We invite you to join us for an exploration of human vulnerability and the timeless beauty of the unadorned form. “OBSESSIONS” is an ode to the human spirit, a celebration of the profound authenticity that lies with us.
Since birth I was involved in the visual arts and the spirit of creativity. My parents Ellen Powell Tiberino and Joe Tiberino, both had distinguished visual art careers. As a child, I always worked at home as an artist and attended classes at Fleisher Art Memorial.Over the past twentyyears I have been inspired and I’ve developed as a prominent artist. The largest part of my inspiration was in finding my medium. I truly enjoy working with stained glass and the entire process is a very soothing, almost a religious experience for me. From choosing the different rich colors of glass panes, then cutting and moving the glass pieces around until they work just right, to seeing the finished product emerge after grouting. I work with the stained glass in a method of mosaic that I would equate to painting with glass. It is a very thought out and precise. I like the colors of the stained glass to flow. Nature is one of my biggest inspirations, in which I am constantly amazed and astounded by the natural world around me, and I seek to glorify it in my artwork.
As an African American mosaic artist from a prominent artist family in West Philadelphia, my connection to the community I create for, create with, and represent is rooted in my focus on cultural preservation, restoration, and racial justice. Through community-driven mosaic and ceramic practices, I aim to empower communities by providing a platform for them to share their unique narratives.
My work is deeply informed by the experiences of the community. Their stories, struggles, and aspirations shape my artistic approach and the messages conveyed through my art. By actively engaging community members in my creative process, I ensure that their voices are heard, and their perspectives are authentically represented.
Notable examples of my work demonstrate this commitment. For instance, conducting a workshop and creating a permanent installation at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) to commemorate MLK Day in March 2023, allowed me to integrate the insights and experiences of the PAFA community, fostering a sense of collective ownership and representation.
Installing the mural titled “Opposing Forces” in Suburban Station in 2021 with the support of Color Me Back Participants provided valuable opportunities to connect with diverse audiences and gain a deeper understanding of their experiences. These interactions influenced my artistic approach and further fueled my commitment to social change and cultural preservation.
Facilitating mosaic workshops and installations at Bartram’s Garden allowed me to directly engage with the community. These endeavors empowered individuals, facilitated meaningful connections, and contributed to positive social change through art.
In summary, my connection to the community I create for, create with, and represent is driven by my dedication to cultural preservation, restoration, and racial justice. By integrating the community’s experiences into my artwork and actively involving them in the creative process, I empower individuals, promote social change, and foster meaningful connections through Art.
Editor’s Note: Ellen Tiberino will be exhibiting in September at Ultra Silk Gallery, 3808 Lancaster Avenue, Philadelphia, and will run until the first week in October. The opening will be from 5 to 8 PM on Friday, September 8th. For details contact: UltraSilkgallery@gmail.com, and the phone number is 215-824-6656.
The theme of the show is empowering women, the strength of women. Ellen will be exhibiting works along side seven female artists including her mother, Ellen Powell Tiberino.
Cornel West should absolutely not be running for president.Now, don’t misunderstand me. I have nothing against Dr. West per se. He is an accomplished scholar, prolific author, public intellectual, social justice activist, pop culture celebrity icon, as well as a voice on behalf of the oppressed and downtrodden.
That said, there is nothing in West’s history that suggests that he is remotely qualified for the position of Chief Executive of the United States of America.Before some of you respond, “What qualifications did Donald Trump have?” allow me to say, you make my point.Is that where we set the bar of national expectation for this country’s leadership? Let us look at this situation realistically.
1. Cornel West is a political novice.He is a gifted and eloquent intellectual who has never held public office.A visit to his campaign website: https://www.cornelwest24.org reveals West’s political wish list. If elected, President West goals are “Dismantling the Empire,” “Unleashing Democracy” and “Saving the Planet.” It is a platform chock full of excellent ethical positions and prophetic passion – with no hint of how he plans to achieve these lofty goals in the hardscrabble game of realpolitik.
Perhaps one of the early warning signals that West is not ready for political primetime was his affiliation with the People’s Party. Started in 2017 the People’s Party has been bogged down in allegations of sexual harassment on the part of its party leadership, and general organizational dysfunction, including a lack of democratic processes, obscure and questionable finances, ableism and racism, among other things. As if this weren’t enough to give candidate West pause, the People’s Party has no track record and no nationwide ballot access for a serious presidential campaign.Was West not aware of his chosen party’s liabilities?As criticism poured in for his association with this group, West soon dropped the People’s Party and decided to work with the Green Party, which at least has a history of running presidential candidates for decades.
2. Which brings us to the next point.Third-party presidential candidates, even in the best-case scenarios with widely popular candidates, are doomed to failure and can only serve as spoilers rather than as a viable option. Thus, even if Candidate West were able to mount a successful campaign, that is, able to generate enough popular support for the massive fundraising necessary, able to get on the ballot in every state, and establish a platform with broad appeal to the electorate, he would still – if history is any guide – find support drastically reduced come Election Day. There has been a Green Party and Libertarian candidate in every presidential year in recent elections and they rarely received more than 1% of the popular vote in presidential elections. There’s a good reason why Bernie Sander’s chose to run as a Democrat rather than a Green Party candidate in 2016. He was serious about his run and was in it to win it!
3.This leads me to the very worst thing about Cornel’s ill-timed run for the Oval Office. With Cornel West having slim to no chance of winning his bid for the presidency, what will he accomplish by running?Simple. He will probably be a spoiler whose campaign will siphon some votes away from the sitting President, Joe Biden.We have seen this play before with many observers believing that Jill Stein’s third-party run in 2016 took some votes from Hillary Clinton and helped Trump to win the election. Now, to be clear, I have serious doubts that Cornel West has the mass appeal to win over a large number of voters. That said, whether West draws great support or little fanfare, the 2024 election is too critical to take that risk. Even West has said that the country may face a choice of a “neo-facist like Brother Trump” (brother fascist?) or a “milquetoast neo-liberal like Brother Biden.”Think about that for a moment.Are we really making a case for the moral equivalence of a swing toward fascism with a business-as-usual-moderate-liberal option?If ever there was a time for the voters to “choose the lesser of two evils”, this is that time. Of course, we can’t know yet how Trump’s legal problems will affect his run, but he is still far and away the front runner for the GOP. That should tell progressive and moderate voters all they need to know about their choice. Even if the GOP has to lean toward DeSantis, or a similar wannabe Trump, it represents just another cycle of rabid culture wars, racism, sexism, corruption, hypocrisy and the usual fare of today’s Republican Party.This is the party that wants to gut Social Security, Medicare, and other entitlements. That wants to remove the true history of this country and its foundation upon genocide and slavery from school curriculums. The party that is hell bent on taking away women’s reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ trans rights to safety and security. This is the party that wants to make America great again by reversing every civil rights victory won by the struggle, blood and tears of African Americans, and turning the clock back to the 1950s. With so much at stake in the 2024 election, with our country’s future and the future of our seniors, our youth, and the ones who Cornel rightly recognizes as “the least of these,” tenuously hanging in the balance, can we really afford a spoiler’s vanity run? With our nation fighting a close and pitched battle for its very soul, can we really afford Candidate West at such a time as this?
Revealingly, in his campaign video, West concludes by asking, “Do we have what it takes? We shall see. But some of us are going to go down fighting, go down swinging, with style and a smile.”
At least he knows he’s going down.Let’s not go down with him.
About The Author: Malik Mubashshir is a beloved History teacher at Friends Select School, Philadelphia. Mr. Mubashshir is an alum of Harvard University with Master’s degree in Religion and Religious Studies. This is his first contribution to the blog.
Why is it that America touts the line of ‘….all men are created equal with inalienable rights’…yadda, yadda, yadda…and yet, many of the citizens constantly feel as if we are that orphan in the film “Oliver!” constantly having our bottom lip quaking in asking something along the following line: “Please, Sir, may we have our rights back?”
Can anybody answer the question of when is a right, not a right?
I’ll answer that – It’s not a right, when you constantly have to crawl up those courthouse steps and drag your ass into a courtroom to plead for the validity of your Constitutional rights.
“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” – Frederick Douglass
It is like we are all legal orphans, pondering this question to the six saints of callously twisted legal theories.
Yet, unlike Oliver Twist making a request for more gruel in the workhouse, we as many a member of the American citizenry are in the position of longing for reinforcement of our rights.
In some ways, we are humbled and pitied at the bar of justice for a crumb of respect, equality and simple humanity from this dismissive half-dozen on the bench of the Supreme Court.
Oh, please, sir (or madam of virtue Coney Barrett) may we have our rights back?
Or, shall you continue to splatter cynicism all over that glorious piece of parchment, once known as the bedrock of our democracy, which we all are told to live and ascribe to – the United States Constitution?
I guess from the middle finger that is always given to the underdogs of life, such as we, who are the un-male, un-white, un-Christian, un-manor-born or any other outsider on the basis of sex or acceptability’s scale, shall know this as being a reality in this land of fallacy and the hovel of ambivalence.
What makes an American an American?
Is it ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’…..?
Is it that ‘all men are created equal’……?
Is it ‘domestic tranquility’…?
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” – Declaration of Independence
Or, is it even that every one of us who are citizens of this country are actually seen as worthy of the promise of the founding documents of this nation called the United States of America?
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” – U.S. Constitution
Does the Constitution reflect all of us, or just those whose visibility has never been questioned in any quarter of American society?
Sadly, it seems to be the latter realm of reality which we exist upon.
Those six persons on the Supreme Court have chipped away at the progress of the full faith of showing all Americans that they have the rights to freedom and equality with their rulings from on high in this terms cases, from affirmative action used in college admissions being disassembled to infringing on lgbtq+ rights based on speculation over a Christian web designer’s standards of not wanting to serve certain customers.
We citizens who are disenfranchised, are seemingly forever having to beg for our rights to be respected and upheld whenever the Supreme Court waxes and wanes with the fickle finger of fate that becomes the steamroller for legal rights that had to be won within a court of law.
Time and time again, we must rely on, keep our fingers crossed, or pray, and pray again that legal rulings which were once considered sacrosanct due to their position of being a precedent is not built upon a solid foundation of fairness, but, temporary structure sinking in a quicksand of quirks.
For the present, it seems as if things that were once normal have been tossed into the dumpster fire which is being shoved down a highway of incivility by a vociferous portion of today’s conservatives.
With a sense of the maniacal, many an elected Republican gets that accelerated boost by incinerating the cloak of comity between themselves and their Democratic colleagues.
Alabama’s own, Tommy Tuberville has cut a poor profile for himself with his words and actions during his days in the United States Senate. Poor in being a person of spite over holding up over 270 members (and counting) of military personnel to be promoted, not to mention referring to white nationalists as being ‘an American’.
I guess saying the ‘quiet part out loud’ should be the new tagline for today’s Republican Party.
Oh, and of course ‘Bama Tommy has his own cheering squad from the lower chamber of Congress who is pushing a parallel amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.
Lead sponsor of the same amendment in the House came to Senator Tuberville’s defense:
“He’s got backup here in the House,” – Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas
Former White House doctor, Good ‘ol Doctor Ronny Jackson once again knows how to pick ‘em and stretch reality, just as he did when touting the specimen of physical magnificence that is known as Donald John Trump.
“I told the President that if he had a healthier diet over the past 20 years he might get to live to be 200 years old” – Ronny Jackson, former White House physician and now current Congressman from Texas
Out of the Republican’s mouths things just keep a’ flying without a semblance of sobriety.
Yep, that’s who they are – Twisted, But True!
But, that’s just scratchin’ the surface of the twists that keep a’ comin’. Speaking of twists, there’s that honest soul named George Santos. (NOT!!)
He’s on his high horse trying to reach for the crown of victimhood off from Donald Trump’s noggin. And, boy, oh boy he’s pulling out all the stops in going mighty low to drag an icon into his twisted tableau.
“Guess what? Rosa Parks didn’t sit in the back, and neither am I going to sit in the back! That’s just the reality of how it works,” – Rep. George Santos, R-NY
For that name to come from those lying lips takes being bereft of reality onto a new twisted level of audaciousness. Consumed and constructed with such manufactured self-righteousness, George Santos made an attempt at affixing civil rights icon Rosa Parks to the eagle’s nest of his own rickety vessel which is void of honesty, humility and humanity.
Not here! Not now! Not ever!
That name from that mouth is just another ember doing the dance of the damned and dubious from the flickers of that rolling dumpster fire which seems to be speeding and descending down an unknown road.
Yet, in the present day maelstrom which seems ordinary in the world Donald J. Trump has wrought upon the United States of America, anything goes and can just be said with barely a shrug or dot of shame.
During the House debate on the National Defense Authorization Act, the same one which Ronny Jackson was lead sponsor of and Senator Tuberville in the upper chamber was diddling around with; there stood a member of the House Freedom Caucus who cast the bleaching freely.
“My amendment has nothing to do with whether or not colored people or Black people or anybody can serve, OK?” – Rep. Eli Crane, R-AZ, July 13, 2023
In the modern-day GOP, there seems to be that certain something that always rears its’ head. Hmm, they shout from the rooftops how much they adore the members of the United States military.
But, then again, the likes of Tuberville, Crane, Jackson and many, many others in the elected ranks of the Republican party seem to get their rocks off on making an attempt to hold hostage the organization, almost to the extent of having the military of 2023 be frozen in time before Executive Order 9981 was issued by President Harry S. Truman on July 26, 1948.
“What we want to preserve and maintain is the fact that our military does not become a social experiment. – Rep. Eli Crane, R-AZ, July 13, 2023
Oh, my gosh! Maybe, Representative Eli Crane is onto something. Yes, it must be true. And, of course this sky is falling twist isn’t anything new. History shows that pernicious trope is used in moments of backlash, backbiting and fear of a change in the way ideologues wish things to remain.
Authored by associate professor of strategy at the US Army War College, Dr. Jacqueline E. Whitt and manpower officer in the United States Marine Corps Reserve, Lieutenant Colonel Elizabeth A. Perazzo, is an insightful essay titled, “The Military as a Social Experiment: Challenging a Trope”,which takes head-on this myth of how this type of innuendo is used.
“The claim the military should not be a social experiment, the locus for advancing a social agenda, or a product of social engineering – which we collectively term the social experiment critique – has been used primarily by political conservatives to criticize diversifying the American military.” – The Military as a Social Experiment: Challenging a Trope – U.S. Army War College Press (USAWC)
Mr. Crane’s looseness of speech when he said ‘colored people’ had that air of residence of a certain kind of commonality, for which revealed those two words placed together is not something out of the ordinary to come out of his mouth. And, being blunt, maybe ‘colored people’ could be transposed from another word which probably flows freely from him in his social circle. It might be a crumbling or half-assed step-up from something more degrading.
“The social experiment critique is deployed selectively, namely against populations other than heterosexual, white, Christian, native-born cisgender men in the military. Thus, the social experiment critique operates as a political trope, gaining traction specifically in conservative political circles.” – The Military as a Social Experiment: Challenging a Trope – U.S. Army War College Press (USAWC)
Oh, and there we go once more – to those who in America, can just ‘be’, seem to be the ones who are always chewing up the scenery in mocking the progress of society by tossing a false narrative of social experimentation into their true reasoning for not wanting diversity.
To them, I just say – just be quiet, just be gone, just sit down, and stay in your own lane.
For some of us in the United States of America, we cannot just ‘be’. We have to be on that constant loop of persist, persevere, and propriety. We always have to be ON. On the lookout for retaining rights that shouldn’t be constantly under attack of being ripped away, based on how a judge may feel on a certain day.
Being ON, means having to be our own voice for validation as we are situated upon some mythical chessboard to prove that we belong in any sphere in this society. And, then when we lift our voices, it is us who are the voiceless that are given the side-eye and backlash across the entirety of society.
Those who can just ‘be’ are the ones who reside in the realm of obliviousness. They just live in their own bubble of never having to care about their rights ever being stripped away by a lionization of legalisms, which shift by an ideological gust rightward.
As for the rest of us, the ones who must stand with a slight quiver upon our lips, like an orphan of democracy in a continuous loop of grasping for relevancy of our citizenship to be ratified without a need of addendum or allowance being granted us, I offer this thought:
Be graceful. Be grateful. Be good. Be calm. Be still. Be satisfied. Be standard. Be beyond.
But, then again, in America 2023 an antithesis of tactfulness has risen, which has proven to be twisted, but true.
Photography and Text by Ted Kawalerski, Copyright 2023
The Saudade of Neal Slavin
On what turned out to be a beautiful morning in New York, I was walking along Greene Street in SoHo to meet with Neal Slavin in his studio.Tony Ward publishes a monthly blog and he asked me to make a portrait of Neal for an upcoming issue.I had no idea of how I was going to make this happen.I actually like to work this way and just let things evolve. When I hit #62 I rang the buzzer and entered what developed into a magical mystery tour.
Neal Slavin is a legendary photographer/director that I had never met before. He is probably most famous for the pictures that he made of large groups of people. However, there is a lot more work than that.In over forty years I have photographed many famous people and I usually work with assistants and a lot of equipment. For this adventure, I decided to work alone and low key. This proved to be the correct decision.
As soon as I made it to the second floor, I was greeted by Neal’s wife and Producer Anita Burkhart. That set the tone for the rest of the afternoon. She has the kind of persona that you immediately feel like this is going to be a real good day.Neal made his entrance with the same vibe and we went into the main studio. Their combined living/work space is the paragon of an artist’s environment – organized disorganization.It’s fabulous!We sat around a long table and drank a lot of coffee.Anita had to leave but Neal and I spent several hours talking – about a wide variety of subjects.In particular, Neal elaborated about his relationship with Portugal.
In 1967 Neal went to Portugal via a Fulbright Scholarship to photograph an archeological site but he became more interested in the people and he created a collection of black and white images that are incredible. He discovered Saudade, which is a unique Portuguese term that refers to a melancholic longing. This was a time when Portugal was under the brutal dictatorship of Salazar and his pictures reflect Saudade.
Neal recently returned to Portugal to make a film – Saudade a love letter to Portugal which Neal refers to as “portrait of an artist in search of his soul.” He reconnected with people that he met fifty years ago and he interviewed them for the film. He also shot color stills which are an interesting contrast to the early black and white pictures. Portugal has transitioned to a much different place than when Neal was first there and he was fortunate to have the cathartic experience of personally witnessing this metamorphosis.
So, finally Neal asked “What are we doing?” Fortunately I had the answer. While we were sitting at the table I was facing a wall that had a large work print of a picture that Neal did of a group of NYFD Chaplains.When I first walked into the studio I thought that I would do an environmental portrait of him.After our talk ended I wanted to do a simple photo.I asked Neal to stand in front of the work print, I moved a light panel that was on and WE made his portrait.I drank so much coffee that I was shaking so muchI had to use a tripod and cable release. Neal looked at the results, gave his approval and within minutes we were done.
Neal Slavin is one of the most interesting people that I have ever met!This is nothyperbolic bullshit! No attitude or egomania. Just intellect!
About The Author: Ted Kawalerski is a New York based photographer and filmmaker who has been shooting for more than 40 years for corporations, graphic design studios, and advertising agencies.
He has done assignments worldwide of AIG, Bank of America, Chevron, Dominion Resources Services, Ernst & Young, Harris Corporation, Johnson & Johnson, Liberty Mutal, MasterCard, Medico, Pitney Bowes, Praxair, United Technologies Corporation and The Hartford.
Ted lives on the Hudson River in Sleepy Hollow, NY and is involved in an ongoing project to photograph landscapes and portraits along the entire length of the river. This work has been exhibited in one-man shows in New York City at MV Gallery and a The Beacon Institute in Beacon, NY. Another project, “Windows” has been exhibited in NYC and Connecticut.
With two partners, Matt Stanton and Gene Mayer, Ted launched Cork Factory Films, a full service film/video production company. To access Ted’s film work, link here: https://corkfactoryfilms.com/