Tag Archives: bald and beautiful me

My First Grant Award!

After several years of applying on multiple platforms with various organizations, I am so EXCITED to finally have been awarded my first grant. The Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County, MD provided me with a $3,500 grant to help me develop and print 1,000 copies of my book I Am More Than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me, a social-change coffee table book that tells the stories and celebrates the beauty of girls and women who have lost their hair due to medical conditions.

Although the many rejection letters I’ve received was disappointing, I must admit, I was unprepared for a grant before this. After comparing my previous applications to the one I was awarded, there’s no mistaking the growth between then and now.

Looking at my old applicators I wouldn’t have granted myself an award either. Don’t get me wrong, the art is beautiful, but the execution of it wasn’t planned out as I’ve organized it to be now.

Also, recently being selected as an art panelist, for another arts & humanities council, allowed me to view applications from the eyes of a judge. And of course I was able to give back to the community. For my next round of grant applications I will fully prepared.

With all of the excitement and appreciation inside of me, I’ve also had to recognize that I’ll need to come up with an additional  $25, 870 of my $29, 370 budget, to complete both the book and documentary. Yes it’s that much!

crowdfunding

For this reason I decided to apply for Fiscal Sponsorship (it’s another application process that has to be approved) and will launch a Crowdfunding campaign in January 2017.

I will send the details and status as I get closer to the dates. In the meantime, know that I’ve been working like a mad woman…and learning so much in the process. Thank you for your support and encouraging emails along the way!

I’m still looking for participants for I Am More Than My Hair. Know anyone? Let’s connect!

May Their Souls Rest In Peace

This week I received news that I wasn’t expecting. Ms. Yvonne Johnson, a participant in my first book, Feminine Transitions, passed away. On the same day, I received an email for a link to a blog post about the passing of Debbie Osarere, a participant in my upcoming book, I Am More Than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me.

Images from Feminine Transitions
Sunrise February 10, 1941 – Sunset April 5, 2016
I Am More Than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me
Sunrise August 1, 1984 – Sunset April 1, 2016

The culprit? Cancer.

For privacy purposes I won’t get into the details of their diagnosis, but I will say Cancer is an epidemic and it is taking the lives of too many of our loved ones.

We Can Stop the Cancer Epidemic, by educating ourselves, our families and knowing what to avoid. Although it’s hard to completely avoid all chemicals such as chem trails sprayed in the air by our government and pesticides in our foods, we can reduce our rate of cancer diagnosis by eating healthy (try growing your own food), exercising daily and doing your best to have a piece of mind (no stress).

I’m not a doctor, neither is this a diagnosis. Just like everyone else I’m fed  up of the epidemic taking the lives of family and friends.

I ask to please keep Ms. Yvonne Johnson and Debbie Osarere’s family, any of your loved ones that have passed or holding on for dear life and those that are alive and well, in your thoughts and prayers. May these two beautiful souls continue to rest in peace.

~Be well… Alyscia

 

Acceptance

I Am More Than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me
Photograph from Alyscia Cunningham’s photography book, I Am More Than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me

“I am NOT my hair because I have accepted and EMBRACED he fact that I AM so much more.”
~Jameelah, 46

What that comes to mind when I think about Jameelah is she has an undeniable strength and sincerity. I met her just a few weeks after I had the idea for my project I Am More Than My Hair, at a book fair.

I spoke excitedly about my plans and Jameelah reciprocated the excitement as well. I asked if she could recommend anyone for my project and she looked at me and said, “I have alopecia.” And she’s also the Founder of SWAG (Sisters With Alopecia Group). Most of my participants thus far have come through Jameelah.

She has been one of my biggest cheerleaders and encourager. I am so grateful for Jameelah because if it wasn’t for her, through my frustration I would have given up. And so I continue.

My Encounter with Beauty…Reflected Through My Lens

I vividly remember questioning beauty at the age of 10. There weren’t any examples of little brown girls that looked like me on TV, magazines and definitely not on billboards. As I went through the early stages of puberty my body, as well as my mind, went through the transitions.

At the time, and for the first time, I questioned beauty. I wondered if I fit the picture of “pretty. As I was going through these changes an encounter with my aunty lead me to believe I truly wasn’t beautiful. It lead me to doubt my worth.

My aunty looked me directly in my eyes, as my face was full with pimples and discoloration, and said to me with her distinct Trinidadian accent, “You’re getting ugly.” Although my father made it a point to always tell me that I was beautiful, on that day my father’s words had no significance.

I allowed those three words to make me lose sight of loving myself unconditionally. My confidence crumbled in a few seconds.

Eventually, and as I went through adolescence, my father’s positive affirmations became constant reminders of my worth. Then I began to understand what the true meaning of beauty…and I was her.

Once I became a mother I found myself consistently reassuring my child of who they are and made a point to create a space of feeling comfortable in their own skin. I came to the realization that I do this with my children because I didn’t want them to be negatively impacted by outside influences as I was.

I do however recognize that they cannot completely avoid this reality. School and family can be the biggest influence of our own self-perception. Positive or negative.  Regardless, I have faith that with the support of my husband and myself, our children can and will overcome self-doubt.

Through this journey I recognized I created projects that in some way are a reflection of my personal experience.  In some way I believe I am speaking to the little girl inside me that was affected as a child.  I unconsciously focus my photography to represent raw and unaltered (without Photoshop) beauty.

Amber-17

I Am More Than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful MeThrough my photography I gave birth to photo books that celebrate the natural beauty of women and girls. The first being Feminine Transitions and my current project I Am More Than My Hair. In the near future my hope is to also create documentaries that reflect the same concept in a video format.

It’s a start on creating positive change and it’s a blessing for me to be a deliverer of a healing revolution.