Makers Muse stealthily supports visionaries

Mar 23, 2021

2020 was an exceptional year in every way. For Kindle Project, it was art and expression that got us through lockdown, protest, endless Zoom calls, strategies and frameworks, and the lull of sleepless nights of uncertain isolation. That’s why 2020 was an exceptionally exquisite year for us to continue to honor artists and culture-makers for their unparalleled contribution to not only this moment but every moment over time.

Our Makers Muse program has been known to pleasantly surprise creative visionaries from around the world with Kindle love. 2020 was no different, as we dug up 12 culture-making treasures. From New Mexico, to New Orleans, Senegal to Colombia, we scoured our backyards and traversed the metaphorical seas and deserts to rally the latest and greatest Makers Muse pack. A word engineer, a sonic magician, an image ninja. A tinkerer of noise, wind, and water. A muser of absurdity, sarcasm, myth, and merriment. Feather collectors and collectors of public imagination. The narrators of forgotten tongue. Political dissenters and graffiti writers. An architect of history. A chemist of light. Women who defy gravity with shiny melodic tools.

All of the 2020 Makers Muse artists wowed us with their unique voices, often difficult explorations of place and self, and a tireless dedication to their art as a way to shift culture. We’re proud to support them, and excited to continue following their brilliant work!

Sadie Barnette is from Oakland, CA and holds a BFA from CalArts and an MFA from University of California, San Diego. Her work reveals quintessential American truths through exploration of her own family history. Recent projects include the reclamation of a 500-page FBI surveillance file amassed on her father during his time with the Black Panther Party and her interactive reimagining of his bar — San Francisco’s first Black-owned gay bar. Her work is in the permanent collections of institutions such as: Oakland Museum of California, CA; LACMA, CA; Brooklyn Museum, NY; and the Guggenheim Museum, NY.

The Original Pinettes Brass Band “World’s Only All Female Brass Band” can be seen at many different venues, such as: The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, The Essence Festival, and The French Quarter Festival, just to name a few. The ladies also have a long resume around the town for doing parties, weddings, conventions, school events, nursing homes, etc. You can also catch us every Friday night at Bullet’s Sports Bar, a local, neighborhood bar in New Orleans, LA. The band have traveled internationally. We have toured the cities of Turkey and Europe to perform festivals.  We also performed on the series Treme, seasons 3 and 4.  The band has very much in common with the other male brass bands around the city, the only difference is the Original Pinettes are all females. The ladies gained more respect when they earned their crown and became the winners of the 2013 Red Bull “Street Kings” Brass Band Blowout competition where they beat three other male brass bands changing the name to Red Bull “Street QUEENS!” Today, the band is still on a journey of becoming the best in the industry and to take over this male dominated industry. The Original Pinettes Brass Band’s dream is to travel worldwide and show everyone that music is definitely a universal language.

Omar Victor Diop was born in Dakar in 1980. His body of work includes Fine Arts and Fashion Photography as well as Advertising. His series “Le Studio des Vanités” (2013), is a celebration of young African entrepreneurship.  “Diaspora” (2014) is a starting in the present with the issue of immigration of Africans, and travels back up to the 15th century. “Liberty” (2017) recalls, interprets and juxtaposes historic moments of Black protest around the world, placing them in the same chronology, Diop sees himself as a promoter of Africa and African Diaspora’s recognition as a central contributor to human history.

Kombilesa Mí, que toma su nombre de la lengua tradicional palenquera, expresión que traducida al castellano significa Mis Amigos, viene trabajando con los niños y jóvenes de la comunidad palenquera en busca de fortalecer la lengua tradicional palenquera, a través de la creación, composición y escenificación musical utilizando como base el género RFP Rap Folklóriko Palenkero, el cual resalta la música tradicional palenquera. El sonido y formato musical están basado en los ritmos tradicionales palenqueros: El Son Palenquero, El Mapalé, La Chalupa, El Bullerengue y La Chalusonga entre otros; e interpretan el rap con sus instrumentos típicos: La Tambora, El Tambor Alegre, La Marímbula, El Tambor Llamador y Las Maracas, fusionando sonoridades del Caribe Colombiano con expresiones musicales contemporánea. Las canciones son composiciones escritas en lengua palenquera y castellano. Kombilesa mi se ha convertido en una de las agrupaciones musicales revelación de la música en Colombia participando en giras internacionales en paises como Estados Unidos y Mexico.

Kombilesa Mí, which takes its name from the traditional Palenque language, an expression that translated into Spanish means My Friends, has been working with the children and young people of the Palenquera community in search of strengthening the traditional Palenque language, through creation, composition and musical staging using as a basis the RFP Rap Folkloriko Palenkero genre, which highlights the traditional music of Palenque. The sound and musical format are based on the traditional palenquero rhythms: El Son Palenquero, El Mapalé, La Chalupa, El Bullerengue and La Chalusonga among others; and they perform rap with their typical instruments: The Female Drum, The Happy Drum, La Marímbula, The Calling Drum and The Maracas, fusing sounds from the Colombian Caribbean with contemporary musical expressions. The songs are compositions written in Palenquero and Spanish languages. Kombilesa Mi has become one of the revelatory musical groups in Colombia, participating in international tours in countries such as the United States and Mexico.

Walter Kitundu is a Tanzanian-American multidisciplinary artist and educator. He creates sculpture, sound installations, and large scale public art that addresses place, history, nature, and community. Kitundu also builds extraordinary musical instruments and mechanical devices when he isn’t obsessively documenting the natural world as a bird photographer. Kitundu is a visiting professor in the Sound Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, adjunct Professor at Sierra Nevada College, and recently taught in Northwestern University’s Department of Art Theory and Practice. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2008.

Khalid Albaih is a creative cultural producer who plans, designs, organises and manages artistic projects that have a cultural impact on the public that will interact with them. He has also been a political cartoonist since 2011and was named one of the top 5 cartoonists in the world in 2018 by The Independent. He publishes his cartoons on social media under “Khartoon!,” a wordplay on cartoon and Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. In addition of two published books khartoon by Khalid Albaih 2018 and Sudan Retold 2019, Khalid has published widely in international publications including The New York Time, The Atlantic, PRI, and NPR, BBC, in addition, Albaih has published his written social and political commentary in publications such as The Guardian, CNN and Al Jazeera. Khalid has been hosted in various TV shows and news programs around the world as a trusted commentator on political events around the world. Khalid is the founder of:, @fohafashionfridays, Sudan Art + Design Library, Sudan Artist Fund  

kai barrow (b. 1959, Chicago) is a visual and performance artist based in New Orleans. Barrow is interested in the praxis of radical imagination. Together with her muses: Absurdity, Sarcasm, Myth and Merriment, she experiments with abolition as an artistic vernacular. Her sprawling paintings, environmental installations, found object assemblages, and social practice performances are created in traditional and non-traditional spaces to transgress ideological, geographic, and carceral borders. The work performs queer, Black feminist theory as an aesthetic genre.

Barrow is a member of the Antenna Collective and a founding member of Gallery of the Streets, a national network of artists, activists, and scholars who work at the nexus of art, education, social change and community engagement. She has received residencies, fellowships, and awards from Prospect New Orleans, Project Row Houses; the New Orleans Contemporary Arts Center; the Joan Mitchell Center; A Studio in the Woods; Alternate Roots; the Kindle Project, and the Weavers Project.

A social-movement organizer for over forty years, barrow has worked with numerous grassroots organizations including SLAM!, FIERCE!, Critical Resistance, UBUNTU, and Southerners on New Ground. She is currently the Program Director with the Weavers Project, which provides fellowships and residencies for Black Feminist artists.

sometimes I sound like gravel.

Hakim Bellamy is the Inaugural Poet Laureate of Albuquerque, NM. His belief that the reading, writing and sharing of words is a radical act that can materially transform lives and communities is born out of the U.S. anti-literacy laws of the 1830s. As a result, his portfolio of creative output has ranged from conducting performance poetry workshops in prisons to composing original music for the Sierra Club to producing a one-man show about systemic violence towards young black men in the wake of the Charleston Church Massacre. Bellamy is a Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow and Civic Seminary Fellow.

I am Dieynaba Sidibe aka Zeinixx Slammer artist and Senegal’s first female graffiti artist. I started graffiti in 2008 at Africulturban with Grafixx as a mentor. Graffiti for me is a big dream come true because when I was young I already saw myself as a Leonardo Davinci and today I am breaking the codes to take my place as a street artist in the community. In my work I try to focus on women’s rights, on the feminine causes that make up the bulk of my daily struggles. Through graffiti I like to convey messages of peace and love.

Alicia M. Walters facilitates transformation through her writing, art, coaching and consulting practice. She is the Creator of the Black Thought Project which transforms public spaces into sanctuaries for the expression of Black thought. The project’s interactive community installations are social experiments exploring what society would be like if we protected, witnessed and honored Blackness. Participants in the installations are invited to co-create an experience that centers Blackness. Black folx are invited to center themselves, their wellness, healing, and truest selves while others practice being in right-relationship to Blackness—protecting, witnessing and honoring Black people and the experience. Alicia believes that in seeing and experiencing the world beyond the dominant narratives and beliefs we’ve been fed will we be able to create the relationships and systems to transform society. The project is unearthing new narratives that center Blackness, put us into right-relationship with each other, and reimagine society in a way that honors everyone’s humanity. Alicia’s intention is to take the Black Thought Project around the world, believing that every society harbors anti-Blackness and would benefit from the creation of sacred spaces where we can center Blackness and touch upon our personal and collective liberation.

Awo Ni Orunmila Otura Mun is a Babalawó, musician, and creator of the electronic music project ÌFÉ. Mun’s work with ÌFÉ focuses on creating electronic music and technology centered art and performance using folkloric and religious ritual practices of the African Diaspora. By adding electronic sensors to traditional and often homemade folkloric drums ÌFÉ’s debut album “IIII+IIII” revolutionized the way electronic music was conceived and performed, seamlessly combining the intricacies of Afro-Caribbean percussion and song with the power of modern electronica played in real time, totally freed from the grid. Mun is currently based in New Orleans, LA.