Resident Profiles

HIP Resident-Artist Spotlight: Pepe Piedra Inkarasta

Biography

Jose Piedra (Pepe Piedra Inkarasta) was born in the Peruvian coastal town of Casma. He developed a love for drawing as a child, and began playing drums as a teenager. Pepe went on to graduate from the National Fine Arts School of Lima in 1987. He became a professional artist, painting in the surrealistic style with oils, acrylics and mixed media techniques. He also cultivated his love for music, playing drums with Tierra Sur, a pioneering Reggae band in Peru. In 1998, Pepe moved to Washington DC, where he has taught art at various schools including WVSA (an arts education program for children with disabilities), the Barbara Chambers Children Center, and the Henson Valley Montessori School. Pepe recently opened the Blue Moon Studio School at HIP’s very own Renaissance Square in the County’s Gateway Arts District where he is helping new artists to fulfill their creative and artistic dreams.  Pepe’s murals brighten public spaces throughout the Washington Metropolitan region – check out some of the locations below.

Murals

  • 2000 – Latin American Youth Center – Washington DC / “The Youth” (Tryptic 15’ x 24”)
  • 2001 – Barbara Chambers Children Center – Washington DC / “Freedom” (10’ x 30’)
  • 2002 – Barbara Chambers Children Center – Washington DC / “Arriba los Nignos” (10’ x 5’)
  • 2004 – Henson Valley Montessori School – Temple Hills MD / “Nature” (15’ x 40’)
  • 2005 – Henson Valley Montessori School – Temple Hills MD / “Love Shack” (Tryptic 5’ x 15’)
  • 2006 – Children Dental Office.- Oxon Hill MD / “Magic Children World “ (15’ x 40”)
  • 2007 – Henson Valley Montessori School – Upper Marlboro – MD / “American Natives” (Two Totem Pole (15’ x 4’)
  • 2008 – Corner of 4500 Georgia Ave. and Buchanan St NW – Washington DC / “Catching the American Dream” ( Mural for The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities) 12’ x 32’
  • 2008 – Crystal City – VA   / “Prism Mural” (Collaboration with Anne Marchand) (20’ x 65”)
  • 2008 -2010 – Sun Rise Academy – Washington DC / “Black History, Community, and Civil Rights”
  • 2012 – Corner of Rhode Island and 15 Street NE / “Jammeando (Jamming)” 8’ x 20’
  • 2013 – William Paca Elementary School, Prince Georges County, Maryland / “Healthy Living”
  • 2013 – Piedra’s Studio at Lima Peru / “Involucion – Terrorismo de Estado, 8’ x 8’
  • 2013 – Piedra’s Studio at Lima Peru / “Rasta Meditation “ 7’ x 9’
  • 2013 – Salamanca Lima Peru / “Wilca Cocha” 8’ x 15.5’

In his own words: Pepe Piedra Inkarasta’s reflections on his art

The Andes are the expression of a cosmic miracle, which inspired me to consecrate my life to art. My work, be it painting or music, is my contribution to the strong identity of the Andean people. In various occasions my art invites to a thoughtful process of thinking, in others it shouts and protests. My work also tries to capture satire, as Goya himself did, manifesting the essence of my Andean roots, and the spirit of my Latino people.

In my paintings, I seek to capture the pureness, the joy, and the solemnity of a life unstained by mankind’s selfishness. My compositions exhibit colors and forms that, when combine with ordinary images of day-to-day life, creates the magic of my Andean roots. A magic in which both, artist and spectator become immersed in the discovery of a new creative ritual.

I would still be surrounded by the adventure of dreams, magic and myths, in which our tireless search for forms, language, signals, balance and tension are carried out. I am in constant search of places, people and things. I am in search of ideas. I am thoughts of freedom, pain, struggle, life, humility, fate and thoughts of strength and love, listening and looping myself with symbols, myths, color, movement, shapes, rhythm and forms.

Through the forces of colorful dialogue, I immersed myself in a journey of vastness and depth to form a window of imagination, to be one with the music of nature. When painters work exclusively from imagination, doors open to unlimited potentials.

Current Exhibitions

Art exhibition at Artomatic at 8100 Corporate Drive, Hyattsville, MD 20785 (October 30 – December 12)
“Freedom of Expression” Art exhibition at Ice Gallery in Berkeley Spring, West Virginia (October-November 2015)

Want to know more?

Follow Pepe on Pinterest (www.pinterest.com/pppiedra) and Facebook (Pepe Piedra Inkarasta)

HIP Resident-Artist Spotlight: Princess Best

Biography

Princess Best, a Renaissance Square resident, is a multi-faceted performing artist, hip-hop theater educator, and transformational speaker. A Theater Arts graduate of The University of the District of Columbia and a former Miss UDC, Best has over 15 years of experience in the performing arts and arts education.  Princess Best has dedicated her many talents to advocating for the enhancement leadership, health, and communication of young girls and women. She is the founder of Princess Best Speaks (PBS) and R.O.Y.A.L. Voices (Readying Our Young Aspiring Leaders).  Best’s platform and programming focus on expanding the leadership capacity of the feminine voice of color through hip-hop theater, storytelling, and public speaking.  Currently, Princess is preparing for her one-woman SHAME-LESS tour in the U.S. and internationally, aimed at bringing awareness to the history, health, and communication of women of color. Formerly known as the hip-hop ARTIVIST Princess of Controversy, she has released two music albums – Soul Hop and Personal Messenger.

Programs

My Sister’s Shoulder/The Art of Sisterhood:  My Sister’s Shoulder explores the dynamics of developing relationship rituals for healthy female communication. Learn how to “date” your girlfriends, from conflict resolution to writing a hip-hop sisterhood constitution.

SHAME-LESS: Wrapped in shame or guilt, or lacking examples or knowledge for self-care, oftentimes girls find themselves lost in a world that says you should “love yourself,” without ever giving any instructions. SHAME-LESS explores the HERstory of “conditioning shame” to being associated with being female, common diseases/illnesses amongst girls, demystifying women as only sexual beings, and learning how to turn shame into a healthy regiment of self-care – physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Mommy’s Girl: Mommy’s Girl explores the complex dynamics of creating and maintaining healthy mother-daughter relationships, bridging the gap in female intergenerational communication through hip-hop and learning how Mommy’s Girls become “Girls Who Run The World.”

R.O.Y.A.L. Voices (Readying Our Young Aspiring Leaders): Girls and women still make up a fairly small percentage of the world’s leading public speakers, even in the arts.  R.O.Y.A.L. Voices teaches developmental skills in hip-hop, theater, storytelling, and public speaking, while exploring the HERstory of women who have used their voices to be creative “gamechangers” for the face of women’s leadership. This course gives girls an early introduction of how to use their voice as a vehicle for influencing change.

Connect Click here to watch “A Black Girls Worth” Music Video

Go to http://www.princessbestspeaks.com for more information about Princess Best

Resident Profile: Ruby White

Ruby White in front of Newton Green

If the community room at Newton Green Senior Apartments is the control center of the beautiful 78-room apartment building, then Ruby White sits in the captain’s chair. “Last year, we could see two beavers building a dam down there,” Ruby said one afternoon in March, pointing out the window of the community room, down to a babbling brook where all manner of birds, squirrels, deer and – apparently – beavers sometimes congregate. A few residents, she adds, sat by the window all day in the fall, watching the beavers work.  Ruby would know.  The 76-year-old became one of Newton Green’s first residents in December 2009. She had moved from California in order to be close to her mom, who is 91 and lives just three doors down the hallway. A self-described people-person, Ruby has thrived at Newton Green, serving both as a president of the tenants council (now defunct) and as a board member for Housing Initiative Partnership (HIP).  She’s also the keeper of the dominoes and has a key to the cabinet where the Wii controllers are kept for Thursday night Wii Bowling.   “We have people who never could bowl and now they’re bowling over 200,” she said, adding that the Wii bowlers sometimes take on other folks from nearby apartments. “We just bowled against another building – they invite us over and we invite them over, and we bowl to see who is going to win.” Living at Newton Green and serving on the board has enabled Ruby both to benefit from HIP’s work and to help direct it at the same time.  Before moving to Maryland, Ruby raised six daughters and worked at a family-owned drug store. Serving on the board, she said, was “at first … confusing because I had not ever been on a board of anything.” “I had to take a period of learning how the board works and what its role is in the communities. I really enjoyed it because they did so many things to aid people.” As for life at Newton Green, Ruby calls it “a beautiful facility” – one that’s always bubbling over with activities, including weekly outings.   She also cites the building’s earth-friendly construction – the low-energy light bulbs, the recycled materials that went into the building’s construction, and the tables decorated by artists living at another of HIP’s properties, Renaissance Square Artists’ Housing.   These tables, Ruby said, are the envy of all their guests. “No two are alike.”   And that goes for the residents who call Newton Green home, too.  “When I lived in California, I lived in a home,” she said. “I was able to get in my car and go where people were like-minded. I’m a Baptist, so I hung around Baptists. Well, here, there’s all kinds of different people… We are alike in some areas but no two people are identical, not even twins. We may look the same but each one has a distinct personality, and that’s the way it is in this building.”   As Ruby rattles off the diversity of personalities and passions represented at Newton Green, it’s clear that she loves where she lives.  “Like I never ate fish [much] until I moved here,” she said with a smile. “Now I find myself eating fish every Friday.”

Resident Profile:  Tim Sebian-Lander

Living at Mount Rainier “One of the Best Decisions I’ve Ever Made.”  

Tim Sabin-Lander works in his studio at Mount Rainier Artist Apartments

In some of Tim Sebian-Lander’s earliest memories, he is hunched over a sketchbook drawing a line of trucks on a mountain pass. Two decades later, the 26-year-old Maryland native is still hard at work at his art – thanks, in part, to the community and workspace he has found while residing in Housing Initiative Partnership’s Mount Rainier Artist Apartments. “It’s very ideal to producing art. I have this one room that is completely windowed in,” said Tim, a graduate student at Bowie State University. “The light is great, the floor is cement, so you can get it kind of dirty. And it’s my studio – I absolutely love the layouts in this building.” Tim has lived at Mount Rainier for two years and is one of about 12 artists who call the apartments home. Each has been designed with the artist in mind – all the way down to the energy-efficient fixtures and the natural-light workspace. “My utility bill is around $50, and I can manage that,” said Tim, who began to rattle off other perks of living at Mount Rainier. “The rent is subsidized. It’s in an up-and-coming neighborhood. There’re two or three galleries across the street. We’re right down the street from Hyattsville, and a stone’s throw from DC.” For proof that Tim’s time at Mount Rainier has benefited him as an artist, look no further than the paintings he has been producing at night, on weekends and during his summers off from graduate school. For example, the first image to greet you when you visit his website, www.TimSebianLander.com, is a spell-binding portrait of President Barack Obama.

“Barack,” by Tim Sabin-Lander

Tim says the painting was inspired by a photo he saw on the cover of The Atlantic magazine. “I love working with faces,” he said. “I’ve always been drawn to portraiture. There’s so much you can tell from the eyes. It sounds cheesy, but they really are the gateway into a person’s soul.” One of the standout characteristics of Tim’s art is his provocative use of color. “I love expressionism, the way the colors move around the image. It’s more deliberate than it looks. One color [often] leads to the next,” he said, explaining his vibrant palette. Tim’s social life at Mount Rainier is also full of color. “As an artist, you need continual feedback. You need to bounce ideas off of people.” Living in a place like Mount Rainier, he said, “helps you so much.” One of Tim’s biggest breaks as an artist came after he moved into the apartments and began spending time with others in his building. “One of the guys upstairs connected me with [artist] John Paradiso, and I was selected to be an artist-in-residence at the Gateway Arts Center [in Brentwood, Maryland]. I was there for six months and had a key for 24-hour access. I had my own studio. It was a phenomenal experience, and I attribute that to being here and meeting the people in the building.” While living at Mount Rainier has opened up new doors and facilitated Tim’s growth as an artist, it’s the community around him that he is most grateful for. “As an artist, one of the best things that can happen is someone can appreciate your art, outside of the realm of people that you know. For it to be shown at other places, it makes me want to do it more. I wouldn’t have had any of those opportunities if I had stayed [at home] in southern Maryland. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made was to come here.” Upon finishing his graduate program in counseling psychology, Tim hopes to work as an art therapist. But his day-job and his painting will always go hand-in-hand. “I don’t foresee me not doing painting. With each painting and drawing, you learn about what you have done before,” he said. “I will always be doing this.”