MEET THE TEAM
aja monet is a surrealist blues poet, storyteller, and organizer born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. She won the legendary Nuyorican Poets Cafe Grand Slam poetry award title in 2007 and aja monet follows in the long legacy and tradition of poets participating and assembling in social movements. Her first full collection of poems is titled, My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter on Haymarket Books. Her poems explore gender, race, migration, spirituality and much more. In 2018, she was nominated for a NAACP Literary Award for Poetry and in 2019 she was awarded the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Award for Poetry for her cultural organizing work in South Florida. aja monet cofounded a political home for artists and organizers called, Smoke Signals Studio. She facilitates “Voices: Poetry for the People,” a workshop and collective in collaboration with Community Justice Project and Dream Defenders. aja monet currently serves as new Artistic Creative Director for V-Day, a global movement to end violence against all women and girls. She is working on her next full collection of poems entitled, Florida Water.
Hollis Heath is an award-winning theatre artist, speaker, strategist and womxn’s empowerment leader based in NYC. She is co-founder of Harlem KW Project, a theatre company that produced the Audelco award-winning play, “Renaissance in the Belly of a Killer Whale.” Hollis earned her Master’s in Educational Theatre in 2016 and has spent the last decade creating programming, content and curriculum to empower young women to own their unique voice and connect them with brands and organizations to increase their social capital. Brands she has produced events for with young womxn include Coach, Verizon, Refinery 29, Benefit Cosmetics, American Express, Jet Blue, Universal Records, Salesforce, and many others. In 2015, she was invited to join the Dove Real Beauty campaign as a Self-Esteem ambassador and continues to tour the country delivering their content. Her work as empowerment leader has led to invitations to speak at the White House under the Obama administration. Currently, she serves as Director of Programs for a national organization working to support womxn ages 18-25 to identify purpose, own their authentic voice and curate the powerful lives they desire to lead.
Kayla Shelton is painter, illustrator and collagist based in South Los Angeles.
She has always been drawn towards portraiture, the human form and exploring interpersonal relationships in form. Her creative expression was born from her desire to record the culturally rich surroundings of her upbringing. This passion grew into adulthood, where she is now using portraiture to explore black identity, femininity, and sisterhood.
The inspiration she drew from her surroundings prompted her to pursue a career in the arts, where she could continue telling the stories of her people. Through her work she hopes to spark meaningful discourse around the stereotypes that surround black femininity and beauty within our culture. Her portraits and collages were recently featured in Magician, an exhibition on black portraiture at Fellows of Contemporary Art.
In recent years, her focus has shifted deeper into the digital and public art space. She has been using her vision in service of various community building initiatives in South Los Angeles; designing for local anti-gentrification, public health, and womenʼs empowerment campaigns. She is currently working on a new series of portraits centered around elders and community leaders in Leimert Park.
Helen is a Black feminist storyteller and cultural organizer from Miami, FL. She uses photography, graphic design and zine-making to interrogate the effects of colonization towards the Black female body. Her artwork explores race, gender, sexuality, spirituality, and memory. In times of social uprising and struggles for justice, she believes the role of the artist is to be grounded in community, telling stories of solidarity and radically imagining life-affirming futures. In 2017, Helen co-founded (F)empower, a collective of queer feminists and abolitionist artist-activists. Throughout her years leading the collective, she has curated and produced several art shows, steered digital campaigns, led public art interventions, facilitated political education bootcamps, workshops, and panels, co-founded a community garden, a community bail fund, a Black queer diasporic party, and more. For 2 years, Helen worked in Digital Communications for racial and economic justice organization, the Dream Defenders. While there, she used art to amplify political organizing, by using photo, video and graphic design to breathe life to political campaigns, transforming their social media and digital presence. Currently, she is producing her first short film, Celeste, and is the Digital Strategist for Voices.