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Oct 11, 2011

Shantrelle P. Lewis

Shantrelle P. Lewis is a 33 year old curator of art with a purpose and a mission. She returned to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to revitalize the McKenna Museum of African American Art, working pro bono for a year to help get the museum off the ground. Although she graduated from Howard University with double major in Biology/Pre-Med and African American Studies, art and her people are the loves of her life.

Art vs. education: "By profession, I’m a curator but by trade I’m an educator. I use the exhibitions to broach topics that are critical subjects for the African Diaspora. I recently spent time in the ancient temples of Kemet (Egypt) and Nubia and was blown away by the sheer brilliance of our ancestors. I hope that my work helps take us to an Ancient Future, in which we rise above the past 400 years of oppression and become the magnificent beings we were destined to be."

Proudest accomplishments: "Having the courage to move back to New Orleans after Katrina. I left my job at the African American Museum in Philadelphia, not really knowing what the future held. By stepping out on faith, I was able to reconnect with my city in a very deep and meaningful way. The second source of “pride” would be curating the Sex Crimes Against Black Girls Exhibit. For my entire life I’ve held on to the sexual abuse that robbed me of my innocence as a little girl. By sharing my story and addressing it in an open forum, it gave many other women and girls the platform to speak out about their own trauma, in order to heal. I look forward to this project being launched on an international scale, which will also include an anthology that I’m co-editing with Dr. Yaba Blay."

REFLECTIONS: Hometown: New Orleans, La. * First job: High school teacher. * Advice she would have given herself 10 years ago: None. All of my experiences, decisions, past loves, and mistakes have made me the woman that I am today. I’m grateful for every single lesson. * Words to live by: Figure out your purpose and spend the rest of your life living it passionately.

DIVERSIONS: Currently reading: I’m a Gemini AND a bibliophile, so at any given moment, I’m walking around with a portable library. Currently, I’m wrapping up "The Road Less Traveled", re-reading "Slaves to Fashion", and about to start "Warmth of Other Suns." However, my version of the bible, something that I refer to daily is "Warrior of the Light" by Paulo Coelho.* Last fun purchase: A pretty turquoise dress that I’ll be wearing to some art-related event in the near future. I bought it from Planet Maud Vintage & Co in Washington, DC.

PLAYING FAVORITES: Getaway: Salvador de Bahia, Brasil. That’s where I came face-to-face with African spirituality in the form of Yoruba and Candomble. That place intoxicates me. * Entree: When I’m in NOLA - a catfish po'boy from Cooter Brown’s. When in NYC, a hamburger, medium well with mustard, ketchup and pickles only with American cheese and shoe string fries from Paul’s Burgers. * Drink: Depends on my mood….a glass of Johannesburg, Reisling if I’m chilling. If I need a buzz, a Jungle Juice Daiquiri that I can get only in New Orleans. * Guilty pleasure: Harry Potter. I’m a HUGE pothead. I’ve read all the books, a couple of times and have seen all the movies. I’ve even gotten dressed up for opening night at the movies with my girls. GRYFFNDOR ROCKS!

shantrelle lewis

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