Breaking Down Barriers: Accessibility and Healing Art for All

The Mother-Daughter Duo Making Art Inclusive

Amaranthia Sepia, a black woman with long dreadlocks wearing glasses and a headband, and Claire Jones, a black woman with a red head wrap and red glasses
Swirling colors and a quote about accessibility from an interview discussing art healing accessibility and invisible disabilities

Meet Claire Jones and Amaranthia Sepia, the mother-daughter duo leading Sista Creatives Rising. The mission of Sista Creatives Rising is to empower marginalized women and marginalized genders through art creation and accessibility. Claire and Amaranthia, who both have invisible disabilities, prioritize showcasing art that deals with mental health, disability justice, race, gender, and the LGBTQ+ community.

The episode details Claire and Amaranthia’s personal stories and the intergenerational trauma they have experienced. They discuss how art has been a healing force in their lives and how they want to share that healing power with others.

The article highlights the various aspects of Sista Creatives Rising:

  • Art and Mind: A biennial virtual event featuring documentaries, short films, artist talks, and mental health professionals.
  • Sistas Uprising Fund: A micro-grant program that provides financial aid to marginalized artists.
  • 3D Virtual Gallery: A fully accessible online platform showcasing the work of marginalized artists.
  • Self-Description: An emphasis on inclusivity by including detailed descriptions of the people involved in the project.

Click here for the episode’s full transcript.

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Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (00:01)
We have a great episode for you today. Sista Creatives Rising is a project and concept and really can be thought of as a movement founded by black invisibly disabled mother daughter duo, Claire Jones and Amaranthia Sepia. The mission of Cisa Creatives Rising is to help creative marginalized women and marginalized genders gain accessibility and visibility in the arts to facilitate personal healing. Using their own experiences with trauma, mental health, and the power of art and creativity to heal, these incredible ladies are centering marginalized artists and creating an accessible community of healing through art. Stay tuned and get ready to be inspired as we reduce the stigma.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (01:55)
Hello and welcome to Recovery Conversations. I’m your host, Whitney Menarche. I have brown hair and I’m wearing a black t -shirt with the words reduce the stigma on it. Today’s conversation is with Claire Jones and Amarynthia Sepia, a mother -daughter team and creators of Sisa Creatives Rising. The mission of CISA Creatives Rising is to help creative, marginalized women and marginalized genders gain accessibility and visibility in the arts to facilitate personal healing. Claire and Amarynthea, thank you so much for joining me today.

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (02:28)
Thank you so much. Thank you for having us. Yeah.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (02:32)
So a mother daughter daughter duo, this is really exciting for me to get to speak to you both. I haven’t had this kind of guest before. And I’d like to start with if we could learn a little bit about each of you individually.

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (02:45)
Yeah, so we’ll do our self descriptions. I could go first. You go first. Yeah. So I’m Amaranthia and just a quick description of a self ID or self description is like for accessibility purposes. And so we always like to do that with every podcast we’ve been on recently. And so I’m a 24 year old young black woman and I have a large headband on and it’s black and white striped. I have long black locks or dreadlocks and they’re off to say the left side of my face. And I’m wearing a red turtleneck and a black and white kind of sheer, let’s say like a long sleeve shirt, open shirt with like a golden zipper behind us. It’s a white wall with some decorative fabrics, red, black and white patterned fabrics and some Japanese art decor on the wall and some fake flowers. Sunflowers. Yeah, sunflowers and vines. Yes. Hi, I’m Claire. I am a 61 year old black woman. I’m wearing large red framed glasses with a gold chain and I’m wearing a Kente African head wrap. I’m also wearing a brown necklace, a long brown necklace knotted, which is knotted. And I’m wearing a smaller necklace with red hearts, a black shirt. And I, I, did I say I’m wearing a black shirt? Yes. And that’s it. Yeah. And we both have glasses. Hers, hers are red. Mine are like round and clear. But yeah.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (04:37)
Thank you. And how about, I want to come back to the self description, but first, why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you are and then we’ll get into really the work you’re doing.

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (04:50)
Yeah, so at Cista Creatives Rising, as mother -daughter duo, we are both disabled. We have invisible disabilities. We both have complex PTSD, agoraphobia, and panic disorder. And we’re also now navigating the fact that I’m learning that we’re neurodivergent as well. And just kind of working with our therapists and doctors on like what that means for us and…It explains a lot of how we interact with the world. And yeah, with Cis of Creatives Rising, like in your introduction, we highlight marginalized women and marginalized genders who are creating art that isn’t usually seen in galleries because maybe they’re doing something that’s non -traditional. It’s not fine arts. They’re talking about issues that maybe are seen as taboo, like mental health disability, disability justice, talking about race, gender, you know, the LGBT community, etc. So we’re trying to bring awareness to these stories that aren’t seen and heard, that they tend to be rejected, and give them a platform and pay these artists as well, with the help of our sponsors to create documentaries and virtual galleries. We have a 3D virtual gallery. We create through Coons Matrix and you could completely walk through it. It’s like VR but without the headset. And we hold this event called Art and Mind, which is every other year. The next one will be next year. The last one was in October. And we showcase these documentaries, these short films, and have therapists speak. We have mental health professionals. We have disability activists shared our stories while we showcase and celebrate these artists and give back. We raised funds. Our last show we raised like $1 ,453, I think. The goal was a thousand. Yeah, the goal was a thousand. That’s the first time we ever reached a goal for anything. And so we used that to fundraise for our Sisters Uprising Fund, which is our new micro -grant program. And so we’ve, we’re getting ready to, we’ve selected our finalists. We’re just getting ready to pull them together.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (06:57)

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (07:15)
And each finalist, which will be eight, will receive 200 each. So they’ll be in this gallery and they’ll be able to use those funds for their art or paying bills, medical bills. And we plan each time when we do Art in Mind to increase that amount. So it’s really exciting for us. So this is a long held dream, but yeah.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (07:40)
absolutely incredible. You have so many things going on, and the accessibility commitment is really prevalent throughout. And I’d like to start there, you know, this is the first time that I have done any sort of physical description of myself when introducing, and that was because I have watched your videos and I saw that that was something that you really encouraged. And could you share with us what that act, what being, what sharing those descriptive details does as a way of increasing accessibility?

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (08:19)
Yeah, yes, if you hear a tiny little mew mew in the background, that’s our kitten Mina. Well, cat. Yeah, yeah, I call her kitten. She’s five years old, but she acts like a kitten. Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. Yeah. So, so the question was, what, why is it important to?

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (08:31)
My five -year -old dog still acts like a puppy, so I understand. How does it help with accessibility by providing that description?

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (08:45)
Well, as people with invisible disabilities, we realize the importance we are living in an able -bodied world. So living in an able -bodied world, everything is catered to that mindset. And we realized for a long time that we had these challenges, but we didn’t know what they were until Amaranthia, I don’t, is in 2021 when we joined Painted Brain, which is an organization in a nonprofit organization in California. And we were a part of their show, Discovering a Place for Us. And they really helped us to hone into what these indivisible disabilities were and how important it was to,

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (09:21)

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (09:44)
To talk about them. And so we realized that, wait a minute, we have these invisible disabilities. And we met a lot of people who were, who had the same, who were going through these same issues. So we realized that if we want to do, create art and talk about art, share our stories on what we were going through, that in this able -bodied world, in…order to open that conversation, we would have to do art that was accessible. And then we did a course, a course back in the fall of 2021, and that opened it up for us to understand how we would go about to do it, how we would create this grassroots organizations, which in that course we called Sister Creative, we came up with Sister Creative Verizon. And it was there that we began to have this concept and further build on making sure that everything was accessible because we realized there were people that were viewing this work and they were not able to really see them, feel themselves or see themselves because there wasn’t, there weren’t any, a lot of people don’t represent their work from that perspective. So we began to share the work and do captions and everything like that because we realized that a lot of people have these invisible disabilities. And it was important to incorporate it in our work if we were going forward to continue to share our story and to get out this message. Yeah. And with the self ID, we actually learned about that because I did. What was it? It’s like a virtual residency and it was called Socially Distant Art. And it’s catered to disabled artists, but also like non -disabled artists to learn about accessibility and melding it into our art and like our process of creating. And they talked about self -idea as like one of the first things. So we had to describe ourselves because we had some members who might be blind. We also had some members who might be deaf as well.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (11:55)
Yeah. Mm -hmm.

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (12:09)
And so we had to learn about ASL and incorporating that into our events and stuff. And so we realized that this was so important that sometimes people cannot see what you’re showing on the screen. And, and it also helps them when they’re listening to something that if they have an idea of what you look like, they can imagine you or have a better understanding of your background, like who you are. and I think it just creates a deeper.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (12:35)

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (12:38)
Connection. So I think I hope that through what we do, that we can help more people understand like why it’s important. Yeah, bridge that gap. And we learn as we go because we don’t know everything about this. We’re discovering it as we go. Every day we’re learning, every day we’re learning something new. And last year, we learned that some people, people who have autism, you need to be careful when you put up the videos.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (12:56)

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (13:08)
because if there’s too much movement, too much – Or if a video is on auto – auto – Auto, yes. Yeah. So that could cause a problem. So then we realized we had some videos on our website that was doing that. We were like, we went and we fixed it. So as we go, we are learning things and as we learn them, we’ll adjust to suit because, you know, it’s, it’s a new area. So it’s very, it’s very challenging sometimes, but it’s –

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (13:28)

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (13:36)
It’s amazing every time you break through and you learn something new.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (13:41)
And isn’t that what we all need to be doing is constantly learning how to make ourselves and our spaces more, I hate to use the word accessible, that’s the best word, but more inviting and more, you know, and so I imagine, you know, the learning is going to continue. And I know I learned from you the importance of that self description. And now I’m going to be thinking of that in a way that I never had before.

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (13:54)
Yes. Yes. I’m so glad to hear that. Yeah, that’s exactly why we do this work, you know.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (14:15)
Right, so tell me more about about Sisa creatives because there’s so many different components to it. My understanding is it really came about as a movement for healing. Can you share a little bit about that?

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (14:31)
Mm -hmm. Yeah. Yeah. Do you want me to go first? Well, it started with, I, this is Claire and I was born into domestic violence in Barbados and for a long, long time, all my life, pretty much, I don’t know if you know about the V8 ads there in 2012, there were these, if you didn’t get your V8, which was the tomato juice drink. It was like early 2000. Yeah. And.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (14:55)
Now. huh.

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (15:03)
there was this ad that if you don’t get your V8, you would always be walking to the side. Everybody’s walking straight up, but you would always be walking to your side. But as soon as you got your V8, you came back straight up. So that was my life. I felt always like I was slanted in my life throughout my life because I had this.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (15:09)
Okay. Haha. Okay. Yeah.

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (15:24)
Stigma of domestic violence following me all my life and I never felt I would amount to anything but I would always challenge it and I would break through. I would try, constantly try breaking through all these challenges and my mom was, my dad was violent to my mom when I was in the womb so it was just a part of who I was and so as I came into the world and I got older I promised that I would help my mom. I would make it and I would help my mom. And so Sister Creatives came from, I went through a lot, a lot of changes, made a lot of mistakes, but that remained that long held dream of doing something that would help marginalize women, which I didn’t even know the word marginalize at that time. I only knew that I wanted to help my mom and women like her and like myself. And so when my daughter was born and she came into the world, I…had done all this research from going to Mount Holyoke College as a Francis Berkman scholar. And I had also converted to Buddhism, which helped me view life from a different perspective, from a more Eastern perspective. And so I started to look at life in a different way. And I had the opportunity to go into Mount Holyoke to pull everything together. And I went back to, I got a research grant, went back to Senegal, West Africa to the slave houses off the coast of on the island, Calgary. And I stood at that door where the slaves were sent off and they never saw their home again. And I, for me, it was that moment that things came together for me because I was standing in that wound that was never healed. Has never been healed in a person like me, you know? And so I decided that I would fight against intergeneral the legacy of intergenerational abuse. And so that is where this came from. And the healing, when Amirati was born, the healing continued with her. And now my mom is gone. She’s not here. My whole family’s gone. They’ve transitioned. I’m the only one left. But now Amirati and I are doing the work that I promised myself that I would do. And that’s where this, what this is all about. That’s where it came from. And then when I got cancer in 2022, and I almost lost my ability to walk. That was when I realized I have to get up and do it. I can’t wait anymore. Yeah. Yeah.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (17:59)
That is incredible. A couple episodes before you, we actually have a historical trauma specialist, and she was just talking about how the trauma doesn’t always start in your generation, that intergenerational trauma, and that you sometimes have to go back several generations to the initial event, such as slavery.

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (18:12)
Wow. Yes. Mm -hmm. Yes.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (18:28)
And, you know, and so it’s just my mind is kind of like, how amazing to have that conversation, then I’m hearing your story, I’m getting to witness your story. And it is so reflective of that. And now you’ve taken generations of trauma, of discrimination, and your own experience, partnered with your daughter and created a movement.

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (18:39)
Yeah. Yes. Yes. Yes, and it’s called, our slogan is called, is bridging gaps to the past, the present, to the future, and that represents the journey. So I’m bridging the gaps, I went back to understand the slavery, and then to the present, you know, I learned about myself and started my recovery and my haven, and the future rests in my daughter. I’m 60, she’s, I’m 61, she’s 25, and so we’re doing this work so that…

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (19:06)
Wow. Mm -hmm.

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (19:24)
She can push forward into the future and I don’t have to worry anymore about all that stuff because I’m not living there anymore. Yeah. You know, I’m healing and doing better.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (19:33)
Mm -hmm. Yeah. And so here is this, like, I’m just imagining this visualization of all of this coming towards you, Amaranthia, you know, all of this family history, and then you’re, I’m not sure who kind of had the first thought. What were you thinking when your mom, or maybe it was you who had the idea, how did you two come to the decision of let’s make it in this way? Let’s create this project.

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (20:03)
Hmm. Yeah, it’s been a long term, like long time coming, I would say, because when I was born, I had a lot of health issues and we couldn’t understand what was going on. And it got worse because of bullying I was experiencing. And I originally lived in Japan. We lived in the US and then we went through an expat opportunity for my dad to go to Japan and we lived there for like two and a half years and that was kind of like my foundation of going to Japanese international school. And so that along with being Buddhist helped. Practicing Japanese Buddhism specifically already before going there heavily influenced me as like a four to six year old. And I was around a lot of diversity and art, the art was everywhere and I was immersed in Buddhism and Shintoism. And so when I came back, I was just totally enamored with art. I was already creating because my mom would always have a lot of artistic stuff around me as a little kid. And when I came back to the US, was at 2006 and I started having to go to public school, the bullying began and I started experiencing really severe racial trauma and just feeling like something’s wrong, I’m not fitting in and I couldn’t understand what I felt something was wrong with me. And it just kept escalating, escalating and eventually we moved to now we’re in New Hampshire and we’ve been here for what, about…15, 16 years now? Yeah, 15, 16 years. And we were originally in Connecticut before we moved here, when we came back to the States. And the bullying kept escalating and I just created, kept creating and art was my only friend. And so my mom saw that and she showed my art to my art teacher at the time at the elementary school and said, hey, you need to look at this and look at what this kid is doing. And he thought…thought, wow, this is really amazing. This could be very healing. And he created this art show at this weekly meeting we’d always have at the school called Town Meeting. It was like every Friday. And that was their first art showcase. And then kids started talking to me. And I realized, like, wow, like art is healing for me. And I think at that time I was like 10 or 11. And once I got into middle school, it kept getting worse. And eventually I left middle school because of the bullying, trying to do this anti -bullying project called Do I Know Who I Am? But because it was addressing these issues and stigma and race and gender and all these different things, I was seeing these kids suffering like me. The school didn’t want to address it, so ultimately I had to go to a virtual charter school called Villex. And from 13 to 18, I was in recovery trying to figure out health issues and what eventually got diagnosed with you know, complex PTSD and panic disorder. And for that whole time, I created this, a new version of that project called I’m Proud of Who I Am and started doing these, this tour with my mom and the local artists. I got a scholarship at a local school called Kimball Jenkins and it was a, it’s an art school. And I worked with one of the adult artists there to share my story through these shows that were going to different libraries. In different towns in our county and so I did that between the ages of like 14 and 16. And that was my way of talking about kind of taking what my mom did, addressing these issues around trauma and mental health through the arts and a way for me to heal while also trying to encourage other kids and their parents like, hey, art is healing and that we need to hear these stories. And this is a great way for people to learn who they are and so through that and going navigating for my mental health journey and having to constantly self advocate, I realized that, wow, we can take this concept and do something more with it. And so like my mom said, we did Painted Brain, I did some other shows. I started doing stuff as art coordinator, like as a volunteer when the pandemic hit. And we were like, you know, let’s do our own thing. Let’s do something like I’m proud of who I am again. But we’ll do it completely, you know virtual. And we, that was the first Art in Mind show in 2021. And from there, we were like, we need to do something more than Art in Mind, maybe create like Art in Mind, but then have stuff surrounding it that, you know, supports it. And that’s where this concept for Sister Craigs Rising came together. So yeah, so it’s a long story, but basically, you know, what was really important was that she was losing her voice as she got sick.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (25:06)
Okay. Hmm.

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (25:20)
Her voice was leaving and I was like, I had already done something like this for my last project at Mount Holyoke where I did a play called Shadows of Udo and shared my story and gave back to the community. And I was like, wait a minute, if I’m going to give this to my daughter. And so I kind of used that concept of that play writing, that play that I did and said, use your art to tell this story.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (25:42)

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (25:49)
And I just started to archive everything she did and frame everything through going to Michael’s and all these different, and I framed everything from our pocket. And she had art shows all over the place from just this concept. And so that’s where the seed of this thing started to burst open. But I didn’t know that I was headed to here, to this moment. I didn’t know that I was…

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (26:14)

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (26:17)
Doing Sister Creatives Rising until that course that we did at the end of 2021 really coalesced everything. And then when I got sick and was in the hospital, I realized I can’t self -sabotage, I can’t do this anymore. And the important thing that I need to say that, remember I told you that how I was, my mom had been, violence was, my dad had been doing violence against my mom when I was in her room? Well, and then I realized later that I had passed that on to Emirati and my mom had passed on that stress in the womb to me because when Emirati got sick at 13, I had a salivary test done and it showed our cortisol levels and both of them were almost flat line, the exact same. And that is when I realized this is a representation of what they talk about with Black women having stress in the womb.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (27:14)
Mm -hmm.

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (27:14)
She showed up the same cortisol level as me. And so I realized that that is probably what showed up. If my mom had done that, I would have seen it years before that hers was like mine. And so I realized that I had passed on this stress and everything to my daughter and that was a part of her illness. And so this is all what we are coming to term with now in, as we navigate this new life.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (27:23)
Great. Yeah. Yeah. So processing making sense of it while also providing what’s helping you to others.

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (27:49)
Mm -hmm. Yes. That’s basically it. You got it. In a nutshell. Yeah. Yeah.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (27:52)
Well, I think I’m at a loss for words because how amazing is that to be able to help others in general. But it demonstrates that we are always still like a work in progress, just like we’re always going to be learning how to, you know, be more accessible for others and things like that. And then to share what’s working.

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (28:08)
Yes. Mm -hmm.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (28:18)
And the community that I imagine that builds of people who are finding support and hope and healing through a common medium.

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (28:30)
Yes. Yeah. Yeah. And the amazing thing about the pandemic, I, in Buddhism, they always taught us to look for the light within everything. No matter how bad something looks, there’s always a light. So in everything I do, I always look for the light. So in the pandemic, the light was this beautiful creation of learning of Amaranthia. We didn’t understand why she went to virtual school before. We were able to take that.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (28:41)

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (28:58)
And create this platform, this virtual platform, because no one wanted to give us a chance. No one wanted to help us. And so that’s where we were learning that galleries, people like that don’t want to learn about this work from marginalized artists like us. So that’s why we created this platform, because we knew firsthand that they’re not going to look at our work. And we were like, well, we are going to show our work while showing others, because no one is going to do it for us. So why not create?

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (29:05)

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (29:28)
This whole platform. And so we are pioneering this new effort for marginalized artists and while we, and we’re putting out the work that we have had in our computers all these years as well. Yeah.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (29:42)
And so let’s talk about that platform. So you’ve had the gallery. It’s all virtual. And I imagine that means that you’re able to connect with people that otherwise would have no opportunity to access. And what’s it like? So is it tell us more about accessing the gallery and some of the other programs going on?

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (29:49)
Mm -hmm. Exactly. Exactly. Yeah, so with the Art and Mind show, like if you go on our website, we’ll have, we have like a main page on our site about Art and Mind and describing like how it came about and the 2021 show and the 2023 show. And on the, there’s a sub page for the 2023 show, which is called I Know Who I Am, Journeys of Women of Color and Fem Expressing Creatives. And that was…kind of part three of that anti -bullying project, I’m proud of who I am and do you know who I am. And you can see the gallery completely embedded. So if you go check it out on like a laptop, you can just look at the gallery through our site and it’ll do a guided tour. Again, it’s through Kuhn’s Matrix and I wish I believe it’s a German company and you can just interactive all the art pieces and we always make sure to do each art piece has like a image description so you can click on it and it’ll describe what it looks like you can read that and Learn more about the artist just like you would a regular gallery. So you’ll see it on the walls Sometimes there’s there’s music playing there’s music playing in this one by composer we worked with named Mel Chilianis who’s Australian artists disabled artists and Yeah, it’s just really, really cool because our first show was, it wasn’t the best virtual gallery. We were working with a local gallery, or gallery in Massachusetts, not local, but near us. And unfortunately, it disappeared. They took down the gallery and we’re like, my gosh, how are we going to do this? Do we need to partner with something else? But we realized for working with Coons Matrix, we’d be able to control how we want to present it and control how…

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (31:52)
So… Mm -hmm.

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (32:03)
like make sure that everything is captioned. If we want to show a video in there, if we want to have an image description, you can even put sculptures in there, which we haven’t tried yet. You could do like a 3D scan. Yeah, so it’s really, really, really cool stuff that you could do with the site. And so it allows us to completely like, you know, take like an amalgamation of different things, you know, using Zoom for art in mind.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (32:15)

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (32:28)
using Coots Matrix for the gallery, using Give Better for the fundraising and the tickets and everything. And combine this into one platform that aids us in getting to these artists. Yeah. And then we have this section where we are going to be doing workshops. We are beginning to do workshops talking about what we do and how, you know, keynotes. We are now working on our keynotes and building out those.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (32:56)
Mm -hmm.

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (32:56)
So many things that are going on and we are going to develop a Ko -fi page where I’ll probably… Or coffee? Coffee. Coffee or Ko -fi? Ko -fi, I can never say it correctly. But we will be doing a bunch of different things there. We have a donation page if anybody wants to help us with getting out to work, with our work. It’s a whole bunch of things that we are able to do. Yeah.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (33:06)

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (33:23)
And we’re doing this, not as a nonprofit. A lot of people think we’re a nonprofit. We just apply for grants and we keep moving.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (33:31)
That’s amazing. And when will be the next gallery opening?

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (33:39)
So the next one is for our Sisters Uprising Fund. The first Sisters Uprising Fund. Yeah, the first Sisters Uprising Fund micro -grant recipients. So they’ll have, it’ll be those eight artists. We just had an open call from, when was it, from, was it from March to May? I think so. Yeah, it was March to May, so it was like for over a month, and we had all these artists submit, and we have…we narrowed it down to eight and these artists will be similar to Art & Mind. So they’ll be in their own gallery on Coons Matrix. And you could see like, there’ll be a video where it will be compiled, like sharing their stories about how these funds will help them this $200 and what they’re going to be using it for. We have some artists who said, we’ll help them with medical bills, with gender affirming care, will help with creating a home studio and…helping with creating a new work or helping with a bill so then they can get to creating more content and bring in a more consistent income. And we’re like, wow, this is, we couldn’t believe people are doing this with 200. This was like a test for us. But it really, wow, you can do that. So people were getting really creative with it. And so…

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (34:48)

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (35:05)
This gallery will tell those stories and you’ll see all of these artists, each of them have two pieces each. You get to see, read their bios. And yeah, and then after that we’ll have in what, 20, 25, we’ll have our art in mind virtual gallery again. And we’ll be able to, that’ll be like in the fall of next year. That’ll be after our virtual event, our film event. So, we’re trying to do it so every year we have something going on on Coons Matrix. Yes. And our down years from the show is when we do work on these workshops or work on the Sister Creatives Rising Fund, look for more other ways, other funding, get opportunities. Cause we’re looking for ways to sustain ourselves financially by doing this work that we love and we fought for for so long. We want to be able to do this work and take care of ourselves from it because we’re…

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (35:38)
Yeah. Mm -hmm. Yes. Yeah.

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (36:04)
We’re immunocompromised because of my still in recovery from my cancer journey. And so I am immunocompromised. We still wear our masks because of being immunocompromised, I still wear masks. We are COVID conscious family. And so that’s why everything is vertical. So we’re looking – Virtual. Virtual, vertical, virtual. I’m confused. Yeah, so that’s what we’re doing. Just –

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (36:30)

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (36:35)
Building so that at some point we’ll be able to sustain ourselves doing what we love and helping others at the same time.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (36:45)
I am excited to have crossed paths with you, because I’m certainly going to be checking out the virtual gallery. When you were talking about hearing those stories or being able to understand people’s stories, I got chills just thinking about, in $200 may not seem like much, as you said, but it does. It really can. And I imagine even just people feeling seen and valued.

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (36:54)
Thank you. Yeah. Exactly. It really helps. Mm -hmm, exactly.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (37:15)
That probably does so much more even than the $200.

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (37:18)
Yeah. Yeah. Some people tell us, wow, I’m so good. When they’ve come to our shows, they’ve told us, wow, if I had never come to this show, I would never know an artist like that was out there because they’re not getting shown their marginal life. So they’re not going to be on gallery walls because most of 80 something percent of the people who get shown are white male. Yeah. And then white female. Especially in New York, we have some like statistics on our site talking about that. Yeah. We have those stats up.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (37:29)
Yeah. Right. Exactly.

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (37:46)
if people want to check out why we do this work. It’s because we got tired of just being marginalized and not being looked at. And we have talent and the people we showcase are very talented. And so we decided we are going to do something about it. Yeah.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (37:48)
Yeah. Yeah. Incredible. And I understand you mentioned like in the down years between the galleries or the big art and mind gallery that you do workshops, resources, things like that. And I understand you have a mental health resource that is available.

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (38:19)
Yeah. Yeah. So with so far with the 2021 Art in Mind and the 2023 one, we’ve created mental health resource documents and they’re like a virtual PDF. And the last one we did for the 2023 show, we put it together in Canva and we gave it to the audience members at Art in Mind. And it has articles, two articles written by the featured therapists that spoke at our event. Amanda McGuire, who is a therapist in New Hampshire working with, she’s a Black, like we were saying, COVID conscious, she’s also COVID conscious, amino compromise, Black woman, and she works with clients who are also homebound. And so she created this article talking about how you can find support and stay safe and she also did this talk. And so you’ll be able to kind of get a summary of what that talk was in this document. And it gives a lot of really great advice. And then we have Journey LaFond, who is Black, queer, I believe, non -binary therapist, I think social worker, specifically social worker, also in New Hampshire. And they did an article focusing on the BIPOC, LGBT folks who are looking for support. So those two are in there and then it’s just this large list of different resources for different demographics. I think we even have one for Australia because our work with Mel, the composer, was able to provide that. So yeah, it’s not fully international, but it has so much in there. I think it would be, I think…

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (40:06)

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (40:14)
It was very helpful to our audiences. So we want to be able to continue sharing that.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (40:19)
That’s wonderful. Before I get to kind of my wrap up question, let me ask, how do people connect with you? Where can they find you? Find the mental health resource, find the gallery.

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (40:32)
Yeah. So we have our Instagram, SistaCreativesRising, and that’s what we’re on most of the time. And so we’ll put out videos about disability advocacy and we’ll put up the stuff about like the work we’re doing, the art. You’ll get like word about the galleries and stuff on there. We have a newsletter on our website, SistaCreativesRising .com. Could sign up there and sometimes they can get early news through that newsletter about our open calls and stuff. I think by the time this interview comes out, we’ll probably have our coffee set up. So if people want to subscribe to us and get early access to open calls or workshops or the Art and Mind tickets when they come up again or…you know, see articles, like articles by my mom about her experience through cancer and disability. And I’ll be also be doing some commissions on there to help with, you know, maybe organizations or artists who just want like a portrait or work for like an event or something if they want artwork for that. So that should be like coffee, Sister Creatives Rising. And our website is in full. Our email is info at sista creatives rising .com and our website is Yeah, our website again is sista creatives rising. So yeah, we’re really excited about the coffee coming together. But yeah.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (42:13)
Yeah, lots of exciting things for you. So I always like to wrap up the conversations by asking if people were to only take one thing away from this conversation, what would you like it to be? And I’d like to ask you each to answer that.

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (42:34)
You can go first. Okay. Yeah. Okay. So after going through cancer, my journey through cancer, I had decided to come up with this call of action. call to action. Call to action, call, get ahead of life before life gets ahead of you. And what that means is that live your life in dearly consciousness and dearly awareness and don’t wait till something big like what happened to me, a sudden emergency for cancer, a scroll from my spine happened to just decide that you’re going to do what you want to do with your life. Live your life in a preventative, be preventative and cautious, unconscious in the way you live your life. And attend to those drip, drip, drip, drips and don’t let them big to build a big puddle or a big flood. Get ahead of your life before life gets ahead of you. That’s mine. Yeah. And I think for me, it’s talking about the accessibility that I hope that people take from this, that accessibility, it could be a lot to take in because there’s so many aspects of it. But as long as you’re doing it in pieces, and you’re listening to the disability community and you’re understanding that accessibility is more than just for physical disabilities, but also for invisible as well. And understanding that physical disabilities don’t represent everyone. Sometimes it’s more complicated than that. And so doing things like self -ID, captioning, doing image descriptions for like a social media post. Even if you don’t get it perfect the first time, that’s okay. We weren’t perfect at all. We’ve gone through so many different captioning programs. We’re still learning the best way to create image descriptions. Sometimes we miss something in the self ID. What matters is showing that you care and that you’re listening and yet you’re taking information in. And…us, we’re still even like trying to figure out like how can we improve our website. We want to work with accessibility experts so then we can fully make make it even more accessible. So we’re trying to always find ways to learn and so we encourage people to learn and take their time and if you stumble that’s okay as long as you’re communicating to your audience, hey I’m learning, I’m listening and yeah I think I think that’s really important for people to know that it’s okay to…not understand everything immediately.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (45:25)
Right. Wow. Well, Amaranthia and Claire, thank you so much for taking time for sharing your personal journey, as well as the journey of CISA Creative Rising and what you’re doing to really reach people, build people up, put people who are systemically and historically pushed aside in the spotlight, giving them the opportunity to be who they are, just sounds absolutely amazing what you’re doing and that it I imagine is having such a huge impact and will continue to do so. So thank you so much.

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (45:58)
Thank you. Thank you for having us. Thank you so much. We love this conversation.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (46:09)
It’s been a pleasure and I am certainly learning and I took a lot of things from our conversation today and from visiting your website and it will be something that I continue to use as a resource to increase my ability to be inclusive of all accessibility levels. So thank you.

Amaranthia & Claire – Sista Creatives Rising (46:31)
You’re welcome. Thank you. I’m so glad to hear that. Yeah. Be used as a resource. Yes. That’s our goal.

Whitney Menarcheck | she/her (46:33)
Yes, I and Exactly and everybody listening check it out go there. I guarantee you will learn something there are so many interesting videos on the YouTube and just things that you can can learn and Start taking those small steps forward So everybody check out and Maranthia and Claire sister creative rising and just start taking that action and one way to do that is to share this episode, help other people find this amazing organization. So please send this to anyone you think may be interested. And thank you for listening.

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