Brown Bohemians: Honoring the Light and Magic of Our Creative Community
“Who might this book be for? Anyone craving some inspiration for living the creative life, or wanting to celebrate a loved one who subscribes to one of the Bs: brownness and bohemianism, but also boldness . . .”
More than a book, Brown Bohemians is an idea: a bet that there is power in naming and celebrating diversity, and that doing so can generate the power to lift and propel entire communities forward, creating a better, freer, more inclusive, more just world.
That it is the work of an brand that also sells goods might make the message tempting to dismiss out of hand as a feel-good slogan or corporate-emulating platitude; the book as a catalogue or a pamphlet. Be assured, this is certainly not that.
Because if it is a catalogue at all, Brown Bohemians is a catalogue of lives, of creative people living life in different ways and making those “alternative” life choices work in the real world. In the process, it defines a modern bohemian ethos based on inventiveness, sustainability, and activism, and offers a glimpse of the “hows” and “whys” of pursuing a creative’s way of life as seen from the perspective of the brown and black people the curators chose:
“They are creative, free (in that they are free, or in that they aspire to freedom as an ideal), independent, woke, focused on community, on what’s genuine and organic, whether it refers to the ways in which they create and market their creations, or just to what they eat and how they strive to protect the earth. Their identities are fluid and they value and document each stage of their development, often viewing that work as the first step, the rawest of materials they bring to their art.”
The result is an inspiring book that celebrates a certain nomadism, a shedding of all things not authentic, of all things created to function as tools for standardization, for commodifying ideas to be consumed by anonymous assemblages of people turned mass market, its members focus-grouped until the answers fit a business model, and it is when doing this that it is most original and powerful: going beyond race to also defend and celebrate diversity in approaches to life, as well as to highlight the common challenges threatening the freedoms of all people to live life as they wish:
“Artists, thinkers, writers, and free spirits are at war where freedom of expression is threatened by censorship and violence. Art has always been a way to express the plight of women artists in India through paintings, murals, sculptures, and installations. Yet, the same issues are prevalent today: gender-biased crimes perpetrated in the misguided notion of ‘culture.’ The threat of rape and violence against women is a constant concern, in particular, for the free-thinking, independent types who are viewed as a threat to the male-dominated Indian culture. Lack of laws and protection for women are part of the epidemic.”
The brown bohemians shown here via beautiful, abundant full-color photography and first-person essays come from India, Iran, Mexico, Ethiopia, the United States, Puerto Rico, and other regions and speak to global problems from local points of view, while also delving into the unique, personal concerns and sociological passions informing their art from a broad, well-informed, sensitivity. Here, for example, is Los Angeles photographer-storyteller Chermelle Edwards:
“I’m inspired by the culture that people bring to coffee shops, as well as the culture of the coffee to contextualizes cafés’ existence. It is an endless wellspring of stories, content, and community. Pushing past cafés and coffee culture; life, the written word, and synchronicity serve as huge sources of inspiration for me. The farmers’ market in visiting physical newsstands. And my latest thing is making a bowl of Matcha each morning.”
And here is artist Brittney Hart:
“Self-love means forgetting everything I thought I once knew. The intent is that in return I would learn everything as I experience it. This process helped create a better relationship with myself, and emotional agility. I practice self-love through patience and compassion, dancing and movement, taking nude photographs as a self-care ritual. All my practices are an everyday task to keep me from falling.”
And there is that: an everydayness to living as a brown bohemian, a doing, a practice, a ritual in order to create oneself, in order to create for others.
Who might this book be for? Anyone craving some inspiration for living the creative life, or wanting to celebrate a loved one who subscribes to one of the Bs: brownness and bohemianism, but also boldness, by giving them another tool for putting courage to work in the service of individuality, and doing it with a tremendous amount of beauty and style.