from Akwi about real life stuff
CAN WE TALK ABOUT THESE TWO PHOTOS?
They were taken 5 years apart. In the photo on the left, I'd just been awarded a fellowship that fueled my art in a new way and should have been enough to make me feel less of an imposter in the art world. It wasn't.
So, in the middle here is where I raised two daughters into their teens, created a lot of (really good) art as side hustles that were full time jobs in their own right, got really good at marketing & strategic communications, did a lot of cussin' and cryin' and dancin' and singin', withstood a divorce that took me by surprise the way the nationally-reported derecho landed a tree on my house one random Monday afternoon in August 2020, and decided I was my own biggest obstacle to purpose.
The person in the photo on the right? I'd just left a 6-figure highly respectable gig to pursue my truest ministry: making art and building community. The photo was taken on October 1, 2020. It was the day my solo exhibition (my very first -- which happened to be titled Homebound) opened at a Midwest gallery. When the photographer, TINT, asked me what I wanted the session to convey I said "That I'm about to blow sh*t up." I have an art career to tend to, finally, is what I meant and nothing -- not even my own imposter syndrome -- will stand in my way this time.
So, here we are -- you and I -- in the middle of these two photos, but at the beginning of forgiveness (for not taking myself and my art more seriously all these years), courage (to admit there's a whole lot I absolutely do not know), and an aim fixed on what's to come.
Thank you for joining the journey!
My official bio with all the industry lingo is below.
And below that is a stream of photos from the last 10 years of strategic professional pivots & personal joys.
Akwi creates as a writer, performer, and visual artist. Her work and words have appeared on stage from California's Wine Country to New York's Fashion Week. She is a former Iowa Arts Council Fellow, founder of The Hook, creator of The Remoir Project, and a champion of the artist and the arts through her role as producer of multi-media arts events in the Midwest.
Her visual art serves as manifestations of her exploration of race, gender, Black history as American history, and a parallelism of current social issues with their historical and cultural counterparts. As a writer, voice artist, performer, and producer her collaborative partners include Emmy-award winning composers and nationally-renowned dancers and choreographers.
While engaged in a fulfilling and successful art career, she also works with companies and organizations as a keynote speaker on the topics of art as place-making; storytelling as effective marketing; pattern disruption; and the intersection of art, economy, and civic wellness.
Akwi was born in Iowa City, Iowa, and raised in Cameroon, Africa. Her experiences as a Cameroonian and Cameroonian American inform her work as she explores the intersections of gender, parenthood, race, tensions between "outsider" and "insider", and concepts of geographical and spiritual home. She lives in the Midwest with her two daughters, a dog, and two cats. The stage is her first love, art her truest home.