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We learn early in life that water is the ultimate sustainer. It is what keeps our environment healthy, hydrates our internal systems, and cleanses our exterior bodies. Fela Kuti says it best, "water you no get enemy." Like water, creativity, you no get enemy.

To me, creativity is the ultimate sustainer and motivator. Without it, we are destined to bland, tasteless existences. Just as we learn the importance of water early in life, we also learn the joys of experiencing the sweetness of other tastes. Creativity is that sweetness that lifts us from bland to bright.

Creative genius is served up by the three contemporary women artists featured this month. These artists challenge us to look deep inside hollow gourds and use our imaginations to crack open thirsty spaces and drink from their offerings: Lisa Myers Bulmash, Barbara Earl Thomas, and Karon Davis. As Lisa Myers Bulmash represents our community in the upcoming docuseries "The Story of Art in America," the thirst for representation is quenched, at least for the time being. Barbara Earl Thomas brings us intricacy and metaphor to whet our imaginations for re-envisioning the ways in which our cultural histories shape our present understanding of how we 'package' and present ourselves to the world. And Karon Davis is an example of how one can begin to see herself outside of an assigned association to another, to become a whole, independent container for creative expression. As a creative motivator and supporter of the Arté Noir vision, Juan Alonso-Rodríguez gifts us with his work and his boundless kindness to help us achieve a future we envision.

Each month we find new ways to have our creative appetite sated, and each month, we are pleasantly filled with invitations from all of the artists and creators featured on these pages. The offerings are always plentiful and it is our honor to extend a monthly invitation for you to drink from the deep gourds of creativity present in Black art and culture. Our invitation to you is extended to share ideas about something or someone you would like to see highlighted here. We'd love to hear from you so drop us a line at, and give us a shout-out by sharing Arté Noir with others. We love you for reading!

Postscript: Just as we are completing this issue, we learned the sad news that one of Black culture's most innovative beings has now become an ancestor. Having had the great honor to once meet and interview Mr. Melvin Van Peebles, I remain filled by what he poured into his community, and into the world. The stories he told, the way he approached subject matter, the indelible mark he made on the film industry as a whole, and on Black filmmakers in particular, and the way he answered questions leaving space for air and contemplation, will continue to be a prominent part of my own life story. I can smell the aroma of his cigar and hear his completely unassuming yet firm voice. May the ancestors welcome you, Mr. Van Peebles, carrying beautiful gourds adorned with melodic cowries to signal your blessed arrival to sit among them. Ashé.

- Vivian Phillips - Founder // Editor-in-Chief


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