Bloom 6Images by Kendra McLaughlin

“The human shape is a ghost
made of distraction and pain.
sometimes pure Light, sometimes cruel,
trying wildly to open,
this Image tightly held within itself.”

KendraBloom2I love the shots that Kendra agreed to share when I reached out to her. There’s something really inspiring about the way that she captures details with her camera. As a writer, those moments that I aim to depict with my words are those sensory experiences that trigger something in me: be it a sight, a smell, a taste of something that makes me pause and extend that moment just a little while longer through my words. Kendra’s pictures make me feel the same way. Take the above shot, for instance (which I initially thought was coral): I find myself imagining what it would be like to experience the plant physically: to trace with my fingers the waxy surface, the wandering edges, the brackets that tighten against one another as they hold the center of the plant together.

The more that I think about what it means to center works of art and of creation around the theme of Bloom, the more this entire project feels like a reflection on the way in which our creative processes and artistic tastes are shaped by nature. While obvious, it does raise interesting questions when you’re thinking about art in Africa. Namely, if you consider how the physical appearance of the continent has changed in the last century, where does this leave us when we are looking for “authentically” or “purely” African art?  I’ll be sharing a conversation with Yakutti founder Nkatha Gitonga about this later this week.

In the meantime, enjoy these images by Kendra, words by Rumi.


“Be Crumbled
So wild flowers will come up wherever you are
You have been stony for too many years
Try something different


“Flowers open every night
across the sky, a breathing piece,
and sudden flame catching.”

Bloom 1