The ChaShaMa Festival arrives upstate in Pine Plains on Saturday, October 1st from 2-5pm. Chashama which means “to have vision” in Farsi, offers emerging and mid-career artists space and residency programs to help create and develop their crafts. Artists range in mediums, including fashion, performance art, painting, sculpture, and mixed media. The ChaNorth residency program has been operating in the Hudson Valley since 2006 and gives artists space and a supportive community, as well as a connection to nature and locally-grown produce.
I had the opportunity to talk with Nana YaaSerwaah Akuoku, a multidisciplinary artist with a foundation in fashion, who is one of the artists presenting on October 1st in nearby Pine Plains. She will have an interactive performance. Below is an example of some of her work.
Trixie’s List: How did you start?
Nana YaaSerwaah: My earliest memory of creating was when I was two years old. I created a dress that was made from a shopping bag.
“In my practice, I like to use non-conventional material along with traditional fabric.”
Trixie’s List: What inspires you?
Nana YaaSerwaah: There’s not one particular inspiration, there’s different life experiences. I think a lot of inspiration comes from my frame of mind during the time of a works conception and/or the works construction.
Nana YaaSerwaah:I’ve heard about Hudson, and I love the energy and open-mindedness that i keep hearing about the art community there. I am very excited about bringing my own version of that fun and innovative energy. There are a lot of talented artists in the show. I’m excited about the future of the upstate art world in general; It seems like there are some really progressive minds creating wonderful communities there. I think the future is quite bright.
Trixie’s List: Upstate New York is big…people forget how big it is…
Nana YaaSerwaah: I agree with you. I grew up in Harlem, NYC. In the City, at times folks here sometimes forget the sheer scale of the entire New York at large! There’s so much here. I’ve learned to really appreciate upstate. I’ve realized how important having rural spaces within my reach is for myself and my process as an artist.
Nana YaaSerwaah: I just started an [artist] residency, and being in spaces with other artists is a blessing, and so healthy to be around people who appreciate your point of view, as a creative. It is crucial for the evolution of societies to raise awareness and funding, and build communities for artists, all artists…For artists with diverse backgrounds and perspectives and make these resources accessible to visionaries on the entire spectrum of socio-economic status.
Referencing my own perspective; Having people enter into your studio… other artists and art enthusiasts alike and see your work, and really care, and want to follow your journey and which too; really appreciate your contribution to society – it’s an invaluable experience!
I think, as an artist, to really be comfortable and to focus on your craft, having space to chill and think, and relax your mind and be able to focus, is energizing and creates the perfect conditions for inspiration to spark.
“I use a lot of repurposed items – repurposed in the utility of the materials and/or objects themselves.
Natures Contrast in special to me because I sat with my mom in my bedroom and put the holes in the popsicle sticks before lacing this work together.
The laborious process of creating this work with her and in particular, her dedication to supporting my artistic vision is forever entwined with my adoration for this work”
Nana YaaSerwaah: My goal is to introduce meaningful topics through medium that is fun to experience. For artists, one of our most important roles is translating topics or emotions into a form that is more digestible for people, and creating comfortable and creative ways for these topics to be absorbed, contemplated and discussed.
I think that ChaShaMa is an amazing opportunity for new creatives and makers. I believe that ChaShaMa has been a significant contributor to furthering my understand that I am a part of the art world and that my work adds to spaces that host other more traditional art forms. I believe that Art is simply the mind responding to our environment. What is created can and should evolve to be inclusive of the perspective, culture and instruments/medium that are relevant to conversations that are contemporary to the time.