First Ladies

Turns out, ladies run $hit in the Real World just like we did back at Wesleyan. Yeah, I said it. And so, it’s only right to pay our respects to these diamond dames for tearing it up and always holding it down. As many of you know, “girls hating on girls” is one of my biggest pet peeves (symptomatic of “boys hating on girls”) and it often goes unchecked. Not here! Granted I’m not interested in bigging up or over-hyping any wackness (like Hilary Clinton) on some pseudo-Feminist crusade. Here are my picks for this week’s First Ladies:

Natalia Nakazawa

Yes, that’s my sister! Who also happens to be one of my favorite artists of all time…in the Known Universe. She is also not Filipina, Mexican or Puerto Rican. She did; however, receive her B.A. in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 2004 and recently finished her Masters Degree in Education at Queens College! From selected solo exhibitions in Charlotte, NC (our birthplace) and Providence, RI to more involved group exhibitions in NYC, Natalia continues to push the Art World to new heights. Hit up her website (courtesy of the wonderful Patrick Boyd) and support this Queen Bee! Check her out:

“Natalia Nakazawa is concerned with living beings: humans, animals, plants, and the environment all come under her loving scrutiny, to be manifested again in glorious, detailed abstraction. She creates luminous intricate paintings that “seek to express the universal concepts of faith, love, and sexuality”… Nakazawa cites tapestries and textiles, as well as Bjork, Chris Ofili, and Aboriginal paintings, as important influences in her aesthetic vocabulary. Using a strong color palette and a labor-intensive process of layering materials onto canvas, Nakazawa produces paintings that are psychedelic yet contemporary, glimmering with hope and aspiration.” (Jaishri Abichandani, excerpt from Queens International 2006). Next up is:

Nikki Jean

Born Nicholle Jean Leary, Nikki is one of them fierce singer, song-writer, pianist and performer types. She got her start with hip-hop band Nouveau Riche based out of Philly and has since collaborated with the one and only Lupe Fiasco on his second album “The Cool”. Presently, Nikki is traveling the world on the Glow in the Dark Tour with N.E.R.D, Kanye, Lupe and Rihanna (quite the line-up). Check her out in the “Hip Hop Saved My Life” video:

Nikki has accumulated quite an impressive archive of homemade youtube videos where she offers weekly updates, tastes of works-in-progress and everyday rants and raves. I find these humble efforts to connect with the public to be a generous gesture towards building relationships with her fans and de-mistifying the Industry at large. Take a look:

I feel you, girl. I LOVE T.I.

Well, those are this week’s First Ladies. I might add one or two as the day progresses. Remember, it’s not because we’re women, it’s because we’re the best. HA! I’m so serious…


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