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Contemporary Artists' Education (CAE)



The world is filled with many points of influence and inspiration for artists and creatives.  This gives birth to various styles, innovative approaches to making art and the ability to tell a multitude of stories.  As an artist, I find it imperative to have access to information in order to begin my process.  I often use literature as a foundation for connecting the ideas that serve to give my narratives life.  One of my favorite writers is Ta Nehisi Coates, for the power that he taps into in weaving together stories, and narratives and the cultural capital he is willing to spend in order to give his writing life.  A recent novel that inspired a series of ideas that I am currently working through is titled The Water Dancer.   Equally, I find music a source of inspiration for the multitude of sources that informs it.  I have found much inspiration in music that fuses traditional and new experimental explorations of soundscapes.  One of my latest sources from my rotation of inspirational sources has been the jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington. 



I highlighted the fact that I admire the work of Coates and Kamasi Washington, but there are a multitude of writers and musicians whose creative prowess are rooted in and can spawn inspiration.  Find a piece of literature and a source of music that will serve as a foundation for a creative exploration.  If you are not inspired by the format of any literary resource, then look to the written word in the form of lyrical expression through music.   As a multifaceted creative, I find it exciting that there are many paths of creative expression that can be traced to one point of influence. Once you have identified your muse in written or spoken word, connect your inspiration to an act. 


  • Combining the inspiration points of music and literature, explore a composition, or series of compositions  that speak(s) to the duality of both modes of expression.  

  • I encourage you to find an author and musician/ genre of music that is new to you as your foundation

  • Allow the music and literature to lead your investigation.  

  • The outcome of your investigation should be something that is fed by your inspiration points, but can certainly “evolve” in terms of its aesthetic.  

  • Be free to allow your exploration to be what it needs to be.

  • Also be open to the idea that your exploration can be a living piece and can be a long-term project or done in a journal.




Connect the lyrical expressions of Nina Simone to the writing of Claudia Rankine in the context of a watercolor triptych.  Allow the songs and soundscapes that SImone presents to drive your color choices.  Utilize Rankine’s writing to dictate what the subject(s) of your triptych will be.  


Possible Materials

Paper or Vellum

Drawing Medium ( Ink, Graphite, Conte, Charcoal, Pencil, Markers)


Paint and brushes



Collage Material (Magazines, Newspapers, Photographs)


Below are 2 mixed media explorations that were inspired by musical arrangements and excerpts from the novel The Water Dancer

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