Friday, November 3, 2017

Jessica Lynne

Photo Courtesy Of Jessica Lynne

WHERE ARE YOU RIGHT NOW AND HAVE YOU ALWAYS LIVED THERE?
I am currently in New York City where I've lived since 2007.

WHERE ARE YOU FROM ORGINALLY?
I was born and raised on the Virginia coast in the city of Hampton, Virginia.

WHAT'S THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR CITY OR HOMETOWN?
I love this question because I have a deep love for these two places that have shaped me in meaningful ways. Coastal Virginia is one of the most beautiful places in the world to me. It's the reason I love the water so much, why fall is my favorite season, why I'm such a history nerd, why Missy Elliot will always be one of my favorite rappers. First and foremost, I am a Black Southern Woman so this means that Virginia is the place that holds my roots. I cherish that. At the same time,  New York is where I blossomed which sounds a bit clich√©, but it's true. This is the city I came to at 17 full of many questions. It's the city in which I have lived my entire adult life. The place where I grew into my radical set of politics, the place where I have met some of my dearest friends in the world. New York has a pulse and spirit that is hard to match. And, what is special is about this city, particularly places like Brooklyn and Harlem, is its long relationships with the (Black) American South. That I am, in some ways, part of an ongoing conversation that predates me and will also outlive me.

WHAT WERE YOUR ASPIRATIONS GROWING UP?
Growing up, I was an overly zealous, overly ambitious child. For a moment, I wanted to be a pro-athlete. Then in high school, I was intent on becoming the Ambassador to Spain. By the time I got to college, I knew I wanted to be a writer of some kind. I had planned to major in Africana studies and Journalism at NYU, but I hated the journalism program. So, I took a minor in creative writing as an alternative and found in that program a place of experimentation and rigor that challenged me immensely. It was through this program that I discovered this thing called art criticism.

WHY WRITER?
I believe in the art of storytelling and I believe in the acts documentation and preservation of stories as a means of building archives. Writing is a tool to achieve that goal.

WHY ART?
I think artists, especially the artists who I often write about, are making some of the best work today. They are asking provocative, urgent questions about history, language, land, intimacy, and politics. In this way, they are not unlike all of us asking these big questions. I think artists just engage in this inquiry process in a uniquely fascinating manner. In writing about art, I find that I am learning about the world.

WHAT IS YOUR EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND?
I earned my B.A in Africana Studies with a minor in Creative Writing from New York University.

HOW DO YOU STAY ON TOP OF CULTURE?
I read a ton and I try to see as much art as possible. I'm using the word art broadly here: music, dance, visual and literary arts. I'm thankful to have a pretty eclectic group of friends and loved ones all over the world so when I travel, I also make it a point to ground my experience culturally. What should I see, hear, do thats arts related in this new city?

WHAT NOISE NEED TO BE NUMBED RIGHT NOW FOR PEOPLE TO REALLY LISTEN?
I don't know that I have the best answer for this so I will point you to a few stanzas from one of my favorite poems by Sonia Sanchez because I think it is relevant always:

"Reflections After the June 12th March for Disarmament"

I am here between the voices of our ancestors and the noise of the planet, between the surprise of death and life;
I am here because I shall not give the earth up to the nondreamers and earth molesters:
I am here to say to you: my body is full of veins like the bombs waiting to burst with blood. we must learn to suckle life not bombs and rhetoric rising up in redwhiteandblue patriotism;
I am here. and my breath/our breaths must thunder across this land arousing new breaths. new life. new people, who will live in peace and honor. 

WHO OR WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST INFLUENCE?
I don't know that I have just one influence. Instead, I think I am influenced in small ways by all the people who have made me—known and unknown. The grandmothers who were my  first examples of oral historians, of archivists. The mother who showed me how to take risks. The father who taught me that history is never linear, that our narratives are always unfolding.

HOW DOES YOUR ARTISTIC EXPRESSION TRANSLATE IN DIFFERENT AREAS OF YOUR LIFE?
think critics get a bad reputation for being these stuffy, snobby old hags when in reality, I'm quite the opposite. My style is not necessarily bombastic, but I love taking risks with my hair and personal style. There was a point in time when I aimed to have a uniform à la Janelle Monet, but these days I'm enjoying mixing and matching. My hair is probably what I enjoy playing around with the most though. Some months, for example, I'll have braids. At other times, I'll wear my hair straightened. And, of course, the fro is my go to.

WHAT BEAUTY ROUTINE DO YOU SWEAR BY?
These days I am committed to a simple face wash in the morning and at night followed by a great moisturizer; Glossier's boy brow in brown and black (I mix the two); Fenty Beauty highlighter stick in Rum; and a dark lip. It's the perfect daytime and night time look!

WHAT DO YOU GET UP TO OUTSIDE OF YOUR PROFESSION?
Seeing and experiencing art occupies so much of my world, but a good friend of mine has recently encouraged me to start running again. We're going to participate in a few races in early 2018 and it will be nice to focus my mind on a new and different challenge. Now, I just have to start training.

HOW DO YOU RETURN TO CENTER?
I am trying to be better about this and it has been tough recently. Ideally, my return to center involves a significant amount of solitude for meditation and reflection. The older I get, the more I realize that a return to center doesn't have to involve me doing a thing. It's actually better for me to learn how to sit with my self doing nothing in a space of deep quietude.

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