Wednesday, March 7, 2018


My first model, Jasenya, was a high school student in Toronto who is interested in art and fashion.

Lorna is a UPS delivery associate who enjoys modeling on the side.
This piece, modeled by Lorna, was the last one I painted.  I felt like I could have kept going!

Our Art Collectif x Mike Smalley x Artfully Awear booth!

Ann is the mother of my first model, Jasenya.  She said they like to do creative things together, and have even appeared in music videos!

Jessica is a performance artist who uses her body as her medium.

Here I am with my model, Ann, and Art Collectif founder Erika.

Last weekend, I exhibited my work at an art fair for the first time ever!  In collaboration with Art Collectif and Mike Smalley, I created four one-of-a-kind Artfully Awear garments on live models with a live audience at Artist Project Toronto.  It was truly a test of my abilities.  I've learned that it's one thing to spend time at home making my pieces, and another challenge completely to do it with people watching (and wearing the garments!) at the same time.

I have to admit that I've had a difficult start to 2018, creatively.  Around the beginning of the year, I entered a weird creative depression - I didn't want to make anything or feel inspired to try anything new with my work.  I've gone through creative ups and downs before, but this one seemed more significant; I wondered if I'd reached the end of Artfully Awear.

My friend Erika Floysvik, founder of Art Collectif and Toronto native, had spoken to me about partnering with her company Art Collectif to highlight one of their artists through an Artfully Awear demonstration during Artist Project Toronto.  I'd agreed to do it, but in all honesty, I was really worried about it when the time came.  Since I hadn't created anything in a while, I didn't feel like I'd be able to deliver my best work on the project.  However, I'd agreed to do it, so I prepped the garments and flew to Toronto, nervous about the way they would turn out.

Everyone in Toronto and at the fair was so kind and welcoming!  I immediately let go of some of my nerves when I realized that I was among friends.  I almost immediately got to work meeting my first model, Jasenya, and painting my first garment.  With each successive work, I felt more confident and thought the result was better.  By the fourth piece, I felt like I could go on forever!

My favorite part of the whole experience was meeting the models that Sharalee, Erika's assistant, had sourced for me.  I'd requested that each one be diverse - whether in physical characteristics or background, and she found some very special women!  I loved being able to highlight them on my Instagram, and especially enjoyed working with Jasenya and Ann, a mother daughter pair.

That aspect of the project opened a whole new form of what I do - using wearable art to empower women.  I've already experienced what this project has done for my own creativity and confidence, and now it's time for me to share that feeling with others.

Thank you to Mike Smalley, the lovely artist whose work inspired all of these new pieces, and to Art Collectif for being a wonderful partner on this project!

I'm looking forward to my next visit to Toronto, and to discovering new ways to bring the empowering message of Artfully Awear to others.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018


La Candelaria de Bogotá

La Calera, a suburb of Bogotá

Museo Botero, Bogotá

Museo del Oro, Bogotá

Catedral de Sal, Zipaquirá

Catedral de Sal, Zipaquirá

Catedral de Sal, Zipaquirá

Andres Carne de Res, Chía

With the owner of Andres Carne de Res in Chía, Andres Jaramillo

Mercado de las Pulgas de Usaquén, Bogotá

Usaquén, Bogotá

Plaza Botero, Medellín

Public transit in Medellín

Comuna 18, Medellín

Comuna 18, Medellín








El Peñon

View from El Peñon

El MAMM, Medellín

Casa Cochera del Gobernador, Cartagena

Cartagena de Indias

Cartagena de Indias

Cartagena de Indias

Getsemaní, Cartagena de Indias

Playa Blanca, Cartagena

Cartagena de Indias

Cartagena de Indias

!Viva Colombia!

Just about a week has passed since I returned from a journey through Colombia and I'm ready to go back.  I experienced a little bit of everything on the trip - city, nature, culture, art.  Quite a few questions about my trip came through via Instagram, so I thought I'd share my itinerary as well as a few tips.  I had to narrow down my list to make it manageable because there is so much to do and see!
   Have you been to Colombia?  I would love to hear about your experience!

I spent three days in each city: BogotáMedellín, and Cartagena.  More time would have been wonderful (as always!) but it did seem manageable to cover the highlights in 9 days (+ travel).


I started my trip in Bogotá, which is at a high altitude.  I was warned to take it easy the first day or so, due to altitude sickness, but I didn't have a problem.  My favorite part of Bogotá was spending time at the amazing museums.  Below are some highlights!
  • La Candelaria - It's fun to walk around in this historic neighborhood, and many of the museums are located within or nearby.
  • Museo del Oro - wonderful museum with exhibitions of Pre-Colombian gold.
  • Museo Botero - fabulous collection of Fernando Botero works (donated by the artist) in a colonial mansion.
  • Mercado de las Pulgas de Usaquén - handicraft market in the cute Usaquén neighborhood that takes place on Sundays.
  • La Calera - a suburb high in the mountains with a beautiful view of Bogotá.  Stop for lunch al fresco at El Tambor!
  • Catedral de Sal - An underground cathedral carved into a salt mine, this is about an hour's drive from Bogotá, in Zipaquirá.  It is definitely worth visiting if you have the time.
  • Andres Carne de Res - This was my favorite meal of the trip!  The restaurant is actually in Chía, about an hour outside the city, but it is well worth the drive.  Their steak is unlike anything I've ever eaten. 
We stayed at the Four Seasons Casa Medina, which was a lovely experience.  it is in Zona G, a new, hip part of town that is a good base for visiting other parts of the city.


The second city on the journey, Medellín, was my favorite.  It's amazing to see and experience the social projects that have transformed the city.  A few must-do's are below.

  • Comuna 18 - This neighborhood has traditionally been one of the most dangerous in Medellín, but it has been completely revamped in recent years through social projects including public transit and street art.  We visited with a private tour guide, but you can also go with a group.  It might be tricky to navigate if you try to go on your own, as the streets are narrow and windy.
  • El Alumbrado - If you go during the holiday season in December through January, you have to visit the holiday lights that transform the city in the parks and along some of the streets.
  • Plaza Botero - Don't miss this public park with 23 Botero sculptures.
  • Guatapé - We visited this town as a day trip from Medellín, but it could have easily been its own trip altogether!  It is in a beautiful agricultural region a few hours outside the city.
  • El Peñon - A giant rock near Guatapé that offers stunning views from the top!
  • MAMM - The Modern Art Museum in Medellín, MAMM has interesting contemporary exhibitions as well as a lovely collection of work by Colombian and other South American artists.

We stayed at Hotel Park 10, which was fine, but not at the top of my list.  Another good option would be Charlee Hotel if they have rooms available (it was sold out for our dates).  Both are in El Poblano, a hip, accessible neighborhood in Medellín.  

Cartagena de Indias

Cartagena is an absolutely beautiful city; it felt to me like a combination between New Orleans, Miami, and Lisbon, with its own cultural flair!  There is truly something for everyone.

  • Old City - There is much to see in the historic area, from wandering through the picturesque squares, to the live music and dancing under the stars at night.  I recommend getting lost on the cobblestone streets for at least a day!
  • Casa Chiqui - This is the only shop I listed as one of my to-do items, because it is as much a shop as it is a cultural experience!  It's fill to the brim with handicrafts from Colombia and further abroad.  I wanted to buy everything.
  • Getsemaní - This neighborhood is filled to the brim with street art, including one of the most iconic artworks in Cartagena, that is based on a local legend.
  • Playa Blanca - Easily accessible via speedboats are a number of picturesque islands boasting white-sand beaches.  We visited Playa Blanca, which is just one of the many idyllic stops accessible from the city.

I highly recommend staying in the San Diego neighborhood in the historic part of town.  We stayed at Casa Cochera del Gobernador, which was a lovely and convenient option.  

I hope this overview was helpful for you if you're planning a trip to Colombia! Feel free to leave any questions or observations in the comments or reach out to me directly at

Monday, January 1, 2018


Happy New Year from me to you!

2017 was filled with ups and downs, but what I'll choose to remember are the highs: continuing my creative exploration, challenging myself to learn new things, and meeting new and inspirational people along the way.

Thank you for joining me for the journey!
Sending you and yours warm wishes for the year ahead, filled with color, light, and inspiration.

Monday, December 18, 2017


“I don’t think about it, I just go for it.”
--Ashley Dequilla Black

I shared a class with fellow William & Mary student Ashley Dequilla in 2007.  Under the tutelage of Professor Brian Kreydatus, we holed up together in the Matoaka Art Studio from winter until spring, our hands silver with lead as we toiled away at Life Drawing II.  That semester, the picturesque location on the lake was worth the windy walks from Old Campus, and three-hour studio sessions with live models, accompanied by George Harrison on a cassette player, lead to some of my best student work. Then I graduated.  I lost touch with Ashley, despite our camaraderie through critiques at Matoaka, though I remained wistful of those long afternoons and evenings on the lake. 

In the decade since our shared studio experience, Ashley and I both maintained our respective artistic practices.  Ashley’s art career has included several exhibitions and a significant portfolio of artwork dealing with themes of re-indigenization and exploration of her Filipino heritage.  My own artistic practice lead me to use clothing as my canvas, creating wearable art inspired by modern and contemporary art masterpieces; ultimately establishing my website and clothing line, Artfully Awear.

When we reconnected recently via social media, Ashley and I discovered an affinity to each other’s work, and bonded over the struggles and triumphs of developing and maintaining an art career.  I was intrigued by the issues she explores through her painting, and she was interested in the way that I use clothing to examine and understand the meaning of art.  In a Facebook message, she attached an image of one of her works, a large-scale painting entitled Psyche, and asked if I’d be interested in creating a garment inspired by the work. I immediately noticed something exciting in the piece – the gestural abstraction and color palette caught my eye, and I had so many questions about her process.  We agreed to collaborate, and I began the process of creating a dress inspired by her painting.

Understanding the artists’ processes and inspirations is the most important part of what I do through Artfully Awear. Making my own garment inspired by a work of art is the ultimate learning experience – to put myself into the mind of the artist and figure out how it was made gives me a very deep understanding of his or her challenges and how they were overcome.  In a long conversation with Ashley, we delved into the meaning behind her work, and I began to understand and appreciate it much more deeply.

Black is based just outside of Washington, DC, where she has been expanding her artistic practice over the past several years. Of her work, she says, “I think of painting as an alchemical practice—meditative—mixing ingredients and components which becomes a tangible spiritual practice and release.”  The convergence of many disparate elements is evident in her work, where the palette and subject matter run the gamut, referencing Mexican Renaissance painting, German Abstract Expressionism, and Neoclassical Baroque Renaissance painting. Her work is a hybrid of elements taken from all of her inspirations, with their own underlying themes: complex mythologies, the exploration of archetypes, religion, witchcraft, and the work of Carl Jung.  In the particular work I was studying, Psyche, Black explored the marriage of figurative work and abstraction—striving for inhibition through her process.  Of her vibrant color palette, she says, “Whimsy informs my palette choices.  I don’t think about it, I just go for it.”  You can truly feel this urgency in her work, as she explores themes related to gender and cultural heritage.

I created the dress inspired by Psyche from my own studio in Brooklyn, NY.  While I was working on it, I sent photos to her so she could see the process and provide input.  Her advice: “allow the final mark-making to be entirely random.”  Inhibition isn’t something that I explore as much in my work; fabric is less forgiving, and, similar to watercolor, each mark is permanent. But once I started to get into the rhythm of painting in Ashley’s style, I realized that it was absolutely necessary to release control in order to obtain the essence of her work.  That lesson was the most valuable part of this project for me, useful in life as in art – learning to let go and allow the work to grow, uninhibited.

When the dress was finished, I packed it up and traveled from New York City to Washington, DC, to solidify the reconnection between Ashley and myself and between our work.  Over black coffee, she and I talked through the process and connected over some of our similar struggles.  Then we took some photos of the two pieces together, and of us, recording this collaboration that began a decade ago at Lake Matoaka.  In many ways, it felt like a homecoming – the two of us, nearly a decade after our William & Mary art classes, collaborating once again.  Auspiciously, we’ve learned a few things along the way, such as the value of releasing your inhibitions and letting your creative spark guide you.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Happy birthday, Claude Monet!

I teamed up with the Getty Museum and LACMA to highlight two fabulous works by Claude Monet in their respective collections.

Nympheas, ca. 1897-1898

Check out @gettymuseum and @lacma on Instagram to see the creation process in their Instagram Stories!