“Every Skin Has a Story: Women of Color Take on Beauty”

A-lan Holt

Hello Retrouvé Community! My name is A-lan Holt, I’m an artist, mother, and director of Stanford’s Institute for Diversity in the Arts. I am excited to be hosting a new conversation series with @officialretrouve on Instagram Live called, Every Skin Has a Story: Women of Color Take on Beauty. Join us July 24, August 7, and August 21 at 12pm PST (3pm EST) for 45-minute conversations with leading women of color at the forefront of racial justice and social change. Together, we will talk about everything from anti-aging to anti-racism with the hopes of inspiring our community here at Retrouvé to explore new ideas on how to create a more beautiful world that is inclusive of all. Join the conversation starting this week!

Before we begin, I want to introduce myself a bit more. My name is A-lan (pronounced UH-LON) Holt. I’m an artist, playwright, and filmmaker and a long-time advocate for social justice. I came to the arts as a means of making sense of the world around me, in particular, making sense of my experience as a black woman coming of age in the United States. The first play I wrote and directed was called 8ball. It was a family drama about a community living and loving during the crack cocaine epidemic in the 1980’s in Los Angeles. It was me grappling with the story of my mother and father. It was my first attempt at mending a complicated family dynamic that included incarceration, addiction and so much love.

Arts and culture have always been the place where I practice my healing. It was the first place I found that could adequately hold all of my joy and my grief at the same time. This is why I am so devoted to the arts as a medium. This is the industry through which I work to enact change.

My work as an artist led me to direct a program at Stanford University called the Institute for Diversity in the Arts (IDA).  At IDA, we believe that the arts are a powerful means for empowering difference, dismantling oppression, and building more sustainable futures. We’ve worked now for over 50 years to support artists and arts initiatives that center the undoing of racism and racist structures across the U.S. and globally. It is through a new program at IDA, The Lyric McHenry Community Arts Fellowship, that I began my relationship with Retrouvé.

I met Jami Heidegger and the Retrouvé team while working with the incredible McHenry family on the Lyric McHenry Community Arts Fellowship, a new fund that gives Stanford undergraduates the opportunity to spend a summer working full-time in the arts with a focus on racial and social justice. At IDA, we believe that the arts are the fastest way a community can bring about change, and so this fellowship —named in honor of Lyric McHenry, class of 2014— reflects a generational approach to supporting young artists and arts leaders as they strive to create meaningful and equitable change.

Over the last month, we’ve been building with Retrouvé to amplify the beauty of Lyric’s life and her deep dedication to the arts and social justice through the Lyric McHenry Community Arts Fellowship. What I love about the skincare line, and what’s been demonstrated through our work together, is that built into the foundations of the company is a long-standing legacy of and commitment to justice and community-based change. Bridging the two worlds has created opportunities to further center racial justice not only for ourselves behind the scenes, but also on stage in public dialogue with our community…all of you.

We know part of our work as changemakers is to dig where we stand and shift every industry that we love and take part in, including beauty. This is important because racism, we know, exists and fortifies every industry we love and take part in. Together through online, public conversations twice a month, we will learn how to use our position and power to create change, how our work can shift culture, and how community and accountability is big enough to hold us all. I’m excited to connect and looking forward to our conversation! Please join us this Friday at 12pm PST @officalretrouve on Instagram!

INTRODUCING THE FIRST RECIPIENTS OF
THE LYRIC MCHENRY COMMUNITY ARTS FELLOWSHIP

I wanted to introduce you to our first cohort of undergraduate students receiving the Lyric McHenry Community Arts Fellowship. Please join us as we celebrate four dynamic Black, Indigenious, women of color: Rachel Lam, Clarissa Scranage-Carter, Shannen Torres, and Dayonna Tucker. We wish them great success in their summer internships this year. 

Rachel Lam is an artist who works visually, auditorily, and through movement and dance. A citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma as well as a first-generation Malaysian-American, Rachel grapples with the notion that the Cherokee way of understanding and engaging with the world is dying. With this primary concern in mind, Rachel’s goal for this fellowship is to write and illustrate children’s books in the Cherokee language. Rachel will work with Snowbird Traditions–a community organization that revitalizes Cherokee traditions —including language, arts and crafts, and traditional medicine for children.

Clarissa Scranage-Carter is a senior pursuing a dual graduate degree in Learning, Design, and Technology (LDT). A talented singer/performer and accomplished music producer, Clarissa has been working on technological solutions to increase female representation within the music industry, particularly within music production and engineering. She will be interning with Women’s Audio Mission (WAM) a San Francisco/Oakland-based nonprofit organization– the only professional recording studio in the world built and run by women and GNC individuals. WAM’s award-winning curriculum weaves art and music with science, technology and computer programming and works to close the critical gender gap in creative technology careers. 

Shannen Torres is a visual artist who works to bridge art and community for change. This primary goal led them to return home to the South Bronx during the summer of 2018 where they worked with NYC muralist crew TatsCru to paint murals initiated and commissioned by communities around the city. Their lived experience informs their research on Black and brown struggles in urban communities and how artwork, like graffiti, reflects this history. Moreover, they are interested in how artists working within such communities lead to personal and collective radicalization. This fellowship will allow for a second collaboration with the U.S. Latinx Art Forum to work as an archivist to create a public database of Latinx artists across multiple generations.

During Fall 2019, Dayonna Tucker was the Assistant Costume Designer to Bay Area designer Dana Kawano during a production of REVIVAL: Millennial Rememberings in the Afro Now, devised by Amara Tabor-Smith and the Committee on Black Performing Arts at Stanford. The two co-designed a ritual costume together and it was through continued collaboration that Dayonna learned new skills in design with further intentionality and purpose toward healing and ritual. Dayonna recently completed her honors thesis in African and African American Studies where her thesis theorized about biological bondage and argued that garments could be cloaks of protection and promise for Black Women and all oppressed peoples. The Lyric McHenry fellowship will enable Dayonna to deepen her relationship with mentor Dana Kawano by assisting her in a project to restore vintage Japanese umbrellas for survivors and families of U.S. internment camps. 

To learn more about the Lyric McHenry Community Arts Fellowship and ways that you can contribute, please visit lyricmchenry.com.

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