Dr. Aisha Damali Lockridge, Professor, Beadwork Artist

MUSE SERIES EXTRA: We put together a guide that lists our muses's businesses, art, or merchandise that you can eat, drink, collect, or support. Click here for the guide.

To go right to Aisha's jewelry, https://aishalikesit.com/ 


Dr. Aisha Damali Lockridge is part of our portrait/interview series with Emily "Birdie" Busch. 

Birdie's challenge is to tease out candid responses from fellow artistic, industrious women. What muses! A link to all the interviews is at the end of this page.

Dr. Aisha Damali Lockridge did not inherit the sewing gene. This tidbit of information made me laugh because neither did I. For her it is her mother who is inclined and for me it is my sister, and through my sis I had the pleasure of meeting our latest muse. It was in the community of extended makers online where Betsy Cook of National Picnic and Aisha connected. Betsy said of their meeting, “She happened to like the signature tees I make and I admired the compositions of her beadwork. Shortly afterward we both had tents at a local arts show, and were able to meet in person and discuss our work in real time. At that show she brought me textiles from her own fabric collection, and I've sewn them into tops for her.” Luckily for us, it turned out Aisha did not live far from me in Germantown and we were able to all meet on an unseasonably warm day this November in my backyard. 

Aisha is an associate professor of English at St. Joe’s University in Philadelphia and is currently teaching courses with titles like “Coming of Age in the City” and has written a book which traces the trajectory of the Diva figure in African American Literature, Tipping on a Tight Rope: Divas in African American Literature.

Her focus is on African American Literature, Black British Literature, Black Popular Culture, and Pedagogy. She has worked passionately to evolve programs in higher education that have placed these subjects in curriculum as “alternative lit”, asking important questions like  “Alternative to what?” https://books.google.com/books/about/Tipping_on_a_Tight_Rope.html?id=WvSgtgAACAAJ

Seeing her beadwork and learning of her love of the written word I could see how the one informed the other. Her beadwork is detail oriented and textural and mixes matte and shiny like one might look down on an autumnal cornfield dotted with pools of shiny lakes. Every piece is its own short story. Beadwork feels like her sensual practice amidst the more heady work of research and higher education. On her birthdays is when she dedicates the day to making jewelry for herself. But in general, interspersed with academia, she makes pieces for Aisha Likes It, her Afrobohemian jewelry line that ethically sources beads from throughout the African Diaspora. 

For the shoot she laid out her pieces on a table as the late afternoon sun caused every bead to radiate and glow. Rose Quartz, lapis, shell, recycled bottle glass, and tigers eye. We talked about favorite colors and books, pop culture and family trips. We waxed on our journeys until now and journeys moving forward, both as individuals and collectively. It feels as though one could spend endless late afternoons with Aisha and never run out of fascinating and important things to keep the conversation flowing. 

Recommended links for getting to know more about Aisha’s Work:

Aisha has a website for her jewelry line: https://aishalikesit.com/

Aisha also has a website for her academic work: https://www.aishalockridge.com/

What is a career/creative moment you are proud of? 

In my academic career, earning tenure and promotion; I am one of the first Black women to do so at Saint Joseph's University. In my artistic career, I am most proud of the willingness to begin, to potentially be bad at something important to me in a public way.

What are you listening to now? What are you looking at? What recipe are you feeling? 

Listening: Outkast and a series of boleros.

Looking: Just beyond my keyboard I see a wax fabric throw pillow. I marvel, constantly, that I did not inherit my mother’s sewing gene.

Recipe: I just completed an Autumn Sangria for a driveby/Zoom hangout situation this weekend. 

How do you define your own personal style or approach to clothes? 

Eclectic afroboho chic without the scarves. I love a bohemian style that's taken a walk through west Africa. I am drawn to Ankara prints and statement jewelry. I care a lot about texture, color, and fit.

What would be your advice to a teenage girl clothing and style wise that you wish you had received? 

Learn how to hear what speaks to you and then wear that! I think a lot of the lessons I got about clothing and style as a girl were ensconced in decorum. In my 40s, the value of those lessons seems a lot less obvious.

About the interviewer:
Emily "Birdie" Busch is one of National Picnic's social content contributors. Living in Germantown, Philadelphia, she has been songwriting and recording independent music for a solid decade. She has created a constellation of connect-the-dots that has people listening to her music all over the world. Read Birdie's extended bio here.
We put together a guide that lists our muses's businesses, art, or merchandise that you can eat, drink, collect, or support. Click here for the guide.

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