Loud and Queer: How These Two Artistic Visionaries Express Their Creative Identity

Expressing one’s artistic autonomy is no easy task. Here are a couple queer individuals who, within their respective fields, are paving the way for self-expression and creative individualism.

Chance Allen

Chance Allen is a junior Journalism and Media Studies double major at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. He began taking pictures in his junior year of high school, and after navigating his first year of college, decided to pursue his love for photography.

“I think every photographer has their own kind of style, whether they’re trying to do it or not.” Allen said.

Allen takes pride in his creative vision, however he, like us all, faces creative challenges. Night photography in particular, is a challenging but rewarding practice Allen is trying to master. 

The secret to Allen’s success in his field is to always be prepared. He will usually bring his camera everywhere, and take photos of anything and everything happening around him.

“My best photos have come sporadically. I have had some planned shoots, but I think more times than that I’ve had better ones from random moments.” Allen said. 

Photo by Chance Allen

His photos capture the beauty and authenticity within Macon’s community, and his unique style illuminates the community’s rich culture and charming individuals.

“Give yourself the space and time to take photos of what you enjoy.” Allen said. “It takes time. I don’t think it’s for everyone, but if you take the time to really put in the work, it will be more rewarding.” Allen said.


Ivy Marie

Ivy Marie is a junior English Literature and Creative Writing double major at Mercer University. She first started writing when she was little, eventually picked up poetry in middle school, and started to solidify her writing skills in high school.

“I’ve been writing my whole life, but I started taking it seriously as a junior in high school.” Marie said.

Finding her literary voice was a journey for Marie. As she ticked off the poets who she simply could not relate to, she found that there were many that were not the right fit.

“In the beginning it was really hard to find confidence in myself. I knew I didn’t like old poetry. The challenge was finding my own voice.” she said.

Now, as a confident poet, Marie is navigating how to decipher the line between sharing her art without oversharing her personal life.

“I don’t need to make art that shows all of my trauma, everything I’ve been through, all at once.” Marie said. “Some things are good to keep to myself.”

Poetry by Ivy Marie

Marie handles all her poems tenderly. She strives to do justice to her experience while also creating stories that carefully cradle her queer experience.

“No matter what I try to do, it always comes off as very gentle, and very ethereal, even when I don’t mean to.” Marie said.

Marie’s poetry takes a snapshot of her queer experience. Her storytelling makes for vivid, artful pieces of work that perfectly capture what it’s like to feel and live openly and freely.

Gen Z Thrifting: The lns and Outs of Finding Your Style

Gen Z Thrifting: The lns and Outs of Finding Your Style

As a college student, sometimes it can be hard to express your creative individualism while on a budget. Over the course of 2020, I’ve cultivated a few tips and tricks on how to thrift your favorite styles while saving some money.

1. Explore your style

Before you can showcase your thrifting expertise, you have to understand your specific style. Knowing what you like to wear helps you understand what to search for in your thrifting expenditure. I personally love bold, flamboyant pieces, so I am always looking for pieces that cater to my specific style.

2. Shop locally

Some of the best pieces I own I’ve found by sifting through the racks at my local thrift store. Shopping locally allows you to find much more intriguing vintage pieces. Usually, local shops take donations from the surrounding community. Depending on where you live, that community can be full of rich, authentic pieces just waiting for you to thrift them. In addition, local thrift shops usually price their pieces significantly lower than larger, chain thrift shops. You’ll get many more pieces for a fraction of the price, and you’ll have a lot more luck in finding clothes that fit your style.

3. Have a game plan

Thrifting is no simple task. While it is fun, it can take a lot of sifting to find that perfect pair of jeans or jacket. Patience is key. Have a game plan of what you are looking for before going in, and you’ll be more prepared to sift through the endless racks to find what you want.

4. Be adventurous

I would never have been able to develop the style I have now without going outside of my comfort zone and searching for pieces that I usually would not wear. As I sift through the racks, I repeat to myself, “Be adventurous,” You’re never going to know what suites you until you try it on. Although searching for pieces that you wouldn’t normally wear can be scary, your style will become so much more unique and authentic to yourself.

How I learned a New Skill In Quarantine

How I learned a New Skill In Quarantine

I have been cooped up at home for the past four months due to COVID-19. At first, I, like many other eager first-year college students, was discouraged at the fact that I would not be getting my “full college experience.” However, I begrudgingly accepted that my health and safety were my priority and hunkered down in my bedroom.

After spending hours upon hours sitting at home and staring at the ceiling, I had the bright idea to make the most of my time in self-isolation. I quit twiddling my thumbs and decided to learn something new. Little did I know, those particular skills would prove to help me flourish both creatively and mentally.

I had been watching countless YouTube videos on creators “getting their life together” or “maxing out their productivity” during quarantine, and thought “I could do that!”, so I picked myself up off my bedroom floor and got to work.

I made it my mission to start painting. I’m taking an art class in the fall, and I thought what better way to get ahead on my art prowess than to begin painting over the summer. I ordered a shiny new gouache set on Amazon, new paintbrushes, and pristine watercolor paper.

I knew that starting a skill as intimidating as a painting would prove to be no easy task. I’d taken a couple of art classes in high school, but aside from those, I had no real experience in painting. Nevertheless, I got to work, trying to make as much art as possible, regardless of how it looked. I was of the mindset that as long as I kept practicing, I would eventually make some progress. I started slowly, looking up painting tutorials on YouTube of basic techniques: how to hold your brush, how much water to use, how to mix colors and the fundamentals of color theory. My first couple of attempts were underwhelming, but I was just excited that I had made something.

As I kept practicing over the weeks, sitting in my room alone while the world continued to get crazier and crazier, I found myself slowly, but surely, getting better. It took quite a lot of practice and patience, but I compared my work at the beginning of May and to my work from the end of June, and I realized that there was a stark difference. I had improved.

I’m still very much a beginner, but I can safely say that I have learned how to hold a brush correctly, and maybe know a thing or two about how to mix colors. However, the essential skills I cultivated spending weeks sitting behind my desk creating, were that of patience, persistence, and chasing the reckless ambition to try new things.

A Writer’s Safe Space at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka

A Writer’s Safe Space at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka

Home is and will continue to be important in the lives of people. The definition of home has always varied. Primarily, it is where you live with people you call family, who share the same lineage and blood as you. The meaning of the term family is quite simple; it is people you love and who loves you in return. As humans, we are never entirely confined in a place; we move, travel and seek. It is through this journey that we make for ourselves home with people whom we aren’t necessarily related to by blood, but by something ordinary and just as deep. Being a creative, finding a community is just as important especially if you are new to a place. To find like minds open to conversation and learning can be a bliss. And this is what the students at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka have seen for themselves.

The Writers Community, TWC as it is popularly called started in 2008 and it is an enriching community for writers who wish to learn, be in conversations they would otherwise not have with their fellow students, and mostly, exist as what they are, creatives. The community holds its meeting every Friday, where the Custodian (President), who runs for a session, spearheads the conference. It usually opens with pleasantries, discussions on a particular topic from a previous meeting, and the core of it all, submission of works by any member to be reviewed by everyone.

These honest reviews gear towards making a better writer out of everyone as discussions ensue, questions asked, and the learning wheel is left spinning. In moderating this, the Custodian shares copies of the workaround which will be read by the writer, and later criticized constructively by members who have opinions about the piece. In the acknowledgment that art and creativity are vast, there are no limitations to the kinds of work that can be submitted ranging from poetry, prose, essays, fiction, non-fiction, plays, art or whatever it is your mind comes up. Afterward, the best submissions are compiled and shared with everyone via the TWC boards located in the Faculty of Arts.

Apart from these weekly meetings, the community also organizes workshops where established writers come to teach and equip members. The guest for the last seminar was JK Anowe, a poet. For fun, the community holds its end of the year Discuss Night where members circle a bonfire, eat, drink, play games and of course, read more works. It also partners with other platforms within the school to create readings and performance night which are open to all students. The community is as essential as it is for every writer who wishes to grow and can serve as a solid foundation as it has for its ancestors like Otosirieze Obi-Young, Arizne Ifekandu, Benson David, Ebenezer Agu and many more.


Shade Mary-Ann Olaoye is a final year student of Mass Communication at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.  She is passionate about writing and engages with multiple campus organizations and local societies to reinforce and promote her love of growing into a creative.

Shade makes her debut as a blog intern for That Green Tea.

Follow me on IG: @shade_mary_ann_olaoye

 

McKenna & Hailey Take A Day

My days typically start between 8:30-9:30 (admittedly, depending on how tired I am) and I prepare for classes by making a quick bagel to go and dressing in something modest and comfortable for my classes. I like to keep my beauty routine relatively simple, typically consisting of applying some tinted moisturizer, mascara, and touching up my brows. My moisturizer is from Origins, my mascara is Roller Lash from Benefit, and I combine Anastasia Beverly Hills Dip Brow and Benefit’s Gimme Brow.

A typical day in my life starts around 7:30. I force myself to get out of my incredibly comfortable bed and get ready for the day. I eat some breakfast, usually Greek yogurt, and drink some coffee while I do my morning devotional and read The Skimm. Then I wash my face and get dressed for the day.

My classes begin with my Statistics for Behavioral Science class, which lasts for an hour and fifteen minutes and then to my Ethics in Media Studies class which is a quick hustle across campus to make it in time for another hour and fifteen-minute lecture. My Ethics in Media Studies class is one of my favorites, as it presents various Ethical Dilemma in journalism, advertising, and broadcasting and we have open forum discussions on various topics with our very diverse class, and it makes for a very thought-provoking discussion.

My first class of the day is for my Honors upper-level classes—the World in the News. It’s a discussion-based class where we discuss different articles we found from around the world. Each week is a different theme; this week, the item is women. Then I have an hour and a half break before my class. I stay on campus and eat lunch that I packed, or I go to a restaurant near campus. I might work on homework, or I might watch The Bachelor.

After I get back to my garage and car, I stopped by HyVee to pick up a few items to hold me over through the weekend. Today I decided to make some steak and rice, with some extra to have for lunch tomorrow. After I make myself a quick meal, I sit down and begin my homework and make a list of what I need to get done through the night.

My biggest lull of the night is where I sit and finish and sort through multiple readings and videos for my Introduction to Art Theory and Criticism and push through essays while watching TV. This class I take to gain credit towards my Fashion Merchandising Minor, and I’ve very much enjoyed discovering new artists I’ve never heard of before.

Then at 12:30 I have a class for my writing minor called Digital Textual Problems, where we consider how we can use computational tools to understand more about literature. It’s one of those classes that you have no idea what you’re signing up for, but it’s been a very thought-provoking class.

Right after my writing class, I have Research, which is part of my Strategic Communication major. It’s learning all about how to research my major. The exact opposite of the kind of Strat Comm I want to do—I want to be creative—but we’re working on a semester-long oral history project, which is writing-based research, so I can’t complain.

Right after Research, I head to my car and drive to work. I work as a teacher and office manager at a local dance studio. Tuesdays, I’m at the desk, so I help answer calls and emails, as well as process payments and answer any questions parents have. This time of year, I’m focused on helping my boss get ready for competitions and our spring recital.

           

After some tedious hours, I decided to stretch out and do a little yoga to combat the stiffness of sitting in front of my laptop for too long. This is what I try to do (try being the key word here) if I’m feeling unmotivated to go to the gym. I usually look up a 15-30 minute video on YouTube as a Yoga Membership in Lincoln isn’t really in my budget. It relaxes me and prepares me to get ready for bed and take on the next day.


I stick around the studio for an hour and eat dinner, which is either a wrap from Pak-A-Pocket, our neighbors next door, or I heat a frozen meal from Trader Joe’s. Then I help people sign in for our adult dance classes that we offer every Tuesday. I usually join the class for a good (free) workout, and then help my boss close up the studio. I’m out by 9:00.

Then I head home to work on any homework I have due for Thursday. Since I have three classes worth of homework, it can be a lot, and sometimes I push it back until Wednesday. Sometimes I have things to do for my sorority or a non-profit I’m involved in, but I try to be in bed between 10:00 and 11:00. I’ll watch an episode of Brooklyn 99 and then read a little bit—right now it’s Daring Greatly—before I head happily to bed. Then I get up the next day and do it again!


McKenna and Hailey have known each other since the flood and decided to share a glimpse of what a day in their lives looks like. One half in Nebraska, the other in Texas, reconnection comes in the most beautiful of ways.

This collaboration honors that friendship.

I am available for future collaborations in the areas of photography, content writing, and advertising/branding. Follow me on IG: mckennaarthur and Twitter: @mckennaarthur