Black History Month 2017 – Life Through Art – Post 4

Today we are going to be learning about Edmonia Lewis – the first professional African American sculptor.  If you saw the Google Doodle on February 1st you would have seen Edmonia Lewis.

Celebrating Edmonia Lewis

Lewis was born to a free African American father and a Chippewa Indian mother.  She attended Oberlin College in Ohio, but was kicked out after being accused of poisoning several of her white female schoolmasters.  (All of the claims were unsubstantiated.)

"The Death of Cleopatra," Edmonia Lewis
“The Death of Cleopatra”

Soon after she moved to Boston and did busts of white abolitionists.  In 1865 she traveled to Europe where she settled down in Rome. Rome was a good place for Lewis because she had access to incredible marble. She became famous for her neo-classical style of sculpture.

My personal favorite sculpture is The Old Arrow Maker which lives at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.

The Old Arrow Maker

Learn more about Edmonia Lewis below:

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Black History Month 2014 – Kelli Wakili

Kelli Wakili. I met this girl in 2011 and haven’t forgotten her ever since. She is that awesome. She is talented, kind, compassionate, and beautiful (inside and out). I met Kelli at a wonderful event in Kansas City, MO called “Night of Love” where talents of all types came together to put on a show all about love. Kelli and her now husband, chief waKiL, were performing a song together and it was magic. Magic, I say. Here is her story.

Kelli is from Bowie, MD. She made her way across the big ‘ole United States and has placed her feet firmly on the ground in LA. She is a singer/songwriter/actress and more.

Her work has been featured on the E! Network. She is the writer and performer of the theme song for “Rich Kids of Beverly Hills” and has also been featured on and musically written for the E! Network programs “Total Divas” and “Eric and Jessie”. Check out the first episode of “Rich Kids of Beverly Hills” here.

On the acting side Kelli is a principal character in the upcoming independent film titled “Assassination of a Citizen” by Reflektiv Films. She has also been featured in multiple TV shows and commercials.

On an even more creative side, Kelli is currently working on publishing her body of children’s books and recording her own music project in 2014. Could she get any more awesome? Oh yes she can. Aside from all of that she is also a math tutor and spends her days teaching and mentoring everyone from troubled youth to child actors and actresses.

This woman has been inspiring me with her positive energy and all the wonderful work she is doing since I met her that cold February day. Be on the lookout for more from this soon to be household name.

Want to know more about this awesome lady? Check out her blog: kellimykelli.tumblr.com

Black History Month 2014 – Mara Brock Akil

Hello Everyone! Welcome to Black History Month 2014! I am so excited for this year because I am featuring some amazing women who are going to blow your mind. This year is all about women entrepreneurs; past, present, and building the future. As always, a big thank you goes out to my amazing friend Asheley Brown who you will learn more about later this month. Until then, enjoy the awesome and be inspired. I know I am.

Mara Brock-Akil came onto my radar when I started watching Girlfriends. That show was so much fun! At this point I really only knew her name and that she was the creator and executive producer of the series.

I have since then discovered that she is not only a producing mastermind, but she grew up in Kansas City and graduated from Raytown South. Midwest girl. Yes. She continued on to Northwestern University and is also a Delta Sigma Theta.

She broke into the business as a writer for the short-lived series South Central. She started to garner attention as a writer on Moesha and The Jamie Foxx Show. This then led to her teaming up with Kelsey Grammer for Girlfriends. The Girlfriends spin-off, The Game, has moved from the CW to BET and continued to garner fans along the way.

Ms. Brock-Akil and her husband, Salim Akil, started their own production company called Happy Camper Productions and has since then been renamed Akil Productions. Their production company has achieved much success in both television and film. Along with Girlfriends and The Game, Akil Productions has worked on the Courtney Cox comedy Cougar Town (with Mara Brock-Akil being a writer and consulting producer). Most recently Akil Productions has been the driving force behind the new BET series starring the always amazing Gabrielle Union. It is called Being Mary Jane and from what I have heard it is amazing. I can’t wait to get my hands on a DVD copy when season 1 is available.

Akil Productions has being making a Hollywood splash as well. From the romantic comedy Jumping the Broom to the musical Sparkle. Jumping the Broom stars the gorgeous Paula Patton and Laz Alonso and was directed by Salim Akil. Sparkle stars the late, great Whitney Houston and the talented Jordin Sparks. It was written by Mara Brock-Akil and directed by Salim Akil.

Needless to say Mara Brock-Akil is a powerhouse in media, production, and business. We could all do well to take a page out of her book.