Friday, December 14, 2012


i love the african aesthetic and i totally adore this movement of afro-fusion design that is poping up all over the runway and even in shoe stores. I was on my way to work and I ran into this really cool lady who had this awesome book bag and i was inspired to take a picture and find out where did she get that bag...?karimu abena hamilton

her name is ms. royale randolph( i think) and she brought her bag in ghana. she is a dance major and learned all of these interesting forms of dance and movement and she took history lessons there and remembers specifically a lesson on ghanain medicine....interesting.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

West Philadelphia High School A Safe Haven For Hurricane Sandy Evacuees

red cross volunteers smile as they pass out oranges

helen mae reisner & norma edwards volunteer nurses

A hurricane can be defined as a tropical cyclone, a storm with winds that blow at a minimum of 74 miles per hour. Along with strong winds a hurricane can be accompanied with heavy rain, thunder and lightning. Hurricane Sandy made her presence felt late Sunday afternoon with temperatures dropping, sporadic gusts of wind and heavy rain. Mayor Nutter, through a press conference, urged “to all residents if you live in a low line area, if you live in a flood prone area you need to relocate right now.” To assist evacuees that do not have anywhere to go, The City of Philadelphia has provided emergency shelter to its residents at West Philadelphia High School, Roxborough High School and Samuel Fels High School. Mayor Nutter explains those site were picked for a reason, “they are large, they are relatively new and they are able to accommodate a large number of people as well as pets,”  At West Philadelphia High School, the emergency response team appeared prepared and ready to serve Philadelphian evacuees. There are Red Cross workers, Police Officers, Civic Volunteers walking quietly through the hallways. ” My apartment is on the Mill Creek and last year my whole apartment was flooded and I was unwilling to learn that lesson again.” I am disabled , I came here so that me and my grandchildren would be safe.” “Once Mayor Nutter had said The New West building, I was out,” Ms. Iceland of the Lucien Blackwell Apartments  explained. ” I am glad that I came and I feel safe,” she continued. The Gymnasium was quiet with neatly lined cots covered in Red Cross blankets. “I am homeowner,” Mrs. Jenell  Anderson of South West Philadelphia explains . “I am scared to death of trees falling on my house. ” “The roof is not stable and it may collapse.” “ I rushed so fast to West Philadelphia High School that I brought my school books but forgot my clothing and personal items.” The Red Cross has been great they gave me a sweat suit and a bag of toiletries,” Anderson revealed. There is an intergenerational group of volunteers in the building that range from  seniors to college students .  Helen Mae Reisner a nurse administrator for the United States Postal Service and a volunteer nurse for this Hurricane Relief effort  explains,” I have been doing this for a long time I am here to serve and offer comfort to the evacuees. “ Alongside Helen is Norma Edwards a 21 year nurse veteran for the City of Philadelphia . “I worked for the city for 21 years at health center #4.” “This is what we do, we are involved in many civic operatives regarding nursing.” “We are with the medical reserves, first responders and today volunteers for the relief effort implemented here at West Philadelphia High School,” Edwards explained.  If you are a pet owner, there is also a section in the school for pets. At that time the shelter contained 5 cats.  Janet from the Philadelphia County Animal Rescue Team PCART explains , ” After Katrina people were unwilling to leave their animals and so the Red Cross concluded that shelters should be set up for residents  and their pets.” In the cafeteria Red Cross workers are anxiously passing out sandwiches and fresh fruit. The area is quiet and there is a sense of contentment. People are playing cards, game boards , children’s feet are kicking under the table gently as they wait in anticipation for their mothers to peel their oranges. It still is the beginning and the storm has yet to arrive but amidst this potential crisis The City of Philadelphia  is prepared with what feels like a safe haven for its South West and West Philadelphian Residents. Karimu Abena Hamilton                                                                             

ms. iceland of lucien blackwell apartments


Tuesday, October 2, 2012


1100 Block of Wilton Street Moving On Up
grant larry palmer block captain

Through the Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee

The Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee is a community based initiative designed to encourage and support residents in gaining control of their immediate environment. This is implemented through a series of city wide agencies such as The Office of Sustainability which explores food, energy and greening initiatives. The Office of Neighborhood Services through their Community Life Improvement Program CLIP addresses graffiti, abandoned buildings, lots and overall sanitation issues and finally ,The Office of Community Services which provides Philadelphia residents with Omni –gender and age,family ,education and employment services. Last week Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee PMBC hosted its annual clean block contest. The contest is held after a seasonal city wide cleaning schedule. The Program is designed around short term projects that require a neighborhood leader or Block Captain and participating residents or Block Association. The 1100 block of Wilton Street in South West Philadelphia is a participant this year. Grant Larry Palmer like most residents on this street is a home owner and a second generation resident. “As block captain” he expresses proudly, “I intend to take full advantage of the resources the City of Philadelphia has made available to us.” “I would like to restore the block to its original state where all of the houses have the Corinthian style columns and lamp post that light the street.” ”I was raised on this block and this was my mother’s house.” Larry explained as he passed out supplies of push brooms, paint and paint brushes to his neighbors.” “Its Judgment day and the sensation of community pride are infectious.  School is out thus, the children ride their bikes up and down the side walk with anticipation of a special surprise.  Elderly women hustle and bustle to arrange tables and table cloths with tin foil pans toppled over with southern based comfort foods like fried fish, chicken, kale and collards, string beans, sweet potatoes, cole slaw, upside down cake and sweet potato pie. Judges look on beaming and impressed with the strong sense of unity that is exhibited among the block residents.  Wanda Jones an administrator for The Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee explains, “The block is judged on several different aspects. “Community involvement, the history of the block, block unity, cleanliness and beautification projects.” “Resident community involvement and awareness is key components to the success of block beautiful contestants.” Wanda Jones reiterates. The bouncer has arrived, an antiquated Philadelphia trolley is parked at the end of the street and soul music is playing. The judges of this contest detail a cross demographic of civic leaders from former block captains, elected officials, church leaders and even other city agency administrators. Essentially individuals who have made an impact through demonstrating strong leadership and organizational skills are qualified to judge in this contest. Tara E. Smith a community support specialist under the Town Watch integrated service divisions and also functioning as one of the judges for the contest states” I have a lot of respect for block captains and their ability to enroll the community, taking into consideration everyone’s busy schedule it really is an accomplishment for blocks to enter the block beautiful contest.” Also as an liaison for the South West division of Town Watch the competition is an excellent promotional There is a great since of accomplishment amongst the residents this afternoon. The Block Beautiful contest can be considered a stepping stone, grooming neighborhoods to explore and secure other neighborhood development projects like planting trees, home weatherization,healthy food initiatives and implementing a community business improvement district. City wide initiatives and support systems partnered with concerned organized residents is the recipe for sustainable communities.  karimu abena hamilton

Friday, September 21, 2012

melissa maddonni haims Yarn Bombing -oooOO ahh ohhh....

this is called breast strokes.....
originally created in 2010 for a show whose focus was on breast cancer awareness month.
ps. since my mom died of breast cancer on january 7, 2008.
she taught me how to knit and crochet a number of times during my life, but it really stuck right before she died. 
read: i've never really created anything with needles or hooks until 2007.
and without her i probably never would have. 

i have always had a very deep respect for transformative art. i am inspired by those who can take materials from their immediate environment and create or capture a moment that brings forth joy. Melissa Madonna Haims was born and raised in norristown pennsylvania. her father was an excavating contractor which entails digging and preparing sites for construction. her mother Theresa Maddoni was a craft artist. in fact both her paternal and maternal grandparents worked with fabrics in the context of knitting, crochet and sewing. hence, Melissa growing up had been influenced by creativity. as a young adult she studied at the Parsons school of Design where she received a degree in fine arts and marine affairs. she has worked in new York for several years as an established installation artist. this role would entail going to a gallery space and transforming the space with art. she also had a long standing career as an Interior Designer for the carpet industry managing large accounts in the states and abroad within corporate sector. not too long ago her mother passed away and she began to work on her unfinished knitting projects. diligently one by one as her mother’s spirit quietly guided her. one day she wasn't quite sure what to do ...with one of her mother’s projects and she decided she would make something else. maybe the piece became a soft sculpture or a component to a mixed media fixture ...melissa was evolving and had progressed as a fiber artist. she began working with fibert art genres described as; yarn bombing which involves crocheting or knitting on existing public or private structures, hyperbolic crochet entails applying a mathematical approach to crochet patterns, mixed media pieces and soft sculpture. melissa is an active member of the 3rd street gallery, a cooperative gallery in old city. she is on the executive team for Fiber Philadelphia 2012, a city wide festival exploring the fiber arts. currently melissa has made a shift and is working as an independent artist. this allows her to spend more time with her daughter and husband and though she truly enjoyed working as an employee, there has become such a demand for her art work that she must focus on writing grants, securing commissions and building her business. i see symbolism in the act of yarn bombing ....visualize and actively bring your dreams to life. karimu abena hamilton


knit graffitti

Friday, September 14, 2012


vintage influence with afro fusion 
do you know about the african goddess? Ok there is  the european goddess,the indian goddess, the asian goddess,the american goddess,  the  african american goddess to name a few.... and then there the the African Goddess. depending on the region there will be variances or differences but there is a characteristic of the African Goddess that is finite. .powerful. you can  reference contemporaries such as  iman, issa rae  les nubians , ngozi odita, dambisa noyo, chimamanda adichie, or you can explore african antiquated goddess such as  nandi zulu, cleopatra, nzingah ,yaa asatewa.  when they strike... they make a mark. this is locally, at war, in politics or in business, when the african goddess is around you will feel her and she will make an impact. Madia Willis born and raised in America by her Liberian parents is one of the next leading emerging Internationally positioned textile designers. She attended Columbia Univercity as a Political Science Major with a concentration in International Relations with the intentions of going to Law School. During her Junior year at Columbia, she studied abroad in Ghana and that is where she cultivated a strong interest in design and transforming materials in her immediate environment into pieces of art. she then decided that she would transition from political science to her love of textiles and design. After graduating Madia took on a job as an admission director for at an elite private school . The income from her position she used to develop her business. She maintained her relationships  in Ghana and began manufacturing her line from the continent. She collaborated with a group of artist and formed a designers collective called Dekka. "A seamstress has more technical skills in the context of measurements, cuts, folds,..." but the designer and seamstress should work well together. I am a designer she informs me not a seamstress. "My first seamstress was from Syria and she was extremely instrumental in assisting me in bringing forth my vision" '...Madia recollects. Her business was growing and expanding. she quit her day job to pursue a masters and "develop a full understanding in regards to the principals of  design."some of the components includes" size, lines,shapes color and texture." madia explains. This summer as a result of her pursuit and demonstration of excellence she was chosen to participate in paid internship with TARGET designing patterns and prints for their women's clothing line. In terms of how Madia defines her own clothing line she would describe it as fusing traditional West African fabrics with vintage and bohemian style. BiriBelle represents" the smart, sophisticated, well traveled, confident, and cultured woman who transcends racial and social barriers."

a dress that Madia was working on for a Ms. Liberia in a college pagent

The above piece explores MADIA WILLIS in Political and artistic form; her interpretation through design of the Trayvone Martin Case... 
"I decided to do a collection of prints centered around the Trayvon Martin Case and what I perceive to be the performative nature of justice in America." My assignment was titled "What's in the air?"

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

nia nadii and her clay beads

bracelets too.
-pretty nia nadii and her bead necklace
goddesses are few and far between. because i am a self proclaimed one i tend to be able to identify them on sight. they come in many shapes, forms, sizes and from near and far. there are african goddesses, european goddesses, harlem goddesses, brooklyn goddesses and philadelphian goddesses too. for me goddess culture is a way of life and thinking . the goddess reference point is the self. not in the individualistic context but a wholisitc one. goddess culture says ; in cultivating an independent self  outside of restrictive thought.... gives you freedom . it removes or displaces you from the burden and or barriers that are applied when one lives and applies to thier life limited thought and thinking. the goddess has a value system and ethics. she is busy with evolution thus,her children, her family and most importantly her community evolve along side her. so you'll find that some goddesses will be mothers in non-traditional family settings, thier diet and eating habits will consist of foods in the pyramid or not at all...goddesses and their life styles vary but there is one thing that they have in common and that  is they are  free.this particular goddess i met in philadlelphia while vending costume jewelry in university city. she was a regular and a favorite. she  would  always buy  really interesting pieces of my jewelry that she explained, she would use to make her own. the following year i ran into nia and she had began her own jewelry line but instead of using pieces and beads, she decided to make her own beads out of clay. brilliant. here is a brief interview with nia nadii and her hand crafted jewelry from  her hand crafted clay beads. karimu abena hamilton

1.where are you from?I'm from a small town Michigan,

2. how did you get involved in jewelry making? I got involved in jewelry because I couldn't find anything I wanted to wear so I started making things

3.who is your market ? My jewelry is wearable art so I market to artists or those who need to tap into their inner artists
4. how did you come up with the idea to make your own beads? My initial idea was to buy beads but I thought of that being unoriginal and lazy so I thought of doing wood but felt it would take long to learn to use the wood carving tools, so I heard someone talking about clay bowls and a light went off. is business? Business is good, im just so busy with work that i need to transition from employee to jewelry designer for business to go great.6. What advice do you have for emerging independent business owners such as your self ? I would say be organized (which im not), network (which i don't do), and be consistent with working on designs and perfecting the craft (which i do), and always remain optimistic because you never know what your ideas will turn into if you stick with them.

7.i understand that you are vegan can you explain to me how that has impacted your life? Prior to me becoming a vegan i was experiencing a lot of uncertainty in life. there was a lack of awareness. now that iam a raw vegan i have so much more clarity and tons of energy .. vegan means awareness for me.

8.explain to me your creative process in making clay beads? Essentially i just take clay pick colors, bake and shape. If I am inspired by a concept then i will plan.




Monday, May 21, 2012

da drummer

growing up in harlem; i had african dance class,african sprituality class,african history class, african heritage afterschool class. african rites of passage class.. .soo as you can imagine the drum was a familiar object for me. however,not until i hit the jazz scene and met and socialized with live musicians did i begin to cultivate an understanding of the power of the drum. i understood later on that a drum beat was only as powerful as its drummer and that was only after i dated one. master drummers are the care takers of the beat, the drummer contains the rhythm and keeps all other notes and musical functions aligned. it is the base and foundation of the melody. this particular drum circle gathered at clark park in philadelphia. there are two different types of drums featured here conga and djembe both deriving from africa and influencing world music of the caribbean and latino cultures. come join me for a brief moment with the drummers k.abena
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drummers in clark park

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

tonight i had an ice cream party. i served vanilla ice cream and with the option to top with whipcream, blackberries, rasberries, chocolate syrup and the delicious peanut butter cups that i brought from reading terminal. i decided to serve dessert on my mother's antique cut crystal glass, with silver spoons and white linen napkins.  my grandfather spencer lee gettys looved dessert  and loved vanilla ice cream so i added a picture of him for a special touch. karimu abena hamilton

dessert in mommies pretty cut glass

pretty white linen napkins
fresh berries


STYLE: The way in which something is said,done expressed or performed or a combination of artisitic expression or performance characterizing a particular person,group,school or era., distinctive features.

my mother at times would suck her teeth at me when i would dress as a teenager and complain go to school in the village...where is your sense of styyyyle karimu...?! Style is not about matching is about taking risk my mother would advise.. step outside of the box try not to look so common.... i saw orunduns daughter djassi and she had style  she had her hair out and i can't remember what she had on but it was stylish.... she would snap and then go back to reading the new york times....i would sigh and go back to my room and rummage through my closet then dig up an african print head wrap or change my shoes to boots or put on a straw hat and then walk back into the living room...better. my mother would praise. today as i skim through  childhood pictures of myself, i really do appreciate the way my mother dressed me. i see peter pan collars, ruffle dresses, up do hair styles, opaque stockings and thick black shoes. as a child i thought that it was very mean for my mother to dress me that way ..i always wanted a bang and shiny mary janes but( would have to rely on mama my grandmother to buy me those) in the end i was cute.among many things mommy had an excellent fashion sense.

Today riding on the train I ran into two women that i thought were stylin and i just haad to stop them and take pics and find what some of there secrets were. as you will see in the pictures both topics are two very different people of race, socio and economic backgrounds but their intepretation of cool and comfortable are similar. meet Loretta Kurlich and Charday Bullock.  take a look and tell me what you think. karimu abena hamilton

  Loretta Kurlich

loretta looking very cool.


shoe game

love the costume jewelry and beads


shes cute right,
strike a pose

pretty earrings
i like the hair tooo.
shoe game

Monday, May 14, 2012

Indian Food One Of My Favorites

i indulged in a delicious lunch today at Tandoor

Tandoor Oven
 Today for lunch I had a delicious meal at Tandoor a local Indian Restaurant located in the heart of Philadelphia's University City. The name Tandoor refers to the ancient traditional clay ovens that are used in India and other eastern parts of the world. It is Cylindrical in form and heat is generated from the Tandoor oven by charcoal or wood. Because clay is a conductor of heat the oven remains hot for long periods of time and allows you to cook larger amounts of food longer.  I enjoy Indian food, it is very similar to dishes prepared in Africa, The Caribbean and even southern regions of the United States.  When eating Indian food your taste buds are going to experience flavors like; cumin,cloves,curry,fennel,bay leaves and paprika to name a few. Today I indulged at the Tandoor buffet and filled my plate with basmati rice, lentils, curry chicken, lamb,  vegetable samosa and a fresh green salad...karimu abena hamilton
Tandoor Oven

Saturday, May 12, 2012

cool natural hair style

pretty simple cornrowed and twist up do

being and raised in harlem by a collective of conservative afrocentrists, i was not aloud to wear a perm or process my hair. we were taugth to love our hair in its natural state and to be proud of its wolly texture as my mother would suggest. now of course as i matured , i began to explore wearing my hair in weaves and wigs, i enjoy the versatility. but there is nothing like finding joy in managing your own natural hair.

i was on my way to Reading Terminal of Philadelphia and ran into Deirdra Church. Dierdra Church works with an organization called Food Trusts as a Projects Assistant. As a Project Assistant she is responsible for bringing nutrtional awareness to food providers or grocery stores in low income communites. Dierdra enjoys her job and wearing her hair natural in simple styles which she says should last for about three weeks.......karimu abena hamilton

ms. mary and her awesome vintage jewelry collection

pretty butterfly pins
my late mother barbara gettys hamilton would be defined by some people as a hoarder and others as a Collecter. she was born in the thirties which would mean that she survived segregation, the civil rights movement,the black cultural movement, black and white television,lace tablecloths, depression glass , milk glass, bakelite typewritters and a black president too name a few. i think that people of her generation have experienced soo many cultural transitions that they begin to collect items of thier past. items that bring them back to Sunday dinners as a child, a certain type of pocketbook worn to a formal, a song with lyrics that made them smile. i believe my mother began purchasing her items as a collection of memories. three years later today i am still going through her items and i have found that she loved pretty things...lace , sparkly jewelry, shiny pocket books and colored dishes. i recently ran into a woman in west Philadelphia named ms. mary. never in my life had i met some one whom had such an extensive costume jewelry collection as. no one had my mother beat but i think she comes very close. i walked by her table and had to take a seat. because i could not believe it what a collection!!!!! meet ms. mary she migrated to Philadelphia during the depression from the Carolina's. she is a mother of 6 children and attends church every sunday. she has been collecting for 35 years . she enjoys wearing jewelry and use to go to flea markets to shop. then her friends would call her as they moved out their homes and into assisted living dwellings and offer her some of their collection. she decided then she had tooo much stuff and transformed her collection into a business. she shares a small piece of her legacy with the world 0n 48th and baltimore avenue in west philadelphia  twice a  month on the weekends. karimu abena hamilton