Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Empowering Black femme digital artists, prints benefitting the LGBTQIA+ Community, gardens under solar farms and more

black beyond Collective Defies the Erasure of Black Femmes in the Digital Art Space

Led by NYC-based artists jazsalyn, Shameekia Shantel Johnson and Yvonne Mpwo, the digital art and research collective black beyond is cultivating a community of Black femmes in the art and design world. Their most recent virtual exhibition, _origins, showcases 12 Black digital artists who wield dystopian aesthetics, critical race theory and technology to reimagine the future of Black femmes and powerfully take up space in the art world. “_origins emerged during a time where I was confronting erasure in the digital art scene,” says jazsalyn. “Instead of succumbing to that erasure, I collected what strength I had left to culminate in a community of Black femmes to defy that erasure, to amplify our existence. This exhibition really serves as an ode to Black femmes, women, gender non-conforming individuals and beyond.” Having collaborated with The Heaux History Project, Yves B Golden and other artists with plans for a future exhibition already underway, the 2019-founded collective is quickly fortifying and empowering Black femme digital artists. Read more about them at It’s Nice That.

Image courtesy of Elizabeth Mputu, black beyond

“Prints for Queers” Raises Funds For LGBTQIA+ Community Members Escaping Persecution

Organized by London-based photographer Matt Ford, Prints for Queers launched yesterday, selling portraits of LGBTQ+ performers, creatives and activists, with all profits going to Rainbow Road—an initiative that helps queer people escape violence and persecution all over the world. With photography by Ford and Maria Ridgway, the collection of images feature the founder of Trans Pride, Lucia Blake; Drag Race UK contestant, Crystal; drag performer, Miss Terri Boxx and others. “I sat on the project for a few months, and then news stories about queer people fearing for their lives in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover started coming out,” says Ford. “It kind of put things into perspective and made me look beyond my own world.” Fine art prints, posters and one-off, original Polaroids are available online now.

Image courtesy of Prints For Queers

In Colorado, a Community Solar Garden Pioneers Sustainable Foodways

Jack’s Solar Garden—a community farm that grows under 32,000 solar panels and sells 1.2 megawatts of power back to the local grid in Longmont, Colorado—began nearly 50 years ago as a hay-producing operation in Byron Kominek’s family. But due to increasing corporate competition in the agricultural industry, the poorly profiting farm was in jeopardy, prompting Kominek to turn to solar infrastructure. In creating his unconventional solar garden (only a dozen farms in the US experiment with agrivoltaics), Kominek not only eased tensions between renewable energy developers and farmers over land use, he also opened the door for sustainable, water-efficient farming—a milestone feat given the mega-droughts plaguing the western US. Under solar panels, crops need 50% less water, while shade from the panels improves soil health and lessens evaporation, allowing Jack’s Solar Garden to grow all kinds of vegetables, even in the colder months. Learn more about the farm from NPR.

Image courtesy of Kirk Siegler/NPR

Kai Creates the World’s First Disposable Paper Razor

Japanese knife manufacturer Kai has created the world’s first disposable paper razor that reduces the use of plastic by 98% in comparison to conventional, commonly used versions. This innovative, eco-friendly product—which won Kai Group the 2021 GOOD DESIGN award—comprises a paper body with a metal blade that can be used wet, even if the water is hot. Inspired by milk cartons, the design proves practical but a little playful. “Rather than simply replacing plastic with paper, we designed it with a handle that is as easy to hold and sharp as a plastic razor,” reads a company statement. Weighing only four grams, the portable paper razor comes in ocean blue, botanical red, jade green, yellow or sand beige, with a set of five costing about 10 US dollars. Learn more about the creative product at designboom.

Image courtesy of Kai

Information About The Earth Embedded Within The Rare Okavango Blue Diamond

Found in Botswana, the stunning almond-sized, 20.46-carat Okavango Blue Diamond is currently on display at the American Museum of Natural History’s new Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals. More than a pretty gemstone, this diamond (found in 2018) is remarkable for its azure color which was created in an uncommon natural manner. While most diamonds contain more nitrogen than boron (which provides the blue hue), the Okavango Blue Diamond possesses the reverse, thanks to boron’s presence in seawater. Over time, that chemical element from the ocean is “recycled into the bedrock and Earth’s mantle through a process called subduction. When a tectonic plate in the ocean naturally collides with a continental one and slides underneath it, boron gets driven deeper down into the transition zone”—some 415 miles underground. Over time, those traces can then become part of a diamond. Geologist George Harlow (curator at the American Museum of Natural History’s Halls of Gems and Minerals) says that while they aren’t sure why the nitrogen is so low, this diamond is “another piece of evidence to support our interpretation of how the planet works.” Read more at Popular Science.

Image courtesy of Okavango Diamond Company

RIMOWA’s Vol 1 Exhibition of Artist-Reimagined Luggage To Be Auctioned for UNICEF-Backed Project

Ten internationally renowned fashion designers lend their signature styles to RIMOWA suitcases and bags for the luxury luggage brand’s Vol 1 exhibition. On view for one day in NYC, all 26 pieces—by the likes of Hood By Air, MA®KET, Pizzaslime, Enfants Riches Déprimés and Pleasures—head to auction online at HBX on 22 November. All proceeds from these wondrous one-off items—some of which are adorned with travel stickers composed entirely of stitches poked into the aluminum shell, others wearing high-design hoodies or googly eyes—go to the UNICEF-funded COVAX Facility project, which aids in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to countries in need.

Image by David Graver

Comme des Garçons CEO Adrian Joffe Reimagines Retail With 3537

When Comme des Garçons CEO Adrian Joffe launched Dover Street Market in 2004, he changed the way many retailers functioned, situating well-known luxury brands with up-and-coming labels in the same space amidst rotating creative installations. Now, this artistic approach to retail is being pushed even further with 3537, a new events platform that sees department stores and cultural experiences operating on a didactic level. “3537 is about bringing energy to the entire Dover Street Market company,” says Joffe. “Maybe the retail space will be part of the event, rather than the event being part of the retail space.” Headquartered in Hôtel de Coulanges at 35-37 Rue des Francs Bourgeois (from which the platform gets its name), the latest division will integrate more art, activism and political happenings across Dover Street’s locations and labels. Already, the Paris space has hosted political puppet Little Ama and is hosting Balenciaga’s pop-up, showcasing Gucci’s “Hacker” project. Learn more about 3537 and its vision for retail at Business of Fashion.

Image courtesy of Dover Street Market/Business of Fashion

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily in Link and on social media, and rounded up every Saturday morning. Hero image courtesy of black beyond/JLIN