Portrait by Aurora Rose and John

jessreidyaurorarose

This photo is part of a series by the photographer Aurora Rose de Crosta. More on this later. She and John took many portraits, and I chose this as my favorite and answered this short interview to go along with it. Check out Aurora’s and John’s work at www.auroraandjohn.com. They are a beautiful and talented pair who I am so honored to have worked with.

1). Why did you choose the outfit you did? What about it represents you the most?
I chose this outfit because it’s one of my favorite dresses to wear when I dance. I like to perform a combination of Romani dance and Bellydance, but actually the dress is a Mexican wedding dress from the 1970’s from my favorite vintage store, The Odd Showroom, which was operated by the artist Amity Joy. I am a writer, perhaps first and foremost, but my grandmother taught me her Romani (“Gypsy”) family trades fortune telling, dance, and healing. The word “Gypsy” is a racial slur and reduces us to stereotypes, a dangerous thing in the midst of the current Romani human rights crisis. We are more than fortune tellers and dancers– I am also an English professor, writer, artist, editor, and activist– but these old trades, born of persecution in the centuries after our ancestors left India in the great diaspora, live on too.

2). Do you in general like being photographed? Why?
Yes and no. I did some very small-time modeling when I was young, and I suppose I got used to it, and now I’m a professional art model and have my image rendered in a number of mediums over and over again. If you believe in astrology, I am on the Cancer/Leo cusp (a touch deeper into Leo), and I suppose my relationship with having my picture taken reflects this. I don’t actually know anything about astrology though. I like being a part of an artist’s work, but sometimes it’s hard to look at my own image.

3). How did you feel during the shoot?
Aurora and John were so kind and creative and gave me loving direction while encouraging my own spontaneity. What a joy to work with! Deniz Ataman did my makeup, and she made me feel so glamorous. I loved that we shot in my bedroom too– the whole thing felt so intimate and sweet, and I felt supported in being myself, in all my odd multitudes.

4). Why did you choose the photo you chose?
I am a writer, and I fancy that in this photo I have a crazy face like Jean of Arc in Jules Bastien-Lepage (1879) painting (my paternal grandfather’s favorite), when the angels are telling her what her calling is. When I was a child, I believed that writing was my purpose, and it gave me a reason to live with a fire that I flattered myself by likening to Jean of Arc’s fire. I still might believe that.

5). Were there any particular images you hated? Why?
Anything remotely unflattering I will always hate because my vanity runs wide and deep.

hb_89-21-1

Joan of Arc, Jules Bastien-Lepage, 1879, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

Advertisements

Luna Luna Resists: Protest, Lit, Community

If you need resistance literature and community organizing in your life, join me for LUNA LUNA RESISTS: Protest, Lit, Community. Some of my favorite writers are performing, as well as a number of writers I have not yet had the pleasure of hearing. It’s important to use our work for resistance, to support those affected by Trump’s despotic regime, and to create a safe community for dissent, activism, and mobilization. Here’s the run-down from the organizers:

the-secret-behind-the-veil-n6-1379096094_b

Lita Cabellut, Romani artist, from her series “The Secret Behind the Veil” 

This Sunday, 2/5, from 5-8 PM, Luna Luna Magazine presents a night of poetry, prose and dialogue in the spirit of resistance & community support. Partnering with GAMBAzine at the Gamba Forest space in Brooklyn, NY, Luna Luna will host short readings and a space for informal discussion and conversation around support, organizing and personal stories. Each reader will present 1-2 short pieces. Drinks will be available for purchase. There will be a few intermissions and time for talking.

We encourage people to bring friends and family. We especially welcome women, people of color, immigrants and other marginalized groups that are at risk under the Trump administration.

IF YOU OR YOUR FAMILY ARE DIRECTLY AFFECTED BY TRUMP, PLEASE LET US KNOW. WE WANT TO HEAR YOUR WORK.

*** READER LINEUP ***

SET 1:
Lisa Marie Basile
Monica Lewis
Rowana Abbensetts
Jessica Reidy
Shafina Ahmed
Dianca London
Trish Grisafi

SET 2:
Melissa Hunter Gurney
Tala Abu Rahmeh
Stephanie Valente
Mercy L. Tullis-Bukhari
Joanna Valente
Karina Vahitova
Chris Carr

SET 3:
Christine Stoddard
Ronna Lebo
Olivia Kate Cerrone
Deniz Ataman
Yi Wu
Nicola Maye Goldberg
Jasmine Dreame Wagner

 

veil

Lita Cabellut, from the series “The Secret Behind the Veil”