Weeks before graduating with a masters in painting from Maryland Institute College of Art, Amy Sherald was told her heart was only functioning at 18%. But cardiomyopathy (a rare heart disease) didn’t stop her from painting. So she carried on, painting day and night while she waited tables five days a week to pay for treatment. That is, until a routine stop at Rite Aid for art supplies almost turned deadly. What seemed like an ordinary heart flutter caused Sherald to blackout in the aisle only to wake up in a pool of blood underneath her head. But even as she was rushed to John Hopkins Hospital in an ambulance, she held on to her dream. “I’m not going to be afraid, it’s all going to be okay,” she told herself. Even as her heart dropped to 5% functionality, she wanted to paint. But overcoming the heart transplant wasn’t so easy. Due to physical ailments and the depressing side-effects of the medication, she could not paint for a year. “I told my friends, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore.’ It felt stupid and selfish,” she explained in an interview with the Baltimore Sun. But as the effect of the anti-rejection heart transplant meds lessened, Sherald reconnected herself with her six-year old inner child that dreamed of becoming a painter.

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If this brilliant Detroit photographer never laid eyes on the exhibit of the legendary French photographer Henri Cartier- Bresson, photography as we know it would be much different. Bill Rauhauser is known for his classic black-and-white photographs that captured the significant beauty and simple elegance of Detroit throughout several decades. Prior to seeing Cartier-Bresson exhibit, Rauhauser had no idea that his hobby of taking photographs could turn into a full blown career.

His photographs over the decades depict the simple moments in Detroit life. Whether it is a photo of a woman gazing off to the side as she enjoys a cigarette on an outside Detroit plaza while wearing a lavish peacoat and string of pearls, or a photo of pedestrians walking across a street with their heads intently focused on what’s in front of them as a young boy accompanies them with a balloon in his hand, Rauhauser’s photographs show us that,  as a society, we often don’t notice simple moments the world presents to us.

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Cross your straight shooter best friend, a little wild and surreptitious in nature, although nurturing a keen sense of intuition, and someone who is usually spot on, with the outward appearance of a clunky, beardy beast of a man with a sense of humor and imagination. The result? You get out-of-the-box rapper/chef Action Bronson.

“I am a f**king fat white boy. I have to be able to rap. I don’t have the look. I don’t have the typical slim dude, fancy boy look. That’s not me. I have to be able to rap, there’s no other choice or I get eaten alive,” the outspoken artist said to online music source xxlmag.com.

Truthfully, when you glance over Action Bronson, you ask yourself which genre he fits into. The New Yorker from Flushing Queens is a bit of a misfit in the ultimate sense of the word. He’s unapologetic and stubborn with a sense of loyalty and fresh ideas. Born to an Albanian father and Jewish mother, he inspires a new avenue for rappers.

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Everyone knows that Paris is the fashion capital of the world. The pinnacle of fashion success lies in the heart of France. With that being said, making it to the top is anything but a walk in a beautiful Parisian park. Kenzo Takada is a prime example of the hard work that it takes to make it in the Paris fashion world.

Kenzo, born in Himeji, Japan in 1939, is the first Japanese designer to be recognized by French fashion professionals, while also being considered one of the most influential ready-to-wear designers. Kenzo first became interested in fashion after looking at his sister’s magazines. He knew that Japan was no place for a fashion designer, so it wasn’t long before Kenzo was on a boat to Paris intending to only stay for six months. However, as soon as he landed in Marseilles he knew this would become his new home.  

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Seeing is believing.

During the Atlanta premiere of the highly-anticipated film Black Panther, I observed two black nine-year old boys watching the film in awe. They sat on the edge of their seats, eyes wide with excitement, nearly the entire time. Instantly, they found a connection with the main character “T’Challa,” the king of Wakanda. The boys have never seen a superhero on the big screen who looks just like them, playing a leading role, serving as a prominent figure, and assuming the responsibility of watching over his family and an entire nation of brown people.

Some people say this is just another fictional superhero film, but it has become reality to these two nine-year olds, and so many others. From an image alone, suddenly a child carries hope in their heart, and a dream is ignited in their mind. It’s the equivalent to having faith as small as a mustard seed, just one spark (no matter the size), burning inside of an adolescent has the ability to light up the whole world.

James “Jay” Bailey, founder of the Phoenix Leadership Foundation, was inspired by “T’Challa’s” story and decided to localize the Black Panther experience. On Tuesday, February 20, Bailey and several others will make history by igniting hope inside of the hearts and minds of 700 metro Atlanta high school students when they visit #AtlantaWakanda.

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The 21st century has marked some of the most heightened technological advancements. Who would have thought that Facebook would lead to quick international communication? Or that the “selfie” would actually become a part of everyday language? Through social media platforms, Instagram and Facebook have created a world of photography for the everyday person. Though unprofessional and mainly edited using filters, people are constantly communicating through the lens of their iPhone, making human connections that exemplify what relationships can become.

For one man, American photographer Steve McCurry, this is exactly what the evolution of photojournalism is about. Born in 1950, McCurry has documented over 30 years of evolving photography, clinging to people-centered art. The connections, the emotions and the words that are silently projected from his work are eloquently depicted in years of travel and experience.

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Her work is complex and has multiple meanings and even some contradictions that hold truth. Her means are peculiar. Rather than a paint brush and a canvas, she uses magazines, pornography and even animal skins to create elaborate collages. Wangechi Mutu’s style is nearly impossible to define. It resembles the work of Pablo Picasso with the way her designs play on abstraction while simultaneously referencing surrealism with her darker themes. Mutu is primarily known for her perspective of women’s bodies, especially African women. She critiques the manner in which society objectifies women by using the very tools that society utilizes to sexualize women in the first place such as magazines and pornography, which are two mediums that are known to objectify women and their bodies.

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The dynamic duo has struck gold again! Benji Pasek and Justin Paul, appropriately known as Pasek and Paul, took home their first Grammy at last week’s 60th Annual Grammy Awards. The team has raked up at several notable award ceremonies like the Grammys, Oscars and the Tony awards within the last year. This means that they are on their way to becoming the youngest to reach the entertainer’s holy grail, EGOT.

There are only 12 entertainers who have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and a Tony Award, or EGOT, for their contributions to showbiz. Pasek and Paul are only an Emmy win away from joining the ranks of stars like Barbara Streisand, Whoopi Goldberg and Harry Belafonte.

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Decades before he was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, he was just  another working-class British Pakistani man. Years before he became the first male actor of South Asian and Muslim descent to win an Emmy, he was just another brown face in the entertainment industry. Weeks before he won the SAG award for best male actor in a miniseries, his father told him it wasn’t too late to become an investment banker. But time and time again Rizwan “Riz” Ahmed, has exceeded expectations. He’s no longer the frightful teenager that had knives held at his throat because of the color of his skin. Today, he’s a cultural icon, influencing the world for the better. In fact, when he’s not in front of the camera breaking through Hollywood’s not-so-diverse glass ceiling, he’s either rapping about social justice issues or encouraging activism and philanthropy. One thing is certain. Regardless of the stereotypes he’s been subjected to Wembley, London born actor, rapper and activist Riz Ahmed has the Midas Touch.

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