Monday, March 2, 2009

"The Girl," HerStory creator, Michelle d. Parrish

She might just really get it from her momma. The multi-talented Washingtonian comes from a long line of artisans including her mom, 2009 HerStory participant, Candice Lee Mason Parrish. Parrish graduated in 1994 from the University of Maryland at College Park with a BA in English Language and Writing. From there, she began her creative life as a poet and expository writer. A published essayist, she still enjoys writing and is currently a writing coach with the Posse Foundation.

After spending many late nights ripping mics on U Street in DC while a grad student, she met and fell in love with painting. In 1999, she thought by selling her work she could raise proceeds to open a publishing company. But, "the art had other plans for me once I really got into it." Equipped with an MS in Contracts and Procurement and a truly creative mind, she easily found a niche in the local art world curating and developing programs for lesser known artists.

She created Making HerStory as part of the Art with Joe series at Peace & a Cup of Joe Cafe in Baltimore, MD where she has been the Artistic Director since opening in 2003. With the help of friends like artist and curator, Sharon J. Burton, she was able to develop the idea into a full scale celebration of women in the arts. Through the HerStory events, she has made many solid friendships such as that with Jennifer Judelsohn, 2009 HerStory co-curator.

Parrish will tell you that she has no passion for making art, but more of passion for making a way for artistic people. "When I was a spoken word artist, I chuckled at the arrogance of open mic promoters--as if they would have an event if no open mic artists showed up. I believe that art happens through love and that there is no way a venue can remain open if all the artists stayed, we've got to support the art and the people that make it. Without those people, we have no galleries, blues clubs, or band stands," says Parrish when asked about her thoughts on art promotion.

As a artist, Parrish's work is vibrant and laden with texture and underlying patterns. Her paintings, while abstract, are deliberate in structure. In addition to being a writer and painter, Parrish is also a magnificent photographer with an eye for the poetry and irony in life. Her composition in her photographs is much like that of her paintings, organic and utterly feminine.

When she's not painting, she's in the kitchen creating a new dish as cooking is her real passion. Parrish always tells people that if she could be anything, she'd be a caterer. She's welcomes any willing foodie to come sit at her counter.

She is currently the CEO of the ThickArt Collaborative, LLC, as DC based artistic company that promotes artistic ventures, consults for home and office collections, and works to collaborate and build with local artists. Her family has lived in Washington, DC for many generations and true to that history, she still resides in the same neighborhood in which she came of age.

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