S1E4: Be Brave; Be Well feat. Shanina Dionna


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By Candace Howze. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

In this episode, you’ll meet visual artist Shanina Dionna, a Pennsylvania-based painter who is also an arts education and mental health advocate. Through her Embryo series, Shanina spreads a message of hope and empowerment and recently received a TDC (The Dean Collection) grant, sponsored by Swizz Beatz & Alicia Keys.

“If you’re passionate about it, and you’re consistent, good things will manifest for you.” It’s a belief that Shanina is living fully. We talk about her life as a full-time freelance artist, and her role in the Philadelphia arts community. Shanina also sheds life on the business of being an artist and the importance of a business plan.

Shanina’s story is inspiring both personally and artistically, as you’ll hear in this episode, and her profound message to artists about purpose, acknowledgment and wellbeing is absolutely priceless.

As always, this episode features the following music: Aspire by Scott Holmes, and Purple Light by Blue Dot Sessions.

To learn more about Shanina visit: https://www.instagram.com/shaninadionna/?hl=en

Fox News interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoyerQh6hTo&feature=youtu.be

Listen to Episode 4 and read the full time-stamped transcript below or tune in on the following podcast platforms:

Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Google Play, Google Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, Stitcher, Soundcloud, Podbean, PlayerFM and Blubrry.

Enjoy the episode and remember to Create & Connect!

Shanina Dionna

Shanina Dionna

Be Brave; Be Well

Do you struggle with discipline and business planning? Shanina Dionna chronicles her path to emotional wellness and discusses how she maintains productivity as a full-time freelance artist.

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Full Transcript

Narrator: 00:02 Welcome to Meraki mentors, a podcast we train women who create, we interview creatives from every field and around the globe to discuss art risk taking and what it means to live a creative life. Here's your host, Candace Howze.

New Speaker: 00:18 Welcome back, or simply welcome. If this is your first episode, I invite you to join our community on social media. Follow us on facebook or Instagram, Mr Aki mentors podcast, or on twitter and Meraki mentors. You can also find detailed show notes, full transcripts, and helpful resources on our website. Simply visit Muraki mentors podcast.com and click episodes. Thanks for tuning in

New Speaker: 01:00 From the moment I first saw Shanina Deanna's work. I was absolutely captivated. Her energy, empathy, and talent are undeniable. I immediately sent an email asking to purchase prints, and here we are a year later discussing her upcoming exhibition and Advocacy for arts education and mental health. Shanina's story isn't inspiring, one filled with gratitude, joy, and most importantly, purpose. I walked away from our conversation and with a renewed appreciation for the journey of being an artist, motivated to stay the course, remain disciplined and reminded to spread encouragement throughout the arts community, but that's only scratching the surface.

New Speaker: 01:47 Welcome today to Meraki mentors podcast. This is your host Candace Howze, and today I'm so excited to share our guest with you who is just a wonderful, talented artist. She is a painter and just an all around wonderful person, so I know you all will be excited to hear this conversation with her today. So I'm going to welcome Shanina Dionna to the podcast and first of all, thank you so much for taking some time to speak with us today.

New Speaker: 02:21 Candace, thank you so much for having me. And hello.

New Speaker: 02:29 It's a kind of a little bit cloudy day today, so it's, it's always nice to kind of have those nice mellow days where you can just kind of relax and talk. And we were just sharing how um, we both love listening to the rain and had some, some kind of rainy weather. So it's always nice to kind of have those, those kind of creative and kind of cool, calm days is setting the tone. I think for our conversation today, absolutely. Um, so I'm going to just kind of give you the floor for a moment and just kind of let our listeners know, I'm just a little bit about yourself, like what you do as an artist and whatever you'd like to share to start off.

Shanina: 03:13 Yeah. All right. So my name is Shanina Dionna Ime, PA based in the Greater Philadelphia area. I'm visual and performance artists since 2011. My work has served as a platform to help raise mental health awareness beer, the visual and performing rights. Um, and we'll get into that a little bit more later as far as the embryo is concerned. But, um, I'm also a nonprofit youth arts teacher. I'm in the West Philly area at the urban art gallery. It's the program is called Art Bud Philly on instagram and we cater to youth eight to 13 years old, uh, teaching them interdisciplinary or introductory skills, uh, to drawing, painting, mixed media design a city. It's an eight week program, um, that we have there. The urban art gallery. I'm free of charge to the parents, to the students. Um, and, you know, make it a point to just keep art alive in the lives of our youth here in the Philadelphia area. So that's a pretty brief bit about what I do.

Candace: 04:28 Absolutely. Um, yeah, I was actually just in Philly, I want to say maybe about a month ago. I'm an art festival they have there and it's just so many talented people and there were so many people in the community that were coming and like passing out, um, like different fliers and things that are happening at galleries. It just seems like such a, um, active arts community there.

New Speaker: 04:53 Yeah, for sure. Um, we actually, to that point, I have a good friend, his name is chuck uncool, chuck on Instagram, facebook, twitter, all of that. But he makes it a point to bring together all of the creatives of Philadelphia and surrounding areas to come together, connect, network and support each other, right? Just to make sure that we are knowledgeable of the people of the talent that's around us because there's a lot of beautiful hidden gems in the, in Pennsylvania period, in the tristate area. And um, I think is really beautiful that he brings us all together with this pop up photo. Right? He's done it several a few years before, um, and is reminiscent of the, a good day in Harlem photo. Are you familiar with that one? Yeah. So he, that's his, uh, his thin right for the Philadelphia, a version of that photo and it's so beautiful to see all these beautiful, creative, all this beautiful talented dancers, musicians, artists, visual artists, graphic designers, photographers, you name it, they're there. So, um, yeah, Philly is booming. A lot of beautiful talent.

Candace: 06:14 That's awesome. It's great. I've always found like, even as an artist that the more creative people you're surrounded around or have access to you, it just, it just flourishes that entire inspirational side of your brain, like it just gets you going. So that's wondering sharing. So, uh, how did you, I feel like everyone has a different story when it comes to their art, but how did you first discover that you had a talent or an interest for them painting?

New Speaker: 06:48 Well, I credit my, well, I can think back as far as ninth grade or excuse me, nine years old and third second or third grade. And um, I, we had an assignment to create a short story with an illustration, the whole nine. So we had to write a short story, a create an illustration to support the short story and then submit it to our teacher. And I remember being called out by my teacher Mrs Palace. I'm in Jacksonville, Florida and she enjoyed in my, my project. So much so that she encouraged me to share it with the whole third grade class, not only with my classroom, with the other third grade classes in our, in our school. And I remember at nine years old just thinking, wow, you know, it was, I did a good enough job, right to be acknowledged in this way, um, and share, you know, to the point where they wanted my work to be shared and to be an example for my peers, uh, to follow after. So, um, I think that kind of sparked something in me moving forward, especially academically, I, if I didn't excel in any other subjects, I was going to excel in, you know, language arts, reading, writing and visual arts. So I always took that seriously since childhood, uh, and you know, in decided to further pursue that in my adulthood.

Candace: 08:23 Excellent. And I know that recently, um, it's definitely paid off and that you, um, were just the recipient of a grant from the dean collection. So tell us a little bit about that.

Shanina: 08:38 Oh my goodness. I'm. So the Dean Collection Twenty startups grant is presented by Swiss beats and Alicia keys, their last names, a lot of people don't know is dean. So that's where the dean collection comes from. Um, and so swift posted, made a post back in I think may of 2018 and he was looking for a 20 artists worldwide to submit an artist's business plan a and a chance to receive five, five grand to start to further pursue, you know, further to further our careers as artists and as creatives and whatever projects that we had coming up. So I didn't see it initially I was, it was shared with me by my good friend. I call him my beautiful friends, um, William Classic of a classic, a reinvented idea of reinvention. Classic me and mentioned, yeah, the classic reinvented idea. We invention idea, oh, he's going to kill me, classic name.

Shanina: 09:47 He shared the link with me, he texted it to me and I took a look at it and I'd already been filling out other grants applications and already had, you know, a business model pretty much put together. And that was also the model that I had was a strongly influenced by a model that was shared with me by another good friend of mine, Gary Gibbs, who's like my business mentor. Uh, he's, he stays on me about business and being business savvy because, you know, a lot of artists. That's where we, a lot of a, that's where we fail. That's where we fall short. That's true as creators. So He's been a really beautiful, influential part of my life as far as business being business savvy is concerned and numbers and all of that. Right? Because Garren's my go to guy for that. So yeah, so I, but I've, over the years I've been, um, you know, twinkling tweaking the business model that he shared with me and making it my own and um, you know, landing beautiful relationships with uh, that have like the Department of Behavioral Health, they sponsored an embryo show for my first time this year and Home Depot, they sponsored me with a product sponsorship this year off from that, you know, that business proposal model that I had.

Shanina: 11:13 So I am, I tweaked it a bit more and I submitted it to the Dean collection, um, you know, five grand application and I, I didn't hear anything for a good, I don't want to say oh. And My uncle, my uncle Marr, he also shared it with me and a lot of other people tag me afterwards. But William, a classic was the first person to share it with me. And so I filled it out, you know, right away and within an hour's time the same day. And I didn't hear much else outside of that. Um, for like a month. And then June 2018 I got an instagram notification from Swiss beats saying congratulations with all these trophy and, and I just, I was, I was, what was I doing? I think I was applying for some other things when I got the notification and I just, I saw my phone light out so you know how we do. We naturally like, oh, what's happening? My phone's glowing. So I went to my phone and I checked it out and I saw that I dropped down, you know, the instagram notification. And then I saw swizz beats and I saw the comment, I said, no. I was like, no, no.

Shanina: 12:33 And I sure enough he was in my, in my notifications and he followed me and he congratulated me and he posted all of the winners on his page and I just stood up and was like, oh my God. And I will call my loan. And Candace, I just remember shaking and being so full of so much, so full of emotion. So for. So for those of are you sure you know, so full of like, oh my God. I was like, I didn't know what to do. I wish I had myself out of myself to pull myself together. Email that was flipping out. So I flipped out somewhere so I didn't know what else to do because

Shanina: 13:21 Oh my God, oh my God. I was screaming. So I'm pretty sure everyone in this apartment building her to me because that was like. And so after awhile what to do was drop to the floor, you know, in gratitude and just, and just give thanks for this and when, because I, you know, coming from. I live in Coatesville Coltsville, Pennsylvania, which is about an hour away from a hour commute from philly. So I, you know, I, you know, I, I just didn't see it coming. I didn't, I didn't expect to actually win and be the only person representing Philadelphia, the tristate area period from Coatesville, you know, it, it was a big, it was a big, it was a really big deal for me and all that. I didn't know what else to do.

Shanina: 14:14 Pull myself together. I called my parents. I called out a few of my really good friends to let them know, oh my goodness, you guys. I like, you know. And so it was, it was a really beautiful day. It was, it was, it was life affirming, you know, because not too soon before that or not too long before that, you know, I had a, I had a rough couple of weeks actually from, from March up until May, I was having some, some difficult times. So I just, you know, um, the storm won't last always, you know, the sun comes in the morning, that kind of thing. It felt like that. Uh, so it was really great. I didn't have anything else but gratitude and I've literally, I fell to the floor and apartments. I might phone in hand to the floor, you know, just laying prostrate before my creator. Right.

Shanina: 15:13 Being so thankful for this, this and, and this blessing. And when I say life affirming, I mean I was in further encouraged to just keep going, which is what I always encourage, you know, my peers and myself to do, to keep going. You know, consistency wins the race and you know, no matter what you do is if you're passionate about it, if you're consistent, um, things will, things will manifest, think good things will manifest for you. For sure.

Candace: 15:44 Absolutely. And I think it's, um, it's so important to continue to do the work into you stay the course because those affirmations, do you come in so many different ways? I actually remember, um, I don't know what I was doing, but I was like scrolling down, I think someone had like repost to the winners and I remember like seeing your picture. I was like, oh my gosh, like at already been like seeing your work. And so it's just, it's great to see, um, and all the different ways that people, you know, find those moments of success and being recognized for the work that you're already doing. It's just amazing. So I'm happy for you. Like I can, I can just,

New Speaker: 16:25 I imagine so painful. Yeah. And, and thank you. And um, you know, it only took seven years, you know, for, for something to happen. For me personally, um, you know, I've been doing this work for, it'll be eight years this coming March 20, 19, but it just, you know, seven, you know, being that number of completion, you know what I mean? Being that number like you know, here's your do, here's your just use and you can put in the work and now here you are. And this is just an I'm, you know, and I know even with that being said, this is all still the beginning, the beginning. So I think it really does, pays. It really does pay to be passionate about, you know, and have a love of, you know, a real love for what you do because a lot of days, a lot of times, even years, that's going to be the only thing that keeps you going. Even if you don't have a scent that comes your way. Um, if you love it, you keep at it. So yeah,

New Speaker: 17:28 absolutely. What I'm. So what are the, and I know as you mentioned earlier, and you'll definitely explained to everyone that you have your embryo exhibition series. So is this, is that what you're going to use the grant for or is it something different?

New Speaker: 17:47 In My, a business proposal that I submitted to the Dean Collection Twenty startups grant. Um, yeah, it was all centered around this embryo art exhibition series, an embryo that expos e x p o, s on instagram if anyone wants to follow. Um, but it's uh, yeah, all in support of the embryo exhibition series. Um, it's a free exhibition. I like to make it keep it free so that, you know, the body's getting the door, um, and are exposed to the message and the dialogue and the conversation and you know, the different ways that you can, um, you know, talk about mental health in our communities, you know, the bodies at the goal is to get the bodies in the door as if, if you want to pay for anything, I think, you know, I was tight and I had to learn that, you know, pays for the art, let that be out in the world.

Shanina: 18:40 But I want you to be able to get in with, you know, with ease. Um, so, but that, but that also, you know, there's still takes resources to help make it happen, right? So I'm a, yeah, that embryo was kind of the center of my application that I submitted to the Dean Collection Twenty startups grant and I'm in and hopes to, or an efforts rather to a strengthen the presentation, strengthen the influence that it has on our communities, on the people who show up and experience the exhibition. Um, you know, the goal is to create a safe space. I'm a creative safe space for people to just be exposed to, um, what it means to deal with a mental health issue of any kind, humanize it, right de stigmatize it and you know, open the floor for safe dialogue no matter what you're personally dealing with, you know, in secret or maybe even if you're showing up to support a family member or a friend or loved one.

Shanina: 19:51 Um, that's the coal, the sole purpose of having embryo and it needs the resources to be impactful in a positive way. I received the, uh, my first sponsorship, monetary sponsorship from the Department of Behavioral Health and intellectual disability services. And Philadelphia this year, but my asking, my asking for a donation or sponsorship was that of that I got from the Dean collection later this year, which was very interesting. They didn't, they gave me 10 percent dbh ideas, gave me 10 percent of what I asked for. And then I got the full amount, the full amount later, you know, in June it was these coming full circle and I, you know, I think I got it when it was, when it was meant to happen, you know, I made embryo seven having this year off of $500 and now I have, you know, tenfold that for next year, which I'm super grateful for it.

Candace: 21:03 Absolutely. That is wonderful. And, and I will say especially so for anyone who maybe has not seen shininess worked before, it's just very beautiful and moving. Um, it has so much harmony within the colors, but it's also very arresting you think about it emotionally or from the standpoint of mental health. Um, so where do you, I guess I would say, where do you get kind of your inspiration from and kind of what, what visually? I know, um, you've kind of described before that do your painting, you're able to kind of visually express things that you may not be able to say verbally. So what, what is kind of like the goal or that spot of the heart that you're trying to reach when you meet these images?

Shanina: 21:59 You took my line.

New Speaker: 22:01 I love that.

New Speaker: 22:05 Yeah. To your point, I do. I always my words to be my brave side. I'm expressing visually when I wouldn't otherwise have the courage to express verbally and, um, it, the goal spider in your heart. I love that. I love that question too. Um, that's flooding your heart. So it starts with me first and I'm [inaudible] I'm, I'm on a mission, I'm on a go. I'm on a journey rather, um, to reach this, you know, this transcendent resolve concerning myself because, you know, for a very long time, you know, a was a lot of self inflicting pain and harm and damage and um, you know, and, and so now, uh, you know, I'm, I'm just in the business of seeing myself in an, in another light, in a new light and a healthier light and then paying that forward, um, because I know I'm not alone in that. And uh, so that's, that's really where I want to help. If I had to choose a place in the heart, you know, I want to uproot those things. I'm going to uproot, you know, insecurities. I'm going to help uproot, um, you know, low self esteem. I want to help us route a suicidal thoughts. I want to help route, um, depression, you know, um, I want to help us route, you know, unhealthy discord concerning oneself in, as if my work's, my visual performance works can help that, then that's the goal and that's what, that's what motivates me most to keep going.

Candace: 23:55 That's beautiful. And I, I love that. That is, you know, you're driving force, so to speak because, and people say this all the time, but it's so true, is that it's those works of art, whether it's a painting or a book or a song that you feel can articulate what's going on in your life at any moment that really sticks with you. And so it's great to have to have someone who is committed to giving a, a positive. I'm a positive visual, but also a platform to pay for people to be able to address things that, like you said, are stigmatized and are very difficult for us to sometimes deal with. But we all have these moments in our lives or periods in our lives whether we talk about it or not. And sometimes art is just a fantastic way of being able to, to deal with that and have greater access to be able to say it's okay to address these things and that you can pull through it.

Shanina: 24:56 Absolutely. Absolutely. And, and when you said that, I actually, I, and the forefront of my mind are our children, our youth, um, you know, art, but still the, uh, the youth art program that I helped found, um, we make it a point to keep art alive, you know, in the lives of our youth. I learned, it started actually in part by learning that the inner city public schools in Philadelphia, we're pulling the arts and culture courses out of the curriculum and I'm thinking, you know, so I'm not philly born and bred right, but I've been here, you know, working and connecting and schooling and all of that within the last decade. Um, and I'm thinking mural capital of our nation. Sure enough, you know, art will be immersed in our schools, but it just wasn't so and, and you know, they say because all the budget's not there and, which is a whole nother conversation. I'm, we'll leave that alone. But, you know, and so I'm thinking, you know, it, it frustrated me because a lot of times, especially with our brown and black boys and girls, they, you know, the system wants to, um, you know, suspend them too far behind on their work that they came and catch up or they want to write them off with Adhd and show the medications down their throats. You know, they, you know, they want to do all these other things to try

New Speaker: 26:30 to, um, relieve an issue maybe that they may be having within the school system. But I'm like, you're taking the very thing away that might actually help them vocalize what they're dealing with internally. You know, we're talking about you. A lot of times they're not going to have to talk about. They're not going to effectively are adequately articulate their feelings too. I'm a teacher or a parent, you know, but they might, with an art teacher, you know, they might be creativity, you know, they, they're impressionable, they're sponges and they know exactly what they feel. They know exactly what's going on in the world around them. Um, and a lot of times art is the only way they have a chance to effectively communicate what it is that they're dealing with, um, you know, personally. So yeah, to that point, I, I think about the youth more than anything because I think about my childhood and, you know, um, you know, just how important it was for me to stay.

Shanina: 27:33 Like I said, you know, being acknowledged and now years old then that was a big deal for me. And, and maybe then maybe Mrs Power. She never even knew that. Maybe my parents never knew that, but that was a big deal to me to be acknowledged in that way because it encouraged me to keep like, oh, I found something, you know, Eureka, you know, I've found something that works for me. It just happens to be art, dancing, poetry, whatever. Anything concerning art. I was down to do it. Um, and it's literally help save my life. Art has helped keep me here and I trust that it's doing the same for our youth. And so it's, you know, it's important that you know, with them first we keep art alive.

Candace: 28:22 It is, absolutely, and I'm so grateful for the work that you're doing and so many people across the state, especially in light of like you said, so many school boards and just our government in general, just always pulling art or you know, last name lessening and in some way when we know it has a tremendous impact and especially during those formative years, like so many, so many kids are dealing with so many different things and now we have the age of social media. There's a lot more that they have to bog them down and you know, to have anxiety and so many things about an artist that, that great healer and that great universal thing that we can all come around to find some type of healing and therapy. And so I think it's just so important. And so, um, admirable that, you know, you and so many people are doing that work and creating those points of access outside of schools and outside of traditional places

Shanina: 29:22 and you, he needed. Thank you. Thank you so much. My peers, um, my brothers, Christian, sap sounds, he's the music music instructor at the urban art gallery as well. Um, and my good friend Chuck Stiles, he also teaches the visual arts at art buds with me. Uh, you teach us the program with me, bear at the urban art gallery. I love them so much. We, we come together week after week, show up for our students and you know, it's fulfilling, you know, it's, we love it. We love what we do. They're good team to work with. Carl, the owner who, um, you know, started the programs and thought to have them at his gallery, you know, he's, we're all doing our smart are our small part to help make a real difference in our, in our community. So I'm truly grateful to be a part of that, that global community of, of men and women who are showing up for youth in the communities at large. I'm so blessed.

Candace: 30:31 So when you, of course you're working as a teacher, um, and as an artist, do you do your art full time? And if so, what is that? What is that like? Um,

Shanina: 30:45 so yeah, I am a full time freelance artist and photographer. Actually a lot of people don't know that. Um, I don't, I do not promote that as much, but I've been doing photography for just as long as that has been doing the embryo tradition series, um, weddings, you know, portrait photography, birthdays, baby showers, that kind of thing. Um, but what's it like? I, I think,

New Speaker: 31:15 I think it is a moving right along journey email you do, you know, I'm starting my day off with this posdcast I have, you know, meetings and emails and more photos to edit. I have paintings that I'm working on right now, keep it moving, you know, moving right along. I am, but I loved it.

Shanina: 31:45 It's a lot of prioritizing, you know, as an entrepreneur it is a lot of discipline and strategy prioritizing. Um, you know, um, making sure that you rid yourself of distractions because a lot of this can be done. Um, I know a lot of times we think 24 hours isn't enough. I fall victim to that too. I'd say about 24 hours is not enough, but you know, it's enough for what we need for what's needful I think, and um, you know, with, in my quest to practicing radical self acceptance and, you know, making sure that I make time to, you know, for self care, um, a lot of that, you know, a lot of that plays a big pivotal role in my days as an entrepreneur, as a creative entrepreneurs. So I'm, yeah, it's full of, you know, garnering and establishing business connections and, and my goodness, a lot, there's a lot that goes into it,

Shanina: 32:50 but, um, but I think, I think what helps is to learn was needful for your journey, for your business, for your brand, for your, or your goal, for your purpose, whatever that may be in a space with that, you know, if you have a clear eyed view, right, of what you, what you're supposed to do, what your purpose to do that. I trust that everything else falls in place. Like you know exactly who you need to connect with me. You need to network with. We need to collaborate, collaborate with, um, the kind of work you need to reduce in order to sustain yourself. Um, uh, you know, there's a lot of, there's a lot of that. And I, and candace, I'm in my head a lot of days too, so try to articulate those words is a little challenging for me right now, but, you know, it's a fulfilling journey. Bill. I would not have it any other way. Um, I'm thankful that I, I'm, I'm glad that I did stay the course and I'm in a position where I am making small breakthroughs at this point in my creative career and growing, you know, because I'm a self taught painter and photographer actually went to school for graphic design, got a degree for graphic design. Um, but I am a self taught painter and a photographer and it, uh, so I, I also make it a point to continually educate myself because a lot of times it takes a lot of that too. You know, there's always room to grow. There's always room to learn and, and make it a point to read. Read books, read a Ted Ted talks. Are My favorite thing, um, books Ted talks, uh, you know, blogs and, you know, keeping up on leaders and the classics and um, you know, just making sure I stay informed so the books, you know, just to stay sharp and stay, it also helps me stay clear on what it is that I'm doing and why I'm doing it and how I desire to presented, you know, aesthetically, all of that I being a full time, like just thinking about everything you can about.

New Speaker: 35:09 It's like your mind is constantly going constantly. There's never, there's never like a quiet moment there. It's, something's always happening.

Shanina: 35:18 It doesn't, that's the thing. I'm making it a point when I'm going back to self care and radical self acceptance, all of that and make it a point to try to get some quiet rates and try to meditate and to try to make sure I say know to get back centered and stay aligned because I know me, my mind could take me from a straight disease and I'm not even finished with BC through, you know, why yet. So, um, yeah, I, you know, it's all about trying to balance, you know, I don't present myself, that's why I say this often, I don't present myself with um, you know, equipped, but all the answers on how to be an artist, you know, entrepreneur or how to be a mental health advocate or, or, or a mentor or a role model for anyone because I'm yet learning myself. But, you know, I do, I do. Um, I am and I'm truly grateful to have something to pay for it and to share with, you know, just what I know that's led me to where I am this far. Uh, but yeah, being a full time artist is, it's quite the journey, but I love it. I love it and I'm inspired by my peers and which also helps motivate me to keep going because, you know, I see them going and I, you know, I have a, I have a really beautiful network of creatives that I can look to for, um, for inspiration and positive motivation. Some. I'm truly thankful for that.

Candace: 36:50 Yes, it's, it's so great to be able to see other people who are, like you said, finding success and creating opportunity for themselves and to just see this entire cycle and you, you mentioned something that is so important is so intertwined with creativity being like you said, self care and self expression. Um, and I'm always inspired because I'm, you're so open with sharing just creativity in terms of movement. Um, and I know you like to, to dance and to share that with your online community and I think it's just so I'm so refreshing to see and kind of sharing and encouraging all of us to find these forms of expression that is unique and individual and isn't, isn't based on anything that is right or is wrong, but just having that moment to yourself to express whatever emotions you're feeling. So I think I just wanted to make note of that as well because I know that's something you do often. I think it's, it's so encouraging and just very empowering to all of us. Thank you. Thank you so much. So, um, I will just kind of, I guess giving the opportunity. I know of course that you are working on your next series for embryo, so just any kind of projects that you have coming up or anything else that you would like to share with us that we can look forward to you.

Shanina: 38:27 Yeah. Um, so yeah, embryo is really my focal point at this point as of 2018, so I try to get the ball rolling on making sure everything is set up by September of the year prior to the next show in March, almost every year in March. My, uh, I, I, my goal is to have embryo eight, so the eighth annual installment that the embryo exhibition series is due to commence March second 2019. So I'm working on that right now as we speak. I'm getting things in order. I'm actually offline until October of social media taking not active on social media until October because there is a lot of work that needs to be done in preparation for the exhibition.

Candace: 39:19 Is that something, is that kind of usually like a part of your process? Do you kind of like put yourself in lock down a little bit and just kind of create.

New Speaker: 39:26 Yeah, six months. They've got a goal every year. Prior is always months before the show. I'm, if I'm, if I'm being funky, which you write 100 percent transparent. I had, there's been, there's the next exhibition, there's been some embryos were the week of it. I was trying to pull it together or you know, two weeks of and you know, but over the years the years have progressed. I've made it a point to really commit time because, you know, a lot of, a lot of the process happens in my head first and a lot of scribbles and doodles and thumbnail sketches and note taking and, you know, I do a lot of that. And then when it's time to produce, to actually bring something to fruition, it's like Ah, just, you know, just get it out on me the weeks, weeks before the show and that wasn't healthy. And as I get older that's really not healthy. Um, so yeah, uh, yeah, there's generally a three to six months locked down, pull it together so that, you know, it's, it's something worth coming to you in March.

Candace: 40:36 That is fantastic. So I will just finish that. We do a little, um, it's kind of like a quick flash of three questions are kind of fun to wrap up the interview mate, rocky picks. So whatever comes to your mind. Um, yeah. So whatever you're free to share. So the first one is always, which is my favorite. What is a restaurant that you wish everyone in the world could give to you?

New Speaker: 41:05 Oh my. Oh Man. Or a few restaurants. Yeah. Right. So I'm Vegan now and um, committed, uh, to that lifestyle, a full time back in January. So the top of this year I decided to go full time as a Va. And so my goal two places are. Oh mAn. So the top one, it has to be hibiscus cafe in west philly. They have a spike island vibe is jamaican food, you know, curry jerk, that kinda that kinda thing. Um, but they have, they have vegan and I'm vegan options. I'm a good friend of mine. We usually get like salmon rap and it looks delicious, but I get the, uh, the, the recall, the raw reps, um, they are full of, wrapped in seaweed and it's full of kale and like this spicy dressing and avocado, which is my favorite thing on the planet. Carried I think Onion in some other goodness. And it is delicious.

New Speaker: 42:21 Sounds aMazing.

New Speaker: 42:22 Oh girl iS, is the best. Um, let's see. My mouth is watering. I kind of want it now. And what else? Oh, barb, on bone bar, bomb bone. So it's like a, I think it's completely vegan, a vegan restaurant in center city philadelphia. Um, they have uh, like a mexi style, a restaurant. So, you know, nodules, burrito's maxis type thing. You know, I'm andres, but they're vegan and they're delicious. And I usually get the uh, oh my gosh, what do I get? Oh, they have this meatball meatball spanish me boss there. They're incredible. They are incredible. They're so good. But their whole menu is awesome. So barb and bond in center city philadelphia, you will not be sorry. You'll be happy you went and had biscuits cafe in Westerly on. It's just not baltimore app on catherine street. So. Okay. Yeah, that, those are my go to places for sure.

Candace: 43:36 I will add those to my list because you already had me hungry. IT's amazing what you can do with vegetables and plant based meals like people think that are missing miss out vegan

New Speaker: 43:53 I promise is it's incredibly fulfilling. And two or three toe there's a lot of fruits and vegetables. The ad didn't even know existed until I started to commit to their lifestyle for time. So I'm not lacking anything, you know, it's, it's fun.

New Speaker: 44:12 That's awesome. Um, okay. So number two would be, what is a, a, a song or maybe just like an artist in general that has been stuck in your head lately?

New Speaker: 44:31 Well, I want to be very exposed right now. I'm just put this out there. I listen to everything. Everything from edm to countries who jazz to r and b to trap. So a classic hip hop. I listen to it all. Um, but I am. So let me just put this out there too. I used to live in jacksonville, Florida for six years, so my son, southern received are, are pretty strong. They're still embedded in me. So growing up in the name you used in Florida, trick daddy, uncle louie, uncle lou schrieber lobos the you yang twins low down. And these boys like they, they were, they were. Oh my goodness. They were adults. They were amused. That was our music. Right? And I loved it. And I, I, I am. Uh, yeah. Mercedes, I twerking before twerking. What does the thing was like? One of my biggest therapeutic things that even though it was never a buick listening tour gain could be, have a good therapeutic session for me and my homegirl like none other. Okay. We can't get you anything else through and through talking or through pain or we could take the light away and be fine.

New Speaker: 46:01 Know we don't need, we don't need nobody on us. We could Just get that out. And so, you know, um, I'll go, look, it does it for me from time to time when I need to uplift my spirits or remind myself of what I'm capable of doing. I can't. Oh god. Okay. Outside of that, um, what else? Um, I think I, I just learned of an artist actually recently. That's how long ago? Um, may sco, I think that's his name. M a s e g l a. He has a restaurant so I love a gosh, fkj fkj. I think he collaborated with him on a track sit down and I actually did a video and posted it on instagram like last month or something because I cannot get that song out of my head. I loved his voice and I dug more into his music. Um, and yeah, so that's, that's in my head. And also another artist. I'm a good friend of mine, shared his name. His name is xavier. Omar. Yeah, blind man. I think that's one of his popular song finance. He's still good. Um, yeah. So those, those, those are my best with my head and those are the vibes on one. Right. And Jorja smith, Jorjaj smith.

New Speaker: 47:34 She is amazing. I want to see her live.

Shanina: 47:37 Yeah.. Jorja smith is definitely in heavy rotation, like all my spotify account right now. Um, so yeah, Jorja smith for sure xavier omar Maseo and then when I need it, uh, you know. Yeah.

Candace: 47:57 Awesome. And I love, I love the, I love the diversity there of like so many different vibes. That's because we're not always in one mood, you know, like you gotta listen to what you're feeling. So uh, the final and I feel like it's the hardest, but for some people it's not hardest question is what is, do you have like a, um, a quote or like a piece of advice that you kind of live by or go back to when you need a boost?

Shanina: 48:27 Okay. I, I've shared this before, um, and it still holds true because because of the kind of work that I do personally, I'm never lie on stage and that doesn't necessarily mean you know, on actual stage performing. And I'm like, I mean the stage of life, especially for creatives, it, it pays to know, you know, to consider the root and why, you know, your why, to understand your why, acknowledge her why nurture your why, cultivate your why and then, and then we'll move forward from there. But being honest with yourself first about your why is imperative to the success I think of any artists with anyone but artists specifically because I am an artist, um, and make it a point to stay true to myself about, you know, where I stand even even today, you know, taking things one step at a time, being true about where I am mentally before I pursued any before I pursue anything because it will show, you know, and if you, if you're, you know, you're lying on stage, right?

Shanina: 49:31 Quote unquote stage to stage of life. I, I think, you know, the people know, you know, your audience knows quote unquote your supporters know, your fans, know I, I like to call them supporters or family. Um, they know, I think and um, you know, it's, I think it's a, uh, a dishonor or an insult even to the people who pay to see, um, and I even just minus heavily pay but invest time in reading about you. Even the people who choose to listen to this interview that I'm doing with milwaukee mentors, like those people who dig and, and, and follow you and support you in that way. Um, I thinK it's an insult to them if you, if you aren't honest with them, if you aren't sharing your most authentic self with them.

Candace: 50:23 I personally, um, as well as I know everyone listening cannot thank you enough for being honest in your work and for sharing with us and even more so for being honest and sharing with us today because it means the world. And I'm inspired by you and myself. So thank you.

Candace: 50:44 I hope you enjoyed our conversation with Shanina Dionna. Here's a quick reminder that this week, October 7th through the 13th is mental illness awareness week, and there's something that all of us have meraki mentors want you to know. There's a virUs spreading across America. It harms the one in five americans affected by mental health conditions. It shames them into silence, prevents them from seeking help, and in some cases takes lives. What virus am I talking about? Stigma. Stigma against people with mental health conditions. But there's good news. Stigma is 100 percent curable. Compassion, empathy and understanding are the antidote. Your voice can spread the cure. Join us and the national alliance on mental illness. And together we can cure the stigma for resources on mental health and stigma. Visit n a, m i.org or cure stigma.org, and be sure to visit our website, meraki mentors podcast.com for an exclusive blog post on mental health, complete with facts, resources in mythbusters to help you in the fight to cure the stigma. While you're at it. Don't forget to rate and review us on itunes, stitcher, facebook, or your favorite podcast app. Thanks so much for listening.

Narrator: 52:03 You've been listening to meraki mentors, podcasts with candace howze. We're honored you chose to spend your time with us today. To learn more about today's guest or the podcast, Visit muraki mentors podcast.com.

Candace: 52:15 Don't forget to create and connect.

23 episodes