You find the best treasures in hell...

Lemme explain.

2014 was arguably the worst year of my life.
A little over a year ago, after reeling from losing my sister and deciding to leave a marriage I was no longer growing from, I stumbled upon a frame shop in Piazza Pollarola here in Rome owned by a second generation frame craftsman named Sandro.

It really wasn't his frames I was drawn to, but more an advertisement in the front door of his shop for painting lessons. I inquired within and Sandro walked my mom and me over across the piazza and down the way to what would become a creative haven for me, Elena's studio.

I entered only with the desire to do something I've always been attracted to but never really tried...painting.
Of course I was overwhelmed with the beauty within...

And funny enough, my soul responded to this whimsical wonder of a place in truly unexpected ways...I found myself telling Elena not only the truth about what was going on with me, but dreams and ideas as well.

Elena and another one of my favorite people, internationally renowned artist Rolando Diaz

Much like the kindergarten classroom I used to facilitate as an educator or the classes I would run as the owner of The English Schoolhouse when it was a school, Elena reinforced in me the potential and power of being in a risk-free creative environment. I don't recall one time that she dismissed an idea of mine or had anything other than an encouraging, positive word to offer.

Now you would think that as a children's book author it would have dawned on me before now to collaborate with Elena on upcoming books and projects. Nope. It hadn't before recently. I think that my spirit just found so much fulfilment in simply being in her space, and company. What a gift it is to have such people in my life.

Anyway, one of the projects I'm currently working on is a fiction web series loosely based on my life entitled In Nero: Black Girls in Rome. There are several spin off projects related to it to date, including a mixtape, a photography series...and now, with Elena, an exhibition.

We are both taken with fairytales and often exchange our favorites and ones we know when I'm in her studio.
"Wouldn't it be cool to do an entire series on fairytales reimagined and retold through the In Nero lens?" I asked her a few weeks back.
"Siiiiiii," she replied, "Facciamo. Let's do it."

And then it was a plan.
And a dream I wasn't even aware I had
come true.

And I'm pleased and amazed to announce that our first collaborative exhibition entitled In Nero: Fairytales and Histories Reimagined and Retold will take place at Fox Gallery here in Rome on November 7 and will last through the new year.

How bitter and deliciously sweet the road has been.
And that just may be the point of it all.

Enjoy a sneak peek at a couple of the pieces Elena is working on right now for the exhibit...



Isn't it grand?

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