Why is it important for creatives to connect with the next generation?
THG interviews guest Carla Aaron-Lopez. Carla is a Charlotte-based artist, mom and educator. She likes to create multidisciplinary images & text that is centered around celebrating American Black culture from the dirty South, women of color as cosmic super beings and the natural s'language of the American Negro.
She has participated in several exhibitions throughout the Southeast, completed murals, and is a well-respected curator/mentor in the Charlotte art scene. Carla has a passion for creating works that tell our stories and connecting with the youth.
Make sure to subscribe to us on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts. Also follow us on Instagram and Facebook @hilltopglove. Sponsored by: Red Rooster Sports Bar & Grill, Law Office of Sean Wilson, Mid Carolina Service Co., and TruBrilliance Ent.
Good morning. Good morning. Good morning. Happy Saturday. And welcome to this episode of the Hilltop glove podcast. I'm your host DJ and what, what? My brother's Skip. What's up Skip. This is season two, and we have our guests today. Carla Aaron Lopez we know what's happening.
What's happening. Happy to be here. You know what I'm saying? The one and only you, you really can't call. There we go. Carla, Aaron Lopez is an artist educator from Charlotte, North Carolina, after graduating North Carolina, central university in 2006, with a BA in graphic design, she moved to Atlanta to attend Savannah college of art and design or SCAD in 2009.
She graduated with MFA in photography and in 2012, received an ma in printmaking in 2010 as she began her teaching career at Fort valley state university as an adjunct professor and has been a Charlotte Mecklenburg schools are educated since 2014, she has experienced, she has experienced in various creative fields from photojournalism to podcasts, to our exhibitions and continues to exhibit her personal works while teaching that's a lot of damn shit.
I just be doing shit. No, she is not bullshit audience. I'm not lying because I'm just getting straight into it. Man. I checked out your CV page. And I was like, let me see what's on this page. I started going out and pay it. I was reading everything. Not only were you involved, not only did you have accolades and achievements, right.
But you also had consistent involvement in your communities, which I thought was extremely impressive. You have volunteering stuff listed up there all the way down to, like, I was just like, is she just an artist? Or like, what does she really do? Like, what is, what does she really do? So just off the alternatives, could you give our audience a little background on your upbringing, who you are as an individual?
Because I think this has got to be interesting cause you look like a very interesting person. So dear audience here is my love letter to you. I be doing shit and I hope you do too. Was that word? You have a fair word. All in one nice little bucket and then everybody else can tell lies and fantasy.
There we go.
Number one, let me just say flat out, thank you for looking at my CV and resume. Yes, yes. I have done a lot of things. Yes. I am overly qualified for things. No one looks at these things and no one ever believes me until I come out the blue. Really though my background, my upbringing, it's no different than a lot of black Americans, you know, single parent household, very focused on education.
And I, I was raised an only child, you know, so that means at any given moment, my brain will say, fuck, y'all, I'm going to go over here and color and read and call it a day. You know? So essentially that's where really, that's where I start. I do start from humble beginnings and I believe that you should keep those things in check as you grow as a person, but are across the board is, has been that one very consistent thing.
You know, like even in childhood, I would go to summer camps and I would try out different summer camps. But every summer I, I would drive my family crazy to go to an arts camp of some sort. It's just, it's just something that's always been there. So you, you would actually seek these actively seek these things out as a young person.
Yeah. Cause that's what I wanted to do you think I want to sit in the school for eight hours a day and be made fun of for being a nerd? Oh no, but nerd unite. That's what I love. I love the 21st century I get to now
close to me. Yeah. We used to get hammered back in the nineties. I hear names called everything, nigga. I ain't even know the fuck Oreo was until I got to high school. And I was like, well, I don't think I liked that. Oh, good Lord it. Introduce you with no kind of care. No care. So I would definitely, that was a fact that affected a little bit that affected your perspective as well.
Correct? It did for a while. You know what I mean? And MTV and Nickelodeon play a lot into my perspective, like a little too much into my perspective, you know what I mean? There's a lot of rock and guff that goes on in my head. And when it comes to dating, dating is a little difficult because I'm like, Hey, so I like you black guy, but if I played this rock song, what are you going to do?
Freak out? Does it, does it cause issues when you, when you do that? No it doesn't. And I'm happily dating someone now who is also an only child who understands where I'm coming from. So I can play set rocks. There we go, there we go. We sexy now. That's what I'm saying. And like, oh man. All right. And I know this is off the topic, but I'm happy that you jumped into that because we were talking to another black nerd this morning and it appears that like, even though we went through all that Wackness were coming out.
We, we boom him right now. Right. But we're still very how would you say we're still very kind in the way we treat all those people that were, you know, that was horrible to us. Do you think that's just a product of us going through those struggles? No, I see it as a mark of maturity, because number one, you know, you are definitely going to back yourself, back yourself, up from your achievements.
If you don't just let it go. Yes. Kids are brutal. Yes. You were made fun of, yes. It hurts your feelings admitted. However, people do change over time and you should give them space to change. Okay. When I was dating in college and I was just a regular curiosity for some country ass black guy, first thing they would say to me is like, yo, I like Nickelback.
And my first day first out of my mouth would be like, that's awesome. That band sucks. That's very hard. You see what I'm saying? As to where today? When I teach kids, it looks like curiosity. And I take it as curiosity instead of placing my kids in boxes, like, okay, you're going to be like this person who treated me this way, you're going to be like this person who treated me that way to be honest, forgiveness goes an extremely long way.
And if people could just take a moment to forgive the atrocities and negativities and the horrible exp forgive themselves to those horrible experience, like stop holding on to that, your life will be more fulfilling right on the money. And I think I always liked the fact that the quote unquote, the black nerds in society.
How would you say that we're, we're, we're pretty gracious and what we do and just have a conversation like you don't even understand, you don't even know. I like to say this too. You can't call out all black nerds. You can't see them and tell exactly who everybody is just by their outside covering, but we didn't talk to people and you see their expansion, like yo.
Okay, I'll see how you are. And you came out of this situation like that is, to me, it shows us a blessing man, the way that you took in process, that, that input that was given to you. And how would you say, because I'm wanting to know how you gain that perspective. Like, I want it to know a little bit of your background and I want our audience to hear it and see how you handle those things.
Because you know, I wasn't there trolling through your stuff yesterday, your your Instagram and whatnot. And I liked that. I how you're talking about the bullying, because you have a nice little pose where you're talking about how you react when you see your favorite student getting bullied. And it made my damn day because I remember being that kid and I was like, I know the teacher sees this.
And I'm coming for you. And that made me feel so much better because see, that's what I'm saying, because it helps you have to support those people in your communities. And I know especially with the black with our black quote unquote culture in our community, a lot of those people get overshadowed and, or bullied or stuff like that.
And it leaves usually some of those people don't end up being as fruitful and well reconciled as you might be. You know, he is that we'll look at that video and come back and tell you, yes, she act like that. She really sits down for people. That's what I'm talking about. I would have killed to have a teacher like you when I was a child, man.
I already know, you know, in that space, I just try to be the person I wish I had. Ah, I see that. I see that. And I, and, and just like most. They have stories behind the work and the current artistic style, origins and beginnings and et cetera. And what age did you discover your love for art? It had to have been during hurricane Hugo that I slept through.
It never knew until my mama told me I slept through it. Damn. I was sitting with the TV and I saw Valvoline commercial. So I drew the Valvoline logo and then I drew a boy and a grill. I misspelled girl at the time,
but to be honest, that's the earliest picture in my mind. I can remember. I'm sure there were pictures before then. That, that was that moment where I want to draw for the rest of my life was the first thought I had. I just want to try. And you know, that concept of creating has stayed with me. I'm looking at it.
Cause you, you did it reading off of this cute little skeleton thing. Cause some of these questions they have, I want to tell you something about the artists influence, right? So what are artists influence? Influence you to create your current artwork? My mom was talking to someone, I can't remember who and they were fucking up Shami show Basquiat's name.
You know, my mom was like Basquiat because I had a few times on this man's name and they just want all the questions about the clothes and all of this. And my momma was like, are y'all just now getting into this and the person who was like, yeah, this dude is dope. And she was just like, wow. My child has been on this dude since the nineties,
that bias that I have seen. Since the nineties, cause remember he died early nineties. Everything I've seen of him since the nineties, since the movie with Jeffrey Wright and Dave. Oh, that was a good movie. VHS check it out
because I was trying to keep the tape dammit, but them late fees, Lord. Yes.
On the artworks is something that has stayed with me. Just the act of writing and turning, writing into the art itself is something that has stayed with me. However, I, you know, I've gone, I've gone to do other things, you know, since then we love the text word. That's probably how you got it on the web, on your website, texts work.
We love the texts where my brother and I were talking about that before we got on we love how you, the fonts you use, how you draw it out. It's that, that you said you could tell basket, you could see that influence, but the way you put it on your art man is excellent to the point where like, yo, do you make fonts?
No, I don't like sitting at a computer for long periods of time. Oh, that's all we asked. He was like, yeah, we want some funds. Yeah, that is crazy. So this is, this is something that is only on that art. That's only, we're going to find it on the sprint. Let's take it back to basket, like how he wrote. That's how I started trying to copy with his style and, you know, just go on to school.
I learned over time that you need to own your style. You can be influenced by someone, but you need to own yours. So I allowed it to transform over time. Okay. It's funny. Some of the transformation. Well, you know, I started thinking about how I used to have journals. Like I was never really a diary girl, like dear diary.
Here's my day to day. Like, no, I didn't do none of that bullshit, but I definitely kept journals to, you know, talk about how I felt when I would miss my mom or she would make me mad or the biggest, biggest thing was like songs and lyrics and having a song on repeat, just to write out the lyrics all the time I got to grad school, I was writing on my photographs to take notes during critique so I could improve.
And people always thought that that was the art. And I'm like, no, I'm taking notes because I ain't gonna remember what the fuck you just told me. I got to hear it. I got to write it. And then I got to read it later. And then that's how I learned. And the more they kept saying that the more I kept taking a look at it, and the more I began to enjoy, like, you know what I do like riding on this.
So years of trial and error had to happen in order to develop the style that you enjoy looking at today. Got it. Damn. That's dope. Okay. Cause I was, we were trying to figure out the night shit don't be overnight. Like I might've did as practice one detail for like three years before you even get to see it.
Hm. Wow. I was listening to one of your videos. You explaining how you, you have a perspective how you see. The picture come together in layers. Could you explain that to the audience? Yeah. Well I think like everything is puzzle pieces. A lot of shit don't go together and we, the humans have to make it go together.
Yeah. I like that. explains that it makes the art, it makes the art assess. You know what I'm saying? Like it's not too high brown. Do you know what I mean? No, because we don't have space for high brow. I think a motherfucker's lying to you and they're like artists for everyone. If that's the case, then why do people feel like they can't go to certain spaces?
Yes. Yes. That's the case. Someone has already determined that high and low brow exists. There's a fucking essay on. You know, and I had to read them and we had to talk about it. So with that, like art is something that anyone can do. Dedication is a whole other conversation. Are you dedicated to doing the same thing every day?
Are you dedicated to switching up what you do every day? So when it comes to making works of art, no, I really don't want to make the same goddamn image again and again, and again, and again, I get bored. I get really, you know, it's like, I still shoot photos while holding an MFA, but I am not a commercial photographer.
Leave that to people who enjoy doing headshots or family photos or what the fuck ever like that. Shit's boring to me about it. Like, okay, this is a dope lighting setup. Awesome. What's the story. It's a headshot for LinkedIn. Oh, okay. Well, the story's done now as to where, when you look at so many other photographs, you're like, oh man, I was here at this time doing these things and I was trying to take the best picture to show it.
Yo, I'm intrigued in the way light I'm intrigued. So that means every time that person goes out, there's something different for them to experience. When I go to make things, I might use elements of skills that I've acquired over time, but the image at the end of the day does not look like the same image I produced three years ago in three years before then I liked that.
I liked that. I remember I was reading the autobiography of miles Davis and he was explaining his. 'cause you know how he is. He Curtis a lot. He cares a lot. And even his book, his cousin, he's like, shit, nigga. I don't make the same damn music I made 50 years ago. If you want to hear that shit, go buy that album.
Yeah. I make what I make, what I want to make, what I feel like right now. And if I want to do some electronics, so I just want me to do, if I feel like I want to do a painting, I'm going to paint damn paint. And I was like, you know what? That is what it is. That, that is that feel that that's. And I like that hearing that from somebody, you don't hear that in ours, like I don't get to hear that often.
So I love hearing that understood that you don't have to be a starving artist and you can just produce the same image. And that's the case. I would have less voices asking me about how to get into the arts. Mm. Yeah, I could see that. That's what you call it. A sawed-off shotgun that I just led off.
Wow. My followers to me, you might make more money than me. I have more people interested in me. True. Very true. Very true. And I could see that I could see that that is evident. Just from this, from looking at the, the small snippet that was getting of what was going on with you and what you're doing. Speaking of which I thought this was This is interesting.
Do you? And this is cause I'm not wanting to talk about the importance of black curators and art. Do you consider yourself a black curator? Yeah. Now I do, because that's what everybody else been calling me. That's what I was about. Hear that's all I was wondering because
that's another paycheck get coined girl.
Cause I thought, I thought it was real interesting. It's was like, they put that, that label on you because that's how important they think you are
running away from it. Yeah. So that's what I knew when I saw that I was like, yo, she's super though. Like she gotta be on herself, man. And in the sense of like creating opportunities and spaces where our people feel comfortable coming in and expressing their ideas and insights and their perspective on the world.
And I know you do have your, and this is one reason why I wanted to kind of talk about the hype around the lowbrow is because just having access and the structure and privilege to get into these spaces. Do you feel that, do you feel you, do you feel as if you face systematic hardships as a black quote unquote curator in our community, especially in Charlotte, I wonder what is your perspective on that?
Is, is that a thing that exists for you at this moment in time? It's a no.
Things could change at the drop of a dime. And a lot of people are still riding the coattails of 2020 and the events of 2020. However, when I'm going to take a guess about versus just say flat out, here's what I'm going to take a guess about every person that I meet in the arts community in Charlotte, you know, they understand that I fully represent black culture.
However, If you understand that I represent black culture and you stay long enough to hear my philosophical perspectives. You'll also understand that I want all the things that I do to be a reflection of the world. And everybody's invited to see my reflection of the world. So that's not going to be solely just black people.
That's also brown people. That's also our Asian brothers and sisters and brothers and sisters. And that's also to stable folks. That's gender nonconforming folks are artists of age, you know, the 50 plus 40 plus crowd. They out here still making biomass works as a space to be represented within the arts community as a whole.
I think that if you are not clear in communication, if you are not clear, clearly thinking about all of the different types of people who may cross your space, then it will feel like a hardship. What I truly believe is that some people think that they can just jump in when I've had 16 years of experience just doing this and doing it at different levels to where, what appears on your end?
I pop about the blue. I honestly haven't. I know how to make a clear plan of execution. I know how to organize artists. I know how to get them to submit their things on time. And I know how to install and hang a beautiful show and get media access that takes 16 years of experience to do that. So now it should go beyond sole black and now black is also included into whatever an institution wants to do, because we created these opportunities for artists to be recognized and to get to know the same people that I know.
Pre decimating, the playing field for people, praise. I liked, I liked hearing that. And part of that is, as you say, it seems like it's dealing with a certain level of professionalism and profanity. Hey, it's all right. It's all right. We adults. And yeah, and I have to ask this too, because it's speaking on professionalism.
I don't think there's anything wrong with social media being used to exhibit art and stuff like that. I think it's excellent. It's a great catalyst and as a platform to get it to people do you think, or do you think it's important for, for black folk that especially African-Americans that do use social media, which we are large the large bulk of the usage of it.
Do you think it's important for us to still do physical shows in actual brick and mortar places? Yeah. If you want to get to know. I'll explain that for our audience. Cause I like how you said that was nice and cryptic. Yeah. Well, you know, people have really big dreams and goals. Social media can get you seen by a lot of people, but until you come out of the digital space and into the real world that will put you in front of different groups of people, you know, it's like I can't even think about the crab crabs in a barrel complex.
When I do this kind of work. Like I can't think about it because what I'm doing is the same thing that other people are doing across the entire us and the world. So you can be recognized by a lot of people on social media, have your own exhibition in. 50 people show up. And that happens to a lot of people, which is why they'll come back and say, oh, I don't want to do exhibitions anymore.
I'll just keep doing what I was doing before. All right, cool. But there comes a point in time, where do you want to sell a hundred principal, a hundred dollars airways? Or do you want to sell one painting for 10 stacks? Got it. And you have to be in person for them. You have to be in person. You have to know the people who want to spend that money who see your work of value, who see your work as a part of current events, history in the making the moment who see your work as a representation of whatever lineage of art that they love the most you have to be in person.
It still goes back to professionalism. All right. There's a very thin line between charisma and professionalism. You can have all the charisma and get no calls at all. You could be professional and be boring as fuck. So how can you intersect those two lines to really matter to two different audiences and then create a space for both of those audiences to show up and experience you, the artists and your work?
Hmm. That's tough right there. You would jump in and knowledge bombs got the sexy clothes also. I mean,
I ain't got no ass, but I got a lot of knowledge because I think we need to hear that a lot. We don't get to hear that often and I think it's important. I keep harboring on this. Like you keep saying professionalism and able to move professional. I, I can't be black and perform whiteness as a form of professionalism.
I just can't. I'm not going to survive. I'm a call you a nigga. Cause I may look excited about some shit. You know, like I have a spirit I'm going to show my spirit, man. And again, going back to what we were saying, it'd be in this conversation. I would've killed to have an instructor, especially art teacher, likely when I was young, just to understand that, Hey, you know, you seem like you, you could, you have a way of communicating with your students.
Could you, could you share some of your having, would you say your experiences with your students in creating art? In this day and age, especially with the elementary students, I guess I'm just to be specific. What age range do you, but I feel like you gave me the sweetest compliment ever. I am not an elementary art teacher.
They get the little teeny tinys and they're cute. You don't get those. I get the war, Lord. I will tell you right now God bless elementary and high school teachers. Y'all get up at the ass crack of Dawn to be somewhere by 6 45, 7 o'clock. I would be fired from the job cause I would be consistently late.
I am not a morning person, yet high school teacher,
middle school this way.
I'll be here by eight 30. Okay. So how do you deal with, how do you deal with them? How has that experience teaching the middle school students are, it's kind, kinda like being in the hood. Ms. Frizzle. That's what I was about to ask. It seems like all that out of man. Shoot. I do. I grew, I grew up at the wrong time, man.
I missed out, man. I took my kids on a field trip. One of the kids looked at me and said, Ms. Lopez. I said yesterday, he said, we getting on a big yellow school bus. To go on a field trip with you. You like the hood, Ms. Frizzle yell. That's a high compliment, bruh.
Ms. Frizzle, get your ass on this bus. And I swear to God, if he act a donkey, I'm gonna beat your ass and tell your mama.
Okay. How do you balance, how do you balance your students having fun and then also learning? Well, you have to draw the line. Okay. So everything does depend on professionalism, but what I've come to learn in teaching classrooms of black and brown children is you will not survive thinking that you are the adult in the room.
You know what I mean? Like the youth I say complex, and this is where we do X, Y, and Z. That doesn't work for me in this environment because I get too much pushback as to where seriously though, let's think about this. You're dealing with a human. Now we're going to take the black and brown part. Oh way.
This applies to all children. You're dealing with the human between the ages of 11 and 13, whose frontal lobe is not fully developed. The frontal lobe is developing so quickly and affecting so many parts of their body at one time that yes, they are going to perform the action before thinking about the consequence.
Yes. They believe we are revolving around them like the son, because they just became the beginnings of a person.
Absolutely developing. They don't know what they, like. They just started to understand what they like versus being told what they like, which is where you pushed back from. All right. So I do think having the warmth of a parent, like I'm so proud of you at what you did or look, baby, we struggling today.
What's up with that and giving this human some space to talk. It gives you more power as the adult in that situation, because they are very aware that they are in school and you are the teacher, they know what's up and they understand when it's time to learn things. So while your power, the way you call your power.
And I tell them the truth, the top of class is when it's teaching time or as you guys experienced it, the boring parts of class class lasts about 10 to 15 minutes. The floor moves to you. I bounce around the classroom and help everybody out. One-on-one take a 10 minute breather break at the desk and then bounce around again.
And they understand that. That is cool as hell, man. Dang. I like how you put that, how you explain that it's actually seemed quite logical and simple. Exactly. And then they get it. So when I do the countdown at the top of class voices, often three, by the time I get to one, well, voices are off. Here's the agenda.
Here's what we're doing. I'm starting from the top. Go to the top, go to the lesson. Do the demonstration move the floor back to the students so they can talk to their friends and create a work of art. It's not going to be the best art that you've ever seen in your life. Some of them are drawing for the first time.
Exactly. They're scared to death. I ain't gonna put the hammer down on you. You just better give me the best damn stick figures I never seen in my life. Don't waste my time. I could've sat my ass down.
That's what's about to ask how do you, how do you grade middle schoolers when it comes to art? I grade them based on effort, originality and creativity. Okay. Oh, that's cool. On paper with stick figures. Yeah, we rolling with it. Eh, that's what I'm talking about, man. It's so neat. Like, I'll put it like this.
Like I never thought I'd be able to talk to actual artists whose art teacher and see how they handle the suits, because that of course is extremely different from an English teacher or algebra teacher. You don't have to deal with and this is what I was about to ask, like the there's the testing and stuff that is done for the students.
You don't have to go into that whole curriculum mess. Do you to quit? That's what I was wanting. I didn't think you'd be vibing with that at all. So that makes so much sense. They're middle school kids. They still don't know what the hell they want to do in life. Yeah. They like music, they like clothes.
They liked video games, big fan of this one. They love anime. So we always got something to talk about. Yeah. So like, no, I think that art should be experiencial and exploratory, like. I think that's what you should do in middle school. Like, let me show you what these cats are doing over here, and then let's create a version of that.
Let me show you a lot of people that look like you that do the same things that I do. I'm not the only one. There's other people that do what I do to, you know, check them out for show. And, you know, by the time they realize that I'm like, all right, last over. And they're like, we just got here, baby has been 90 minutes.
Hey man. So cool question. So like, all right, so evidently is having some benefits. These students and in a positive way, do you see, do you ever see like your class, have you ever had a student, you can watch them and see that they've actually grown over the course of taking a class? Yes. I see it over the course of three years and they come in and the sixth grade, majority of students have had a negative experience with art teachers and they don't want to try because of that negative experience.
So by the time I make a breakthrough with the student in completing one assignment, I'll get the pool's back from seventh grade and then they drive back again in the eighth grade and eighth grade, they have a little maturity on them. They understand what to do and what's going on. They also understand who I am and that I've been there with them this entire time.
Everything they've gone through and from not trying to, okay. So I had this idea. I want to do X, Y, and Z. I just don't know how to do it. They, this is what I'm here for. This is what your parents' tax is paid me for here. Let's get into it. Get into it. I've been waiting three years for you to come and tell me this.
It drove me crazy, but I've been waiting for this moment right here. Oh man. That's super dope. I liked the fact because I was weird. I went to this, Kevin, I went to this weird middle school is called Palmetto middle school. Shout out Muller, South Carolina, but only had two grades in it only has seventh and eighth.
So we didn't have a chance to stay with art teacher or any of our elective teachers for more than a year or two, depending on what was going on with the schedule. So, man, like I said, I'd never had to have had a chance to have that experience, especially not with. With the top knives was considered a good art teacher, someone who had experienced some, what was really going on.
So man, I'm saying I'm happy for your students, man. Yeah, man. They happy too. Cause they stopped me on the internet. It's like, yeah. I was about to ask, this is the internet age. Do you have your students following you, following you online every year? I did a new kid every year. And if I fuck around, I'll leave my phone out.
I find that kids
yo really? Yo they slick. All right. I just want, cause you know, that's a different dynamic than when they, when we were in school, we weren't following our teachers. Like, unless it was like a really super dope teacher Mo more than more likely than not, you know, we just saw them at school. Boom, boom. I'm outta here.
I ain't bothering you, but yeah. Well you know what? So many people have lied to kids that I tell them. I ain't got time to lie to you. You don't need to know everything, but I be damned if I'm allowed to you. Okay. Lopez. So I just tell them I'm a T I got a lot going on outside right now. So I'm a teach you the same thing that I'm doing outside, inside the class.
Cause I, I can only stay focused on a couple of things at one time. I do. Y'all gonna do like, he was like, you treat your baby like this abso-fucking-lutely I don't know what else to teach him about except for whatever the hell I know. And all I know, I learned you better learn. Learn it too. They don't understand how they'll realize that though.
They'll be like, yo, that was actually really dope. That was cool. Because next week they gonna make me a budget for they little murals.
Cause I'm chairperson for talking while Charlotte. So it's like, I really have to stay focused on what's going on there. I don't want to like. Lose my focus with school, whatever I do, I'm a teach y'all, y'all gonna make a little teeny budget for a mock mural, and then y'all gonna draw y'all mural out and, you know, tell me where you want it in Charlotte.
That's what I'm doing right now. So I'm gonna create a version for you so you can do it in class. Yo, you better stop. You have to pay a lot of money to get some kind of teaching like that, man, man, just keep rolling into that because literally whistle we're coming up to next to just talking about your life.
Since you're a, you're a working creative you're, you're educating. You got a child and you're in a relationship. I don't know what it is. I don't know. I don't know why I say yes to these things. Yes. Yes. So how do you, how do you do that? How do you balance that stuff? And I guess this is especially for Kevin right now.
Cause he's the one with the child at the moment. What's your parenting style? So my parenting style is definitely black hippy with a touch of old blackness. It's somewhere in between there. Like first of all, you are not going to be running your ass around screaming at the top of your lungs. You're more than welcome to go play outside.
I'm screaming. It makes me feel like something's wrong. So I'm coming to kill everybody. But if you outside and you get a little dirty and you smell like outside, you're totally fine to come lay up on mommy. It doesn't drive mommy crazy. Oh yeah. Yeah. You ain't extreme clean status. Like grandma. Nope. Take no call.
I'll go in the, and like that ain't handsome. Grandma is extreme, clean, safe. That's all I have to say. Yes. Plastic on everything. Let's get this right. Tight, tight and right. Yeah. But she's not like all the things that we've learned. I feel like we could put some of those things into action. Like if I'm going to be in art show, selling artwork then yes.
Who else is going to be in art show, selling artwork? My child. That way by the time I can tell me here it is today. That's tight. That's tight. I like w I like seeing that. Yeah. It, it make sense. Like you always hear about these white folks doing it with their kids, the kids running the businesses. Shit. Why the fuck is we waiting?
So when you go and do. You want to change and do something else. That's fine. But I gave you a set of skills to make you okay. In life, the, the Maddow Maddow, and that's what, and you're giving it to your students to like, they don't, like I said, don't get it. Oh Lord. This is what she was doing. Like I'm picking that up.
That makes sense. Like learning real life skills, especially because you're artists, but technically you're owner. So teaching those skills and making sure that your, your children actually learn something from you besides just learning how to tie her shoe and stuff like that. I think that's important.
And a lot of us millennials and self raising children learning, figuring out what to take from the past generation and throwing out all the fat and then, you know, adding in the other knowledge that we have. So we can do a good job. I think that's important. You know, it's something like there's no, there's no darn God booked for this stuff.
Oh no. And I'm not going to be paired of the fucking year. Like I don't, I don't know how I am going to make a mistake. My own parents made mistakes. Their parents made mistakes and you just grow to be a better person. I don't know what to do, but what I do know is my child is his own person and he can make his own decisions with Calvin's big, big.
I like that. Say that caveat again with guidance.
And I, and I think that's a that's something that I like, my dad, he was really big on that and making sure that yo, you make your own decisions, like I'm gonna have you, you gotta use that brain thing. You have to really work your noodle, make sure you know what you're doing, but if you know you need assistance and I'm here, so you can ask me questions.
And I think that's a big thing. It's not like you're throwing your child out there, but you don't need me. No helicopter, no tiger. Mom. No, we just have expectations. And this is your job. This is your job. Your job is to go to school. Your job is to make art. Yeah, I like that, man. I like that, man. And I know you were just talking about this and I thought this was really dope.
I was checking out the, the talking walls, man. Could you explain what that talking walls project is and how that works and how you jumped into mural making? Cause I see you, you, you weren't a mural. Quote unquote creator until recently, correct facts on facts. So I, I enjoy being childlike at time and when the black lives matter mural came out, I was like, I want to learn how to do that.
Like I got home to friends and these friends is cool and they'd be doing big stuff. I want to do it to either
people who had gotten to know me. They were like, well, you are dope. Just give it a try. Like, we'll invite you in to give it a try. And so I, I tried it and I'm like, Aw, this is awesome. And I had a wonderful time getting to know. Other people who were just starting out to people who have been a decade strong, established in the mural game here in Charlotte, you know?
Yeah. Charlotte is that scene. Cause I've always known about Charlotte and the north end and the art district. I try to go and check that stuff out whenever I get it that way too. So, yeah. Yeah. And also I meant to tell you something. Extra sound is coming through is because prism supply the motorcycle shop down the way from the shop.
They're hosting their annual congregation for a motorcycle folks. Oh gosh. Yeah. Yeah. It's them, it's them. And as of right now, they got like little motorcycles going around around the circles, outside of my shop, it's in the thing. It's where to motorcycles can get up on the wall and type shit. Should've like hot wheels get like, like you can walk up to the top.
It's the circular, it's a circular encampment and the motorcycles are in there because they're practicing for their show to go round and round round and make it up onto the wall. So if you hear a lot of noise, that's that. But like people just invited me. Cause everyone thought that I was a part of the black lives matter mural.
I was like, no, I just showed up. Cause it looked like a bomb ass time and I brought beers. So I could go drink it with my friends and watch them paint don't work, but I get drunk and pulled you into work. Oh nah, I ain't work. I literally sat my ass down and watched everybody else paint like this. So nice.
Right. So you actually went out there and watched some dude do the work and it kind of sparked the bug in you. Yeah, because I've just never seen. Like in Charlotte murals go lie like that. I've seen it in Atlanta, but not Charlotte, Atlanta close to it. And it felt like I can do it. Cause you know, I have my own art twin here in Charlotte, Chad Chadwick art or Chad Cartwright.
Right. We essentially utilize the same things. Our work looks similar, but our execution is completely different. So with that, I was like, well, maybe I can try it if Chad's out here trying it. Maybe I can try it too. Cause we both base everything on handwriting. When we work well, try to got into it, loved it.
Then I met Sam Ngozi and when I talked to her, this was during talking walls, 2020. I was telling her like, you know, I teach about talking walls in class because I want students to understand that. Not all artwork is in a museum or out of your reach. It's really your backyard. Like you might be living next to an artist and you just, you just don't know.
That's all, it's not nothing wrong with you. Not knowing you just don't know. So our backyard and she, she liked that in. I exploded onto everybody seen this year. And that's when she gifted me, her position as chairperson for talking walls. So talking laws in Charlotte street, art festival, this is its fourth year in action.
We're operating like we're still in a pandemic because we want to keep the artists safe. And we also uphold artists integrity that you can put whatever you want on set wall is our job as a team, a board to make sure we understand the communities that we're putting these artists in, in order to give the communities, artwork of values, something that they'll be proud of, but also that important part, keeping the artists integrity intact.
Hmm, that's super dope. You thought that you thought that out to the T because that's how I was about to ask you. I know I was about to say, so how do you get the authorization to do such an activity or an event? Well, they definitely spend time building up their formula between 2018 and 2020. They definitely spent time building that up, figuring it out to where it is a bit of a plug and play situation, but business is business and you need to have the right players in place.
Exactly. Do business the right way, because not every business wants a mural and not every business value. Artist's creativity. Yes. So you have to be ready with backups at all times, just in case a business says, no, we do not like this mock-up or my other personal favorite. Yes. We'll give you this money.
If you put our logo on it. No, we don't want your logo on it.
I say, you know, if you go dump hella money, Yeah,
not that asset. So you actually, they run these murals, they run the mock-ups by the businesses before they go out. So it's not anything that quote unquote can catch them off guard. Correct? Right. I do think that that's the right thing and a lot of people are into it. I think the hard work moving forward is getting more black and brown businesses to be a part of the festival.
That's going to be the hard work, moving forward. A few things. Number one, for a lot of our communities, businesses are ran by our elders and street. Art equals graffiti, which is legal. When you say no, I don't want that. You're going to make it okay. For gangs to come tag my space in one year of putting murals on betas for at row, all of the murals stayed untouched.
Whoa. Be quiet. Really? Yep. They were untouched. The community got pissed when one particular corner store on beta score row changed owners and the owners painted over an entire meal. It was a call for bird on top of a book of knowledge and painted it over. The new owners painted over it. Community got pissed.
So they were really respected and standing in for the art. Therefore, what do we learn? People want murals in their community. Notification. It, it changes the space. It does change the space. A lot of people see murals as a hallmark of gentrification. Maybe you, you, you late to the game, developers go and develop.
You was never the plan. You was not part of the conversation. You don't even know the people who bought the things. Why late to the game, because the activation of murals is technically faced. Yeah, that sounds about to say, yeah, he done the lands, bought everything is sold. You don't own that block no more.
Get your stuff up off the corner.
So let me at least get some kind of foot in the ground. Right. And this is how I can, that way I can continue to talk about what it's like being a Charlotte made of being an original. What I can, that way I can tell these new business people, these developers, like there's a lot of history in this space.
And when you continue having these conversations, think about that. Yeah. And a lot of people guess what they're starting to do, they're starting to think about it. They're starting to figure out a way, can we preserve something instead of just bowling over the whole shit. And now we got a whole unity of people mad at us.
Yeah. How does it feel being a, I have to ask this. How does it feel being a Charlotte native being there, working there, being in the community, watching the changes going on. How, how, how is it? And do you think, and especially, I'll put it like this too, especially with Charlotte recently, like you all are blown up, like automatically you all are growing to be no well-known throughout the nation.
Oh, Charlotte is a place to go for this, this, this, and that. How do you, how do you see that? Do, is it, I noticed this it's always great. It's never white or black, but what, but what's your perspective on the influence of that on the city? Especially those locations where you're from Charlotte needs to recognize more of its own OGs.
Okay. So you'll see a lot of articles that'll come out about Charlotte. Like, oh, Charlotte is a wonderful place for African-Americans to live. If you're a fucking transplant,
Addison Wisconsin. And you come to Charlotte, it's upward mobility for you, but if you from Charlotte educated by CMS, anyone born below the poverty line, guess where yo ass stays below the poverty line and the same side of the track. You always on bang. So do you think it's a is it a hard line thing?
Is it like hard, hard line creation of inequality? Or do you think it's just like soft United States, soft racism. You got yourself inequality. It is a lot of that. Okay. Because you all have a very sorted history when it comes to those things, I've read up on it.
All part of the, you know, y'all, this is the summer of the summer. I forget what it's called. It's like the summer of. I forget extreme. It was like they were burning down stuff in Charlotte and in Atlanta, it was in the early 19 hundreds. And from that you had this whole outcrop of certain things, but it's not like it is a woman show where they just straight up hide it.
It's in the books. You can read about it and see you that it exists. And I know every time I go to Charlotte, I pay attention. And I see how this area is, this area that is there, how they separate and split and divide. Interesting thing. Yeah. It's interesting. I'm more interested in little things. Like, I feel like I got PTSD from some shit that didn't even happen to me.
It's just like, it's just the fact that, you know, we have these million dollar homes being built in five points. Five points is it is a historically black area of Charlotte. Johnson C Smith is in that area. And the band was practicing on justice. He Smith's property and some very wonderful homeowner called the police to say that they were too loud.
I really feel like I got PTSD PTSD from that, because first of all, that pissed me the fuck off. Second of all, you were silly. Whole third of all, don't call the police on people, practicing on. They got their property for social shit. They been doing for a hundred fucking years. The last is slow. You need to get the fuck up out the neighborhood and let them kids do them.
But that's what it is. That's it. That's what it is. You gotta keep all that on ASI. You gotta keep on that on the inside and make sure I educate you on why Johnson C Smith is a very, very, very important. Exactly. Please do not touch. Please do not change the way that's operating. And I knew that was going to happen.
Like as soon as I kept hearing the reference to Charlotte being upcoming burgeoning place, they'd like to built the new Wells Fargo building back there a couple like 15, 15 years ago, we started building that said, oh, this is not any problems, comment. And I knew that was gonna be an issue. And then, cause we've had some, we had friends and stuff in the art scene in there, so we always ask.
So how's it changing? What's going on? I think it's important for the better. I definitely miss how green Charlotte used to be. Like Charlotte reminds me of Los Angeles in the mornings with the sun. Like it's just so fucking bright. And I used to just think like, why is this so fucking bright? Like my eyeballs, my balls have changed, but they ain't changed that.
Damn it much. Like I feel like I am up early in the morning in LA and LA is a concrete jungle. Yeah. Why is it? Cause it ain't no goddamn trees to absorb this bitch. That's why it's so fucking bright, no trees anymore. You write down that Midtown green, it used to be good to grow. I mean, it's just inevitable.
You have to grow when I accept the changes and some things are cool and some things are questionable and instead of complaining about it, I would just rather want to be a part of it. Like to this day, I'm still amazed when people drive around Charlotte and they find out about Hyde park and Hyde park was like one of Charlotte's first.
Big time, black people serve Berber suburban neighborhoods, you know, like you was doing some stuff, plenty money if you were living in Hyde park and when they find that it exists, they're like, did you know about this? Yeah. Spent the first two years of my life in there and that's where my family was raised because my granddad and my mom had my grandma had a house built in the area.
Just crazy. So yeah, I know about it. If you want to know more how at my mama, but it's funny how you have to, you have to carry that, that lineage and that, and that tradition, because one thing I hate, cause I moved up to Columbia from Charleston. I hated seeing, because I know a lot of people down there. A lot of old families and I, I hate it.
Let them lose the culture that was there. The whole reason why people were going there is for that culture. And so when you take those people out and you move that, remove that culture, you no longer have that essence anymore, you might as well just be, you know, it's almost like being a a McDonald's of selling whatever it is to the people in, in Charleston courses, food and et cetera.
But yeah, I, I hate to see that. So I hope that stuff stays. I hope that education has continued on that, even though, like you said, we like the, we like things becoming positive. I want to see things not be violent. I like seeing nice spaces, clean areas and neighborhoods. But I also want to be able to keep some aspect of culture and those places it's just worth it.
Absolutely. I mean, there's Charlotte needs to slowly but surely come to terms with the fact that their identity is based on banking and the history of legs here. That is, you are a Southern city. You are the capital of money in the south, and you have a whole entire history of black people from the west to the east side, to the south side, to the north side that you need to uphold and recognize, you know, that is what's going to make your identity.
Definitely stand out. Charlotte is not a mini Atlanta. It's like Atlanta. It is Charlotte all day. Like we, if North Carolina is the rip van Winkle state, definitely chilling until the nigga pop the fuck off at the mouth. That damn problem. Why'd you fuck up the chill, you know, like,
so it's just, it's just who we are. And really though, since moving back home in 2014, 13, I, I am a better person now because of it. I see what you're saying. I see what you're saying and that's cool, man. I'm happy. And always like to see that too. I like to see people go back to where they were from and add value to the society.
Come on. My tenacity comes from the fact that I had a whole lab nervous breakdown that brought me back home. I think people need to know that. No, like you are going to walk through some darkness fam. It's just, it is what it is. It's life. You don't walk through the dark. So, since that's going to happen, I walked through it and chose to walk through for years and chose to revisit, you know, those old memories of kids picking on me and just like forgiving myself for still being angry.
And I'm a whole lot of adult coming to terms with the fact that not, I didn't want to be a mom, but I'm here now. And now my kid's the coolest person ever come to terms with the fact that I have no position in the Charlotte art scene here, because there are people who been here doing the damn work. They need to be recognized and they need to be supported.
So everywhere that I was experienced in negativity for years, I actively chose to think differently about it. It was kind of like this tick tock video that's been going around as we're dudes. Like instead of asking why me ask, what can I learn from this. As a matter of fact, a stronger person, as a matter of fact, change your course real quick.
Oh, you know, you mentioned Tik TOK and your educator. Have you heard about what's been going on as far as with the month of October? Oh, what? The slapper teams are challenged. I ain't getting slapped. You know that right. That's on record. Like somebody saw my cover on the, some, I picked her on the cover of queen city nerve and they was like, you just look like a teacher where the kid's not gonna slap you.
I wish they would give me a reason Jesus. But if you give me a reap, cause guess what? I ain't going to do it to you. Go ahead.
be accountable together. That's what it is. Exactly. I just thought that was interesting when they were, when they had to go. And I said, no, this can't be real. They got to be playing
the key. You got to ask themselves, who do I want it with? Not me.
That respect that you, that respect that you have from your students. I know they aren't going to do that to you. And that's just because that's what you, the plan, that's what you lay down the foundation. You laid down from the beginning when they first had you as a teacher. So I can imagine what some of these teachers are, how they probably treat and deal with these students.
Because even though they don't respect them at all, no, that's, that's a day one activity. I respect everybody that's in here right now. Cause I don't know you. Yup. I don't know who you was. I don't know who you are. So the child always has my respect put on the table first. It's my job to gain yours. You already got mine.
Hmm. Dang. That's a different risk. That's a different perspective. No, yo we done grew up at the wrong time. I actually, I'm going to, I'm going to share a little bit with, and that's actually dope that you think that cause that's actually what I do. I'm a nine to five. Actually. I work as a counselor out at DJJ.
So I'll work with kids essentially to help them. Get jobs or to pay for school. Once they go back into the community down here at Columbia. But one of my approaches I've always had. And prior to that, I worked at with job Corps, but prior to, but one of my approaches is, and I thought it was very interesting that we share is when it comes to respect.
I've always been like that too. And I've always been very straightforward, honest with the kids about that. I work with from my, Hey, I'm gonna, I'm going to show you respect, but you know, in turn, I expect you to show me respect, but I'm going to meet a person. That's going to put it out there initially to set that, to set up that, that set that standard moving forward.
And I've always had good relationships with the students I've worked with as a result of that. Like, and I've always, you know, like I said, even when it comes to like, sometimes they don't want to be referred to as sir and ma'am and O correct me, you know, if they want me to call them something else, but I'll always approach them just like I would, any other adults that I work with.
Yeah, me, it means a lie. It's not that hard to do. And this is difficult for a lot of teachers to this, do that. Like, yeah, you might've grown up poor and they, and they're growing up poor, but guess what, babe, Tom has changed. It's not how you grew up. Okay. We're dealing with a whole other case of people across the board and I'm not going to disrespect you for any amount of reasons.
You may upset me. I may be disappointed in you today. When I see you tomorrow, we're going to start again and I'm a show you what that looks like. It was consistent. Yeah, that's all they want right now. You know, I got a ton of kids on my head Monday through Friday. And when I say a ton, I could walk in my classroom and turn around and it'd be two faces.
I ain't never seen before at all. They do, you know, these kids come in and they're like, we just want to be in here. You, you heard all the stories about me. That's why I asked. We just want to be in here. Wow. That's cool. Yeah. That's dope. That's dope, man. I guess getting ready, I guess, getting ready to wrap up.
I, I don't wanna, we don't want to hold you too long weeks. Appreciate your time. Thank you so much for joining us. Of course we, we value the time, but we were to ask you one more time. We always liked this little part. It wasn't say this is a little, the shameless plug section. What current projects are you working on?
Besides of course you're working on it. The, the talking walls, but what else are you working on and where can people reach out with. Ooh, baby exhibition season is all for me by the grace of the law.
I have done an exhibition at least every month or every other month since March 21. And it is October. That's a lot of work. I'm so tired. That's teaching episodes,
exhibition season, as far as me like a ramping up and getting all of the words together would definitely add a pies, but you can still see my exhibitions. So let's just go ahead and go straight down the list here, presently. Right now you can see my work in visual Vanguard at the Harvey began center in downtown Charlotte.
And you can walk across the street from the Gantt center to the mint museum uptown, go to the fifth floor and see another exhibition I have, which is the black market Charlotte bodega installation. Right. Then you can go. Two to three blocks down the street from both of those locations into south end, a two elder gallery of contemporary art and see an ex another exhibition.
I curated called the joy, which features me and three other wonderful women artists, and then pop over to advent and check out their coworking space for another exhibition. I curated titled big new things with a wonderful girl. Susan Mackey. Oh man. That's dope. So it's a it's a space for sharing, sharing space for creatives.
Correct. And as a no advent, coworking is a legit coworking space in the similar model and vein as we work. But yeah, I find advent to be better than we work because we work as on the national model, which means that you have no idea. Got you. And she has an identity because it's so singular to Charlotte.
And to me, when I walked around the space and I saw all the different businesses in there, those businesses to me look like an extension of Charlotte's identity because they care about the Charlotte community overall. So it's authentic to the location. Yes, the cool in there. And our biggest goal is to, of course, you know, give artists as many opportunities as possible.
You don't need my help getting exposure, creating opportunities. That's a whole other ball game. That's where it goes back. Circling back, as I said, good dialogue, good conversations. Come back to the beginning, the top being per being able to be professional enough and get so you can get into the. Spots those rooms with the people you need to meet and see, that's what you're saying while teaching at the same time, my principal got a lot of patients on me.
Happy. I'm happy. I'm happy for that. You know, I'm about to say, cause you're, you're, you're literally, you're squeezing every drop at a time, especially like you said, during your exhibition season, out of the hours, you're, you're taking up all your time working and stuff. Like, that's why I said we do appreciate your time, but Hey, we, you know, we, we work hard. We like doing this because I know Kevin was talking about this Because of the pandemics pandemic stuff, like the type of networking we normally would do, we weren't able or allow that space to do it. So the cool thing about this podcast is that it has allowed us to continue networking and meeting new people and seeing what's going on in areas around us in ways that we weren't able to before cutting down space and time being able to do these things from how, from the house we've been able to talk with some people, man.
We never thought we'd be able to actually sit down and see. And like with one of the folks, we had an interview at Kevin, he sees this guy all the time. He just never had the chance to sit down and talk. But that's why we like this platform. We like letting creators, especially come on here and express themselves because man, y'all interesting as hell, man.
I'm not going to be also interesting. But could you also give some people some of your I guess let's say social media information where they can find, look at your information and work. I know we're going to post it again, but you know, people like to hear it. If you come in for me, I am Kim Carla, all social medias.
You want to see the website? I am king carla.com. You want to support talking? Well, Charlotte, all you got to do is go to talking well, charlotte.com. Yep. It seems right. And I liked that. I like how clean it was. It wasn't hard to find especially for our audience. When you, you want to look this stuff up, it's not going to be hard to get to or fine.
And all the information that you need. If you want to start, like I stall, you can get another stalker down and looking at information and the artwork, et cetera. I do see you also have a few items for sale on your shop as well. One is already sold out, but you had three others up there for sale.
Correct? And I got another one that's sold out too. That I got to change up. I am for real, for real. So you notice my website ain't even update yo, you have a real hard there's no, cause there's I was like, oh Lord. All right. So yeah. Well another one is sold out. Okay. I don't need help with the arts right now.
Like I do, but not, not in right now. Right now where I truly need help. Is people going to purchase blind box? That's what I was about to ask you about that. Let's call this out and I'm going to get one is $40. And this is what I thought was crazy. I don't know how y'all doing it. The actual concert is probably like 85 to $120.
I'm like good Lord. How'd y'all so, so explain those boxes a little bit. So audience can hear it. All right. So a blind box is a box full of merge from talking walls past and your purchase, the funds go towards supporting the festival and you get to actually be a part of the festival based on the merchandise in the box, which could range from t-shirts to one year.
This was my personal favorite really though one year, like little journals or creative, so you can draw what she see. So I really loved that jackets, hoodies, water bottles, like whatever. Kevin is packing into those blind boxes. You're going to dig it. Cause I've always loved talking walls. I'm so grateful to be a chair woman this year.
And I mean, I've always wanted my own art department in while I'd never specified what kind of art department? I'm very proud talking. Well, it's his mind. So definitely cop a blind box and be a part of my art department. Oh, could you, and if you, if you can't afford, if you can't get a box, you can also make donations, correct?
Yeah. You certainly can make donations. Oh, and the other thing we need is volunteers. I saw you put out a call for that. Yes. You all are in need of volunteers and I'm let them know how they would contact. And is that information is also directly on the website. Is that correct? Volunteer forum is on the talking while Charlotte website and you just go to the links and fill it out, call it a day and somebody will definitely get back to you.
We have 13 people on the board total, somebody we'll definitely get back to you. Excellent. Excellent. Well we are going to hold you up any longer. We appreciate having you today. Your, your experiences and your personality man are, are, is amazing. I'm not gonna lie. I knew we were going to have fun today.
I always like having conversations with real creatives as I always like to tease people, actually think outside the box. So just for a sign off me, I got to say, thank you so much to our guests. Carla Aaron Lopez for joining us. This is our conclude our episode, episode 23 of the Hilltop glove podcast.
no, that's perfect. That's perfect. That's all I wanted to shout out as the 23rd, 23rd episode, man, season two. We are happy that you all are joining us. We're going to keep pumping out great content for our folks. We want to make sure that our folks actually follow and do your best to support our guests that we bring on our shows because we want to make sure that we're actually bridging some of that gap that we do have in the black community when it comes to support and et cetera.
But happy Saturday to everybody. Have a blessed one out there and be safe. Peace.