Venus Sings by Reza Rites




The Expansiveness and Inclusivity of Art: A Keynote Address Celebrating 25 Years of Art by Nixon Leger

The Expansiveness and Inclusivity of Art: A Keynote Address Celebrating 25 Years of Art by Nixon Leger
Written by Reza “Rites” Clifton; Abbreviated Version Delivered Saturday, July 16, 2022

Thank you for the warm welcome. It is truly an honor to be in attendance, and before an audience, to speak of and spotlight the artistic voyage of Nixon Leger, and to build a connection between his 25 years of artistic excellence, and my own life and work as a writer, artist, and “cultural savant.” I named this talk “The Expansiveness and Inclusivity of Art” as a way to highlight Nixon’s work as an artist, and as the mastermind behind the fundraising part of tonight, as well as to take you on a journey to truly think about the reach, impact, and sometimes subtlety of art.

I don’t want to oversimplify or hide the relationship I have with the aesthetics and iconographies you can find in Nixon’s work, and of other Haitian artists. As a teenager, I had the opportunity to visit Haiti when my uncle was stationed there doing diplomatic work in the 90s – an experience that not only affected my uncle and I, but also my cousin Camille. Camille, who is a few years older than me, ended up so moved by her time, experiences and exposure there, and accompanying her father, that as a young adult, she supported and highlighted art from Haiti through a gallery she opened in Newport, RI – and through day-to-day conversations about art.

Fast forward to my introduction to Nixon. When I began seeing his work, I was already in a love affair with the colors, stories, and multilayered presentations in Haitian art – but now, I had a chance to be closer to an artist from the region. Whether is an ode to music, a statement on Christianity, a dance with the Caribbean Sea, or an homage to women and mothers, I am constantly in awe and, quite frankly, emotionally charged when I see Nixon’s work. His subject matter is expansive, and inclusive of the lives, anecdotes, and dreams of his observers and, I theorize, his country men and women in Haiti.

I think this last point is important when we think of the intersections between the past and present of Haiti, the role of art in the Caribbean – and world – and the effect that will emerge through tonight’s fundraising. Consider these highlights from research I did to prepare this talk:
After reviewing a number of websites, internationally the top art galleries were identified as located in Italy, France, Germany, Spain, and Russia, to name a few. Nowhere in the Caribbean was listed when I searched for global “facts.” In addition, not one museum in Haiti was listed as a part of the “Museums Association of the Caribbean.” On the other hand, Nixon with his 25 years of excellence, his current exhibits around Providence, his upcoming one in Brockton, and his inclusion and participation in a Caribbean Festival in Quebec tells us something is missing from these lists.

Click here or on the Soundcloud link above to hear the (super) abbreviated version of the talk, which was abbreviated by request due to time constraints at the event.

Nixon’s 25 years of excellence as an artist also means that he is much closer to the industry, economy, and professional world of art; let’s talk a little about the facts and stats about this world.

  • Globally, the art market is valued at 65.1 billion US dollars, by some estimates, and as reported in 2021.
     – UNESCO – or the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization – reports that there are at least 104,000 museums worldwide. Think of how low this number is when you consider privately-run art galleries, pop-up shows, cafes and restaurants that hang art, etc.
  • In the US, some figures show that the museum industry in the US alone is worth 16.33 billion dollars, while 40.5 million dollars was budgeted for museum services. Apart from that, the Smithsonian institutions received over a billion dollars in government monies and appropriations.
  • In 2019, the production of arts and cultural goods and services brought in more money as an industry than construction, transportation, agriculture and mining. Of course, these would be pre-Covid numbers. Still, those numbers also showed that there were 5.2 million workers that were part of the arts and culture industries – and this figure does not include self-employed folks.
  • Overall, according to the Department of Commerce, 2020 saw 876.7 billion dollars generated through the arts and culture economy.
  • Art also positively correlates to travel. 76% of people who travel for pleasure in the US participate in cultural or heritage activities, and cities with museums and other cultural sites and activities rank higher in surveys that compare cities. In fact, in 2018, ore people visited museums, historic sites, and other arts/culture/history spaces than professional sporting events.

Haiti is, however, part of Caricom, the Caribbean Community umbrella organization that helps bring prosperity and support to the entire region. They recently launched an initiative called “Creative Caribbean: An Ecosystem of Play for Growth and Development.” Part of this project is about highlighting and supporting the history, tradition, and needs of the art community – especially in the post-Covid era. One goal is ensuring that the creative sector has a sustained positive impact on the lives of artists and entrepreneurs, and on festivals and art initiatives in the Caribbean. Another goal of this Creative Caribbean initiative is ensuring opportunities continue and grow for the participation and creative energy of youth in the area.

If this is a macro effort, then like me, you probably see Nixon’s efforts tonight as a micro effort, but important contribution toward this goal. Nixon’s objectives with the fundraiser, and money going toward the Centre Cultural Soleil Leve, is about providing supplies to youth and encouraging access and mentorship to and through professional artists in Belle Anse. And it’s important to think about Nixon’s efforts, not just through the lens of the Caricom initiative, but when considering the impact art has on the lives of young people. One statistic I came across describes how children who visited a museum while in kindergarten show higher achievement in reading, math – and science! – even when accounting for youth identified as “at-risk” of lower achievements or facing higher educational deficits.

These are the big elements when we think of Nixon and his efforts tonight, but I want to remind us all about the subtleties as far as the expansiveness and inclusivity of art. Because what these datapoints fail to account for are the day-to-day exposures and interactions with murals and street art, the sights and sounds of neighborhoods – including the aesthetics of survival – and the way people take in what I call “the bountiful beauty of nature.” Around the world, and right here in RI, you find people taking in water vistas, daydreaming in the green of plants and trees, and getting comfortable gazing upon sunrises and sunsets. Yes, this too is about the expansiveness and inclusivity of art.

So as I approach the end of this talk, I want to close by returning to Nixon; his 25 years of excellence speaks to the expansive industry, opportunities, and reach that exist for artists and professional engagement in the art world. His personality, and fundraising efforts, speak to the inclusivity that comes with the warm smiles he brings to the canvas and gallery openings – and to the children of Haiti. And his work reminds us to see and appreciate the beauty that lives in everyday sites, sounds, and stories. Art is expansive, like Nixon.
Thank you.

Abbreviated List Sources/References:

  • National Endowment for the Arts
  • US Department of Commerce
  • Statista
  • Museum Association of the Caribbean
  • The American Alliance of Museums

New Partnership Announced: The Pink Portal and 3 AM IS THE NEW BLACK


It’s the first of the month, which means different things to different people. For us here, at 3 AM IS THE NEW BLACK, September 1 signifies the launch date of a new partnership we are happy to announce: a Media Sponsorship supporting and extending outreach for The Pink Portal. The Pink Portal is a Black woman owned company specializing in lingerie and adult wear with sizes for all – and models fully reflecting the inclusive catalogue and culture of the company. You can find The Pink Portal across social media sites, and on the world wide web at Or see the action and feel the love in person on September 24 at “The Pink Portal Experience,” which is an event to “showcase pieces and styles from [their] collection as well as other designers and boutique owners.” The event is scheduled from 7:30-10:30pm in Providence.


All month long, here and across #3amblack spaces, we will highlight The Pink Portal, learning more about the founding and vision of the company, meeting models and hearing from Remi N – co-owner and “HBIC” of The Pink Portal – and sharing exclusive looks during the lead-up to the event. To activate the Critical Social Discourse tenet behind 3 AM IS THE NEW BLACK, we will also be highlighting other activists, spaces, and campaigns advocating for body positivity, Black business ownership, women entrepreneurs, and shame-free sensuality and sexuality.

Purchase your ticket or learn more about the September 24 event by visiting their Eventbrite page at Or use the attached QR Code. Browse their merchandise and read testimonials on Follow @3amblack on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to follow our partnership with The Pink Portal, and for fun tidbits leading up to their February 24 event.


Sunshine and laughter,
Reza Rites, Publisher/Editor, 3 AM IS THE NEW BLACK

Voting Ends Thursday – Reza Rites Nominated for Spoken Word Artist Award

Voting for the 2017 Motif Theater Awards ends Thursday, August 3. Click here to access the information and ballot. 

PROVIDENCE, RI – Hi friends, crazy awesome news happening here in the universe of Venus Sings, 3 AM IS THE NEW BLACK and the #AmbitiousBlackFeminst: Yours truly, Reza Rites, has been nominated for a 2017 Motif Theater Award. As I’ve told some folks recently, this was already feeling like a good year in poetry for me. From performing at the RI site of the Women’s March on Washington, participating in the 30 Poems in 30 Days meditation, creating “I Am Salt Water: Honoring the Sacred Motions of Gaia LaVonne Gallactica” an interactive performance art piece and theological fantasy story built off of my poetry, and creating a manuscript tentatively called “Planet Love” which was inspired by a performance curated by Roz Raskins of Roz and the Rice Cakes,  I was already feeling positive about my progress as a poet. After all of that, to then get the news from fellow nominee Vatic Kuumba that I was among those being considered for a Spoken Word recognition – well it truly served as a certain type of icing on top. Thanks for all the support over the years; support for this effort expires Thursday, August 3, 2017, while the event where winners are announced happens Sunday, August 13. To see the other nominees, to find info on voting, and for details on the August 13 event, click here.

Sunshine and laughter,
Reza Rites


  • To see video footage from my Women’s Rally performance, click here.
  • To learn more about “I Am Salt Water,” see a short teaser and trailer here.
  • To view and follow my art, essays and poems, visit @3amblack on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
  • To be in touch about ways to access projects and performances ready for the public or to book me, email or message me on Twitter or Facebook @3amblack or @rezaclif.

Providence-based Artist Explores Intersections of Race, Videography and Social Media, Locally and Globally, in Race Matters! A New Exhibit at URI

Providence-based Artist Reza Clifton Explores Intersections of Race, Videography and Social Media, Locally and Globally, in New Exhibit at URI

(Music Moves at Race Matters! full release below. Click here on the image to link to an extended release)


Reza Clifton, Digital Storyteller

Steven Pennell, Gallery Director & Urban Arts and Culture Program Coordinator

Twenty artists working in different visual arts formats.


“Race Matters” an exhibit honoring Black History Month by celebrating racial and cultural diversity and examining the long history of horrible acts of racism across the nation and the world through the visual arts.

“Music Moves” a photography exhibit and multimedia project created by RI-based writer, “digital storyteller” and cultural navigator Reza Clifton.


Exhibit dates: January 25, 2016 to February 26, 2016.

Building/gallery hours are

  • Monday-Thursday, 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM
  • Friday and Saturday, 9:00 AM to 4;00 PM.

Reception: Sunday, February 7, 2016, 1-4 PM


URI Providence Campus, 80 Washington Street, Providence, RI.




Providence-based Artist Reza Clifton Explores Intersections of Race, Videography and Social Media, Locally and Globally, in New Exhibit at URI

PROVIDENCE, RI – “Race matters, and music moves; just look around you.”

That is how Providence, RI-based writer, cultural navigator and “digital storyteller” Reza Clifton describes her participation in an art exhibit currently on display at the Providence Campus of the University of Rhode Island (URI). Race Matters! features a collection of artwork from over a dozen different artists who contributed pieces to help highlight the beauty of racial and cultural  differences as well as the urgency behind the need to end racism. Among the artists exhibiting is Clifton, who submitted pieces from her project called “Music Moves.”

Clifton describes Music Moves as a photography exhibit and multimedia project she launched in 2014 “to explore and celebrate the different effects and benefits delivered through music.” She does this by sharing photographs, multimedia interview clips, and stories captured in places as wide and diverse as Madrid and San Sebastian, Spain; Austin, TX; Asheville, NC; Providence, RI; and Brooklyn, NY.

Clifton, also known as Reza Rites, Venus Sings and Reza Wreckage, has acquired several nicknames because she has worked as a blogger, community organizer and DJ, independently and for organizations across RI, for over a decade. She has produced content for radio dating back to 2001, and has been known as a pioneering blogger, podcaster and social media user and a busy freelance writer since 2004. Clifton was awarded Diversity in the Media Awards in 2007 and 2009 for work that appeared on her blogs and podcasts, and she has been recognized for leadership as a community organizer and contributor to the music and art scene in and outside of Rhode Island. She currently teaches writing and digital media at various sites (schools and community centers), and she can be heard weekly on Brown Student and Community Radio where she shares music, airs interviews and reports on the intersections of art, social media, race, gender and poverty on her show, “Sonic Watermelons.”

Despite these accomplishments, Clifton says she has experienced the kinds of barriers that women and people of color working in the media frequently reference in anecdotes, and which can be seen in digital media campaigns, like the #OscarsSoWhite conversations, and in research.

For example, the Women’s Media Center found that out of the 250 top-grossing domestically made films of 2013, women accounted for only 16 percent of all directors, producers, writers, cinematographers and editors. Similarly, the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF), in their “Global Report on the Status of Women in the News Media,” found that men hold 73% of the top management jobs compared to 27% by women.

Clifton says Music Moves is a testament to the fact that focusing on the things you love can get you past these barriers. And she says the photos show it. For example, currently up at URI are photos from the 2015 Afro-Latino and Afropunk Festivals, Brooklyn, NY, which she attended and blogged about last summer, and the 2009 Jazzaldia Jazz Festival in San Sebastian, Spain, which she covered as part of her former production and hosting work on WRIU, a student and community-run station located on the URI Kingston Campus. Clifton also submitted photos from the 2012 South by Southwest Festival in Austin, TX, and from a day at the park, specifically Recife Park in Madrid, Spain.

Like her other exhibitions, Clifton selected photos that also fit into one of three sub-themes: 1) Music Moves Ideas and Cultures, 2) Music Moves Across and Through Space and Time, and 3) Music Moves the Human Spirit. Reflecting on the links between the Race Matters themes and Music Moves, Clifton explained:

“For me, focusing on music has led me to 1) work in a field, journalism, infamous for its low numbers and skewed representations of women and people of color, while 2) allowing me to to experience live performances and artist interviews in locations and with artists from all over the world, especially with women and musicians with West African, Caribbean, Latino, and/or Black American backgrounds. What I have found? Music Moves!”

The Race Matters! exhibit is on display now and until February 26, 2016, 80 Washington Street, Providence. Building/gallery hours are Monday-Thursday, 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM and Friday and Saturday, 9:00 AM to 4;00 PM.  The reception for the event is scheduled for Sunday, February 7, 2016, 1-4 PM.

For more information, click here to read the full release, which includes information about photos in the current exhibit, visit, or do a search through all online posts containing the hashtag #MusicMovesReza. To follow Clifton, follow her Tumblr page,, or follow @3amblack on FB, IG & Twitter and/or @rezaclif of FB and Twitter. 


REZA DOES REGGAE: Venus Sings on Reggae Showcase, Sunday Jan 31, 2016

PROVIDENCE, RI – Hi friends, I can’t believe how long it’s been since I last posted here on November 12, 2015, to be precise, was the last time I shared anything new. In the interim, I have set some things up, lined some things up, and hung some things up. There is more info and there are more posts coming soon; one hint and way to catch up in the meantime is by following me @rezaclif on Facebook and Twitter.

photo 2One update:

TOMORROW, Sunday, January 31, 2016, I’m covering The Reggae Showcase, a weekly program produced by Peter Dante for WRIU, a broadcast service of the University of Rhode Island. I am one of several different DJ’s selected by Dante to guest-host annually on the Reggae Showcase, which has been on-air for over twenty years. Chune in!

Venus Sings Edition
Sunday, January 31, 2016
2:00-5:00 PM


cropped-venus-sings-website_logo1.jpgA few other notes to put in your ear:

Photos from my Music Moves collection are currently up at the URI Providence Campus and the reception for it is Sunday, February 7, 1-4 PM, 80 Washington Street, Providence, RI. More info about the exhibit – Race Matters! – and the inclusion and integration of my work, are coming soon right here to In the meantime, searching through #musicmovesreza and @3amblack on Instagram, Facebook, and/or Twitter will take you to behind-the-scenes and up-to-the-minute updates about the project. Or visit the Music Moves page here on


uri combo collage_final_2
A final update:

A quick shout-out is owed to my team at Sonic Watermelons, the show I started in 2010 on Brown Student and Community Radio (BSR). Not only are Jose and Deejay Kellan working as hard as ever to help keep the show full of interesting guests and great music, they have also joined me in extending our net to bring more people onto the team. Special thanks go to some of our earliest and most dedicated new recruits (and former guests, in some cases) Jessica LaBrie, Michelle Arias, Rachel Simon, Erroll Lomba, Vatic Kuumba, and Kabir Lambo.

sonic flyer_summer_2015Follow/share Sonic Watermelons:

With new faces, voices and talents at the table, Sonic Watermelons experienced an exciting start to the new year with a flurry of inspiring visitors and conversations as well as a bump in listener traffic and community engagement. We also have more expertise at the table, which means our podcast game is about to get serious too. If you’re not tuning in weekly yet, you should probably start:

Sonic Watermelons ~ Every Tuesday, 7-8 PM ~ ~ @sonicwatermelons on Facebook ~ @watermelonradio on Twitter 


I look forward to returning and adding more content here to And I look forward to continuing to build with you folks.

Sunshine and laughter,
Reza Rites


#3amblack and #RezaRites at Afropunk 2015: Video and Photo Coverage

#3amblack and #RezaRites at Afropunk 2015: Video and Photo Coverage
by Reza Corinne Clifton

BROOKLYN, NY – On Sunday, August 23, 2015, two women hit the road for a one-day voyage to the annual Afropunk Festival in Brooklyn, NY. Why would two women spend six hours in a car for half of a festival? Take a look at this video for hints, cues, and clues about what makes this growing cultural gathering a force that can’t be stopped and a destination not to be missed if you identify with words like underground, alternative, Pan-African, weird, different, black….


With performers like Lauryn Hill and Grace Jones, Afropunk producers proved they were willing to offer big names while also displaying a high level of consciousness as far as the importance of including women in festivals. Unfortunately I missed both Hill and Jones, the latter of which performed and produced a show that prompted a high volume of chatter on social media afterward.

On day two, upon arrival, I shopped…a LOT because the vendors and overall marketplace there speaks to me aesthetically, personally, and culturally. Apart from that, one of the most memorable parts of the day was catching the performance by Gary Clark Jr., who I realized I recognized from his performance at this year’s BET Awards (see video clip below), when I was also impressed with his chops. I also got to catch some of the multi-decade career-spanning beautiful brown rocker, Lenny Kravitz, whose enthralling set was loud and clear enough for decent cellphone footage – featured in the #3amblack and #rezarites at #afropunkfest15 video podcast above.

Photos can also be seen on Facebook in one of the 3 AM Is the New Black photo albums; click here to link to it. Below are credits for the Vimeo film embedded above.

Gary Clark Jr. performs with Anthony Hamilton at the BET M

Reza Clifton

Live cell phone footage of Lenny Kravitz at Afropunk, 8.23.15

Reza Clifton and Sophia Wright

Info on Afropunk:
@afropunk on FB and Twitter

Info on #3amblack and #rezarites
@3amblack on FB, IG, and Twitter


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