Sunday, February 18, 2024

Creating a Beautiful Black Future and Black History

This year's Black History Month theme: "African Americans and the Arts" really resonates with me, as does the HBO Documentary "Black Art: In the Absence of Light." An alumnus of The Studio Museum Harlem program "Books, Authors & Kids," I was fortunate enough to receive the support of The Studio Museum Harlem community. It made a difference in my work and efforts, a difference I am working to honor as I continue in my artistic practice.

Today, I do this in many ways. First, I continue my broad efforts in multimodal formats, including the picture books space, and work through my rebranded enterprise, Valorena Publishing. Second, I pay that support forward by supporting young Black artists like the illustrator of my second edition, Miss Tosin Akinwande, an incredible talent who works with me from her native Lagos, Nigeria. Third, and most recently, giving back looks like the Valorena Publishing & Cocoa Kids Collection Scholarship that is open through March 12th to aspiring students of the arts doing creative writing and illustration for use in the picture book genre. With more than 100 amazing and talented applicants to date, the sheer number of applicants lets me know the need for this kind of support is real.

More broadly, the need to support Black Art is critical because Black Art has the power to educate and inspire. It provides a window into the lives and experiences of Black people, and it helps to deepen our understanding of the world. Through Black Art, we demonstrate the beauty, resilience, and strength of the Black community and the struggles we have faced and overcome.


Black artists and artisans have shown us in beautifully striking ways how our culture has made a way when there was none. We’ve seen and created beauty time and again out of what others saw as scraps and garbage and reached new heights of transcendence when afforded opportunity. Black artists and artisans "show and prove" our cultural and collective exceptionalism, technicolor dreaming, in Black.


Black Art is American Art. It holds a wholly unique role in our culture, not only showcasing talent, but telling the stories of a people in a nation where they are often overlooked and undervalued. And African American practitioners, both celebrated and quotidian, have been at the forefront of cultural moments and movements advocating for our identity, civil rights, and social justice.


Overall, the contributions of African Americans to American art and culture are deeply woven into the fabric of the nation's identity, influencing not only artistic expressions but also societal attitudes and perceptions. Black Art is the heart, soul, face and fabric of the Culture. For me, Black Art and creativity is life.


This year as we celebrate Black History Month, let’s step up our collective support of the arts in the Culture by taking a moment to give back to the community. Visit an artists' space, support an aspiring artist on social media, or buy a piece of art created by a Black maker. When we support our artistic community, we support ourselves and help to create a beautiful and meaningful Black future and Black History.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Meet the Judges: Introducing the Cohort for the 2024 Valorena Publishing & Cocoa Kids Collection Scholarship

Valorena Publishing is pleased and honored to introduce the judging cohort for the inaugural Valorena Publishing & Cocoa Kids Collection Scholarship. 

Our esteemed panel will review and evaluate the more than 100 applications we've received to date to determine this year's winner. Please read on to learn about this amazing group of women to see how they have made impactful contributions to the world of publishing and media. These trailblazing and overall badass women are truly inspiring! 

The pages shown are from the Scholarship Program Media Kit. For more information or to get the full media kit, please contact me at

(Click the image to see each of the two full-sized pages)