Updated: Sep 12, 2020
We are so excited for this introduction to our “Creatives & COVID” series where we delve into the lives of various artists, designers, and other creative individuals to see how they are coping, adjusting, creating and overcoming the change that the Corona Virus has caused. With these stories you all will come to see the ‘new normal’ through the eyes of these creatives, during the current pandemic.
COVID-19 has been so hard on all of us, forcing us to make big changes to our lives. This virus has caused us to readjust and re-evaluate how we make money, and for creatives how to make art as well.
To start things off for Volume 1, we reached out to Kristie Stephenson from Story & Myth to discuss her “Quarantine Creativity: The Chalk Drawing Series” which has illuminated her artistry and has made her work very captivating in these unsure times.
The idea for the storytelling videos called “Quarantine Creativity: The Chalk Drawing Series” sparked while she was social-distancing and quarantining as a result of Covid. In the midst of embracing the discomfort as opposed to adventuring outdoors, she turned to the walls of her apartment for a new way to express herself, feelings and stories like she usually would by typing them out to go with a post of her jewelry on social media.
“It was a way for me to find comfort with what was going on around us. I love stories and myths. I have always loved them; they create community and a feeling of connection.”
“I am overcoming Covid by telling stories - drawing with chalk. I also did collaborations with other creatives and businesses using drawing, narration and telling stories. I also put my jewelry business online so the diaspora can now shop and get one of our creations from Jamaica delivered to them anywhere in the world. I created a new product that’s online, a blessing bead chain for your face mask, an idea someone gave me and a story I have to share after this pandemic.” In our interview with Kriste she spoke about being inspired by storytellers as well as marginalized communities that have held unto their deep-rooted traditions. She emphasized the importance of being mindful of the many connections you make and how vital it is to nurture the relationships you have with others. Kristie’s mission is to empower people to see their value, to remind them to appreciate the many gifts around them and to tell stories that provide a sense of community and connection.
This interview has allowed us to see Kristie's vision and perspective. Some important questions that were asked in order to get a better feel of her work were:
What advice do you have for upcoming artist?
"Know who you tell your ideas and dreams to, as some well-meaning persons can squish ideas or can't handle the creative whirlwind you feel yourself becoming."
What sets you aside from other artists?
“I think we all have something to share here on earth, I admire other artists, I love to see their creations and the meaning behind the work. When they succeed, we all do, it's inspiring to me to see other artists blossom as the creativity is connected to the source, the creator. We all have a unique voice, so it's very inspiring when it's coming from source; it's unstoppable you can’t contain it. I like being around people who allow me to blossom and who share that similar energy of wanting you to shine as well. Art, spirituality and creativity are very connected.”
On the same note of connection, we spoke about how she came to work with disabled persons, of which she explained that she didn't go looking specifically for disabled persons but persons who could help her fill orders and employing them was a “full circle” moment for her.
“I grew up with a grandmother who was blind due to diabetes and her sister, my grand aunt was in a wheelchair - she lost a leg due to diabetes. So, I was quite used to being around persons with disabilities. There is a story I share, the tale of an African god who is the patron saint for persons with disabilities. In the story the deity takes a snail shell and there is earth inside the shell and he forms the earth with it. He makes people from the earth and one day he drinks palm wine and gets drunk and continues to make people, some of the people he makes come out with disabilities, so he vows never to drink again. The snail shell is one of our bracelet charms as well. We utilize a snail shell as a mala putting tassel threads through it. That piece is very dear to me; my grandfather's brother used to collect the shells for me. I was always fascinated by them, artist Colin Garland also painted them as a headdress for some of his subjects and now we use that shell in our collection.”
And finally we spoke about her “highlight of 2020” which was getting her “Blessing Beads” worn by the Grammy-award winning singer and songwriter Madonna, her beau, her children and her entourage and how this entire event changed the way she viewed this crazy year. She stressed the importance of being kind to the people around you because in her case, you never know when "these seeds that grow on a grass, these seeds that are ignored here" will receive the recognition they deserve.
“I kept going and didn’t give up or give in and go with what was popular. Business can go through waves, valleys and peaks. Be kind to everybody, especially those who you think can do nothing for you; Nurture your relationships.”
Kristie Stephenson has really got this Creatives and Covid thing on lock AND key and she is definitely doing the thing!
Click to view more highlights from our interview with Kristie! (click to pop up)
Thank you so much for reading and stay tuned for more content with The Island Gyals! Continue to stay well and thrive X.
By the Founders of The Island Gyals: (click to pop up)
Justine - @justineroseisaacs
Thalia - @voga_lia