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

I May Move: A New #3amblack and #RezaRites Flick

Sometimes you have something to say. And sometimes it’s time to walk away and move on. But where do you go?

That is one way to describe the newest short film – and question – produced by 3 AM is the New Black and Reza Clifton called “I May Move.” The video features a short poem written by Clifton as well as photographs, drumming and an audio clip from a graduation program honoring adults and teens who completed a community-based Black Studies course on August 14, 2015 in Providence, RI. Clifton served as the graduation speaker, delivering an address she called “Getting the Revolutionary Word Heard.”

Click on the video above, or here, to view the film. Learn more about the class, talk and partners involved by visiting the links provided below.



To learn about, donate to, and read class materials from the DARE Black Studies Program

To read more #3amblack poetry from Reza Clifton

To read the full Washington Post article referenced in the talk

To see the “PVD Black Resistance Zine” produced by the first graduating class of the Fred Hampton Institute for Resistance

To read/follow #3amblack updates and other arts/culture updates

For access to Reza’s “Confessions of an AmbitiousBlackFeminist” blog



Producer/Director: Reza Clifton

Poetry/Graduation Address: Reza Clifton

Photography: Reza Clifton, Fred Hampton Institute for Resistance

Video: Reza Clifton

Music/Drumming: Sidy Maiga, Rachel Nguyen, Marco McWilliams

Additional Thank you’s to: Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE), Rheem Brooks, Marco McWilliams, Cherise Morris, Kabir Olawale Lambo, and Sophia Wright

REMIX! New Social Media and Blogging Workshop Starts Tomorrow, May 7, 2015 at AS220

Hi Friends,

I’m super excited to present a remixed version of my social media/blogging class starting this Thursday, May 7 at 6:30p at the As220 Media Labs in downtown Providence (entrance on Lucie Way).

What’s the difference between Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? How do I start a blog and what the heck is Tumblr? What’s the right platform for sharing my talents and skills online? What’s the trick to posting daily?

These are just some of the questions I’ll explore while participants select a platform and implement my compilation of tips and best practices for showcasing art, interests and talents online.

I look forward to seeing some new faces and I hope you’ll help me spread the word.


Sunshine and Laughter,
Reza Rites

Teaching and Learning at As220: Build a Blog Workshop Starts Today

by Reza C. Clifton

PROVIDENCE, RI – It’s good to teach, and it’s good to learn. For me, the two often co-exist and dance together, which is why I’m so excited to be starting up a second, four-week teaching residency at AS220 starting today, Sunday February 1, noon to 1:30pm at the Media Lab at AS220 (click here for more information and to register for class).

I teach different variations of this course – offerings that range from a few minutes up to 4 months – to high school students, adults at public libraries, and professionals and practitioners at national conferences, art gatherings, and company workshops, and have done so for over half nearly a decade. By far, my favorite aspect of teaching and presenting on the topic of online communication tools and techniques is getting to hear people describe their ideas, talents, projects and concepts. Whether it’s a piece of history being uncovered and brought to the public, a unique technique that an artist or artisan is building a brand around, a mother or father whose insight on parenting makes sense to the non-parenting world, or a grassroots group organizing a community around toxins in homes and neighborhoods, I get to hear stories, anecdotes and questions that satisfy my curiosity and I am given early access to important data, trends and movements. Plus hearing a thank you if a tip, idea or recommendation resonates isn’t so bad either.

Apart from hearing awesome stuff (imagine if I’d just said that above), teaching these classes has often given me access to my own tutors and tutorials on social media sites that I’m not using. Pinterest and Snapchat are great examples of two platforms where I simply do not have a login (but maybe someday will). I’ve even learned more about WordPress from students – the site I reference most! It’s a very rewarding feature for me to come in as the teacher, but be treated to at least one round of being a student.

So today the cycle begins again at AS220, arguably one of the most preeminent arts organizations in Providence. I’ll be ready with my prepared lesson book and assignments for the day, because that’s what a teacher does. And I’ll come ready to listen, learn and take notes because that’s what a student does. See you there!


Music Moves TODAY in Warwick and More News: A Look at Today’s Take 5 with Reza Rites E-Newsletter: 6.26.14

Take 5_June 26_2014

Click on the image above to view an online version of today’s Take 5 with Reza Rites E-newsletter. Or click here to view and print the PDF version.

Challenges for Women in the Media and Global Humanitarian Crises Highlighted in New Film and Closing Exhibit for ‘Music Moves’ – Thursday June 26 at Warwick Public Library


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Providence, RI-based “digital storyteller” Reza Clifton discusses her photography exhibit, ‘Music Moves,’ Thursday, June 26, 2014 at Warwick Public Library, 600 Sandy Lane, Warwick, RI, at 6:30 PM. She also debuts “Romantics Never Die Because Music Moves,” a film that addresses gender disparities in the media industry. The event is free and open to the public. Click here to listen to a four-minute podcast/interview of Clifton discussing the show with Steve Klamkin and the WPRO Saturday Morning News 

WARWICK, RI – Music moves cultures and ideas. Music moves across and through space and time. Music moves the human spirit.

These are some of the themes being explored in “Music Moves” a new photography project and multimedia installation created by “digital storyteller,” Reza Clifton, an award-winning blogger, freelance journalist and community activist from Providence, RI.

Clifton, who produces radio shows for WRIU and Brown Student and Community Radio, will also debut a short film about the project called “Romantics Never Die Because Music Moves,” which she finished earlier this month. She says the film as well as the photographs and multimedia snippets document and capture snapshots from three different types of musical projects in which she has been involved: 1) Covering musicians and cultural festivals as a journalist; 2) Organizing events and collaborating with musicians and performers as a DJ and arts programmer; and 3) Attending concerts as a consumer and live-show enthusiast.

Clifton officially launched Music Moves in February 2014 in Providence, but earlier in June she brought her work and stories to Warwick with a month-long exhibit at Warwick Public Library, 600 Sandy Lane. She will discuss the project in more detail on Thursday, June 26 at a reception being hosted by the library at 6:30 PM.

“Reza is an intelligent and ambitious artist, and we’re excited that she’s bringing her latest project to Warwick,” said Wil Gregersen, Community Services Librarian at WPL. “Her interests are wide-ranging, and her creative pursuits look for and find the shared circumstance and commonality in our human experience. I especially look forward to seeing and hearing reactions to her film after the test screening we did.”

Clifton says the film is new to the project and will be the first public screening. “It not only corresponds with the photos and stories in the exhibit,” she explained, “but it also raises awareness about challenges for women in the media.” She says she hopes the film encourages “creativity and bravery in storytelling,” through it’s use of poetry, music and different types of visuals.

In a different part of the exhibit, Clifton – who has been instrumental in local efforts around the #bringbackourgirls campaign for the 300 kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria – created space to raise awareness about a different issue, which she refers to as “blood cell phones,” partially in reference to the popular film “Blood Diamonds.” Through incorporating what would have been discarded CD’s into the display, says Clifton, she is asking viewers to consider the human experience of the citizens and women of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where human rights organizations say the conflict there – Africa’s longest-running civil war – has been exacerbated by tension over mining for “coltan,” a mineral found in everyday electronics and most of the world’s cell phones, computers and CD players.

Though raising awareness around humanitarian crises is important, says Clifton “Music Moves is ultimately meant to instill joy. I want to inspire viewers and participants to identify, embrace, pursue and celebrate the things they love and the things that move them.”

The reception, which includes refreshments and is free and open to the public, begins at 6:30 PM with the film scheduled to show at 7:00 PM. Directly after the film is an artist talk featuring Clifton, Gregersen and artist Simone Spruce-Torres – who also works at Warwick Museum of Art – discussing what it means to bring new art to a community. Warwick Public Library is located at 600 Sandy Lane, Warwick, RI.

For more information about Music Moves, visit Clifton’s website, or email For more information about the Thursday’s reception and the Warwick Public Library, visit or call (401) 739-5440.

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