Artist Decoded by Yoshino

"I started this series as a means for exploration, an exploration of self, and an exploration of the perspectives of other artists. This series is an unabridged documentation of conversations between artists. It’s a series dedicated to breaking down the barriers we tend to set up in our own minds. I want to inspire future creatives to have the courage to explore and experiment. This is about making dreams a reality and not about letting our dreams fall to the wayside. My intention is to give my audience a sense of real human connection, something that feels rich and organic. When I was thinking of a title I thought of the word “movement”. In relation to the Renaissance period in art, my goal for this program is to signify a rebirth of consciousness towards the way we look at contemporary art." - Yoshino (@yoshinostudios)
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Artist Decoded by Yoshino










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Sep 29, 2020

About Yasmine: Yasmine Nasser Diaz is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice navigates overlapping tensions around religion, gender, and third-culture identity. Her recent work includes immersive installation, fiber etching, and mixed media collage using personal archives and found imagery.

Diaz has exhibited and performed at spaces including the Brava Theater in San Francisco, the Albuquerque Museum of Art, and the Torrance Art Museum. She is a recipient of the California Community Foundation Visual Artist Fellowship (2019) with works included in the collections of LACMA, UCLA, and the Arab American National Museum. She lives and works in Los Angeles.

Topics Discussed In This Episode:

  • The background behind the title of Yazmine’s latest show “Soft Powers”
  • The concept of “code-switching”
  • Navigating different worlds within the world we live in
  • Cultural differences Yazmine has experienced and how it has personally developed in her work
  • Growing up within two different cultures and countries
  • A nuanced discussion on arranged marriage and forced arranged marriage and the hardship that came with it
  • Online dating and “matchmaking” and how it has affected our world
  • Yasmine’s journey to New Mexico
  • Poverty, capitalism, and the disbursement of power
  • Yazmine’s current work and why she chose the 90s as a timepiece
  • Engagement between the artist, the content, and the viewer
  • The business of art and the complications that come with selling art
  • “Social practice” of art
  • The complicated reality of morals and ethics within different career fields
  • The concept of death and knowing what you stand for
  • Being intentional of why you want power and resources
  • The dynamics between parents and children
  • Subminimally thinking about art 
  • Yazmine’s latest work
  • Transforming style over time
  • Authenticity

Yasmine’s Instagram 

Yasmine’s Website

Sep 24, 2020

About Pádraig: Pádraig Ó Tuama is a poet and theologian from Ireland whose poetry and prose have been published widely across Ireland, the US, and the UK. He presents Poetry Unbound with On Being, a hugely successful podcast where he explores a single poem. Short and unhurried; contemplative and energizing, this podcast had more than a million downloads of its first season. The second season starts on the 28th of September. Mondays and Fridays for twelve weeks.

Topics Discussed In This Episode:

  • What Padraig’s poem means to him, reflecting back on it
  • Life being circular
  • Padraig’s writing process
  • The beauty in the confluence of various things coming together
  • Padraig’s roots within writing poetry
  • Embracing the flourishing of life 
  • Isolation within artists
  • The “peasant poet”
  • Cultural conflict
  • Shelter and the shadow
  • Leaning into self-discovery within our life
  • Considering things that have been ingrained within us and actively challenging their purpose within our live
  • Poetry being the unfolding of the unexpected
  • Finding beauty within the imperfections
  • Being interested in looking
  • Meditation within daily life

Pádraig’s Instagram 

Pádraig’s Website

Sep 13, 2020

About Colin: Colin Frangicetto is a multidisciplinary visual artist, musician (Circa Survive & Psychic Babble), and podcaster (The Cosmic Nod). He lives and works in Portland, OR.

Topics Discussed In This Episode:

  • The genesis of Circa Survive
  • Colin’s experiences with psychedelic drugs at an early age, and how it affected his view of life in both the present and future
  • Empathy towards others
  • Being present with an individual
  • Lessons learned within political unrest
  • Learning to intentionally listen to those who you disagree with
  • “Being your own Buddha” and living the teachings you subscribe to
  • Colin’s journey with ayahuasca
  • Intentions of reciprocity
  • The concept of giving and taking
  • Homelessness being on the rise within L.A. and Portland
  • Giving your life to the arts
  • Life as an artist
  • The difficulty of not being able to tour throughout the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Circa Survive’s “rhythm of touring” 
  • An artists’ work turning into a brand
  • Being connected to yourself and being comfortable in your own skin
  • Genuine artists and self-proclaimed artists

Colin’s Instagram 

Colin’s Website

Aug 27, 2020

About Carlos: Carlos Torres has been tattooing for over 20 years and is mostly self-taught. Early in his career, Carlos worked at a couple of tattoo shops before he got his big break at So. Cal Tattoo in San Pedro, CA. It was there he learned the most and built his tattoo portfolio. Carlos specializes in black & grey realism and surrealism tattoos and loves creating original pieces of art. In addition to tattooing, he enjoys photography, painting, sculpting, teaching workshops, and traveling. His travels to international and domestic conventions have earned him awards including Best Small Black & Gray, Best Large Black & Gray, and Best Backpiece.

In October of 2017, Carlos opened his own studio, The Raven and The Wolves. This fine art gallery and tattoo studio is located in the heart of downtown Long Beach and is home to 8 artists.

Topics Discussed In This Episode:

  • Carlos’ start in tattooing
  • The power of mentorship 
  • Apprenticeship in the tattoo practice
  • Intuition and learning to be in-tune with your gut
  • The ever-changing nature of tattooing
  • The art of tattooing in relation to other mediums 
  • Carlos’ love for realism 
  • Being a “loose painter on skin” 
  • Mastering a medium 
  • Mood and stress having a factor in tattooing
  • The human element, and subjectivity towards ideas
  • The clients desire for a tattoo, versus the artist’s interpretation and advice
  • Carlos’ recent work within oil paints
  • Freedom 
  • Growing up in the ghetto
  • Staying positive in the midst of life
  • Teaching making you a better artist
  • Being informed by toggling back between art medium
  • Covid-19 and Carlos’ time spend thinking about lif
  • Taking time off and implementing fresh ideas into your ar
  • Creatives becoming caricatures of themselves
  • Having child-like sensibilities with your art practice
  • “Holding onto your dinosaurs
  • Observing people losing their creative instinct
  • The cliche’s of adulthood
  • Storing ideas and inspiration

Carlos’ Instagram 

Carlos’ Website

Aug 18, 2020

About Sophia: Sophia Rokhlin is an author, speaker, and nonprofit organizer dedicated to supporting the conservation of indigenous wisdom and territory. Through engaged botany and ecology, she bridges the worlds of traditional ecological knowledge and Western science.

She is a Program Coordinator at the Chaikuni Institute, supporting sustainable ayahuasca cultivation and reforestation in the Peruvian Amazon. She is a co-author of When Plants Dream: Ayahuasca, Amazonian Shamanism, and the Global Psychedelic Renaissance (Watkins, 2019) on the global spread of ayahuasca. She helps coordinate Folk Medicine, a live-stream benefit for communities of the Amazon rainforest impacted by COVID-19. She sits in the Ayahuasca Community Committee for the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines. Her research appears in publications including the New York Times and the BBC.

Topics Discussed In This Episode:

  • The beginning stages of Sophia’s work with indigenous people groups
  • How human communities understand and grow in community with each other
  • The differences between the “American path” vs the path that indigenous people groups take
  • The association of wavelengths and the togetherness of individuals
  • How western culture has lost a sense of togetherness
  • The concept of reciprocity
  • “Sowing seeds for the future, while living in the present”
  • Capitalism and the approach to success
  • Coronavirus and it’s affect to our larger structures
  • Working together in teams
  • Happiness
  • Technology and social innovations
  • How indigenous people groups approach health and wellness
  • America viewing health in an allopathic way
  • Environmentalism
  • The romanticization of interconnectedness
  • The traditional and modern uses of Ayahuasca
  • Meditation, present-mindedness, and prayer
  • The loss of ritual within modern society
  • Being honest with yourself
  • Living in a world full of tools, but having the lack of community to utilize them
  • Human wisdom
  • The mindset of jumping from interest to interest, rather than going deeper into a context
  • Art being an expression of exploration

Sophia’s Instagram 

Sophia’s Website

Aug 6, 2020

About William: William von Hippel, Ph.D., grew up in Alaska, got his B.A. at Yale and his PhD at the University of Michigan, and then taught for a dozen years at Ohio State University before finding his way to Australia, where he is a professor of psychology at the University of Queensland. He has published more than a hundred articles, chapters, and edited books in social psychology, and his research has been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, The Economist, the BBC, Le Monde, El Mundo, Der Spiegel, and The Australian.

Topics Discussed In This Episode:

  • William’s start in social evolutionary science
  • The fear we experience being attributed to evolution
  • Technology affecting our evolution
  • Social vs. technological innovations
  • The difference and similarities between hunter and gatherers and us now living in the modern world
  • Great ideas being found
  • Sexual selection within evolution and how it has shifted with the influence of dating apps and the internet
  • Maximizers vs. satisficers
  • Finding the fundamental purpose of your life
  • The meaning of life
  • Coronavirus and self-isolation
  • The evolution of collaboration
  • Being present-minded
  • The fallibility of memories
  • Sociopathic tendencies within humans 
  • The cost of empathy
  • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and self-actualization
  • “Killing the Mastadon”
  • How art and science fit within evolution. 
  • Objectivity
  • The acceptance of the truth
  • The end result of science and art being incredibly similar
  • The concept of the “starving artist”

The Social Leap

Jul 28, 2020

About CJ: Cj Hendry (b. 1988) is a New York based artist originally from Brisbane, Australia. Globally renowned for her large-scale, photo-realistic drawings of consumer goods and immense, interactive exhibitions, she has developed a dedicated following through her unique brand of technical mastery and conceptual depth. 

A self-professed “lover of products”, Hendry is heir to the Pop Art tradition that firmly established depictions of everyday objects and mass culture in the art historical canon. In the footsteps of Andy Warhol, Hendry generates instantaneously appealing images that celebrate kitsch aesthetics and it’s ubiquitous presence in contemporary digital culture.

More recently, the artist has incorporated new subject matter to delve into deep-seated concerns and anxieties of current society. After seven years of studying architecture and finance in Australia, Hendry abandoned the endeavor in 2014 to pursue art full-time. She has since presented 6 solo exhibitions across Australia, the U.S., and Asia. In 2017, the artist collaborated with esteemed fashion house Christian Louboutin to present her first works in color during the 2017 edition of Art Basel in Hong Kong.

Topics Discussed In This Episode:

  • Adaptability
  • Not being bogged down by life and “going on with the show”
  • The dynamic of achieving greatness without falling into individualistic, isolated, and greedy viewpoints.
  • Discipline, and its relation to our daily life. 
  • The importance of community, and how opening yourself up and allowing people to be involved with what you are doing brings about a particular level of freedom.
  • The concept of creative energy - Being relaxed, calm, and effortless within your life and art practice.
  • Art not about being able to draw something well. Rather, art being more about the conceptual nature behind it.
  • Creatively letting go of what others think about you, and doing work that is fulfilling for yourself within art.
  • The concept of working hard and living humbly.
  • Triumphing in the midst of defeats.

CJ Hendry’s Instagram

CJ Hendry’s Website

Jul 23, 2020

About Anna: Anna Park is a contemporary artist based in New York City, creating pieces that blur the lines between figurative and abstract work. 

Creating a dazed, yet emotional experience, Anna’s central content revolves around larger bodies of people within social settings while provoking a vaporous and ethereal sensation.

Her most recent work takes on a new form, having a larger, tangled, and fragmented abstraction that envelops the viewer as the cacophony of black and white charcoal reveals intimate messages relating to society and the people we interact with.

Topics Discussed In This Episode:

  • The inspiration behind her most recent work describing them as an “amalgamation of people”
  • The desire for “the viewer can become the voyager” 
  • Anna feeling that the inspiration for her new body of work can be attributed to her living in New York City 
  • The dynamic of paintings feeling nostalgic and how our subconscious draws from past memories without truly knowing why
  • Work and life during the quarantine
  • The dynamic of creating art in a self-fulfilling way vs creating art specifically for other people
  • Anna’s upbringing moving from multiple states and her interactions with her mentor, Bruce Roberson, and how he “taught her everything” and how it solidified Anna’s desire to be an artist
  • Gratitude surrounding Anna’s move to New York
  • Submergence within different cultures
  • Community
  • Power structures and how toxic masculinity has permeated the world and made it difficult to empathize and move past our hierarchical viewpoints

Anna Park’s Instagram

Anna Park’s Website

Jul 17, 2020

About Ryan: Ryan York is a Doctor of Philosophy, postdoctoral scholar within the department of neurobiology at Stanford University, and an author of over a dozen publications. 

His research is focused on the evolutionary genomic basis of brain and behavior with a specific interest in the courtship behaviors of Lake Malawi cichlid fish.

Having a passion for music and working in constant collaboration with individuals such as Justin Daashuur Hopkins, Ryan borders the line between highly intellectual compositions and spontaneous, free-flowing, and seemingly primal soundscapes

Topics Discussed In This Episode:

  • Ryan’s work as an evolutionary biologist, and his specific project working within computational methods in understanding behaviors
  • Applying concepts used within artificial intelligence and using them for work in other areas of science
  • The overlap of art and science 
  • The idea of repeatability 
  • Collective consciousness and collaboration 
  • Provisional answers and the unknown 
  • Continually shifting based upon your ever-changing context 
  • Scientific having ties to elements of spirituality 
  • Free will 
  • Humility 
  • The power of the mind 
  • Philosophy of science 
  • Different levels of understanding 
  • Dogmatism 
  • Placebo’s having a similarity to art 
  • The subconscious vs analytical instinct 
  • Slow vs fast understanding and experience 
  • Creativity being an exploration of what the world is

Ryan’s Stanford Profile

Ryan’s Instagram

Jul 7, 2020

About Daniele: Bolelli reads a passage about fear from his book, “Not Afraid: On Fear, Heartbreak, Raising a Baby Girl, and Cage Fighting”

Daniele Bolelli (born January 11, 1974) is an Italian-American writer, university professor, martial artist, and podcaster based in Southern California. He is the author of several books on philosophy, and martial arts, including On the Warrior's Path. Known for his writing since the 1990s in Italy and the early 2000s in the United States, Bolelli rose to greater public prominence in the 2010s, beginning with his appearances on popular podcasts such as The Joe Rogan Experience. He went on to create his own podcasts, and has hosted The Drunken Taoist since 2012 and History on Fire since 2015.

Bolelli holds M.As in American Indian Studies and history from UCLA and California State University, Long Beach, and did postdoctoral research in history at Cardiff University. As a professor, he has taught a wide variety of courses in the arts, humanities, and social sciences on topics including Native American history and culture, Taoist philosophy, and Ancient Rome. He teaches at CSULB and Santa Monica College.

Jul 2, 2020

About Jerome: Acclaimed and revered painter, Jerome Lagarrigue, was born in France to a father who was an illustrator and a mother who was a writer and journalist. Being rooted within a world of creativity and culture, Jerome’s life - from youth to adulthood, can be described as a type of compelling metamorphosis, including experiences both from a creative and racial point of view which directly saturates his current work as a painter. 

Finding love within depicting movement inside of his work, Jerome continues to create powerful work that calls into question particular aspects of the world we live in and frames the subtle and reflective essence of human beings. 

Topics Discussed In This Episode:

  • Jerome being exposed to two different cultures, and how it offered both confusing and later, harmonious element to his life as a whole
  • The topic of race – its objectivity, functionality, horrific nature, and the struggles that have come with being associated with a specific race
  • Jerome’s upbringing - living both in France and Harlem, and how he was always drawing as a child
  • The effects of social injustices on racial identity 
  • The layered nature of the social justice protests and riots
  • Capitalism shaping the way we live our lives
  • The genesis of creativity
  • Decisions of engaging in a subject matter 
  • Searching continually within art
  • The power in saying no
  • Creative instinct
  • The wave and the weight of the reaction to coronavirus 
  • Captivation within the movement and process of painting
  • Stanly Kubrick’s process and its relation to creativity
  • The growth from the mentality of seeing the world as either one or another absolute into viewing the world as being “gray” 
  • An Individual’s desire to be comfortable rather than be challenged
  • Jerome’s decision to paint riots 
  • The connection of energy, nature, and humanism within paining
  • Feeling, rather than reacting

Jerome’s Instagram

Jun 28, 2020

About CJ: CJ Johnson is an acclaimed Speaker and Digital Marketing Consultant, servicing Fortune 50 clients worldwide and a prominent digital influencer with hundreds of thousands of online supporters. CJ is best known for creating successful influencer marketing campaigns as both an influencer and a Consultant, helping content creators and companies maximize their ROI. As a successful influencer, CJ uses his voice for creative storytelling to provide inspiration, digital marketing tips, and work/life balance advice in our modern era. As a Consultant, CJ specializes in digital brand strategy, creative campaigns, influencer marketing, future of work, diversity & inclusion, and trend forecasting. His work specializes in the technology, fashion, lifestyle, political, travel, and entertainment industries. Currently, CJ is a GQ Insider, Google Next Gen Policy Leader, and a Digital Marketing Consultant to innovative companies.

Topics Discussed In This Episode:

  • The joys of having a daughter
  • Couch surfing while finishing college in Los Angeles
  • Finding success through design and conscious actions
  • Doing marketing for tech companies
  • How money plays into an overall idea of success

Jun 28, 2020

About Steven: Steven Assael (born in 1957), is an award-winning American painter, credited most for his masterful artistry within his figure work and modern re-envisioning of the neo-classical, naturalist, and romantic techniques of old. 

Being captivated with what the human form and image represent, ever-changing and seemingly random elements and deeply rooted emotional intelligence, Assael traverses what it is to be human, and the subtleties included within an organic connection. 

Assael’s latest work includes his collaboration between himself and his represented gallery titled “Now We Meet Again” which focuses on individuals presenting images of loved ones, or individuals of significance to Assael through Zoom calls. Working through the purpose of the painting, Assael paints not only the image, but interweaves the very emotional framework and intentions the recipient presented beforehand.  

Topics Discussed In This Episode:

  • Seeking out advantages within painting and connecting with people during quarantine
  • Separation bringing us together
  • The intimate process of working with models and how they directly or indirectly affect the painting
  • Allowing for change within his overall creative vision
  • Teaching painting over Zoom
  • What makes a good teacher
  • The search for finding the right questions to ask
  • Experience motivating change and providing a renewal of what you want
  • Creating situations of exploration for oneself
  • Extracting the right vocabulary while creating
  • The element of control and power that children express when drawing different objects
  • Understanding the dynamic of copying a subject while painting, and how that evolves into a deeper exploration of shapes, tone, atmospheres, and the figure itself. 
  • Giving breadth to form 
  • A great work of art being infectious
  • The nature of romanticism
  • Working from life being an “inquiry into your own humanness” 
  • The idea of questioning and rebelling within a visual outlook
  • Human nature
  • The environment of New York throughout the last forty years, and how it has changed
  • The importance of theatre and the work of actors
  • Symmetry and asymmetry, and its importance within artform and observation
  • “Everything is everything” approach to life
  • Learning what to see flowing into learning how to paint
  • Nature being sporadic, and how we must become “like water” in order to succeed in our strategies in life
  • A commercialized outlook within the art world
  • Art becoming entertainment
  • Faith and doubt
  • Questioning of spirituality and existence

Jun 23, 2020

About Damian: Damian Joseph Kulash Jr. (born October 7, 1975) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and music video director who is best known for being the lead singer and guitarist of the American rock band OK Go.

Damien was born in Washington DC and spent a large amount of time studying at the Interlochen Arts Camp. He was active in bands at his time at Brown University, eventually winning a prize in music composition.

From the time span of 2005-2007 while the band released and was touring off of the “Oh No” album, the music video “A Million Ways” ended up being the most downloaded video with over 9 million downloads.

The band decided to cut ties with their major record label deals with EMI and Capitol Records, and eventually started their own label, Paracadute, in 2010.

OK Go released their most recent album completely free on their website, which includes rarities, B-sides, and covers of other songs. 

Topics Discussed In This Episode:

  • Damian discusses how both he and his family contracted coronavirus and how in hindsight, the time spent quarantined yielded different effects and revelations that Damian was not expecting.
  • Damian speaks on how he personally finds hope within the world and how it comes to him emotionally rather than a linearly or algorithmically.
  • “When the world breaks down or the rules shift in such a drastic way, it’s a little like the shackles come off and everything begins to reconfigure. That is terrifying but it also brings an element of hope…” 
  • Deconstruction and equalization of power structures within the world and hope shining through the cracks of society shifting. 
  • The depth of what we experience and how it relates to the “Truth”.
  • Life being a puzzle with the pieces everchanging, how it relates to our humanity, and how we see others and ourselves change. 
  • Giving yourself the freedom to tread new waters, and to genuinely feel emotions.
  • Dynamic of how we are all working together for a common goal.
  • Collaboration and calling back to others who have to tread the path before us. “We are not individual actors”

Damian’s Letter For “All Together Now”

Rebecca Solnit - “'The Impossible Has Already Happened': What Coronavirus Can Teach Us About Hope”

Jun 19, 2020

About Blake: Blake Mills is an American singer, songwriter, guitarist, composer, producer, and owner of “Record Collection” and a Grammy Award-winning artist based in California. 

Mills has performed on over two hundred recordings, released four solo records, and worked with artists such as Lana Del Rey, Fiona Apple, and Bob Dylan.

Playing as both a session guitarist and composing his own material, Mills meticulously masters both the abstract and intentionality of multiple instruments and seeks to explore the sounds they each have to offer. 

After working with artists such as Fiona Apple, and Andrew Bird, Mills revisited the studio and developed the sounds and resonant textures that became “Mutable Set” - a collection of eleven songs that focus on the dissonance of modern life. 

Show Notes:

  • 0:00:00​ - Introduction
  • 0:04:38​ - Origin of the Name of New Record "Mutable Set"
  • 0:07:19​ - The Bigger Picture of the Album
  • 0:11:41​ - The Self Above Any Specific Role in Music
  • 0:17:44​ - Working On Own Projects VS For A Client
  • 0:22:09​ - Collaborating and Experimenting with Perfume Genius on "Set My Heart On Fire Immediately"
  • 0:26:28​ - Creating Unique Tones and Characteristics Lead to Artistic Fulfillment
  • 0:31:16​ - Using The Environment and Studio as a Unique Characteristic of the Process
  • 0:37:27​ - Sound City Studio, The Hybrid of Professional and Home Studio
  • 0:40:40​ - Partnership With Tony Berg Through The Years
  • 0:44:12​ - Mystery Job of Record Production
  • 0:46:48​ - Constant Desire to Write New Songs
  • 0:49:32​ - How "Mutable Set" Began and the Many Collaborations
  • 0:56:23​ - In Love With A Sound That Can't Be Recreated
  • 1:04:43​ - Future Plans
  • 1:06:53​ - Wrap Up

Blake Mills Instagram 

Jun 16, 2020

About Christine: Christine Yuan is an Emmy-award winning director whose television documentaries have won Best Culture & History Documentary at the 2018 LA Area Emmy, Best Documentary at the 2018 Golden Mic Awards, and Best Feature Documentary at the 2017 National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards. Her narrative work has screened at the Cannes Film Festival Court Metrage, Marfa Film Festival, Los Angeles Film Festival, The Massachusetts Independent Film Festival, San Francisco International Festival of Short Films, and more. Her commercial work has been shortlisted for D&AD’s Next Director Award, 1.4 Awards Show, Young Guns 15 Awards, and Shoot’s Director’s Showcase. Her short films and music videos have been featured on Nowness, i-D, Dazed, Fader, booooooom, Vice, and more.

Topics Discussed In This Episode:

  • Discipline being instilled through the act of running and physical activities
  • Haruki Murakami’s book “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running”
  • Painting as an introduction to Yuan’s interest in creating
  • Lessons she learned from her grandmother about the joy of living a simple life
  • Staying grounded and present
  • Her short film, “DIYU”
  • Kundalini Yoga
  • Her background growing up in Christian schools
  • Talent and discipline
  • The idea of “Imposter Syndrome”
  • Creating substance in one’s own being
  • Growing up as an only child
  • Accepting and finding catharsis in loneliness
  • The differences between directing a commercial, music video, and/or a short film
  • Gender inequality that exists in the film industry

Jun 11, 2020

About Bao: Bao Nguyen is an award-winning filmmaker based in Los Angeles and Saigon. As the child of Vietnamese war refugees, he first pursued law to appease his parents but soon found his passion in film. His directorial debut, Live from New York!, opened the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival. He is an alumnus of Berlinale Talents and the Firelight Media Documentary Lab. He earned his BA at New York University and his MFA at the School of Visual Arts.

“Be Water
In 1971, before his superstardom, Bruce Lee returned to Hong Kong to get the opportunities to be a lead actor that eluded him in America. In the two years before his untimely death, Lee completed four films, which changed the history of film and made him a household name. Through rare archival footage, memories of family and friends, and his own words, the story of that time and Lee’s prior experiences are told with an intimacy and immediacy that have infrequently been used in earlier tellings of his legend.

Growing up and living between the West and the East, Lee was ahead of his time in thinking about the transnational audience. He experienced the racist reaction of an American film industry inundated by a subservient and menacing image of Asian people—and learned he’d have to tell his own stories to escape it. Director Bao Nguyen elegantly weaves Lee’s personal struggle for visibility with that of his times and reminds us that though it was for a short time, Lee’s star burned so brightly we still see it today. 
Topics Discussed In This Episode:
  • Nguyen’s views on the coronavirus and the recent protests in the US
  • Racial equality
  • Nguyen’s experiences as a child, having parents who were war refugees from Vietnam, his experiences drawing out of curiosity for storytelling, and how it eventually developed into a multi-dimensional, intentional, and intimate form of filmmaking
  • Bruce Lee’s impact on American and Asian American culture, which captured Bao’s attention in a unique way
  • Within his early films, Bruce “was fighting for his voice to be heard.”
  • As Bao matured and entered college, his views on social justice and the stories that could be told through these particular individuals began to flourish.
  • The more intimate, immature version of Bruce’s life stood out within Bao’s research. Within this point of time, Lee was taught how to have a strong sense of identity as an Asian American.
  • Bao and Yoshino speak on the idea of having no regrets and letting go with particular things in life, and how being grateful and present-minded is vital.
  • Yoshino and Bao talk about the role of a teacher and the dynamic they have with their students. A great teacher differs from a normal teacher in their ability to allow students to explore themselves honestly.
  • Bruce’s desired to have his cultural viewpoints expressed in American culture
  • Creating an atmosphere of connectivity

Vimeo - Bao Nguyen

Sundance - “Be Water”

Jun 8, 2020

About Ludovic: On October 16, 1994, Ludovic Nkoth (LNkoth) was born in Cameroon, West Africa. Growing up in African, Ludovic learned to express himself creatively at a very young age. Through his vibrant use of color and ability to capture life through a distinct lens, Ludovic’s past time was consumed with rough sketches of the beautiful cities of Cameroon.

Ludovic’s work is heavily informed by the events in his life which led him to move, as a young boy of 13 years old, from his native Cameroon to the United States. Leaving his birth-mother and family, the young man found solace and comfort in the creative process while being raised primarily as a stranger in a strange land. It wasn’t until he migrated to the united states that he began to reconsider his own culture as a catalyst to locate his identity. For Ludovic, who learned to speak English as a teenager in a world completely alien to him, still – at times – finds himself displaced in his adopted country. In the states, he is viewed as an African, but in Africa, he is viewed American – leaving the passionate young artist in a sort of ambiguous and cyclical displacement of identity. Given the contentious issues of identity, patriotism, Confederate ideologies and racial bias growing in the States at the time of this writing, the paintings and his perspective seem of increasing relevance.

As such, the work presents a complex but highly personal investigation of a very personalized view of Africa; his family history; and the cultures, traditions, and ideas of Africa and its diaspora pre-and post-colonialism. They are approached with a type of naive brusqueness, an immediacy and boldness of colour that suggests both a passion and sense of discovery. African symbols such as masks, patterns, and other symbols of identity and culture remain consistent throughout. He states that through creation, the works attempt to “regain the things that were taking away from [his] people. Things such as power, culture, the idea of self and the idea of being black and proud.”

Topics Discussed In This Episode:

  • Film by Werner Herzog “Cave of Forgotten Dreams”
  • The origins of creativity
  • Growing up in Cameroon and moving to the US at the age of 13
  • Meeting artist Kerry James Marshall
  • Identity
  • The civil war in his native country of Cameroon
  • Loving one’s self
  • Understanding traditional “voodoo” practices in Africa versus the demonization of “voodoo” by European settlers
  • Comparing the historical colonization patterns of the United States and Africa
  • The importance of preserving Cameroonian tradition
  • Clarity through the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine
  • Political structures in Cameroon

May 23, 2020

About Janna: Canadian painter Janna Watson uses abstraction as both an escape from and return to the real. As the world we know dematerializes into paint strokes, so too does her paint take stage as its very own character in a multi-act drama of composition. Bundles of colour, made up of discrete yet inseparable instances of pigment—what Watson refers to as “moments”—are teeming and poised as though caught mid-multiplication. Sweeps of paint re-direct sharply and fold over themselves; thin, rigid ink lines cut into the pictorial field as rudimentary elements in an increasingly complex system of painterly language. All the components play out on a surface of slow, chromatic gradation. Like many of Watson’s players, these backdrops tenderly gesture toward the familiar, stopping just short of representation. The result is a conceptual project (and distinct, stylistic signature) that speaks to a contemporary milieu in which abstract painting is not the retreat of meaning into an unrecognizable realm, but rather the emergence of medium as a “figure” in its own self-inscribed world of feeling and being. Watson does more than reveal paint’s potential to emote—she gives it a space to reveal itself, in its own time.

Janna Watson holds an honours degree in Drawing and Painting from the Ontario College of Art and Design, and since graduating has exhibited extensively across Canada and internationally in over thirty solo exhibitions. Her work has appeared in notable public collections including those of TD Bank, CIBC, Telus, the Ritz-Carlton, ONi ONE, the Soho Metropolitan Hotel, and Saks Fifth Avenue. In 2013, she was commissioned to create an impressive, 11-foot painting for the lobby of AURA, Canada’s tallest residential building.

Watson’s paintings circulate regularly at international fairs, including Art Toronto, CONTEXT Art Miami, and in Seattle, where they were recently featured by Artsy in its list of “10 Works to Collect at the Seattle Art Fair.” Watson’s work has been covered by publications such as The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, NOW Magazine, and House & Home.

Janna Watson also runs Studio Watson, a business dedicated to redefining interiors with hand-tufted floor pieces inspired by the artist’s abstract compositions.

She lives and works in Toronto.

Topics Discussed In This Episode:

  • Janna’s experience as a youth growing up in a small town in northern Ontario with her father being a Pentecostal pastor. 
  • “Living in somewhat of a bubble… “naive atmosphere” as a child.” She was an introvert and spent her growing life in the church, which Janna says added to the naïve atmosphere. 
  • Janna reflects about her experiences coming out at the age of 18, her process of beginning to question the very faith she grew up believing, and how the world might be moving around her. 
  • Janna explains how she came to a particular point of surrender in the wrestling of her faith and personal life. – Critical point within her story; being a major catalyst for who she is today. 
  • Janna realized later on in her life how much she needed to “touch into” the spiritual world and tap into surrender. 
  • The process of covering all of her paintings with resin during a rough period in her life. “Shiny and sexy – glossing over the flaws.”  
  • Janna explains speaking in tongues and how she personally uses it within her prayer life and her thoughts on how speaking in this manner somehow transports her to her subconscious state of mind to be able to translate those feelings in her artwork. 
  • Janna’s grandfather pushing her to draw the “essence of things” in her drawings and how they needed to be wilder. He taught her the art of abstraction. 
  • Janna reflects on the title of her show speaking to the way we are currently living our lives as the coronavirus is occurring.

May 21, 2020

About David: David Cheifetz is an internationally acclaimed and collected artist who continues to push the limits of contemporary realist oil painting. David and his family live in Olympia, WA.

"Reflecting the language of dreams, these dark, hyperrealistic tableaux suggest bizarre and intriguing narratives. Cheifetz paints alla prima, an oil painting technique in which wet paint is applied to previous layers of wet paint. He works without detailed underpainting or studies, creating atmosphere through prominent, expressive brushstrokes and strong chiaroscuro."

Topics Discussed In This Episode:

  • David’s time in quarantine, and reflecting during this time
  • David’s workshop cancelation in Italy due to COVID-19
  • Feeling out-of-the-game, but only in perception
  • His family life, and time with his children
  • Painting and the inspiration that goes behind it.
  • Allowing himself to find meaning in a painting after it is finished
  • The dynamic of Cheifetz’s painting vs. writing practice
  • Experiences of having children and David’s reflection on approaching his own personal life with an element of forgiveness.

May 18, 2020

About Erin: Erin Nicole Henry is a contemporary artist based in Atlanta, Georgia, where she began working in the arts at an early age. After leaving art school, her cutting edge paintings made a loud arrival into the art world since they began regularly showing in multiple galleries around the city.

Erin examines her environment through surrealist portraits of the human figure. Her work is intentional, with confident brushstrokes, rich layers of color, and details that pull you in. Her unique style and curious subject matter have captured the attention of art lovers and collectors across the globe. Working from her studio in Atlanta, Erin has chosen to use her growing platform as an artist and a working model to spark conversation and bring awareness to issues surrounding LGBTQ equality, sexual harassment, and abuse.

Topics Discussed In This Episode:

  • Differences in her work as a painter in contrast to her work as a mode
  • Her love for horror films
  • The superficiality that exists in the fashion world
  • Consumerism
  • Healthy understandings of body image
  • Being nomadic
  • Finding purpose
  • Museums: The Broad
  • Artists: Matthew Barney, Jenny Saville
  • Films: Midsommar (Ari Aster
  • Authors: Nancy Farmer, Lidia Yuknavitch, and David Foster Wallace

May 4, 2020

About Aja: “As a psychic and medium, I find meditation to be a mandatory part of my private practice. Meditation is a foundational piece of my ability to connect to the other side, and to refresh my energy.

This meditation is part of an ongoing project that my partner and I are working on entitled, “Tides”. Each meditation is channeled through my automatic writing practice, allowing the spirits I work with to directly connect each listener with themes and imagery they believe can activate change, healing, and release. The listener is encouraged to allow themselves to be guided through this third eye journey without expectation to experience whatever comes through. Whether or not you receive messages or guidance from your spiritual teams or your subconscious - it all matters. Do your best to surrender to whatever your mind wishes to share with you.

Enjoy the meditation.” - Aja Daashuur


May 3, 2020

About Young Pueblo: The inward movement can be summarized as follows: we observe ourselves, we accept what we find without judgment, we let it go, and the actual release causes our transformation. We are already always changing, but when we focus on healing we can change in the direction of our choosing; these are moments when we intentionally reclaim our power. Every moment we take to know ourselves, we return as someone new.- Yung Pueblo

Diego Perez is a meditator, writer, and speaker who is widely known on Instagram and various social media networks through his pen name Yung Pueblo. Online he reaches hundreds of thousands of people every month through his written works that focus on the reality of self-healing, the movement from self-love to unconditional love, and the wisdom that comes when we truly work on knowing ourselves. His first book, Inward, was self-published and quickly became a bestseller on Amazon. A revised and expanded edition of Inward has recently been published and is now available in bookstores around the world.

The name Yung Pueblo means young people; it serves to remind him of his Ecuadorian roots, his experiences in activism, and that the collective of humanity is in the midst of important growth. Diego's practice of Vipassana meditation, as taught by S.N. Goenka, has given him a deeper understanding of liberation that inspires his writing. Through writing and speaking he aims to support the healing of the individual, knowing that when people release their personal burdens it helps humanity build a global peace.

Topics Discussed In This Episode:

  • A discussion on Yung Pueblo's recent book, “Inward”
  • How creativity has emerged from letting go in his meditation journey, and exploring healing through writing
  • Attending meditation retreats and his practice of Vipassana 
  • The importance of practicing meditation even for individuals who haven't had major life traumas 
  • Selfless and unconditional love
  • Self-love
    A reflection on Yung Pueblo's addiction to pleasure and his awareness of how much it dictated his life
  • The idea of embracing change, and being present in the moment
  • Overcoming an aversion to introspective reflection of himself, and becoming ok with being alone
  • Finding balance amongst his writing practice, administrative work, and meditation
  • Books: Bhagavad Gita

Apr 28, 2020

About Daan: Daan Noppen (1977), born in Arnhem (The Netherlands) is an international artist mainly working in drawing and painting. He is best known for his realistic larger than life drawings of portraits and bodies. Physics and it’s relation to our being, our emotions, plays a big part in his work. The artist plays with notions of reality by projecting time as a physical dimension. Rather than becoming something ‘scientific’ this opens up a visual world of our hidden layers of our desires, our pain and our cry for being loved.

‘Amsterdam based artist Daan Noppen brings a special dynamism to his pencil drawings of still life and portraits. His works are not only eye-catching for their precise layering of details, but also in their massive size that gives his subjects a more palpable presence. A closer look at each piece reveals mathematical equations in between the pencil lines that relate to our reality. More recent works express the artist’s continued fascination with mathematics, geometry, and physics, as his figures appear to be gauged, dissipate, and intermingle in a void of empty vector space’. - Hi-Fructose Magazine (March 2016)

Daan Noppen’s work has been exhibited in New York(USA), New Orleans(USA), Mexico DF(Mexico), Shanghai(China), Metz(France), Luxembourg(Luxembourg), Munchen(Germany), Traun(Austria), Antwerp(Belgium) and in Amstedam (The Netherlands). The artists Symmetry I&II drawing recently won an A’design Award 2016 in the category Arts, craft and ready made.

Topics Discussed In This Episode:

  • His origin story within the arts
  • The breaking down of traditional gender roles
  • A residency that he did at Andrew Salgado’s studio in London
  • The differentiation between tasteful nudes and pornography
  • Using different creative skill sets in conjunction with your current art medium
  • Book: “The Way Of The Superior Man” by David Deida

Apr 13, 2020

About Yore:

Equal parts emotive and angelic, Yore’s voice is one of those rare wonders that can make the hairs on your arms stand to attention. Quietly arriving on the scene this year with his hypnotic single “Knew Better,” the LA-based artist is bringing a conceptual approach to modern soul music, blending electronic and classical influences with meticulously layered vocals.

It has been a long time coming – having previously held down a career in music under a different moniker, an intense period of meditation and solitude led to a reinvention as Yore. There’s a certain yearning to his compositions, something Yore describes as “the nostalgia of what could have been” – combined with his shadowy, cinematic visuals it makes for an intense experience. - HUNGER Magazine, 2018

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