21

We’ve endured more than 330 days in quarantine, and I’ve spent my entire time as a 21 year-old in that period. It probably goes without saying that I didn’t have the most typical “21” experience. My birthday is on April 12, so there was no bar-hopping or get-togethers last spring. In fact, I actually spent my birthday completely alone. My mom had to work that night (a job she couldn’t call out of, as a nurse on the frontline,) and my boyfriend at the time couldn’t travel out to see me because it was Easter (yes, my birthday occasionally falls on Easter.) I’m pretty sure I spent the day eating cake, drinking pink moscato, and watching reruns of Jeopardy!, so unaware of what was to come.

Within less than a month of my 21st birthday, I was living away from my mom in an apartment in Boston with two other housemates. I had no job, no license, and no money to my name, but hey, at least my useless art degree arrived in the mail just in time for the economy to tank! 

I applied to over 200 jobs that summer and burned through all of my tax money, savings bonds, and help from my mother to pay my rent. I started getting food stamp benefits to take the burden off paying for food. I landed a job at Starbucks in July, which I was actually excited about; the only problem was I had to walk four miles a day to get there and back. That was fine for the summer and most of the fall, but when the November chill hit and the sky began darkening with dread at 4:00pm, I began to panic. 

I transferred to a closer Starbucks at the end of November, which downsized my daily commute from 2-3 hours to only about twenty minutes. Towards the end of December, Starbucks began cutting my hours due to COVID-19 policies and overstaffing. In less than the span of a week, I found myself balancing filing for partial unemployment, losing all my life savings to fraud, and going through a tremendously painful breakup all at once. Meanwhile, both of my parents were hundreds of miles away from me and not exactly on-hand for me to run to for a hug. 

Needless to say, 21 has not been the dreamiest year of my life. 

With that being said, I didn’t write this to complain about how hard my life is or throw a pity party about being poor and tired all the time. In fact, it’s actually the opposite. I wanted to talk about the past year of my life as something I’ve learned an enormous amount of lessons from, something that I am appreciating and learning to take in stride. After all, I am so privileged and fortunate to admit that I haven’t (yet) lost a loved one to COVID-19. I haven’t lost my home or my job or my pets, I haven’t gotten sick and been stuck in a hospital for weeks and weeks hooked up to a ventilator. And even though I haven’t been able to hug my parents or talk to them in person in so long, neither of them are dead. They’re only a phone call away, ready to love me and support me when I need them.

I think I’ve cried more tears and felt more stress at the age of 21 than I ever have before in my life, but I’ve also laughed so much and made so many beautiful memories in this messed-up, absurd world we’re living in. I’ve made friends for life in Boston and bonded with the customers in my coffee shop. I’ve cherished each and every dollar of tips I’ve ever made, saving them up for weeks so I could buy that new eyeshadow palette I’ve been pining for, or a new bed set, or a fresh set of toothbrushes from CVS. This year, I’ve learned not to take anything for granted and love each and every thing in my little apartment that I bought with MY money. I’ve learned how to be a responsible spender, how to earn a few extra dollars here and there with Facebook Marketplace and Etsy so I can worry less about paying my rent and more about the things that matter. 

There’s an analogy from a book I really love. It talks about how we all have invisible veils hanging down in front of our faces, and while they make the world a little bit blurry, we like it that way. We like to walk around in our own little bubbles of ignorant bliss, only staring at what’s in the way rather than the big picture ahead of us.

If my ignorance and comfort was my veil, then 2020 really yanked the hell out of the veil and ripped it away from my face. At 21, I’ve lived through historical protests against police brutality and racial injustice. I’ve lived through one of the worst presidents this country has ever known, the most tragic disease outbreak of the century, a broken economy, and violent political turmoil and division. The last year of my life has taught me that it is my privilege to use my voice, and I am ready and prepared to do so to help keep this world full of kindness and acceptance.

If you had told me on April 12, 2020, that this is how the next year of my life would pan out, I probably would have been dejected and scared. And truthfully, I still do have moments of being frightened of the world around me and hurt by the big-ness of it all. But in retrospect, I think the past 330 (or so) days of my life are something I really needed to grow up. And growing is painful- that’s why they’re called growing pains.

I hope that everyone reading this can find some comfort and ease in knowing that you’re not alone. Especially young folks like myself who’ve found themselves confused about their direction and their identity in a world that feels so out of control, I see you and I understand you. And truthfully, I’m looking forward to 22. I’m hoping it’s filled with more cocktails, more pretty girls to kiss, more yoga and journaling and confetti and pets, more time with my parents, more special memories to make and hold onto, and more lessons to learn.

The roaring 20s may turn out to be the best time of my life. ✩

Secondhand Thrift Haul: Summer Picks

As a Bostonian, I am extremely lucky to be near The Garment District- a department store notable for its wide selection of vintage products. For a thrift lover like me, it’s an absolute dream come true to visit the giant two-floor shop and browse for unique, vintage finds. According to The Garment District website, they pride themselves on being a “green business.” Not only are they doing a great thing by reselling wonderful vintage clothing, which helps prevent the buildup of clothes in landfills, they also send unusable clothes to “shoddy mills” so that they can be repurposed into other textiles.

Now, I don’t have tons of free money to throw around, so if I am going to buy clothes, it’s going to be something I keep for years and utilize as an essential clothing item. I’m really in love with everything I bought, and I’m looking forward to getting a good use out of everything! The only thing I didn’t actually buy myself was the pink top, as my roommate actually bought it at The Garment District with me, but then decided she didn’t like it.


“Grateful I’m Not Dead” T-Shirt | $16

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Speaking of my roommate, it was actually her who spotted this Grateful Dead t-shirt for me on the tye dye rack. Erin, if you’re reading this, you have no idea how happy this made me! I absolutely adore the Grateful Dead, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a vintage t-shirt in such great condition. I also like that the shirt is an XL, because I definitely prefer to wear t-shirts that are a bit loose on me. Nathaniel is also super excited about the shirt, so I’ll definitely be sharing it with him. 


Wide-Leg Jeans | $15 | Ann Taylor

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please ignore my messy room

I’ve wanted to buy bell-bottom jeans (or something similar) for a while now, so I was pretty excited to find the perfect pair in my size. Being a curvy girl, I prefer jeans that are high-waisted and flattering for my figure, and these jeans make me look absolutely fabulous. They also make my legs look ten miles long, particularly when paired with my favorite pair of wedges. I can always justify buying a good pair of vintage jeans, and for fifteen dollars, I’d be silly not to get them. 


Shorts | $15 | Bugle Boy Company

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I’ve never owned a pair of baggy shorts, and I have to say, I love them way more than my tight-fitting ones. Sure, they make my ass look like a blob, but they’re very comfortable and functional for the humid summertime ahead. Particularly since I’m going to Maine to visit my mom in about a week, I figured it would be convenient to buy a pair of durable, comfortable shorts to wear on hikes and kayaking adventures. As you can see, I have paired it with my new favorite Grateful Dead tye dye shirt, and I think it looks so groovy and cute. 


Belt | $12 | Lucky Brand 

I haven’t owned a belt since middle school, and it’s not often you find a Lucky Brand item for so cheap, so I figured this would also be a practical, reasonable purchase. For a while, I was pretty much only wearing yoga pants and pajama bottoms (that quarantine life,) but I decided this week it was probably high time I buy some real pants and a real belt to go with them.


Top | LOVESAM

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Like I said, this was actually a top that Erin bought, but she decided she didn’t like it after she realized it had sleeves. I have to say, the sleeves are actually my favorite part. I think the cut and the material combined with the sleeves give this top a real 70s vibe, which matches the rest of the clothes I bought perfectly. I also think the color is beautiful, as I love wearing pinks and other soft, pastel colors throughout the spring and summer. I’m not sure how much Erin paid for the top, but I’m going to guess it was between $10-15. I also just peaked at the LOVESAM website, and it looks like everything in stock is between $150-200. Not a bad steal! 


Dress | $20 | Modcloth

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Lastly but certainly not least, I fell in love with this Modcloth brand dress in the contemporary dresses department. I adore anything quirky and floral, so of course I could immediately picture myself in this lovely little number. I also really like the color scheme of garish greens and yellows, because it reminds me of the Beach Boys Pet Sounds album. This will be another great outfit to bring to Maine next week, because the cotton material is light, airy, and perfect for traveling. Similarly to my flare jeans, this dress also looks really cute with the wedges.


Overall, I would say this was a successful, productive shopping trip. On top of that, I am happy to be supporting such a progressive, green company through my clothing purchases. If you are ever in the Boston area, I highly recommend visiting the Cambridge location of The Garment District! 

Orenda raps Podcast

Tyson Buggs, a 19 year old from Easton, Ma. sits down with me to discuss his future as a designer, rapping, and all things fashion.

By Abi Brown

Tyson was the first friend I made at Lasell University and the strides he has made as a person and artist has shocked myself and our community at Lasell. We got real about Hypebeast culture, other Lasell designers such as BUSHLAND, and who inspires him the most. Tyson Buggs is a name you are going to want to remember, so give our conversation a listen!

“Especially right now when times become tragic, fashion becomes drastic. In my mind with this whole pandemic were going to start seeing weirder pieces…”

Check out Tyson’s store here

Check out Tyson’s Soundcloud here

Meet Sam Bettencourt

Written by: Abi Brown

Sam Bettencourt, a senior in fashion design at Lasell University takes creativity to the next level. After studying abroad in London at the London College of Fashion, they realized corsets were their calling. Banksy once construed that “art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.,” so one can only assume Bettencourt sees these pieces as a canvas. Their designs have elements of somber etched with beauty. They describe their style as,

 “Deconstructed elegance. It’s appalling but I try my best to make it… alluring.” While close friend Jackson Powell describes it as “…high fashion meets grunge.”

Sam Bettencourt

One of their professors, Lynn Blake, said they remind her of “A young Alexander McQueen or John Galliano come to mind when I think of Sam… by way of being razor-focused and completely dedicated to messages they sought to express.” Bettencourt was taught by designer and fashion icon, Mr. Pearl, while studying in London. From this experience, they’re able to create pieces in such an artistic way that they should be labeled as art. The craftsmanship, time, and labor that goes into making their collections is what deems their work worthy of such status; and this is what makes Bettencourt stand out. How do you capture your own pain and relay it to something everyone can connect to, in an alluring light? 

Bettencourt got their start in ‘corsetiering’ while studying abroad in London. It was in London where they met a couple of people who would later be labeled by Bettencourt as sources of inspiration and friendship. Under the wing of haute couture designer Mr Pearl, Bettencourt was exposed to the avant garde scene that is London. It gets its avant garde title because of its fashion scene that is inspired by the many designers that are from London, such as Alexander McQueen, another inspiration of Bettencourt’s.

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*not an original photo

If you know about the works of Alexander McQueen, you may know of fashion icon Isabella Blow. She was known for bringing highly skilled and under acknowledged designers to the top, McQueen and Mr. Pearl being two. Mr. Pearl is known for his work collaborations. Often times couture designers call in specialists, like Mr. Pearl, to make specific pieces for their collections. He has worked with designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Thierry Mugler, John Galliano, Chloe, Alexander McQueen, Antonio Berardi and Christian Lacroix to name a few.

With the help of Mr. Pearl, Bettencourt near mastered their skill. A friend they met studying abroad, Brianna Serio said “Sam was always in the lab very late until the next morning, working very hard, on multiple pieces at once.”Bettencourt did not always want to do design, in fact when applying to schools they “applied to 26 schools for music theory, and one for fashion design which was Lasell. I got into Lasell but not my top music schools…” They love the small community at Lasell and find it a lot more fun than being at a bigger school in New York City. 

For their final collection for the Senior Fashion Collection Show on May 2nd, Bettencourt is doing something personally healing for them. Recently in June of 2019, their grandmother, otherwise known as the “matriarch of the family” passed away. To pay tribute to their mother-figure, Bettencourt decided on their theme: Philosophy of the Threshold. They are focusing on two aspects of the threshold, “ the transformative threshold which is coming into contact with something that changes your perception of life so drastically that you become a different person afterward, it’s about what that journey is like.… And the second one, the pressure point threshold, which is basically the limit of ‘corsetry’ and what a body can take.” Bettencourt will present this with a garment that will test each model’s personal threshold by seeing how far they can cinch their bodies to “the height of their corset experience.”

After college, Bettencourt plans to either go back to London for graduate school, or take a teaching job at Lasell. The job was offered by professor and close friend, Lynn Blake. Bettencourt teaches a corset making workshop at Lasell, along with sewing construction courses, so they would continue teaching that curriculum. 

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: How the Coronavirus is Affecting Colleges

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Naturally, I felt inclined to write about the infamous COVID-19 virus this week. In the past two or so weeks, all of my email inboxes have been papered with warnings and information about this unforeseen catastrophe, and how I, a student at a small, private university, can keep myself safe.

Living on the outskirts of Boston and attending college here, I have been able to see firsthand the potentially disastrous implications COVID-19 has plastered onto the city. The public transit is almost empty, the streets are alarmingly quiet, and the general atmosphere of my environment is a mixture of edginess and excitement. As potentially scary as a pandemic is, it is a fascinating time to be alive, wondering what will happen next as you scroll through your email and eye the alerts.

As of writing this, my school has not announced or hinted at a decision to close its doors and move online. If I had to pick a plausible outcome, I would say my university will probably extend spring break by a week or so, but probably not more than that.

(3/16 Update: Our spring break is extended by an additional week and all of our classes are now online. Students are still allowed to stay in the resident halls if they wish.) 

The risk is still relatively low for my area, and no one on my campus has tested positive for the virus. Here are all the ways the school closing down would affect students such as myself:

-Although this does not apply to me particularly, international students would be effectively screwed if my university decided to shut its doors. I know of several international students who have no other options at this point in time, especially on such short notice. 

-Students who rely on public transit, such as myself, would have a difficult time getting to our internships in Boston if we were asked to leave campus and resume classes online. Because I do marketing and social media work, I would probably be able to manage my internship online, but not everyone has that opportunity. 

-My university is well-known for its applied arts and fashion program, which basically exclusively requires students to stay on campus to utilize the materials and sewing machines. How can fashion students resume their work and build their collections online?

-Would I be refunded for room and board? Meal plans? Senior week payments?

These are just a few of the thoughts going through my head right now. As you can probably infer from the title of this article, however, I’m trying not to worry too much about these potential changes. I’m looking forward to posting an update on this situation down the line, as I believe my college is going to make a final announcement about the new course of action over the next couple of days. As I said, I believe the most extreme choice my college would choose to make would be to extend spring break by another week or two, due to the disruptive nature and implications of basically canceling the semester.

Of course, if the pandemic did reach a point where staying on campus would be an overwhelming safety concern, of course, I would be receptive to taking online courses for the rest of the semester. It would be inconvenient, of course, and a pretty meager ending to my senior year of college, but there isn’t really much I can do to control the situation. 

For the time being, remember to wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, avoid large crowds, and cover your mouth when you cough! How is the coronavirus outbreak affecting your lifestyle? Let us know in the comments below.

Cheers Queers: Chit-chatting with Mercedes Benzover

“The best thing about being a drag performer is being able to show the world a side of you that you’re not usually able to show.”

Not everyone can say they went to college with a fabulous drag queen, but I am lucky enough to say I have that experience. I met Dylan, also known by his drag persona, Mercedes Benzover, at my university’s pride club this past year. Not only is he extremely funny and animated, but he also has a kind heart and a loving personality that I immediately admired. I knew I wanted to interview him when I saw him perform live at a campus event, which absolutely blew me away. Some people are just born with strong stage energy and charisma, and trust me when I say Dylan has it. He describes himself the same way many other people describe him: outgoing, fun, and independent. “And crazy,” he adds.

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Like many young people, Dylan started getting into the art of drag after watching RuPaul’s Drag Race in high school. From there, he began getting into makeup and the intricate craft of drag culture, which ultimately led him to create his drag persona, Mercedes Benzover. “I came up with this name by putting two of my favorite cars together, Mercedes Benz and Range Rover,” Dylan says in regards to how he crafted the name. And, of course, it offers quite the laugh when spoken aloud.

The turning point for Dylan came during his senior year of high school, during which he decided to show up to the Thanksgiving Rally in drag attire. “I decided to not care about what people were going to think about me, and I put on a pair of heels from Savers and a grey wig,” Dylan says about that day, “I walked into the gym and felt so powerful. People ended up coming up to me and letting me know how proud they were of me.”

From there, Dylan’s confidence in his abilities as a drag queen only flourished. This past September, he performed in his very first drag show and sang “Sorry Not Sorry” as his first number. He recalls how beautiful it felt to perform in front of many people, even despite a potential mishap. “I remember my wig almost falling off when I tried whipping it around,” he says with a laugh.

However, things haven’t always been easy for Dylan, especially in the face of unsupportive parents. Dylan hid his interest in drag for the first two years of practicing it and resorted to watching RuPaul’s Drag Race in his basement. When his parents finally discovered his passion, he says that they treated it with disgust.

“They didn’t find out I was doing drag until about 2-3 years ago through a photo on my social media,” Dylan says, “My mom is kinda on the fence that she doesn’t care, but she does. The big thing is that she wants me to have a ‘real job’.”

Sadly, Dylan’s story of rejection from his parents isn’t uncommon for LGBT+ youth. Gay, bisexual, and transgender children have been shown to have significantly higher rates of mental illness and depression, usually as a result of disapproval and shame from their families (NCBI). However, Dylan tries his best to stay positive in the face of prejudice and hate and instead focuses on all the wonderful aspects of his craft. “The best thing about being a drag performer is being able to show the world/your audience a side of you that you’re not usually able to show,” Dylan says in regards to the best aspects of drag. If he had to pick the worst aspect, he says it would be the lack of acceptance around the art.

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Over the past few years, Dylan has built up a unique and stunning drag image for himself. He cites bougie girls, Sasha Velour, Chanel, and really “anything rich” as his inspiration for his hair, makeup, and fashion. Beyond that, however, Dylan says he can draw inspiration from almost anything. Besides performing drag arts, his other hobbies include watching YouTube videos, hanging out with his friends, and playing around with makeup and fashion. As a fashion design major, a large majority of Dylan’s time is spent in the sewing room designing new, exciting looks. “I believe college has opened my mind to so many things- personally and professionally,” Dylan says about his college experience thus far, “Ever since starting college, I’ve felt more open about many things and have become more independent. I truly think I’m living a meaningful life.”

In the future, Dylan aspires to continue his drag career and hopefully build a bigger name for himself. He wants to start his own fashion company, for which he would craft both special occasion dresses and custom drag pieces. Ultimately, Dylan wants to be happy, content, and continue to live his life to the fullest. Before we end the interview, Dylan has a piece of advice for other LGBT+ youth trying to make a name for themselves in the world: “There will be hard times and people might not respect you, but don’t care what other people think about you, and live life the way YOU want to live it. It’s your life, nobody else’s. I’ve learned that sometimes in your life there will be hard obstacles, but you’ll get through it, do better things, and help others.”

It’s always such an honor to sit down and interview artists for Analog, but Dylan is especially such a treat. His energy and his humor is so vibrant and inviting, it’s hard not to be immediately drawn to him. If you’d like to learn more about Dylan “Mercedes Benzover,” you can find him on Instagram @dylan_alves123. All the best in the future, Dylan!

Statistic source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5127283/

Pretty Wings: A Word with GB2UNO

“They probably think I’m just a black dude, until they see deep into my soul and listen to my music. They see my energy, and they give credit where credit is due.”

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Photo from Instagram

In 2020, more independent artists than ever are popping up on streaming sites such as Apple Music, Spotify, and SoundCloud. On Spotify alone, Billboard estimates that there are more than 1.2 million artists currently listed on the platform. Each one, of course, brings a distinctly unique flavor to the realm of music and artistry. So what sets rapper GB2UNO, based in the Boston area, apart from the rest?

“I’m kind of all over the place,” GB2UNO, who goes by GB, says in regards to his themes. “So really whatever fits my mood at that exact moment of making a song, or just something I thought of incorporating into it.”

I was curious about the stage name, which admittedly took me a few takes to memorize. “I was inspired by basketball star Kevin Durant, because he was my favorite player,” he tells me. “At one point in my life his twitter name was @KDTreyCinco, and it inspired me to use that because my basketball number was #21. And then I made a rap song and the whole school was calling me ‘GB2UNO.’ So I ran with it.”

GB, whose real name is Gregory, has been making music for his entire life. It’s easy to see his passion and drive for the art, as his eyes light up when he speaks about his shows, his networks, and of course, his music. However, life isn’t always perfect for this turbulent musician. GB was born and raised in Urbana, Illinois, just outside of the Chicago metropolitan area. “I wouldn’t say I had a rough upbringing, but I did have flaws, like every kid finding a purpose,” says GB. “My family was an average family, except for my parents splitting up constantly throughout my life and me having to be the big brother and the man of the house at times. Just having to grow up at an early age built me into the person I am today. I love my family though, through all the bumps and bruises.”

After spending his childhood and adolescence in Urbana, GB moved to the Boston area after one of his college friends did the same. He explains with enthusiasm the culture-shock he experienced here, from the people and the parties to even the weather. Nonetheless, GB fell in love with the Boston scene, and from there he started to meet other inspiring dream-chasers. In March of 2018, he began to take his budding music career seriously, releasing singles such as “Brotherz” and “Mrs. GB2UNO.” GB is clearly hardworking and driven in his career, and owns a lot of his inspiration to artists such as Swooli and Jake Lewis. “I met Swooli, and Jake Lewis once, and a couple older individuals who had a passion for music, who wanted to see others succeed as bad as they wanted too- no matter what field of interests,” GB says. He also cites EDM music, pop, trap, and “the songs they play in Forever 21” as being inspirations for his own artistry. “I don’t limit myself to one sound,” he continues.

Listening to his music, it’s clear that GB’s inspiration does indeed come from a wide variety of sources and backgrounds. His music is not only enjoyable for fans of trap and hip-hop, but also listeners who love intricate beats, high-energy and melodies, and thoughtful lyrics. As someone who usually sticks with John Denver and the Eagles, even I enjoyed this young musician’s electric and fast-paced records. 

Throughout his turbulent music career, GB has endured his own ups and downs since he’s settled down in the Boston area. He cites performing in shows and growing his network as the highlights of his year, along with cutting the toxic people out of his life. He also notes that it’s difficult “having to deal with other people who aren’t officially self-aware or in dreamland like us,” when I ask him to elaborate on his negative experiences. 

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Photo from Instagram

Beyond his music, it doesn’t take long to respect GB’s kind, easygoing personality as I continue with our interview. He’s also extremely insightful, and wishes that more people recognized him as a “living person.” When I ask him what he thinks peoples’ first impressions of him are, he says with a laugh, “They probably think I’m just a black dude, until they see deep into my soul and listen to my music. They see my energy, and they give credit where credit is due.” Although it’s a seemingly simple answer, GB’s response sparked insight and reflection for me as an observer of humanity. It’s true, we tend to stereotype artists based on what we see, and GB is a stunning example of breaking down those barriers.

One particular motif fans and listeners will notice in GB’s image is the use of the butterfly emoji in most of his posts and titles. He explains that the butterfly has significance to him because it symbolizes freedom and being comfortable in your own bubble. He says that he’s definitely more of an introvert, so he only tends to “pop out when necessary.” GB also describes that the butterfly symbolizes good energy and positivity- two virtues that I’ve noticed seem to radiate off of him.

Before we close our interview, I still have a couple of burning questions for GB2UNO. I ask him if he feels like he’s living a meaningful life, to which he replies, “Being on my own and so far from home can be devastating sometimes, but it’s the life I signed up for. You can’t really worry about having a lot on your plate when the goal was to eat, to begin with. I believe every day should be meaningful because when we will never get that time back once we are gone. So live every day to the fullest.”

Lastly, GB offers up some valuable advice for other budding musicians. He wants other artists to know that they should never give up, no matter how hard it gets. “I love leading by example,” he says, “I love showing younger artists that you don’t have to be afraid to be yourself. I want to be that good soul that bleeds positivity on every person. My passion is music and I’m set on that. My passion is love and beliefs.” 


You can listen to GB’s music on all of the following streaming platforms:

YouTube

Spotify

Google Play

Deezer

iHeart Radio

Black Histories, Black Futures: What’s New at the MFA?

 

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From January 20, 2020, to June 20, 2021, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA will be showcasing its “Black Histories, Black Futures” exhibit to the public. In the past, the MFA has displayed other historical art exhibitions, such as “The “Rococo World of Francois Boucher” in 2017, and the “Takashi Murakami: Lineage of Eccentrics” presentation, from late 2017 to mid-2018. However, the “Black Histories, Black Futures” display is different from the other intricate exhibitions of the past. For one thing, while past displays were usually showcased in the Ann and William Elfers Gallery, this upcoming exhibition will be displayed in several galleries throughout the entire museum. Additionally, this exhibit is curated by teenagers as a part of the MFA’s new partnership with local youth empowerment organizations. These curators, who are members of the youth empowerment group Becoming a Man (BAM), have worked seasonably to put together all elements of this exhibit. From conception to execution, Boston’s youth played a substantial role in the making of this project, and it’s an achievement to be celebrated. 

“Black Histories, Black Futures,” which celebrates Black histories and experiences, proudly spotlights the works of several 20th-century artists of color. While many of these artists are well-known in art culture, such as Archibald Motley and Norman Lewis, there are also several fresh faces being brought to prominence in this exhibit. Visitors and guests will be delighted by the works of Loïs Mailou Jones, an SMFA graduate; and Allan Rohan Crite, a longtime Boston resident.

According to the MFA website, this upcoming exhibit will be divided into four sections, with each section representing a different theme. The first theme, “Ubuntu: I am Because You Are”, focuses on images of leisure activities and daily community life. “Welcome to the City” takes a more intimate approach to urban scenes through both paintings and photographs, capturing the gritty beauty of the city. “Normality Facing Adversity” and “Smile in the Dark” explore the concept of being oneself, and more importantly, what that means on an intrapersonal scale. 

With a wide variety of styles, textures, artists, and mediums, “Black Histories, Black Futures” promises to bring a fresh air of electricity to the Museum of Fine Arts. The inclusion of teen curators is an additional innovative element to the exhibit, and more importantly, sheds light on the representation of youth in the arts.

Further reading: https://www.mfa.org/exhibition/black-histories-black-futures?utm_source=press&utm_medium=press-materials&utm_campaign=ex-black-histories

(Photos courtesy of Mike Tom, Public Relations Associate for the MFA)