Manifest /manəˌfest/

1: Clear or obvious to the eye or mind.

2: Display or show (a quality or feeling) by one's acts or appearance; demonstrate.

3: Be evidence of; prove.

4: A document giving comprehensive details of a ship and its cargo and other contents, passengers, and crew for the use of customs officers.

"Made Manifest" is a series highlighting a group of creators, makers, and doers. Each of the individuals involved represents an example of talent and ability being applied to effort, with that resulting work being an inspiring influence. Furthermore, the selection of this group is limited to individuals known personally by me.

Each of the subjects were asked two questions.

  1. What Is Black Art?
  2. Why Do You Create?

If such great power exists in this limited selection of people, how much more remains to be revealed?


"Black Art is resilience recorded"

Brittany Luse. Co-Creator of "For Colored Nerds" podcast; Host of "Sampler" podcast at Gimlet Media.

On Black Art

"Black Art is resilience recorded. So its like proof, not just that we were here and that we survived, but that we flourished. And maybe we may have felt like were weren’t going to, but [now] ya know “n***a I made it” [laughs]. Black art is having those testaments, those monuments, those records of the miracle that is black life."

On Why She Creates

 "It's funny that you ask, because did not consider myself a creative person for a very long time. My sister-in-law told me I was [a creative] like 5 years ago and I was like "no". I didn’t make anything for a very long time.

I cannot tell you necessarily why I create, but I tried very hard not to for a very long time, and I did not succeed because I think I was compelled to. I create because I don’t know how not to."

" when people are undervaluing black things period, people, culture, whatever it is, those same values are applied to the art space as well"

James Malone. Photographer, educator, and creator of Tunnel Vision Artists

On Black Art

“Black art is Art. It is simply art in the most dynamic way of saying it is art. When you put Black and Art together I see two different responses between people who are black and people who are not black. It is almost like “Oh. There’s no way that [black art] can be to the standard of what we consider dope ass art”. So when I say black art is art, its me saying that all the value, all the attachment, all the care, all the receptiveness, and all the expectations you have of any amazing art piece, is also being created by artists that are black and have a different perspective. I’m very upfront about my shit, like “yea this is black contemporary art shit”, I’m not sugar coating it. But when I say it to certain people, I see this draw back like “oh, black art…eh. You’re doing that thing”. One thing I realized too is that art is very reflective of society. The art structure, the art world, is very reflective of what is going on in those specific time periods that that art is existing in. So when people are undervaluing black things period, people, culture, whatever it is, those same values are applied to the art space as well. So I think, art is art man. Art is art in all its beauty. It is art with the perspective that has yet to be revealed in a mass way, except for on the hip hop stage. You look at the art of hip-hop, and how that has taken over almost entire genres of music. The influence of hip-hop alone is embedded in almost any musical form right now. Except for maybe country. But maybe not, because Miley Cyrus is bumping the shit out of Kendrick and shit. If people understand that influence is not limited to just rap music, and that our perspective of art in any form is that powerful, then people will evaluate what black art is. And they will be like “damn, that’s the power in it”. If you look at hip-hop, all hip-hop is our art in the form of music. So imagine our art in the form of talk radio, podcast art. Our art in the form of photography, painting, its gonna have that same exact impact, cause its gonna come from the same exact souls, and experiences, and perspectives, that made the hip hop the world fell in love with. So, its Art man."

On Why He Creates

 "I create for balance. I live two lives. In one way I live a very structured life. My homeboy put it best, He said your apartment reflects you very specifically about who you are. You have all white walls, everything is tidy, but then its like splashes of colorful ass art within these confined spaces. He was like you go to some other peoples’ cribs and it may be art everywhere. You know an artist lives in like a space of where everything is art. Your world is that everything is neat and tidy, and then you have these big splash statements of art. So for me it’s a balance, because I operate and operated in the educational world of mainstream work 9-5 life. I did the whole went to college and led that mainstream life. But also, I have this very unconventional ‘I wanna do me I don’t give a fuck what nobody says” kinda lifestyle as well. But because the majority of my day is spent within the 9-5 realm, even within this entrepreneur shit. I still gotta be at the gallery from 1-8, it’s very structured, the art gives me a major release, I create for the balance. I also create because I want to tell the stories of people whose stories aren’t for real for real told. I think because I have one foot in this mainstream world, I am able to see the avenues in how they receive their influence in media. So now I can see that, and I’m like, "oh ok, these people over here’s stories are untold". But then there is this mainstream, where people figured out how to tell their story, and how to get their point across very well. So I can act as a medium between the untold stories, and the world that has always figured out a way to tell their stories and make money from their stories, and to live in their stories. So I feel like I tell the untold stories. Even if I look back into what this gallery is and what my photography has been and what my agency is, it’s about the people who haven’t had a chance to tell their stories on a massive level.  Who haven’t had the push and the resources behind them that the mainstream has for their artists and their stories. So you know what? I’m going to take those methods and give them to you guys so that you can also be on the same level pushing you’re story up. So it’s for balance, and for raising up those stories."

"I'm much more of a visual person.

If I can somehow express myself visually then thats what I do."

Derica Cole Washington, Costume Designer

On Black Art

"Black art is made from people who have an acute sense of blackness, in a way that they are making something that is consciously crafted in this idea of blackness. For me there is not “a black art”, but it’s an idea of blackness. What that is something that is culturally and socially related to identity. So to me it’s more about a creative voice, a creative lane that identifies with this idea of blackness." 

On Why She Creates

"I create as far as costume design, because I feel there is a certain perspective that I give. I tell people I am not a stylist, I am a costume designer. Because what I go based off of is #1 the script, and #2 the character. So I think that what I bring is kind of the is idea that I want to tell a story. So you could just be wearing this T shirt , but there is something that I am telling with this t-shirt. Where is he coming from? Home? Bed? Where is he going? So there is something there that’s different. So it can be founded in reality or it can be founded in something that has a much more commercialized sense. I create based on character, that’s where I start. That’s why I really like reading novels, because I like to imagine this life of a person, and their lifestyle and think about how functional these items are. At the end of the day they are clothes. But it’s funny how actors are when they have to get dressed as a character, they become a little childlike. Like they forget how to put a shirt on. It’s still clothing, but to them they are putting on this character when they step into that costume. In terms of other things I do creatively, its because I really enjoy aesthetics and creating visuals. I really got into cinematography, and I hate writing. I’m much more of a visual person; if I can somehow express myself visually then that’s what I do.  There’s a quote by Toni Morrison of an “artist with no art form”. And that’s truly me. I have no actual form, and no sometimes skill. Its something that I make a living from, it’s my primary job, but I still don’t feel confident saying I’m an artist. I feel like I’m a working creative. I don’t know what at what point I will feel confident in claiming it. I guess I’m working towards that level where I can identify as an artist." 

"...I see myself as creating to express

the things that I didn't know I could get out"

Eric Eddings. Co-Creator "For Colored Nerds" podcast, Development Producer at Gimlet Media

On Black Art

"I think its is; important. Important is an overused word, but at the end of the day, black art has changed our world at every single juncture. Especially since we’ve come here. If you think about jazz, and you think about paintings, and you think about the affect on culture, hip-hop itself, black art has been extremely important to our society and how American culture has grown. "

On Why He Creates

"I hadn’t thought about myself as a creator often, but now I see myself as creating to express the things that I didn’t know I could get out. There are things about myself, and I didn’t know there was a way to create a product that was a result of those emotions and thoughts. That’s why I do it."

"The only thing I think that may be lacking

is the connecting of the dots"

Naeem Douglass. Journalist, creator of "The Brookladelphian"

On Black Art

"I wrote down “Alive and Diverse”. I put those two because, I want to say it is alive because of social media. It is a lot easier now for an artist that is in Washington to connect to an audience in Brooklyn or Philly or wherever the case may be. So now you have more people, especially Black people, producing art, and a lot of it is quality. And they are able to get their voice out. The only thing I think may be lacking is the connecting of the dots.  You might have someone over hear that’s doing something cool and someone over here, and with Black Art I think it needs to be a little more connected so you know whats going on. I put diverse because, working in media, I know that at sometimes black people are [seen] one dimensional. When you look at Black Art, its 3 dimensions, its 4 dimensions, you have people like you that are doing film photography. I know a girl In Philly doing some really amazing art inspired by Basquiat, who is of course Black and from Brooklyn. So, Its alive and its there. It’s just a matter of us trying to go out and see it, and then disseminate it through media." 

On Why He Creates

"I create because I saw something happening in Brooklyn and Philly, and thought someone should document it. It was really surreal back when the Phillies won the World Series,  and to be here in Brooklyn the year after, and see all these Phillies hats around town. Having it click, like “there are a lot of people from Philly in Brooklyn and a lot of people from Brooklyn in Philly. These two places are kindred spirits. And someone should be able to document that, and say look at the stuff that’s going on in Philly and look at whats going on in BK. Nd do it in a healthy kind of way, instead of bulldozing the culture that makes these two places cool, and instead trying to grow it and connect these two places. I’m hoping, in the near future to do something like, the District Attorney’s office here has a Chess Club, and the DA’s office in Philly has a chess club. It would be nice to get these two places together. A lot of people of color are in these organizations so it would be nice to get these two things together."

"...I think anything i've ever written, especially with my poetry,

is kind of consumed in love"

Betty Fireall. Poet.

On Black Art

"I think it’s more so the expression of a struggle, on whatever level. Because we have been quieted for a really long time. So I think now that we have a platform to create things visually or in sound or with words, I think its always a story behind it. Its not just the picture, or the book, or the painting, I think it really tells a story about their life on some level. I would say oppression but I use that word too much. "

On Why She Creates

"To tell a story, I think anything Ive ever written, especially with my poetry, is kinda of consumed in love. I love Love. I love to give Love I love to get Love, I create to give love. Make you cry. Make you want to fight me….or not. I definitely create because it is my way to provide love to whoever is interested in reading anything I write."

"...I need to express my soul in any way that it comes to me"

Anitra Michelle. Plutocracy


On Black Art

"Black art is a witchery of sorts, which combines the Magic with the innate dopeness, freshness, ingenuity and our soulfulness to generate visual imagery that arouses interest cross cultures from the pivotal point that is pure and unmistakable Blackness.

On Why She Creates

"I create because need to express my soul in any way that it comes to me, whether that be fashion design, design, photography, collage, painting. Its an innate need to express myself and connect to others in the MOST authentic and original fashion."