Sunday, July 20, 2014

"Valory 5.0" Heads Upstream to FIGMENTBoston

Last year, in Boston was Valerie's Vignettes first experience with a Figment Arts event. Figment is the free, metropolitan celebration of participatory art and culture, "where everything is possible." Through sheer serendipity, a weekend day trip to Bean-town intersected with the day of fun, creativity and participatory art. It was a revelation. The event impressed me.
I moved through the grounds at the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway filled with dozens of art projects including dance, music, crafts and installations and thought:"I could do this.” And so, I did. 
On that day, projects ranged from simple to intricate installations with high-brow themes, like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, to projects that encouraged participants to grow "hope gardens." Made to resemble trees, trunks and branches cast from P.V.C. piping, and leaves, of vibrant plastic insulation strips engaged and delighted.  Another performance from a New York-based family dressed in webbed, lizard-like cat-suits to act out their notion of how the evolution from the age of dinosaurs into the age of mammals, and the emergence of mankind, may have played out

I moved through the grounds at the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway which were filled with dozens of art installations, crafts projects,  dance and music performances, and thought: "I could do this."
And so, I did.

This year, Valerie's Vignettes and Valorena Online, L.L.C. looks to debut the latest iteration of "Valory the Koi of Courage" which has  been affectionately dubbed "Valory 5.0." The result of collaboration with Texas-based sculptor Michael Washer, the newly designed fish body represents a refined notion of my heartfelt effort to bring to create a fun experience that unites people, and brings families together through communication, artistic expression, words and art.

"Valory, the Koi of Courage" will have been part of three Figment celebrations: Philadelphia 2013, New York 2014 and looks to continue its journey at the upcoming July 26-27, Figment Boston 2014. 

My participation in Figment Festivals continues to be a journey of imagination, an ongoing labor of love, through which I have grown tremendously, and completed my own challenges from each of the category of scales. I have met and persevered through relationship challenges with loved ones and new people I have met through my participation in the event; education and knowledge challenges which have tested my ability to write and develop the project and proposal to step out into a completely new arena — participatory art; financial challenges which have pushed me to invest in myself and my resourcefulness to bring this vision of mine into being at a level of which I can be proud; and health challenges (the challenge that started it all) that have taken me through the process of being cut, poisoned and burned, through surgeries, chemo and radiation, the current gold standard treatment protocol for stage II breast cancer.

Now on the verge of completion of the "Valory the Koi of Courage, 5.0" journey, I look to not only manifest and feature the new creation, but also to continue and complete this project which has truly transformed me. The experience has affirmed in me, my spirit of creativity,  imagination, and my sense of "can do" possibilities. More, my experience has shown me the willingness of others to share stories, strength and power as illustrated in the amazing stories articulated and noted in the dozens of scales that have been created, many of which have been featured in the video on YouTube (, and in Twitter messages from ValorenaOnline.

I thank the Figment organization for making room for me in their creative spaces. I am and have enjoyed every moment of each experience. I also thank those who have participated in Valory's journey. I have been truly moved and inspired by the bits of yourselves, stories of courage, and sheer joy you continue to share. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

COCOA & CONVERSATION: What’s in a Name?

In business, conventional wisdom holds that when naming a company, the following guidelines, as reported in a recent article by Entrepreneur magazine, should be followed:
  • Research whether your business name is unique. 
  • Choose a name that is evocative and alludes to what your business does
  • Select a name that doesn’t confuse customers

The title of this blog, Valerie’s Vignettes, is pretty straightforward. But the company behind the blog, Valorena Online, L.L.C. eschews two of these naming conventions. Like the monikers of many other companies, including Apple, Virgin and more, for Valorena Online, L.L.C., the business name adheres to just one of the guidelines: the unique name has a story. If you know it, as described in an archive edition of Valerie's Vignettes, you could win a FREE gift



Can you recall the origins of the Valorena Online, L.L.C. name?  

Subscribe and post your response in the comments section below to enter to 
 to enjoy a hot cocoa, or other beverage of your choice! 

 Must subscribe to the web site to enter. 

The first 10 subscribers with correct answers will win.
Gift cards valued at $5.00ea. Contest ends July 30, 2014.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tales from Paradise

The BLACKstream blog at is home to news and up-to-date information about the projects of the National Black Programming Consortium, and all things of the African Diaspora. 

Recently, for the BLACKstream, I interviewed four filmmakers who represent emerging voices and views of Caribbean filmmakers featured on National Black Public Consortiuum’s AfroPOP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange.

With projects that touch on themes of immigration, female matriarchy, untraditional black male, and questions of the futures of Caribbean youth, this season the program explored a whole new world, and unearthed unexpected stories from paradise that are funny, thoughtful, harrowing and bittersweet. 

Once you read the story, be sure to check out the film, and join the conversation.

A Modern Day Middle Passage 
Bodies washed ashore on white sand beaches. Immigrants’ corpses littering the shores of paradise. These are images Bahamian Filmmaker Kareem Mortimer recalls of his youth, (Read the full story here.)

Auntie from Barbados: Women and the Caribbean International Family
Lisa Harewood is a socially motivated artist whose short film, “Auntie,” invites contemplation of Caribbean life, immigration, extended matriarchal families and those left behind. Her debut effort as a writer and director, Harewood’s film is the result of a last- minute decision to enter the Commonwealth Foundation’s development scheme. More than a lark, Harewood said she had a mere 40 hours to teach herself screenwriting after her initial pitch won a coveted spot in the festival, (Read the full story here.)

Vivre: A Young Boy’s Flight of Reality
Six may just be filmmaker Maharaki’s magic number. That’s how many years it has taken the native of Barbados to bring her award-winning screenplay, “Vivre” — which means “to Live” in English — to the silver screen. During the time, Barbados-based, Maharaki continued working, developing freelance projects throughout the Caribbean, including directing music videos, advertisements and short TV formats. Regularly involved assisting overseas productions, Maharaki’s projects have led her to work with music stars such as Rihanna and Shontelle, (Read the full story here.)

A Small Life with Grand Visions
Mariel Brown’s short, Small Man tells the story of John Ambrose Kenwyn Rawlins, an ordinary man of modest means with a gift for making extraordinary, creative objects. With a skill that went largely unrecognized — outside his immediate family and friends — in his lifetime, Rawlins had the ability to imagine entire worlds, orchestrating scenes which afforded him a universe of freedom that eluded him in his real, day-to-day life, (Read the full story here.)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Figment of a Fish...Completed?

Everyday heroes emerged Sat., June 7th at Figment NYC 2014, to help Valory the Koi of Courage come into being. Regardless of family position, moms, dads, grandparents and children, took time to remember their stories of wisdom, power and courage -- and to share it with a fish named Valory.

We thank you for your participation and look forward to seeing you at FIGMENT BOSTON 2014. To view more images from FIGMENT NYC watch this video! You may see your participatory artwork!