Tag Archives: Empowerment

Artist Feature: Joanna Poz-Molesky

Joanna Poz-Molesky

JUNTOS addresses the need for human connections to inspire one another to create positive change and simultaneously to heal suffering…By using community outreach in art, I hope to offer expression, inspiration, healing, sharing, and most importantly, love.

– Joanna Poz-Molesky

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

JPM: I was born in Berkeley, California and currently reside in Oakland. Although I spent most of my life there, I’ve also lived in Guatemala and New York City. 

I recognize that as artists, we all share part of our story and message. I was born into a bi-cultural household – my father a Maya from a rural village in the Guatemalan highlands who finished high school, my mother an ex-nun with her Ph.D from a middle-class San Francisco family. I realize that as a bi-cultural woman, life presents me with wonderful opportunities to experience the richness and understandings of various heritages as well as offers me possibilities to communicate with these cultures. I recognize art as my way of celebrating my heritage as well as sharing my knowledge, especially with those living in isolation.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

JPM: I really do believe that if anything has a chance to create a more peaceful world, it’s art. We don’t decide to be artists: we are called. Our voices are all so different – each stemming from past experiences, how we view our environment, time we share with individuals, and cultures we are surrounded by – but each voice speaks to its own truth. We have a responsibility to respond to hate, violence, and pain we humans bring this world. If we use our varying voices to speak to these issues, we shine light that becomes truth and beauty. I have come to recognize artists as therapists for the soul, spiritual versions of chiropractors. Art is healing and we are its vessel. Sometimes, we too are the ones that are in need of this healing and when we create and share, we gain strength and knowledge.

How does your work fit in with that definition?

JPM: My work is not an individual piece of art. I founded and direct JUNTOS Collective – a non-profit dance company that empowers individuals and inspires community building across national boundaries with a strong focus in Latin America through teaching, learning, and exchanging dance.

JUNTOS Collective

JUNTOS Collective

JUNTOS addresses the need for human connections to inspire one another to create positive change and simultaneously to heal suffering. It is the first collective comprised of university students at various competitive dance conservatories dedicated to creating community across international borders through dance. In partnering with various communities in Central America and the United States, JUNTOS introduces an innovative method in which participants maintain and strengthen national and international relationships while encouraging individuals to become persons serving others. JUNTOS recognizes the many problems humanity faces and attempts to reconcile differences, offering a new method to create change.

JUNTOS Collective

JUNTOS Collective

By using community outreach in art, I hope to offer expression, inspiration, healing, sharing, and most importantly, love. Being in love does not consist of loving everything; being in love with life and with what you do exerts kindness, imagination, drive, how you live your life and can lead to a compassionate and honest world. I propose to offer a piece of this love with my company. I hope to inspire others to share love, weave communities, people, and differences together to create a more peaceful world.

JUNTOS Collective

Who or what inspires you?

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Feature: Michele Jules

This week’s Reflection and Response featured artist is Brooklyn-based writer, educator, academic, and social entrepreneur Michele Jules. With a focus on youth empowerment, Michele utilizes dialogue grounded in historical truths to build toward the future. We’re excited to have her voice participate in the ongoing global conversation on Reflection and Response. Check out her interview and an excerpt from her writing below!

Reflection: Is being able to take in and respect all aspects of art, word and music…

– Michele Jules

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

MJ: Originally from California, Westside! My dad was a Marine… but was raised in Brooklyn, NY. Both, my parents families are live in Brooklyn. Im a New Yorker at Heart!!

I’ve grown here, failed and succeeded here. I still reside in Brooklyn, but I believe my time here in this city is ending, its time to start another chapter in a new setting, set a new foundation. My family will always be here, New York City is my home.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

MJ: Reflection: Is being able to take in and respect all aspects of art, word and music seeing life through others’ eyes. If you can’t relate, you can in some way understand the emotion or point the person is trying to project.

Whether you agree or not, and how it makes you feel and think, your overall reaction is Response.

How does your work fit in with that definition?

MJ: I’m writing my first book, Yay!! I’m all about empowerment of youth, focusing my attention right now on young black women of all ages from their teens to late 20’s and maybe even older.

I see the world through a bigger picture, I’m not the only one on this planet, and I’m at point in my life where I’ve realized, I have to leave something behind and help in projecting better reflections, for the black youth in this world.

And I need help, so I’m sending out a global S.O.S. to black youth, women and men, all over the world. Its a basic interpretation of “If you don’t know where you came from, you’ll never know where your going”, aspect.
I love working with young kids they have so much energy and love for life and laughter. Its important to let them be themselves but be disciplined in teaching them realities of life, their world and the importance of education overall, starting with who they are and where they come from, with no holds barred honesty. That’s the first start to success and the best love story, which starts with yourself.
Young black children have got to see not just their world, but the whole world as a playground. There’s just so many morsels of beauty and genius to take in on this planet.
I’m in total love of this world, my history and I’m also aware of how small we all are compared to the universe, (Let alone the planet Venus), I think that keeps me grounded along with my brutally honest family and friends.
Keeping all this in perspective, I try my best to write realistically and honestly, no sense in sugar coating whats real.

What have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

MJ: Working on a business with a great partner, catering to fitness and pursuing my M.A. in adolescent psychology. Staying focused with writing, which is so hard when there are so many other distractions.

My next project would be focused on young black men, they are harder targets to reach, but i’m gonna give it a shot, with help of-course!

Who or what inspires you all?

MJ: Faith, inspires me, I have a real relationship with God, we have deep conversations. I also, have a great support system filled with family and friends that keep me on track when I lose focus.

Writing, watching children learn, and empowering confidence in youth, by educating them on their history. I feel I’m doing a devotion to my ancestors by educating young children and families.
And of course to me “life” is so great, If I wake up I’m a happy person, I don’t need much to be happy, it’s the little things that count. If it can be fixed, fix it!.. Life is hard..get a Helmet! 🙂

Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?

MJI have a dire, deep love for animals, they are they only living creatures on this earth who do exactly, what they were put here to do.❤❤

I am big on Education, it’s power, it’s key and it’s the only thing the government can’t take from you.

Shout out to…

MJ: President Obama and Michelle, I Love you Guys! You show us the true meaning of hope, determination and family…

My family and friends and anyone who have helped in anyway to get me where I am today… You’re Awesome! Hug A Tree, peace! God is Love!

The LIFESTYLE for giving an aspiring writer this opportunity…. You’re Awesome too!

Do You Know Your “Real” History? I Know and Love Mine!

Hello World! 

I’m a proud black woman with a passion for the betterment of my fellow black people, especially our children. I love all people, the world is full of beautiful people, but I hear a cry for help within our communities and in black youth and I’m destined to answer that call or at least reach a few cries before they become silent. I hope you enjoy the topics and please comment as your comments are what keep me aware and connected. 

An 80’s baby doing her part to help…. 🙂

So… I have come to realize so many black people, no matter what background have no idea about thier history and how great it is. And as some of you may not understand how this comes to bother me so much, I say in my defense that it sets a person back when they have no knowledge of where they come from. The struggles of our people were the highlights of our education, while the unbelievable accomplishments and contributions we have made in history were seldom or irrelevant. I come to understand this from working with black children of all ages, now I single out black children only because I relate to them personally. Our futures are merely a reflection of our pasts and so many young children have a dreadful reflection to look at, but that does not determine who they will be if surrounded by the right influences. “It takes a village to raise a child” parents can do what they can, but sometimes it takes someone else to see the value in that child and encourage achievement.
Community is almost completely lost, hard times are getting harder and uniting seems out of the question! Get your hands dirty, learn about yourself , your history and what qualities you bring to the table. Improvise on them! I was once told if you can do something good then perfect it! Your twenties allow you to get to know yourself and the world around you, as young children our parents guide us the best way they know how, in adulthood is where you truly find your own balance and knowledge for your life ahead.Be proud of who you are and especially of where you come from, if you have children teach them this, dont leave it to the television or other young children to knowledge your child. Get involved! I know that it can be challenging to be a parent but with all brutal honesty, you made the choice or was given the blessing to have a child… Now lets get to work!
We must encourage our youth to love themselves, educate themselves and represent themselves!

Peace and love


Reflection and Response.

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