Joy, photography, and creative practices with Lynn
Written by Sabrina Abdalla
Written by Sabrina Abdalla
My name is Lynn Aurélie (Oh-Ray-Lee) and I am a Haitian Photographer + Storyteller currently based in BOS/NYC. This quote from Auntie Maya Angelou serves as my north star/life mantra/daily affirmation all the above! I BELONG!!
“You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great." - Maya Angelou
In what ways are you multidisciplinary and how do you celebrate all those parts of you?
I am multidisciplinary in the sense that I have a lot of stories I want to tell and photography alone can be very limiting in bringing them to life. For the past couple of years, I’ve been documenting my ongoing search of identity, belonging, and finding community here in the US. And this has taken shape in the form of self-portraiture, short films/vlogs, journal entries/personal essays, and even creative collaborations and conversation projects with artist friends.
I celebrate all those parts of me by making space for all of them and allowing myself to lean into whichever medium is pulling me more in a given moment. Not gonna hold you, it does get overwhelming when I want to do all of the things all at once but I don’t want to put a cap on my creativity in the moment and later regret not even giving it a try.
For example, I got into my first artist residency back in Sept 2021, and as soon as I got there, I got this burst of motivation to wake up early every morning, watch the sunrise, and journal for hours (main character energy!!). During that residency, my main mediums were dif forms of photography, daily journaling, and short videos (I was having tew much fun on TikTok lol). Then in Nov 2021, I got the opportunity to do some freelance for a black-owned farm in Puerto Rico, and during that trip I got to collaborate with so many dope creatives (photoshoots, interviews, bts videos of their upcoming projects, etc.) I somehow even found the time to vlog the whole experience for my own yt channel. In a gist, I’m being pulled in a certain direction for a reason, so I allow myself to get curious enough to see what can come out of it!!
Do you have a creative practice? In what ways does your creative practice uplift you or challenge you?
Honestly, my creative practice is stalking my favorite creatives and artists on socials lool. I am very meticulous about what I consume on the internet and I kid you not, my Instagram/Youtube/TikTok feeds are just filled with young black + brown people (esp. WOMEN!!) pursuing the unconventional, taking up space, and breaking out of generational barriers. I don’t feel threatened by the success of dope black creatives online, if anything it just reaffirms that I can get there too!!!! I too can break out of generational/cultural limitations and build community, tell stories and create a beautiful life for myself.
Otherwise, when I’m not fangirling, I am actually checking in my creative peers: mental/emotional health check, talking about our creative processes, sharing useful resources/ our goals and intentions, and just being present and pouring into each other’s lives.
Why is it important for Black women to incorporate creativity in our everyday lives?
I could easily go into a tangent about creativity, purpose, and ‘finding your niche’. But honestly, with everything happening in the world right now, we all just need offline hobbies. We need a collective break from the metaverse (lol!).
But simply put, creativity can serve as a form of escape in one season and turn into a shared experience or small stream of income in another (at the right time). So lean into curiosity and self-expression and let your mind wander sis! That pottery/candle-making itch can turn into a cute lil etsy shop one day; that reading habit could turn into an amazing black girl book club; that curiosity about photography can one day lead to gallery exhibitions; that passion for creative writing and making space for black women can turn into a beautiful and uplifting community of sisters. The world is your oyster boo! (whatever even that means lol)
What does creative wellness mean to you?
For me, creative wellness currently looks like intentionally scheduling rest and FUN into my week/month to give myself the space to breathe and recover.
I am a full-time 24/7/365 photographer and creative. I work in photography for a creative agency by day, manage my photography side hustle by night, and serve in my church in the same vein on weekends. This is very rare and I am super grateful that I literally get to do what I love in every aspect of my life, but it’s also very exhausting.
So creative wellness in practice looks like taking a day off after a major project/long work week to rest and recover. Creating for me again, sharing what I want on social and disappearing from the metaverse as soon as I start to feel overwhelmed with “showing up” lol. Fumbling through a watercolor painting online course 😩 Linking up with friends for coffee and check-ins. Solo museum dates! And even joining a sisterhood that’s sparked my love for writing again 💕💕