the planet, and we’ve not always been good about that. It’s an important corrective that can happen through art. Art always leads the charge. All change starts with art. I hope that this movement can help expand people’s understanding of Blackness and creative output. You asked about film; Carlos, who is working on this project, has had several soundtracks and is looking to expand more in that world. Listen to the Black Panther soundtrack; you have a really beautiful range of sound there. I think there’s a lot out there already.

Selecting Artists and Reclaiming Symbols: Behind the Cartography Project

[17:05] BW: I wanted to ask you about how you found the artists to accompany these eight composers. And what was the selection process like? Are these commissioned works, or are these works that were already existing? Maybe you could walk me through that process.

[17:25] KM: For the initial project, where we all came together, which was the cartography project at the Kennedy Center, those were commissioned pieces. Each artist created unique pieces of work to match the storyline of those operas. One of the pieces featured comes directly from the original eight, and we continue to resonate with the number eight because eight is the eighth letter in the alphabet. 

White supremacists use 88 as a power symbol, symbolizing “Hail Hitler.” When Dylann Roof was charged, that case was settled for $88 million, a snub at white supremacy. We continue to reclaim eight as a symbol of infinite abundance. Renee Cox, an iconic photographer in the Library of Congress and museums all over the world, currently at Guildhall in the Hamptons, is a former Black portraiture. 

I used some of the work she created just for this piece but also mixed in some of her most iconic classics. If you get this Renee Cox piece, you not only get original work created to speak to the cartography theme, specifically around coffee and the poem that Bambooee is the librettist for, but you also get some of her best work that you’ve only seen in museums. It’s a really special piece.

[19:04] BW: And what about the other artists who were involved? There are other visual artists involved, right?

[19:10] KM: Yes, sir. We have artists who all come from different worlds. Adrienne Wahid oddly came from the movies wolves booth. He has some of Adrian’s work in his home, and I happen to meet Adrian. Her work is all about Black joy, the embodiment of what our ancestors’ wildest dreams were. It’s a joy they were not always able to experience because of slavery, Jim Crow, and ongoing police brutality. Joy keeps us going; it keeps the black community alive. Adrienne beautifully captures that in her work.

Joshua and Jessica Mays, Justo Cabezas, and one of the original artists from the cartography project, Michigan, work lovely together, creating an interesting and futuristic audio-visual pairing. Tom Taylor, with her Denver charm, has taken over eath Denver with her healing hives. She creates experience; she is a vibe. The person who gets her NFT will also get access to her new Wellness studio in New Orleans and the metaverse.

Chris Friday, an art educator, does a beautiful job of capturing the everyday reality of existence as black people. Wildcat Ebony Brown, an old school artist and activist, is a leader in Hank Willis Thomas’ wide awake clique. She’s a divine goddess, and her piece resonates with peace.

Austin Dean Ashford, a brilliant Oakland poet, is a standout star. He plays the ukulele and piano and has that Little Richard position of doing everything. His infectious song in the NFT is called “God Sauce.” Austin is dynamic, a debate champion, and a PhD candidate who truly lives his ancestors’ wildest dreams.
Fahamu, a long-standing favorite artist of mine, embodies Black dignity. He’s grounded in African tradition, African American street culture, and his unique creativity. A rising star in the Smithsonian African American Museum of Art, his work is only on the rise.

In summary, all these artists are resonating in the spirit of joy, hope, dignity, and are pushing back against the challenges that face people of color, especially at this critical time in America’s history where there’s a deliberate push to dial back the progress of our ancestors.

Creating ‘The Road Ahead’

[28:39] BW: Can you describe the piece The Road Ahead?

[28:45] KM: Well, I’ll let Marc start with that because he laid the foundation for the road ahead. Marc, I’m with you. Joseph and Carlos Simon collaborated to create this beautiful opera, and they make a lot of beautiful operas together. So I’ll pass that on to Marc to talk about the foundation. And I could talk more about Renee.

[29:03] MBJ: Thanks, Kirsten. The road ahead. I’ve been working in the performance space for 25 years. For those of us that are watching, they’re in New York. I’ve been commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. If you’re in Los Angeles, I’ve been commissioned by the music center. If you’re in Chicago, the Harris Theater and the Museum of Contemporary Art, just all over the map.

Early on in my career, particularly coming on as an educator or someone who works with young writers and who performs myself, I was often brought in by these institutional spaces to do workshops for young people and always left really dissatisfied. There’s this textual energy where I would come in, parachute in, do a two-hour workshop with young people, and if we didn’t end patriarchy, white supremacy, etc., somehow the workshop itself didn’t do its job.

So the road ahead, as a story, interrogates that pattern among institutions by creating an allegory of someone who wants to do something more, who also is put in the position of answering all these complicated questions that are not of her devising. A black woman who has to bear the burden of eviscerating all these social pathologies with a word, a dance, or a song. The road ahead is an allegory about someone who wants institutions and the world around her to walk the walk, to use culture as brick for a road that will get us to the other side. It’s about a woman on an island who needs to cross over to experience something better.

What is the design? One of the things that we say is the Constitution is a document that authors American freedom. What is the role of the artists in the contemporary authorship of American freedom? The road ahead is a piece that begins to examine that.

The process of creating it came first from imagining this woman in space at predawn. It became a poem that I wrote and recorded into my phone. I sent that recording to Carlos, and within 36 hours, Carlos sent the first draft of a response. It became a really gorgeous work co-commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra and the Washington National Opera. 

When I was trying to explain cartography in its embodiment to Kiersten, I sent her the draft that Carlos sent to me. I think it’s like the thesis in a lot of ways for what we’re trying to accomplish. And then we were honored to have Kiersten bring Renee into the project to interpret the work in a way that honors the vision but also honors her genius.

The Unapologetic Art of Renee Cox

[34:05] KM: I feel like the road ahead is so important because it is the marquee piece of this project, in that it sets the tone and starts the conversation. Carlos, Marc, Renee, and many of the artists in the first Cartography are already iconic, while others are emerging composers. What I love about the mix of them is that they represent different eras in a way. Carlos is kind of the new era, Renee is slightly old school, Marc sets a middle. Them coming together in this messaging was just beautiful. Renee really is the woman that they were talking about in the poem. It was like a natural fit, and Renee is the future.

Renee is super concerned with the road ahead for black people. She’s always been a boundary pusher and an artist. She’s never just made art for the sake of art. She was actually banned in New York by Rudy Giuliani for her painting where she depicted herself as Jesus with 12 Black disciples, and we love that she got banned by him. I mean, those are the best bragging rights ever. That’s Rene’s spirit. She’s always ahead of her time. She was already into the NFT space when I approached her years ago. At first, she resisted for like two minutes, and then before I could even explain, she had already done NFT drops.

So Renee is really that OG artist who also reflects the future. And what we used in this particular NFT is that reference that Carlos shared with Marc as the base for this particular NFT. We were initially doing this with the first cartography pieces, but those pieces were recorded by the National Symphony Orchestra and Washington National Opera. For these pieces, we are going to be re-recording them for this black dandy future culture track project here on Makers Place, using black musicians, creating a pipeline and support line for black classical music by re-recording those original pieces with black musicians.

Of course, because Carlos had already played the market, librettist, and vocalist, and Rene, it was all very easy for that one piece, and we will continue to bring forth some of those original eight as we continue to roll out our relationship with MakersPlace. We’ll continue to share the work, recorded by black artists who can really feel the struggle and the story of these pieces in a unique and special way. They bring up and breathe special life into it because of our shared experiences as black Americans. Despite differences in cuisine and culture, we share certain albatrosses of white supremacy that are a constant pain point that we’re looking to address here.

[37:21] BW: Renee has an interesting history. In research I was doing on her, I found that she’s been banned more than once in New York. I believe there were two full nude photographs in 1984 at the new museum. I’m having a hard time remembering the details, but there was one photo of her full figure nude that caused quite a controversy. That was only half of the original piece. The other half, which was a complimentary image of a black man who was nude, wasn’t even hung on the wall.

[38:05] KM: He has appeared now for the first time in the Hamptons. Renee is really a long-standing favorite of mine; she’s a woman after my own spirit, disruptive, purposeful, and determined to advance and expand the view and perception of black people. She’s unapologetic, always looking great even as she approaches being a senior citizen. She’s phenomenal, always standing proud, and constantly trying to start an important conversation with her work. This was a natural fit for her.

I love working with Renee. It’s not my first time, and she always gets it. I really love the new work around coffee, which becomes a metaphor throughout the piece that she created just for this NFT. I couldn’t believe she let me into her archive like that. I’ve layered in all these iconic Renee pieces while telling the story, and it was a beautiful experience. I helped edit that piece, and it came so naturally. Everything Marc said, there was a Renee image. It was a really poetic experience. I love the words to that piece. Marc, salute, it’s one of my favorites, and you have many dope words. I saw your TED talk today, and your work is very humbling.

Marc is an iconic wordsmith and a decorated educator. More important than being a master wordsmith himself, he’s created work that stands the test of time and has influenced an entire generation. He’s also been a great educator, raising a generation of wordsmiths. I love the way your ripples and waves continue. Every time I go to look up something, like your TED talks this weekend, I find so much amazing work that you’ve put out, brother. I really appreciate your voice, your lens, and equally important, your activism, and you raising a new generation to have a voice and to use that voice for important things. Thank you.

Inviting the Magic: Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s Writing Process

[40:53] BW: Marc, I want to ask you about the writing of your piece. It sounded really quite quick. How long was the poem that you said, Carlos?

[41:07] MBJ: I think the piece is maybe five minutes, maybe five and a half minutes. There wasn’t so much of a prompt. Making art is not magic, but it requires magic to be made. There’s a time that I work, typically after dark, where I invite the magic in. Maybe I spent too much time in the Bay Area, but I don’t know if there’s another way to say it. This connects with Renee’s work, who has challenged Western iconography of divinity by centering her own black body as divine and challenging Judeo-Christian folklore and epistemologies. The piece probably took me four hours across two nights.

I’m not the type of person to follow a ritualistic process, waking up early to write. Instead, I observe over time, and often I’m asked, perhaps with TED being a familiar platform, to distill ideas in more administrative formats. A lot of my creative process now is to take concepts from the broader discourse and think about them in poetic and colorful ways. Hip Hop turns 50 this year, and I’m closer to 50 than not, so I’ve never known life without hip-hop and hip-hop culture. It’s not like going in the studio and writing a quick 16, but that same spirit of packing information within the musical density of a bar is how I learned to write.

I think of the hip-hop bar as the structure for my work. Being a spoken word artist of the hip-hop generation, there’s another subversion of that form, expanding rather than condensing it. I’m not adhering to a metronome at 440 time; I am making my own time. In the road ahead, as I make my own time with language, Carlos is expanding and surrounding that time with melody, and Renee is dimensionalizing that time with visual imagery.

Breath and Breadth: A Collaboration of Music and Healing

[45:56] KM: One quick question. Was “road ahead” you and Carlos’s first collaboration? Because Marc and Carlos have gone on to make breathtaking and important work together as composer and librettist. I would love for you to speak a little bit about the other George Floyd tribute that might be coming out. Whoever buys this piece will also get a copy of Marc and Carlos’s latest album, which I think is going to grip me. It brought me to tears, and I mean watching it on a screen. 

That is a very special experience; watching it live is one thing, but to be that deeply moved on screen… Can you talk about your collaboration with Carlos? Marc and Carlos went to Morehouse, I went to Spelman College, and we have that tradition of black colleges deep in this process as well, with Adrienne Wahid, Wiley College, Dean Ashford, and Chris at FAMU. We have this very independent spirit that reflects our ancestors’ dreams. So there’s some important stuff that you and Carlos do that I don’t want you to jump past. Was “the road ahead” the beginning of it?

[47:18] MBJ: Yeah, we made an opera together called “it all falls down” that was commissioned by the Washington National Opera. We’ve made “the road ahead,” and we are soon to launch a new commission by the National Symphony Orchestra. We were also commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra to make a piece in response to the murder of George Floyd. Their concert hall is about three or four miles from where he was murdered. We underwent a deep and layered process with activist organizers and citizens from the Twin Cities to create a word called Brea(d)th. We premiered that work near the three-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder. The live recording was so powerful that it is being released by Decca classics soon. It was performed with the Minnesota Orchestra, guest conductor Jonathan Rush, a 150-person chorus, the Minnesota Chorale, and artists from South Africa. It’s the most epic musical response, localized in the Twin Cities, and corresponds with what we’re trying to do with “black dignity future classics.” It’s a direct response to trauma, but it centers joy, possibility, and yearning. So it makes sense that this album becomes an unlockable for our NFT.

[50:09] KM: It’s interesting how your work circles back to the same idea of dignity, that the black breath is not even valued. The need for black dignity comes from being in this country of ongoing trauma. We’ve gone from slavery to Jim Crow to brutality. There’s never been a moment without stress. I hope that this work helps people experience blackness in a way that is not traumatic, that is peaceful, affirming. I hope for collectors of color that they find some moment of peace and healing in this black existence through what these artists have shared to heal. That’s my hope for the work.

[51:24] BW: Marc, one question for you, which is for the poets who listen to the podcasts we do have. I’ve worked with a number of poets who specialize in working on blockchain. I was wondering, it sounds like you have a very organic and intuitive writing process. Do you have any exercises or tips for writers in the audience?

[51:56] MBJ: Yeah, you know, I write for performance and have this background in education. What I’ve learned, particularly through my lineage as an educator—with my mom, my grandmother, and my father’s father being educators—is that we best communicate through invitation. 

We most humbly invite honest questions. Someone can present facts to you, and those facts are declarative, they come at you. Someone can ask you a sincere question, and if phrased the right way, it doesn’t come at you, it draws you in. It invites you to participate intellectually and emotionally in unsettled matter. 

My advice would be to find the right question. All those questions ask us to answer them together. What I would offer to other writers is, along with structure, intuition, and discipline, to pay attention not only to the questions you’re asking yourself but the questions you’re asking directly in your writing.
[54:35] BW: And you would say that the writing is an elaboration of the question and not necessarily an attempt to answer it?

[54:43] MBJ: Yeah, one of the gifts that artists give us across genre and discipline is the provocation. It’s the danger of the question, not the declaration. Why do I think that Jesus should be depicted as a European male? What does it say about the center of the world or religion? Artists ask questions, and it’s that open-endedness that leads to design thinking, repositioning settled history as open possibility. That’s how we engage in common aspiration, if not relitigate, at the very least re-investigate the solid ground beneath us, so we could build or design something better in an equitable future, as opposed to a future of capitalist promise.

[56:22] BW: That’s beautiful. I do have one final question. This is normally my wrap-up question. If you had any advice or anything you’ve learned in your time as a creative, artist, writer, or thinker that you could plant in your mind when you were 20, what mental model would you place inside the head of a 20-year-old you to give yourself more wisdom moving forward as a creative?

[57:23] MBJ: You know, this is going to sound a little cheesy, but the model that I would give myself is something I’m living through this project. I never invested in my own output. I don’t really have an archive; I never thought of what I made, particularly in time-based art, as commodifiable beyond the lived moment. So I would say to myself, your work is an asset, worthy of value that will support yourself and your family. Your body doesn’t have to be implicated for your work to have value. Due to the integration of the NFT space and digital platforms, I’m finally able to realize the value of my work outside of my implicated body. I wish I’d done that much earlier.

[59:26] KM: Can I just chime in and ask you a question based on that answer? I think that NFTs have a unique use for time-based artists, people who dance, people whose art is fleeting. Marc and I went to college together, and sometimes we encounter people who saw something he did that changed their lives. As someone who works in TV and film, we’re about capturing the moments. That’s why I fell in love with NFTs’ ability to do that for visual artists, but also for artists who use their physical bodies in a way that there hadn’t been before. How do you see NFTs as being important for time-based artists? And also, because you’re a master of social impact, how do you see NFTs as a tool for social impact?

[1:01:03] MBJ: I don’t want to go too far down the road, that’s probably a whole new episode. But maybe one reason I didn’t see my work as an asset when I was 20 was that I didn’t have the example of the NFT. So many spoken word artists perform in places where visual art is being created live. That piece of art can be sold, but your performance cannot. Some of it is having a paradigm to understand how the literary and technological can work together to create equity for everyone. Too often, when we think about social impact, we think about reconciling the past. NFTs enable us to think about using value to design the future we want. It’s not about reconciling the past; it’s about designing the future. The art is of the highest caliber, but it’s also part of our future design. It’s more than just these objects; it’s a movement that we want to construct together.

[1:03:20] BW: I am curious, what is the mental model that you would plant in your 20-year-old mind related to creativity, creative process, making art?

[1:03:39] KM: Just do the thing. That is sometimes the greatest challenge. It’s in the imperfections, in the process, in what you think might be an error that you start to find the real beauty and grow as an artist. Particularly working in TV and film, I learned so much by making editing mistakes. I discovered new ways of doing things. Sometimes the mistake was cool, and it wasn’t what I intended, but I liked it. 

It’s important to find joy in the process. I feel blessed that I get to do what I love and enjoy. If you are able to engage creativity and make that your livelihood and career, that is a specific blessing, something to delight in daily, regardless of the money which may not come immediately. Really lean in and enjoy the process, because that is where the magic is. 

The magic is in the making, the mistakes, and what you learn from them. Nothing has to be perfect. In fact, I think artwork is best when there’s an evident human touch of imperfection, something just a little bit off. Especially as we get into this AI world, imperfection is going to be a human stamp. So don’t beat yourself up about your imperfections. Use them or the things you’re self-conscious about, your flaws, as your topic. 

You’ll find your tribe; people connect with those same things that you think are just your demons haunting you.

[1:05:37] BW: Beautiful, thank you guys so much for taking the time to come on today.

[1:05:47] KM: I want to say one thing. I’m a big advocate of meaning and how digital space intersects with real life. I’m not interested in hiding out in the metaverse behind an avatar; I’m interested in connecting people and communities through art. I’m a fan of physical art and I’ve come to love digital art. 

One special feature of the art you can buy through this project is that it’s both physical and digital. You can buy an AR-enhanced arthouse canvas print. When you hang this print on your wall, you can hold your camera up and watch the video. I think that’s a unique feature. I’m really about melding these two worlds: digital and real life. I want people to explore and use the new tools of AI, the metaverse, and NFTs. This is a unique marriage. 

We have successful artists in the NFT space like Charm Taylor, and icons like Renee Cox. We’re bringing them together in one place, in one sale, in one conversation, both physically and digitally. I want to shout out our partners at Arthouse, like Justin Fredrick, who help us bring this digital work to life in a physical form.

[1:07:21] BW: Amazing. By the time this airs, Charm’s drop will have already happened, but we’ve got a lot more coming. In the coming weeks, you can find all the links you’ll need in the show notes, including links to find more about Marvel movie, Joseph, and Kirsten Magwood. Guys, thanks so much. This has been a pleasure. I really enjoyed talking to you. Is there anything else our audience should know?

[1:07:56] KM: I have one last thing to say. This is not going to be a moment but a movement. It will continue to roll out with real-life activations. If you own this NFT, you become part of our club. We can then share classical music, art, and dance that is coming from our future leaders. I live here in Harlem. There’s a huge squad of opera singers, classical musicians. If you buy the NFTs, you may unlock experiences to enjoy these things in real life and in the metaverse.

[1:08:40] BW: Amazing. Well, thanks so much, guys. Y’all have a wonderful day and I’ll talk to y’all soon. Be safe.

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