Can you give some background on your work in the community? How, in your opinion, can art be used to convey a message about social justice, identity, and human rights?
I am the Owner and Founder of BLISS Illustrated, LLC. There is an increased focus in all sectors on diversity and inclusion from boardrooms to media. My product lines place an emphasis on displaying positive, non-traditional images of beauty to which persons of varied backgrounds can identify. I want to make sure my portraits give off a certain energy that puts individuals of color in a positive light, which is contrary to the imagery that society and main-stream media has put on us. The goal is to also have a plethora of ethnic individuals seen more on various platforms.
Once operating at commercial capacity, BLISS Illustrated, LLC will provide job opportunities for individuals in every role in the supply-chain. In addition to the immediate creation of jobs, BLISS Illustrated will serve as a training platform as we will offer semi-annual internships to individuals seeking careers in the Arts, Marketing and/or Supply-Chain Management. These internships will aid in facilitating jobs as students graduate and enter the workforce.
The goal is directed to inspire individuals to continue to embrace our identity, our individuality and our created, authentic selves. Embrace your BLISS!
Can you tell me about your work with BCAI? Why did you decide to work with them?
Breaking Chains Advancing Increase (BCAI) School of Arts provides an expression platform and arts education for all generations regardless of income or background. I have been volunteering with this organization since 2015 at various levels. I most recently served as a Dance Coach and student Manager for our performance team known as Step Inn Performance Team (SIPT). In addition, periodically I assist with photography when it is time to capture the moments at the students’ performance events. In the past, I served on the Board of Directors as Student Development Director, as well as the Arts and Culture committee member, which is in collaboration with Not in Our Town.
Five years ago I told myself that I wanted to be more involved in the community in some capacity. With my background and passion in dance, I knew that BCAI would be the natural go to for me. I also appreciate the inclusive culture and atmosphere provided by BCAI.
Can you talk about the Martin Luther King Awards Luncheon and your involvement with the event.
One of the purposes of the MLK Awards Luncheon is to recognize the achievements of youth and adult individuals who have made outstanding contributions to human relations causes in the Town of Normal. On this particular occasion I was asked to perform a solo dance to “What If” by India Arie. I was honored to be able to pay a tribute to the ones who have paved the way through the flow of movement.
Why did you decide to participate in MCLP? How has it influenced you since then? What areas of your life have you pursued leadership?
I participated in the Multicultural Leadership Program (MCLP) because I am on a constant journey to be a servant-leader as well as an agent of change. As a natural introvert, I aspire to gain more knowledge of self by continuing to step outside of my comfort zone, and MCLP propelled me greatly in that regard. As a result of the program, I have taken on greater leadership roles in my community service involvement and in ministry. It has even helped me find a more assertive voice in my personal interactions and relationships.