An Interjection Of Creativity: Spokewoven

An Interjection Of Creativity: Spokewoven

Artists' perspectives series - Part 1
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Spokewoven's Genga is truly an inspirational artist; her giant dreamcatchers are sure to catch your eye as well as your dreams. Not only is she innovative and talented, but she is also immensely insightful. She's a college graduate whose life took a dramatic turn toward fulfilling a lifestyle of creativity. Her story of letting the magic of creativity take over and become her career is thought-provoking, and it makes you wonder about your meticulously planned out career path. I was fortunate enough to ask her a few questions in order to gauge her perspective on the importance of creativity in everyone's lives.


Stephanie Haenn: I’ve been admiring your work for a few years, now — from afar. It is a pleasure to finally get to talk to the creative mastermind behind the massive dreamcatchers. Your work is visually captivating and spiritually inspirational. Where did you get the inspiration to create giant dreamcatchers?

Genga: You are so kind. Thank you for your really lovely words. I guess almost 8 years ago now, I lost my job. It was literally the job I thought I'd spend the rest of my life doing and then, all of sudden, it was just gone. I was in complete despair. A black hole. It was awful. I couldn't imagine myself ever moving on. At the same time, my best friend, Pamela Love, was launching her first jewelry collection and doing an installation at Milk Studios in NYC. She sat me down, and basically told me to pull myself together- I was too talented to wallow away and she said I want you to make me the biggest Dreamcatcher in the world for my presentation. I had no clue how to even begin -- but something guided me. It took me several days to figure out the weave (and it wasn't very good haha) but I put my whole heart into that piece. For Pam and for myself and for the scared art that I could feel was already healing me. That was the first one. It changed my life. It saved my life. It was what started me on a new path and was the beginning of what I see very clearly now as my true identity.

SH: The traditional Native American purpose of dreamcatchers is to capture nightmares. As an artist, you have the liberty to define your work. Do you intend any purpose for your pieces beside their aesthetic value? Do you think that if your clients use your art outside of the realm of traditional Native American intent for dreamcatchers that they are guilty of cultural appropriation?

Genga: What is amazing about the experience of making these pieces is that the vision is completely collaborative with every client. There are some people who have trouble with rest or nightmares, but there are also people who want to celebrate the life or death of a loved one, pay homage to a friend or mentor, cherish a new born baby and protect them. It is always a unique vision and there is always something very sacred and personal in each piece.

SH: On your website, you say that making dreamcatchers is “cathartic and healing and full of growth and spiritual connection.” It sounds like you truly love what you do. Did you always want to be an artist growing up? Could you explain the catharsis making dreamcatchers affords you?

Genga: I wish I was so cool to have grown up wanting to be an artist haha. I think I wanted to be a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader? I was born in the 70's and grew up in the 80's and 90's. I ended up really moving towards literature and creative writing in my college years and had decided I was going to be a screenwriter when I graduated. I applied to graduate schools and got into the Masters Film program at Boston University. I guess in hind sight I always liked to do creative things- but I never really honed in on it, because it just wasn't realistic. I have very pragmatic parents who sort of weaned me in a practical direction rather than a dreamy one. Not that I have any resentment about that. I believe these things happen to you at exactly the right moment. I have worked my butt off and I still do - working a full time executive level day job and having this beautiful part of me to explore and grow in the other time.

When I was in film school I always dreamed of being like Maya Deren. Queen of the avant-garde, master of cool. And I was really good at watching and critiquing films, but when it came to making them, I don't know that I had that "thing" that makes you great. That vision. It was a very expensive lesson to learn, but I wouldn't change a thing about my decisions. Graduate school shaped my perspective in a way that would never have happened anywhere else.

SH: I first came across your work when flipping through Foam Magazine on the beach, the vibrant colors of a massive dreamcatcher tugging at my vision. Tucked into the corner of the page boasting a spread on Mara Hoffman, perched your work. The image stuck with me, and even inspired me to learn how to make my own dreamcatchers, though they are not nearly as beautiful as yours. The article didn’t mention the beautiful dreamcatcher decorating Hoffman’s office, so it took me a little while to finally find out who the artist was. I later put a name to the dreamcatcher when I found one of your pieces on the Urban Outfitters website. Your collaborations are always beautiful. Do you have a favorite collaborator?

Genga: I'm sure your Dreamcatchers are awesome! I've loved every collaboration I've done -- there has always been a lot of learning and vision. And a shared vision is always opens new perspectives. I did love using Mara Hoffman's fabrics. That was very cool.

SH: Your work always includes natural elements such as rocks or feathers. What is your favorite material to incorporate into your dreamcatchers?

Genga: My favorite materials are the hand dyed fabrics, crystals and arrowheads. I love to really get dirty making a piece and I dye the fabric in the bath tub (my husband helps me too) and we get just covered. The bathroom turns that color and we are basically enveloped and living in the color of the client's vision. It's kind of wild. And I love the stones. They have such power and meaning. I love working with people to create the perfect balance of crystals and stones on their piece.

SH: As a college student who isn’t studying art, it can feel suffocating to be learning solely through books. I often crave a creative outlet and dream for an artistic purpose. Obviously, your dreamcatchers invoke a yearning to dream. What advice would you give to young, creative dreamers?

Genga: Let your dreams be boundless and undefined. Let them break the rules in your brain.

SH: On a more serious note, college students are often active advocates of social reform and active participants in political discourse. Do you think creativity plays a role in the pressing movements of our nation?

Genga: Absolutely! I think creativity is crucial in terms of crafting solutions to our constantly evolving world. From environment to education to equality, health and economy - creative perspective and vision is what will take us into the future successfully and full of growth. I think the amazing thing about creating is that from ideation to completion the object is changing and layering -- morphing into whatever it is that it will become. Allowing your mind to move with that process is what I believe adds all those levels of truth that guide us to form our beliefs and passions.

SH: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. You are truly admirable and inspirational!


This is the first installment of a series of articles emphasizing college students' need for creative satisfaction. The purpose of this series is to derive an inkling of inspiration for busy college students in order to drive home the assertion that there is more to life than constantly having your nose in your textbook.

Cover Image Credit: One Kings Lane

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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The 2020 Election: The Democratic Party Part 1

We all have the duty of becoming politically conscious in order to wisely act on the crucial decision that lies ahead of us in the very near future. In this unbiased, multi-part series you'll be able to get a brief look into both the 2020 Democratic and Republican presidential candidates.

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The race for the 2020 presidential election is on the rise as 24 Democrats and 2 Republicans have been officially confirmed as potential candidates. Ranging from California to New York, we may recognize "big names" such as Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, however, it's important to get to know all the candidates in order to have a clear idea as to who you want to be leading the country for the next four years.

*Due to the high number of Democratic candidates, they will all be highlighted over the course of three articles throughout the coming weeks.

1. Joe Biden

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Serving as the Vice President alongside Barack Obama and former senator of Delaware, Joe Biden has already ran for president twice, making the 2020 election his third and what he considers, final time. Biden hopes to strengthen the middle class by raising the minimum wage to a more livable standard. He also hopes to restrict the purchase of guns through background checks as well as being in support of a ban on assault weapons.

2. Bernie Sanders

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Having served on both the House of Representatives and The Senate, Bernie Sanders has caught the attention of many Americans due to his push for universal healthcare with the idea that "All Americans are entitled to go to the doctor when they're sick and not go bankrupt after staying in the hospital." As well as making public secondary-education schools tuition-free in a mission to help lower student debt. Sanders believes in the threat of climate change as his campaign includes the future of passing a Green New Deal to move from fossil fuels to sustainable energy as well as ban fracking and fossil fuel infrastructure. Bernie Sanders additionally believes in abolishing the death penalty, reforming the police system, and ending the discrimination of applicants based on criminal history

3. Beto O'Rourke

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Beto O'Rourke has represented Texas in the House of Representatives from 2013 - 2019. He has a noteworthy platform towards business which includes increasing federal funding towards the Manufacturing Extension Partnership that would aid in creating competitiveness with America's small- and medium-sized manufacturers against global markets. O'Rourke also believes in the idea of increasing voter numbers no matter what the political party may be as well as help ex-convicts regain their right to vote after serving their sentences. In doing so, he plans to create more outreach to the younger generations by ensuring pre-voter registration for all 16 and 17 year olds. Moreover, Beto pushes for a change in creating new term limits for the US House, Senate, and Supreme Court.

4. Kamala Harris

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Kamila is a lawyer and has served as the junior US senator and Attorney General of California. While she is new to the presidential election process, Harris aims to increase teacher pay with the "largest federal investment in teacher pay in U.S. history with a $13,500 raise." Moreover, using her specialization in legal matters regarding sexual assault, Kamila hopes to protect Planned Parenthood as well as women's reproductive rights. Harris states that as President, she will eliminate the wage gap between men and women as well as racial disparities involving maternal health care. Harris additionally hopes in protecting LGBTQ+ rights by not only passing an Equality Act to fight against discrimination in schools, work, and public, but appoint an Attorney General with the purpose of investigating and prosecuting hate crimes against LGBTQ+ individuals.


5. Elizabeth Warren

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Growing up in rural Oklahoma in a low-income home and eventually serving as a US senator for Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren is described as a progressive candidate who's campaign is working towards "universal childcare, student loan debt relief, and down payments on a Green New Deal and Medicare for All." Warren hopes to build the middle class up and defend unionized jobs by allowing 40% of board members to be elected through employees. Moreover, Warren is in favor of strengthening the military as well has bringing troops home from overseas, as well as banning private prisons and decriminalizing marijuana. She additionally has stated to end Washington corruption by banning lobbying along with preventing Senators and Congressman from trading stocks whilst in office.

6. Cory Booker

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Attending Stanford and later graduating from Yale Law School, Cory Booker became the first African-American U.S. Senator from New Jersey. Booker's main concern is to end gun violence, ban assault weapons, and bring his battle to the attention of the NRA to create "liberty for all." His 14-part plan includes creating a more extensive process to obtain a gun, one of which would including an FBI-issued background check as well as requiring "micro-stamping" on all guns to ensure the ability to trace back the source of ammunition used in crimes. Moreover, Americans seeking a gun license would have to apply for a 5-year license after which would require renewal. Booker has also proposed the idea of providing newborns with savings accounts that would accumulate until they reached 18. He states that this plan would help settle the gap between the classes by offering lower-income households a nest-egg averaging at about $46,000. He also aims to make contraceptives employer-covered and repeal the punishment for an abortion outside of incest, rape, or for the woman's health.

7. Kirsten Gillibrand

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From New York, Kristin Gillibrand became a US Senator in 2009, becoming the youngest person in the Senate at the time. Her 2020 platform includes creating universal healthcare for all that would cover both mental and reproductive health in addition to it's regular standards. Her stance on Medicare For All also stands for reducing the price of prescription drugs as well as aiding in the process of overcoming addiction. Gillibrand also aims to introduce postal banking which would allow those without checking accounts have the opportunity to take out small loans through their local post office. Moreover, she believes in not only the legalization of both medical and recreation marijuana, but in erasing all past convictions from it. Kristin Gillibrand stands with strengthening the middle class by raising the minimum wage to $15/hour, creating paid medical and parental leave for all Americans, and fighting for the right to form unions and protect worker's rights.

8. Amy Klobuchar

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Amy Klobuchar is a lawyer and politician who currently serves as a US Senator from Minnesota. Klobuchar's campaign fights for providing every household in America with high-speed internet by the year 2020 along with aiding farmers by increasing their access to loan programs as well as raising farm bankruptcy debt levels. Moreover, she hopes to better the education system by increasing teacher pay and putting more money towards public schools. As well as increasing the federal Pell Grant and tuition-free one to two year community and technical colleges. Amy Klobucher believes in re-instated the DREAM Act to grant citizenship for foreigners who immigrated to America as minors. She supports immigration reform as well as ending the cruel separation and treatment of families on the lines of the border and creating a refined pathway to gain citizenship.

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