Selections from the pages of Serenity Cafe Magazine

Showcase Artist: Kevon Dooley

Artist Kevon Dooley sat down with us at The Ritz-Carlton Atlanta in October 2020, at the height of the first COVID-19 Lockdown, to talk about the American Foster Care System, his work encouraging and advocating for children, and his artistic Urban Wear clothing line.

Colleen Mullins You’re currently an up-and-coming artist living near Atlanta. You have a successful Instagram account and followers, and a new sports car. But there’s a lot more to your story. Tell us a little about your background.

Kevon Dooley Okay. I’m originally from Tampa, Florida. I was born in Hillsborough County and went into the foster care system at about 7 years old. I was from a broken family and going into foster care was heartbreaking for me. My birth mom is deceased and I don’t really talk to my birth father. A lot of kids go into the system and become victims of it. Right now, I’m focused on trying to stay positive and to motivate younger people to understand that you can still be successful, no matter what your background is. I’m currently doing fashion design and I enjoy painting. I want to do photography, and I want to get into acting soon.

CM Give us an overview of your experience with the foster care system.

KD The system has its pro’s and cons’. It’s all about you and your personal needs. You can have a kid that comes into the system and falls victim to it. What I mean by that is sometimes the system ruins their life. Then, you can have a kid like me, comes into the system, has his head on straight. I don’t let it take away from what I want to be in life.When I first went in to the system I went and stayed with my Auntie. But she had to move out of town and Florida wouldn’t let me go with her unless she adopted me. She wasn’t ready for that yet, so I went back into the system. I was moved every couple of months, to over 20 homes total, different foster homes and group homes. I went to ten high schools, 8 to 10 middle schools. There was a lot of moving around.

CM Why did they move you so often? Do you know?

KD Only because they always move kids in foster care. We stay in group homes and stuff happens —say someone steals your stuff or there are fights—other kids pick on you and bully you, and take your stuff. So they always have to move you somewhere that will be good for you at that moment in time.

CM That’s tough! It has to be a struggle to make friends and find stability amidst so much constant change. Was it only you in most of the homes or where there other children?

KD Yeah, it’s really hard. A foster home is basically several kids living with a set of foster parents. There are usually a couple of kids in each home. A group home has like 40 kids living together. We’re sleeping in a building and every kid has their own mattress. The state hires people to come check on us basically. I’ve lived in both types.

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Article & Photographs: M. Colleen Mullins

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Poet Amanda Lee

Artist Carrie Irene Crosby

Artist Joshua Kochis

Showcase Poet: Amanda Lee

For me, the objective of writing is just to celebrate living. My poems are all a direct reflection of my personal experiences, and by sharing these experiences, I feel more connected to myself and to others.

Interviewer: At what age did you start writing poetry and what inspired you?

Amanda Lee: I started writing poetry at the age of 16 as a creative way for me to journal my thoughts. As a teenager, I was full of angst, and I found writing to be really therapeutic. It was a healthy outlet that allowed me to cope with my chaotic home life, and gave me a sense of control during a time in which I felt like I had little stability.

What three poets or writers have influenced you the most and why?

The first poet whom I truly felt inspired by was Kahlil Gibran. I discovered The Prophet, one day, when rummaging through my grandfather’s library, and was awestruck. I’ll admit that I didn’t read much poetry, growing up, however I thoroughly enjoyed anything philosophical, psychological, or simply thought-provoking. Influenced by my grandfather, I also discovered that I was very fond of fantasy, adventure, and science fiction. At a young age, I was introduced to books by authors such as Edgar Rice Burroughs, Damon Knight, H.G. Wells, and Ray Bradbury.

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We Are All Art

Carrie Irene Crosby

Carrie Irene Crosby is an artist, a poet, a life coach, and an innovator. Serenity Cafe asked her to talk with us about the concept of art as a transcending force. Here’s what she had to say….

I was in retail management for over 30 years and eventually realized a pattern with my employees. I was coaching all of my best people out of their positions.

If my employees had a dream, vision, or idea, I was their biggest cheerleader! For 20 years that skill worked against me until I decided to allow it to work in my favor. I made the decision to become an ICF Certified Life Coach. That has now grown into a worldwide community movement that helps everyone, regardless of their surroundings or circumstances, to always dream…And to dream big!

I have often heard that art transcends age, race, and culture and I have always wholeheartedly agreed. But what does that have to do with me? What does it mean to the me sitting here at the kitchen table writing? This cliche concept found me at a time in my life when I am aware of words and how powerful they can be.

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Behind the Scenes: Making Art, Creating Culture

Joshua Kochis

It’s a new night and you’re out for aestheticism, seeing all kinds of people doing all kinds of things in the name of creative expression. Quiet types dressed in black sip wine from plastic cups at the gallery downtown. Pretty people wearing rings bounce on their toes to ambient techno loops. Kids on skateboards take turns tagging that half pipe. Drag queens cat-walk up and down an alley turned runway, cameras going click and flash as the sun sets. Groups of busy hands are in a yard somewhere using old cardboard to make protest signs with big letters. A solitary guy stares at the empty frame of a torn-down house packed with a grid of toy cars that used to scoot on busy neighborhood streets. Two friends walk past a giant mural animating the old brick warehouse next door. These are subcultures, maybe. Outcasts if you ask the wrong person. But more than anything, they are the makings of a local art scene – and could all be happening in the same place.

The scene is dynamic and always changing. Every city has at least one, and it is a constant work in progress. It is a series of concentric circles with overlapping edges. One person can be involved in two or ten separate orbits that might not share a single defining quality. What they do have in common is that someone is expressing an idea, feeling, or style; and someone else is experiencing it.

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