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Artist Assistant Spotlight: Ayanna Clarke

July 8, 2015

Meet Ayanna Clarke, artist assistant!

So, what made you decide to intern with The LP? How does the internship relate to your studies?

We need this; our communities need this. People in working class neighborhoods need to know that they, too, are thinkers, creators, and visionaries. They need to know that art is not just reserved for the wealthy. Art is for everybody, and has been one, if not the most important, tool to maintain histories (via storytelling, song, dance, etc.) and connection amongst people in the African diaspora. It is what binds us all.

 

Being involved in an organization that helps people remember this inherent truth is exciting and important.

 

Do you have your own creative practice? If so, tell us more!

Yes! I am a DJ, pole performance artist, and writer. All my work is informed by my experience of growing up in the south as a queer woman of color.

 

When DJing, I focus on how to interweave the musical stories of renegade women, the griminess & authenticity of Southern (particularly Atlanta trap) music & other eclectic musical genres created by children of the diaspora (from funk to futuristic R&B.) Currently, I’m working on the development of a few genres I’ve created myself, #soultrap & #powerfemme.

 

I’m also a performance artist whose primary medium is pole dance. In addition to performance, I will be teaching movement classes soon. I seek to encourage my community to rethink their body, their physical space in world, re-imagine and reaffirm the power of bodies that have been marginalized for so long. There’s something profound about the interplay about the act of flying and the act of being grounded.

 

I am currently doing this by teaming up with a few other dancers, to create a movement class to be taught in domestic abuse shelters. Furthermore, I am creating my own healing/ self love class for survivors of trauma & queer people of color. Essentially, I aim to create communal healing through intentional movement.

 

I document all of these experiences and journeys, as a writer on my blog, thebadblack.com. Writing is what helps me bring all of this together, to make sense of the world so that I am better able to be more discerning in my other art mediums.

 

Can you tell us about an artist or project that has inspired you?

Crystal Belcher, a pole dancer, who dances from the African diaspora experience. She explores the multiplicities of life as a black women, all forms of black music: soul, jazz, blues, etc, women’s sexuality, the continuous killing of black people.

 

What is your favorite… album? …food?

So I own every single Outkast album and listen to all of them more than any average person should. I am from Atlanta, and these were the lullabies of my childhood.

 

I like avocados and anything with coconut milk.

 

In your opinion, why does art matter?

It connects us with with the most honest parts of ourselves and if we let it, increases the psychic ability we all have. When we turn off the chatter in our minds, surrender ourselves to our practice and remain present, art emerges, we emerge. Not to mention, it’s an important part of revolutions (from songs to signage, even certain symbols), all of which were created by artists. Finally, it has the ability to build and heal communities. Healing is what I find myself most intrigued by: how to implement art into my community as a tool for both revolutions and for healing.

 

Aya is a creative healer, pole performance artist. community connector & queer feminist DJ hailing from Atlanta, GA. When she’s not flying or spinning, she’s probably casting spells or shaving her head. You can take a look at her site thebadblack.com and follow her on Instagram HERE.