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kiyanna stewart

Age: 28

Location: Brooklyn born & bred. Currently living in NJ.

Profession: Educator and co-founder of BLK MKT Vintage

Favorite vinyl record or throwback tune: “Cowboys to Girls” by The Intruders or “Love Is The Message” by MFSB

 

"I get it from my mama." No, really. My mother is to credit for my entrée into the world of second-hand wares and thrifted/vintage  goods. As early as I can remember, she was pulling over the car on the side of the road to pick up amazing castaways and taking me to the thrift shop with her on the weekends. During my high school years, we jokingly referred to garage sales as "college fairs", mostly to disguise our hours spent amidst dust and treasure from my Dad. It was around this time that I also started collecting for myself, picking up cool décor for my space and random objects to turn into art. It's been about 12-14 years since then, but vintage has been a constant in my creative identity and expression.

To me, black vintage is about historical and collective memory. It's also a radical statement about black people's survival. When I see cultural artifacts - whether they be books, photographs, vinyl records or personal letters - I am reminded that we've existed in so many iterations, despite white supremacy's attempt to tell us otherwise. At the most fundamental level, that's what I think about when I hear about black vintage. I think "we have journeyed and we have survived, so beautifully."

Of all the items in my collection, I'm most proud of my assortment of black feminist first edition poetry & prose. I have a Master's degree in Women's Studies. Black women's writings (particularly black arts period literature) have always been sites of resistance, praxis and guidance. I treasure the work of Audre Lorde, June Jordan and my graduate school advisor, Cheryl Clarke - so, it means a lot to have some of the earliest editions of their work in my book collection. Black women's cultural production matters.

I think I'll always be a collector. At this point, it's intrinsic to my identity, not just my work. I'm dreadfully afraid of hoarding, so I'm quite selective about what I choose to bring home. BLK MKT Vintage allows me to acquire some incredible cultural artifacts, research them, touch and spend time with them, style them and ultimately, make them accessible for others. I have so much gratitude for our community for finding value in my identity as a collector, curator and creative. I'm on a quest and it's so affirming to have a community along for the journey. Black vintage teaches me that this journey is collective, shared and worth remembering/documenting.

To connect with Kiyanna, check her out via Instagram and Facebook!