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Black creatives come together to celebrate each other’s artistry

In their second creative event of 2021, St. Paul Black business owners and artists alike reprise their roles in an environment that’s familiar and culturally comfortable.
Image by Liam Armstrong
Private chef Adrian Harrelle, left, and his partner, Marlon Schaffer, right, supplying the Black Creatives Event with seafood and chile nachos as well as cold beverages on Friday, Sept. 10. Adrian Harrelle’s cooking page can be found at @harrellsfinekitchen

The musicians’ and poets’ words were as vivacious, vibrant and culturally significant as the vendors’ businesses and products they sold with vigor at their respective tables.

The Black Creatives Event: Into the Fire became a hub for up-and-coming Black business owners, musicians and poets to share their vision with other creative, like-minded Black people. The event, held Sept. 10, was located at and sponsored by St. Paul’s Indigenous Roots, a culmination of artists who dedicate their time and art to uplifting and empowering communities of color.

Hosted and organized by cousins Hajaratu Jaafaru and Athena Estime, the event is their second time hosting the Black creatives event in 2021. The two also have an up-and-coming brand called Kreyatif Noir, which focuses on creating spaces that explore holistic well-being, culture, arts and activism.

“The importance of this event is pretty much to center Black wellness,” Estime said. “People don’t always have the platform to authentically be themselves and define what wellness is for themselves, so that’s what we intend to do with this space.”

Artist Champagne LaRose poses at her stand at the Black Creatives Event on Friday, Sept. 10. LaRose makes colorful beaded jewelry and accessories. (Liam Armstrong)

“Our main priority is to prioritize the wellbeing of brown and Black people, so we deliberately chose vendors, creatives and wellness practitioners to create a positive experience for all,” Estime said.

DJ McShellen made sure to keep the place lively. She was the music curator, whose music genres range from hip-hop to Afro-Caribbean.

HERB, a poet, was the first performer, and he rocked the mic in both of his performances, setting the stage for the night. His first performance revolved around his experience in America as a Black man, and his second performance focused on his Ghanean identity and his refusal to assimilate to America’s standards of what it means to be American.

After the first performance, the hosts reminded people to check out the vendors’ products. “Y’all be sure to show these Black businesses some love throughout the night,” DJ McShellen said.

Performing artist Ehnyla Tiye sound checking for her performance at the Black Creatives Event on Friday, Sept. 10. The Black Creatives Event: Into the Fire was hosted at Indigenous Roots Cultural Arts Center in St. Paul and featured many BIPOC artists and performers. (Liam Armstrong)

Jenna Engfer’s business is Tarot card readings. She’s an intuitive reader who began her company at the start of the pandemic in March of 2020. Her business revolves around holistic healing, a medicine that focuses on healing the mind, body, spirit and emotions to help her clientele become one with themselves.

“I basically offer readings and tailor them to whatever a person needs that sometimes revolves around relationship advice, jobs, careers and any other existential issues they may be facing,” Engfer said.

Brian Serrano, better known as Scorpio, is a visual artist who uses canvases to express himself through means of painting. His products include stickers and posters, along with his original art pieces as well.

“In a time where COVID still exists, I feel it’s important for all of us to use our skills to make ourselves happy and our surrounding communities smile too,” Scorpio said.

Nikki Ngamne is a storyteller and author of “Note2 U,” an interactive journal that allows readers to put themselves into the book so that everyone becomes the protagonist.

Ngamne published her book last summer and it debuted in its first bookstore – Maegers & Quinn Booksellers in Uptown Minneapolis. Ngamne’s book also debuted at the Urban Outfitters in Uptown, where she did her first book signing while the store celebrated its 31st anniversary.

“My inspiration for this book comes from my life because I’ve been a storyteller for as long as I can remember,” Ngamne said.

The Black Creatives Event was a success because artists showcased their work, people showed up en masse and “everyone supported each other,” Jaafaru said.

“Me and Athena wanted creatives to share an experience with other creatives they could relate to personally and artistically,” Jaafaru said.

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  • Herb Abrams
    Sep 24, 2021 at 2:39 pm

    Curious to know if the author of this article or anyone else in the department pays any attention to these comments???

  • Herb Abrams
    Sep 16, 2021 at 11:07 am

    Who would be the best contact to reach out to regarding an edit that should be made about an identity mentioned in this article?