re-frame: a gathering reflections  - from monday november 7th's  first gathering with artist participants & witnesses. 

This is what I did when I arrived home from the first coalescing of artists that will be Re-Frame: A Gathering. I took out some black eyed peas I had soaked, started chopping onions and scallions, washed some collards, and set out to make a stew that I had made once before via some quick post-performance notes from Amara Tabor-Smith.  Immersed in that fertile collective of voices, each one making themselves vulnerable just a bit, I wanted to feed everyone a hearty meal.  I wanted to tone down my “administrator” voice and offer up something you could eat with a bowl and a spoon.  I promise myself, “Next time, Eboni, next time.”

I feel compelled to pause and write about what Re-Frame is not. Re-Frame is not a meandering of artistic intent. It is a tangible, sink-your-teeth-in process, framed by the seasoned experiences of both Baraka de Soleil and his co-collaborator, Awilda Rodriguez.  Baraka made it a point to mention, more than once, that, as collaborative processes go, this would be one where, if you wanted to see something, hear something, say something then you should DO something about it.  Simply called “Two Feet”, it is a way of reinforcing a sense of personal responsibility.  As someone who processes quickly and is usually first to speak and offer “solutions”, I instantly latched on to such a concept.  At the same time, however, I am intensely aware of my “default zone” of organizing and curating and tried to preface my words and phrases with disclaimers.

I have no idea what will come out of Re-Frame.  Some of the artists seemed interested in building on a shared experience that occurred during The
Theatrical Jazz Institute with Sharon Bridgforth.  Others seem to be throwing themselves in out of trust and a burning desire to work on something that has taken shape, just a little bit.  I believe myself to be in the latter camp.  Over the past 6 years, I have willingly dedicated myself to NOT being the artist, to do everything I can to support the creations of others.  On some level, one could say that I have been “playing small”.  Over the course of the next 7 weeks, I will be planting the seeds of a performance practice. I have no idea what form this will take or how it will take flight but my willingness is there and I am already enamored of the steps we have taken.

"food for thought" by Eboni Senai Hawkins


Re-Frame: A Gathering - WEEK 1.

Re-Frame: A Gathering

Week 1, welcome to a place of the unknown, an assembly of  art makers, teachers, sculptors,  art administrators, new and old dancers, poets, studiers of the African Diaspora, gender breakers and art lovers.   Some time in the 6pm hour yesterday each of us traveled  to Rumble Arts Center by foot, car, bus, bike. We entered the space not sure of the rules but ready to play, I was a little less nervous because I've worked with some of the artist in the room before and knew that  Baraka de Soleil  and Awilda Rodríguez Lora (who I can't wait to meet) would not have gathered us here if it was not benificial/ safe/ artistically healthy for us to share this space.

from Constance Michelle Blackmon Lee

Going into the 3rd week with Re-Frame, I was a little "workshop-ed" out.
It had taken me the entire weekend to recuperate from the beautiful intensity of participating in the motiroti project Potluck: Chicago.
I came to Rumble Arts on Monday still feeling a bit frayed at the edges while at the same time wanting to sincerely witness some kind of progress from the weeks before.

This, the 3rd Monday, was a pleasant and juicy reminder of the possibilities of Re-Frame.
We did a much better job of prioritizing and implementing a bit more structure around time.
We invested a good twenty minutes in breakout sessions that allowed us to examine some of our more complex My topic centered around financial sustainability and wealth-building for artists - something that I, and so many other creatives continue to struggle with.

At the end of the breakout session, Iman, Mike, and I, arrived at an important evolution of the original question - "How do we value time?" and started to outline a few structures that would make sense as one moved along the artistic trajectory. I made a mental note to chat with Todd Brown, deYoung Museum Fellow about his newest artist service project, The ITCH (Investing in the Creative Hunch).

But my most important takeaway of the evening was our vocal and movement exercises led by Rebecca and Iman.  Re-Frame is a gathering of individuals with an incredibly wealthy, embodied knowledge.  It was not until this 3rd Monday did we have the opportunity to shut off our right brains for a moment and engage with each other with sounds and movement instead of pen and paper.  The activity happened early in the evening and as our giggles settled down and our bodies loosened up, I vowed to TALK LESS and DANCE MORE. Whatever that may look like.


Work the work.
The work.
As a student, I do not really have the schedule or body of work yet in order to fully commit to the ReFrame workshops, but luckily, I was able to be a background presence, observing the conversation as an artist witnessinstead of being a part of the work as an artist participant. The way I took it, my role was to gain through osmosis of the environment as much information as possible without actually taking an active role.
Basically, I sat in.
And honestly, what an honor. The most important thing that I took away was to work the work and that the work is your heart as well as the heart of the process. Through Baraka’s very particular and organized facilitation –he uses an adaptation of the Liz Lermen critical response technique and Open Space Technology, as a framework for the workshops. Through these techniques, the workshops stay organized and no time is wasted. The artists are able to discuss questions and form breakthroughs and everyone’s creativity and ideas are embraced and mutually respected. We begin with discussion of real life artist dilemmas and questions ranging from how can we balance (or imbalance) and sustain ourselves financially to how important it is to embody and explore our art politically, ideologically, spiritually, etc.
We then move on to the actual works of the workshop. Artists show and we utilize the Liz Lermen critical response technique and Baraka’s ReFrame method. Each of the artists has a chance to show work as well as facilitate the critical responses. The method is as followed:
                1. AFFIRMATIONS aka what you saw
                2. ARTIST ASKS A QUESTION
                5. REFRAME MOMENT
Now, this is not an easy method to follow when people tend to ask leading questions rather than neutral ones and try to give directions disguised as opinions. Plenty of times the artists had to catch themselves and question if the way they framed their responses was in the spirit of the critique or in the spirit of their own personal critic.
                Through keeping the critical responses tight and in the correct fashion, the artists who show are able to retain the heart of their piece and hold on to their artistic vision without being swayed by personal critiques or directions, which we as artists don’t actually realize how often we give. Not only that, through proper use of the critical response method, there is room for the work itself to be questioned and for true collaboration to arise in the ReFrame moment, where two or more artists collaborate on how the work can possibly grow and expand. The ReFrame moment is not a protocol of the Liz Lermen technique; rather it’s Baraka’s own creation, adapted from one of her steps which looks at a particular moment of the piece. The ReFrame moment is where the real meat of the workshop is tested. When reframing, there is a responsibility in the collaboration between the person showing and their partner(s) to be precise about which moment(s) struck them and about what could possibly be done to shape the work even further. The work is looked at through new eyes, REFRAMED, and becomes something refreshed and intensified.
                Overall, the Jazz Aesthetic and Open Space Technology is the filter through which the art/ the work is expanded, sustained, and given the highest honor and respect. These workshops are sincerely for the benefit of the artist’s creation of work, keeping the artist alive, collaborating, reframing, WORKING, and fresh. The art/the work exists at the very center of all this and we all are actually learning the true nature of the process of creation and how to keep the process organized and continuously moving and working.
The work the work the work.
I personally left with the question of what is the true intention behind my work (the way I work and what my work is saying, showing, and doing), as well as answers, ideas, and excitement about how to further create. As artists, we are responsible for creating work and furthering the work, keeping it fresh and growing. Is your work being used as a voice for social change? What kind of artist do you consider yourself? What kind of artist don’t you consider yourself and what could you learn from that? Are you taking care of yourself and your environment? What is your mask and how do you wear it? How does it show up in the work? How can you further your work through collaboration? Are you letting others take control of your work or simply give you insight and suggestions into how your artistic vision grow? How can you do more to work the work/ work your work/ reframe your work?
This is the real deal ya’ll –a process/ project worth supporting in any way possible with two bomb facilitators, 7 bomb artist participants, and intensely original, innovative new work arising.
Get ready Chicago.
Azalea Fairley


  1. What is meaningful is distilling the purest truth and sharing it with articulated presence. What is meaningful is the process towards this goal, that looks like deep listening and witnessing each other in our stories as well as in the revelations below the stories. What is meaningful is the process of creation serving as a catalyst for evolution for those willing to flow, plant seeds and grow, flow, plant seeds and grow. What is meaningful is the body's speak. LOVE. Soj.

  2. Re-Frame: A Gathering Week 2:

    I cam into the process a week late, because of a monthly show I do with Earth Pearl Collective, and I must admit that I was very confused coming in to the space. Everyone was open to everything, but sometimes being to open can be overwhelming. When you have such talented artist together and tell them anything can happen in the space you would expect madness, but here there were only questions. I like questions.

  3. Week #3:

    So motivational. I have come up with three new projects I want to do based purely off of a conversation we had in a break out session about how valuable our time is as artists and how we can use that to barter with other artist to make more successful projects. It goes right in line with the work my collective does and reminded me how valuable a skills inventory is whenever you are working with a group. Something so simple gets so overlooked.

    In this session I also finally found shape o a one womyn show that has been dancing around my head for about six years now. This was sparked by Baraka asking me to lead a movement exercise after our discussion. This made me think of how awesome it would be to do our check in questions with movement only or only a select few words. This then gave me the grounds for how so many things in my life have not been said to or by the people who need to say them. This will be very dance and photography heavy. I am excited about my new challenge. Perhaps it will grow to an ensemble piece.


What has been meaningful for you as an artist in the creative process?