Chroma x Chromat
Listen to the new Chroma x Chromat Mix:
Together with their third Chroma co-founder June Canedo, Sienna and Ladin photographed each other in their favorite Chromat pieces from the comfort of their homes. We asked them how they first started their Chroma Conference Series for women of color (you can listen back to their illuminating panels here), how they envision true liberation and what they've learned from collective organizing.
Get to know Sienna Fekete and Ladin Awad: collaborators, friends and #ChromatBABES.
"Chroma was born out of love, and a need to create and curate more spaces that centralize women of color, on our own terms." -Sienna
Sienna Fekete: It started out as an idea and a conversation between friends, then a podcast, then a conference, and now it’s so much more than that. It’s a network and community for women of color across industries to link and collaborate and support one another intentionally.
Sienna in the Outlined Top, photo by Ladin Awad
Ladin Awad: Chroma came together in a really organic way, just coming together intimately on things that we felt equally passionate and excited about. When we started curating our events, and hosting our podcasts, it felt really natural to organize and build together, and it allowed us to centralize our efforts and cultivate a closeness with each other that ultimately created a foundation of care and trust. We simply had the shared goal and commitment of using our skills and talents to center folks in our community across industries and support the many efforts and initiatives we were privy to that we felt really needed to be leveraged, and the way we’ve let it transpire in to a myriad of iterations has felt really special.
Ladin in the Mikito Top, photo by June Canedo
You have organized many Chroma conferences and Chroma Radio podcasts for women of color to come together to skillshare, discuss social and economic mobility and respond to the climate crisis. What has been one of your favorite projects?
Sienna: For me the most standout projects we’ve done are Continuity, the second conference we curated at Knockdown Center, and more recently our Source of Nurture music fundraising series. These projects were amazing to conceptualize and see come to life. We put so much of our hearts into it, and I feel so inspired by all the amazing artists we got to work with.
Ladin: It’s hard to choose a project because I truly hold a special place in heart for every single one! Just knowing that with each one, it came from a sincere place of reflection, of really wanting to hold space and or honor a process that is truly collaborative and answers to a moment. I loved our conferences because they were the seeds that really connected us to our community and now long time friends. It allowed us to really tap into our curatorial skills while also tending to our desires to be in conversation with folks we really revered and admired.
I also loved our time in our physical studio space off Delancey, Fall 2018, where we curated programming for 2 months straight and almost every week! That was special because we really got to host a plethora of different happenings, and really invited our community in to curate and organize their own events, workshops, screenings etc. It was special because it was a true testament to creating support systems that encouraged a sense of autonomy and creative freedom for all of our collaborators.
Sienna in the Mikito Suit, photo by Ladin Awad
How has your work as a collective informed how you approach your solo projects? What has the collective format taught you?
Sienna: Chroma has helped me shape my own sense of confidence and intention as a curator and producer. I’ve learned so much from Ladin and June over the years, I'm extremely grateful to them. Working alongside each other from start to finish on projects, and all the very unglamorous hard work that happens in between, has made me strong and I’ve acquired so many new skills. It’s been incredible to be a part of every step from conceptualization to the installation process to sourcing space and materials to make it all happen.
Ladin: I definitely believe the ethos of centering and imaging our community has manifested in many ways in our individual work.
"Chroma started off very committed to creating an archive, of ourselves, our communities, our experiences, of our stories." -Ladin
Ladin: It was always so important to feel that there was a tangible or sensory outlet for how and what we curated, and so for me, I definitely feel like in my present projects and research there is an inherent desire to attract and tend to the archives. To feel that there are many vessels through which the work can live and breathe, that has also definitely shown up in my process as an artist and curator.
Ladin in the Mica Zip Top, photo by Sienna Fekete
Sienna, how do Ladin and June inspire you?
Sienna: Ladin and June are my sisters. As an only child, it has been so special for me to receive mentorship and sibling energy in the form of Chroma. I am infinitely inspired by Ladin and June’s practices as artists and the way they create. I’ve never seen such pure honesty, creativity, and confidence. I think learning to navigate a very white art world in the care of Ladin and June has been really informative for me. Learning how not to get exploited or taken advantage of financially or by way of integrity has definitely been a standout.
Ladin, how do Sienna and June inspire you?
Ladin: Sienna inspires me in so many ways! That is my sis, for real. We’ve known each other for so long, it’s felt so special to be able to witness each other's growth in every way. I love her sensibilities towards sound and music, her taste! I love and am inspired by her commitment to her curiosities, I love how she honors her folks and channels her community in everything she does. The truly tender ways in which she invites folks into her projects, there is just so much love and care in everything she does.
June inspires me so much through her passion, through her multifaceted artistry, I am so inspired by her work ethic, she is truly committed and devoted to everything she is a part of. I’m in deep reverence to her evolution and the ways in which she leans into expression of her journey, of her home Brazil, of her family.
"The care and devotion is just so evident. So grateful to be in sisterhood with these two." -Ladin
What was the inspiration behind the images you created for Chromat, and how was the experience of envisioning each other?
Sienna: The source of inspiration was very intimate. Self-portraiture from a place of where we’re currently at. For the film and polaroid photos we shot each other so it was very much captured as how we see each other which was beautiful. We directed one another, were very free and playful, and shot most of the images in our studio so felt very comfortable and at ease, which I think is key to a good photo.
Ladin: We definitely want to create images that feel true and natural to our energies together, to be reflective of the sort of stillness we have been leaning into in the last year, while also honoring a sense of openness towards what’s to come in this sort of “new” phase we are collectively entering.
"Ultimately, I feel like the images are meant to honor and emit what it feels like to be shot by each other, or our friends, versus strangers, and so the envisioning shows a lot of comfort and trust in the space." -Ladin
Ladin: We could be playful and free, and sexy, because we’re not tending to any sort of gaze, and also really just being in the comfort of our own homes, in our studio space, makes way for honoring that intimacy.
How do you want people to feel when listening to the Chroma x Chromat mixtape?
Sienna: We had so much fun recording the mix! Radio and music mixed has become my source of joy. The mix is very fun, summer, we got some throwbacks in there, I think it will make people smile and hopefully dance. I hope for people to feel free and in their body.
Ladin: Joyful! Like they can turn it on and trust that they’re going to feel compelled to dance wherever they are, or to be with their loved ones just relishing in the journey of the mix! We had so much fun making it so just hope that the energy is transcending through.
What does liberation look like to you?
Sienna: Liberation is prismatic. I think it's an ethos of we’re not free until we’re all free and we need to continue to work towards a more equitable and sustainable future for the most marginalized and vulnerable communities. Liberation is joy. Liberation is rest.
"Liberation is imperative. It looks like a world where Black women have an unbounded capacity to feel pleasure, to feel love, to feel joy, to care for our spirits, and above all, just be." -Ladin
What’s your favorite Chromat piece?
Sienna: I am obsessed with the Outlined Top and the Chromat x Reebok 10 Year Hoodie! The top is so versatile, it comes in many colors and goes with anything. The hoodie is iconic, that two-tone split design is amazing and it’s hella comfortable.
Ladin: I love the Neon Lava Halter Cross Top, the color! The design, it feels so multi purpose, I love that I can dress it up in a glam and elegant look, or wear it out in a more casual setting, or lay out in the sun, it’s everything.
What does it mean to be a #ChromatBABE?