BAM African Festival Vibrates with Positivity & Creativity!

May 23 – May 25, 2009

Oil Painting Young Girl by Abdul AbadiThe parking lots and streets outside the Brooklyn Academy of Music are transformed every Memorial Day weekend into a vibrant bazaar with hundreds of booths filled with gorgeous handcrafted and imported goods. The sound of the drum is everywhere, as elegance, spirituality, radical black theory and hipness mix on Brooklyn streets, and where creativity and positivity abound. Evening performances include the best dance, music & film Mother Africa has to offer. Here are just a few of the wonders of the festival.

Oil Paintings by Abdul Badi

Oil Paintings by Abdul Abadi,

Cardboard Hats  Go Green African-style with a hand-painted recycled cardboard and coconut fiber hat. These “Chameleon” hats look like vase shaped sculptress when off the head, and can be worn in a variety of different ways. Sylvia, the vendor, spoke to me about how she met the man that creates these great hats at last year’s Festival, and her decision to turn them into bright and colorful designs with paint. Sylvia can be reached at or by phone at718-738-6989.

Freedom Bey with colorful suitcasesFreedom Bey paints suitcases and briefcases with stark zebra stripes and images of the African continent – how could anyone travel without one? Reach her at or 678-755-6111.

Sacred 77 Dress_IMG_4972Freedom’s fiancé, Afreakstar, of Sacred 77 clothing makes hand painted cotton designs that go beautifully with Freedom’s travel

For that perfect handmade leather shoulder bag, stop by Artwear by Robbie who hails from Georgia.


Nigerian Gele hat_IMG_4916Dress like the royalty you are with Obinrin Asiko from Nigeria, by donning a high gold “gele” style hat., 646-552-3823.

Of course I had to stop by my favorite vendor, Lavalais at Bamboozle, to purchase several “ear spears.” These

Lavalais & Jackqueline wonderful ear adornments come in all sizes and shapes – and they allow me to look “pierced” when in fact they penetrate the ear using only standard earring holes. I had a great chat with Lavalais about my travels to Algeria and enjoyed meeting his new assistant and very dear old friend Jocelyn, who told me about her Japan adventures. The ear spears I bought this year match my wild blue hair and are a great bargain.

Kiini Ibura Jewelry_IMG_4924Although I’m true-blue to Lavalais, having been his customer for many years at the African Festival, I couldn’t resist the beautiful silver and onyx ear decorations created by Melody D. Burns at KiiniIbura Jewelry, The delicate branch-shaped piece I bought (not shown) is made to be worn singly, and run up along the outer rim of the ear itself. Her many larger designs are pure elegance and some of the very best pieces I saw all day.

3-color bone necklace_IMG_4909More exquisitely beautiful jewelry designs can be found at Embellished Woman, where Pat Terry and Debra White show their best handmade pieces along with imported items. This piece is from Scandinavia made of bone and lamb hide. More at, 914-589-3661.

Book Hip Hop Obama_IMG_4946Tucked in the exit way to one of the areas, Caroline Brewer, an author and educational consultant from Washington, DC, displayed Barack Obama: A Hip Hop Tale of King’s Dream Come True, “A humorous, satirized, and fictionalized rendering of the presidential campaign of Barack Obama. Its swift-moving rhymes, rhythm, and drama entertain, while educating young readers and listeners about one of the most important events in American and world history. It ultimately reveals President Obama’s powerful connection to the enduring legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther     King, Jr. And what a beautiful book it is!


Walking by Angelic Artistry, exhausted from so much stimulation and the hot sun, I saw a man having his feet bathed in a large metal tub by a beautiful woman. “That’s what I need” I sighed. The lovely woman suggested I put my name down for next on the list. How could I refuse? When my turn came ‘round, I was treated to a delicious pure cane sugar scrub with all natural citrus by the charming Trinidadian masseuse who offers aromatherapy body products, chakra balancing, auric readings and paintings for health and wellness. At her suggestion, I’m going to breath more while imagining clouds taking away my worries and eat more spice. But right now I’m enjoying the tingling sensation in my feet., 347-278-4263.

A swirling painting “Booty Pop” by Willie Torbert on display at Afroart Designs

Animal Staff_IMG_4942Intensely attracted by the powerful wood and metal staff he carried, and by his warm and inviting smile – I introduced myself to Sehu, the director of Goddess Herstory. “The Goddess HerStory Theatrical Players were born out of a collective of women and men of good will towards women who cyclically come together to study the ancient herstorical time line of feminine divinity, their mythological stories and the ancient principles of feminine centered culture and sexual arts. The Theatrical Players were developed to address through drama the need for women to begin to revision themselves as new modern day Goddesses expressive of the greatness of the female spirit.” Sehu’s energy was so loving, and his artwork, made from plumbing supplies (!) so powerful; I just have to check out this group!

On my way out of the festival, I run into poet, writer, book publisher and teaching artist, Jade, (not pictured) who is working with the Smithsonian on a festival that will take place next year on African women and adornment. Jade runs a community folk arts program interested in bringing me in to teach about my own “Sacred Staffs.” Lots of connections are made at this festival where so many wonderful people congregate!

Seda Harunogh & Scott Wiley_IMG_4976I meet painter Seda Harunogh and her friend Scott Wiley with African Mosaic Soul Dance Collective

Two women Tracitional Garb_IMG_4904Everyone dresses for the festival …

… tired and hot, I make my way back home, but nevertheless I take minute to SMELL THE ROSES on Bergen

Yellow Rose_IMG_4984Street.

…. and dream of MORE of the African Fest at BAM … ’till TOMORROW!

Jumping Rope_IMG_4955Go ahead, jump right in to the African Festival at BAM –contribute to the positive vibration!

Judith Z. Miller

aka Artist Soul

About artistsoulspeaks

Zelda (aka Judith Z. Miller) Bio Zelda (aka Judith Z. Miller) is a multifaceted artist who lives in an erotic, musical, spiritual universe. As a feminist Jew who studies shamanism, she is inspired by the beauty of nature and the guiding force of her intuition as she explores the themes of connection to the Earth, spirituality, sexuality and gender. She sculpts, draws, writes, performs, photographs, and is an ecstatic dancer/percussionist/healer. Currently, under an Individual Artist Commission awarded by Arts Mid-Hudson, Zelda is developing Que Será, Será (Whatever Will Be, Will Be), a multi-media one-person show that chronicles the joys and challenges of navigating non-binary Queerness from a childhood in the 1950s to adulthood. This project is made possible with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by Arts Mid-Hudson. She is also producing ZELDA’S Happenings, a series of black-light, body-painting, percussion dance parties that will produce original wearable art for a new UpState Artists Clothing Collection representing artists of the region. Zelda co-founded The Fine Line Actors Theatre in Washington DC and performed at such venues as Source, GALA Hispanic Theatre and the Kennedy Center in DC, in NYC at WOW Café Theatre and Dixon Place, at the Lace Mill and with the TMI Project in Kingston. She published in Inside Arts magazine, The Washington Post, and American Theatre magazine. Zelda currently resides at the Lace Mill artist residence in Kingston NY with her Great Dane “Z”.
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11 Responses to BAM African Festival Vibrates with Positivity & Creativity!

  1. allison artis says:

    Hi Artist soul speaks:
    this is Allie Artis, founder of Angelic Artistry
    will like to ivite you to my Open Mic /
    Open art event this friday July 17th.
    i will also have my aromatherapy foot scrubs and heal body products present as well.
    you can contact me by email:

    One love

    • To the one & only Artist Soul Specks:
      I will like to share with you an Angelic Artistry Update:

      Web site:


      Thank You for all the Love & Light you have shared with so many.

      Love Always,
      Allie Artis
      Ceo & Founder of Angelic Artistry

  2. "^SEHU?!." says:


    Thank you for that wonderful promotion of our work at Goddess HerStory. It was indeed a pleasure to meet you (a truly synchronicitous moment) & I look forward to our paths passing again.

    Love & Light,


  3. Ladyblack says:

    Hey, thanks for the shout out. For clarity sake, Afreakstar* is owned and designed by Ladyblack. and L.U.R.E. is created and owned by my sister Freedom Bey and her husband Saeed Ali. Thanks again for the mention, we need all the advertisement we can get.

  4. Sylvia Hires says:

    Hi Artist Soul Speaks;

    First giving praise and glory! Second wishing you and yours a Spirit lifting New Year. I would have emailed you sooner if I had known I was being promoted by the best, “Artist Soul Speaks”. About two weeks ago, I received a call in regards to this site in which I did not know it existed until two weeks ago mid December. I Thank you a thousand times for this advertisement.
    Let me know if I can elaborate or connect additional pictures onto this site,

    Peace & Many Blessings

    • Sylvia: If you would like to supply an updated link, please reply and your comment will show up (once I approve it). This particular post gets more hits than any other, so you can expect many people will see your comment. I very much enjoyed meeting you this past May and still remember your vibrant positive energy. I wish you all the best for the coming year – creativity, health, joy, peace & love – and success in your endeavors! – Judith Z.

  5. Sylvia Hires says:

    Artist Soul Speaks,


  6. Sylvia Hires says:


    I would love to send you a updated link with pictures on the many ways in which you can wear this cardboard hat, called
    You can turn this hat inside, outside and upside down. You can wear it as a High Fashion wide Brim, Turn inside out for that Safari look, turn it upside down for that short and tall beanie look.

    Peace & Many Blessings
    By the grace of God, my plan is to be at BAM for 2010!!

    • Sylvia,

      Please send me the link. I’m sorry, at this point I don’t have time to post individual photos, but if you include the link in your message I will allow it on the page.

      Hope to see you at BAM 2010!

      Judith Z.

      Judith Z. Miller, mask-making in residency with master Tlingit woodcarver Tommy Joseph Southeast Alaskan Indian Cultural Center, Sitka National Historical Park, Sitka Alaska Photo by James Paulson, front page, The Sitka Sentinel Newspaper, September 17, 2009 Sponsored in part by a grant from Fractured Atlas

      Subscribe to Artist Soul Speaks

      Arts, Culture & Community blog:

      Online Jewelry Store:


  7. Sylvia Hires says:

    Hi My Sista,

    Hope all is well with you and yours! I am excited about Bam 2010!
    I will be there in the flesh, “Cod’s Willing” the memorial day weekend event My spot is A66 for the “Chameleon” At Sylvia’s Place.

    Peace & Many Blessings

  8. marc says:

    great works kip ap.

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