Carrie Mae Weems | Photographer

Carrie Mae Weems | Photographer

"This invisibility—this erasure out of the complex history of our life and time—is the greatest source of my longing. As you know, I’m a woman who yearns, who longs for. This is the key to me and to the work, and something which is rarely discussed in reviews or essays, which I also find remarkably disappointing. That there are so few images of African-American women circulating in popular culture or in fine art is disturbing; the pathology behind it is dangerous. I mean, we got a sistah in the White House, and yet mediated culture excludes us, denies us, erases us. But in the face of refusal, I insist on making work that includes us as part of the greater whole. Black experience is not really the main point; rather, complex, dimensional, human experience and social inclusion—even in the shit, muck, and mire—is the real point." -- Carrie Mae Weems

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Sade, Timeless

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 13:30 PM EDT, 27 April 2012 First Published: 15:03 PM EDT, 15 January 2010

Sade, Photo by OutkastedLONDON, England - Helen Folasade Adu “Sade”, 53, who was born in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria, has come out with a follow-up single to "Soldier of Love," aptly titled "Love is Found." It is amazing to watch and listen to a woman who has been performing since 1984, and whose musical style has remained consistently outstanding and timeless.

I think in part her longevity is due to the private nature of her life, as it seems she has wisely chosen to focus her public persona entirely on her music. But for a brief moment when she experienced a terribly painful breakup, this seems little more than a blip compared to the drama that regularly plays out in the tabloids and news media about today's "musicians."

Sade is a songstress, an artist who harkens back to vocalist like Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, Nancy Wilson, to name a few. Women who inhabited their talent with grace and class. We have chosen to update this post because of the recent news comparing Sade to Adele, another British superstar, and rumors of another album release.

Sade's soulful renderings come from a place borne of the experiences of a woman who has known and lost love, who is daughter and mother, who has navigated the complexities of a heritage that is both African and European, and who has passed through the agonies of heartbreak and pain played out in the public domain.

Her commitment to her music is what continues to draw fans to listen to and buy her music which has remained relevant even with a nine-year hiatus. She is the epitome of a true artist who is beholden first and foremost to their craft.

She possesses the patience to await the muse of inspiration that has once again enabled her to deliver a song that is "classic," evocative, and boldly revealing. She remains an inspiration to those of us who seek to live boldly without artifice, to display without sentiment our triumphs and foibles, and to experience the spectrum of emotional interactions that makes us uniquely human.

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Music video by Sade performing Love Is Found. (c) 2011 Sony Music Entertainment UK Limited

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Music video by Sade performing Soldier Of Love (c) 2010 Sony Music Entertainment UK Limited

Watch the making of "Soldier Of Love" below.

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Bab'Aziz in the Desert | Sufism

A truly powerful movie that is metaphoric and profound on so many levels. Words fail to capture the depth of longing portrayed by the principal character of this film who is the veritable "everyman" calling out to the great unknown for guidance, support, and assistance. As an artist and a deeply spiritual person the other worldliness and mysticism experienced by the characters in this film transcend man made boundaries to emote true connection to the "unseen" that binds us all. In a time of deep divides along geographical, political and religious lines, it is important for people to remember that ultimately these factions and the resultant conflicts have been a facet of humanity since its beginning. Therefore, we should not define ourselves by this our greatest failing, instead we should strive to identify the communality of our experiences, our humanity, and our intrinsic need to understand from whence we came and to where we return.

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Khalil Gibran | Ode to Beauty

All these things have you said of beauty. Yet in truth you spoke not of her but of needs unsatisfied, And beauty is not a need but an ecstasy. It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty hand stretched forth, But rather a heart enflamed and a soul enchanted. It is not the image you would see nor the song you would hear, But rather an image you see though you close your eyes and a song you hear though you shut your ears. It is not the sap within the furrowed bark, nor a wing attached to a claw, But rather a garden for ever in bloom and a flock of angels for ever in flight. People of Orphalese, beauty is life when life unveils her holy face. But you are life and you are the veil. Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror. But you are eternity and your are the mirror.” ~ Khalil Gibran

View video of more beautiful Arabian eyes here.

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Algerian Desert Flowers | Circa 1917

These Algerian Desert Flowers were featured in a 1917 National Geographic story that documented the exotic beauty of North African people and their religious customs. Unlike the anthropological approach to other cultures, people and countries that primarily exists today, the captions that reference many of the photos in this series 'Scenes of Orient' are ethnocentric, paternalistic and colonialist at best, and downright racists at worst. Thankfully, the beauty of these captured moments surpass the limitations of the recorder.

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Istanbul Fashion Week

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 22:37 PM EDT, 21 April 2010

ISTANBUL, Turkey - Often when people think of Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country, the idea of fashion does not readily come to mind.  However, the 2010 Spring Season Fashion show in Istanbul, Turkey should have dispelled this misconception.  Turkey has become the new centre of the East meets West fashion world. It has been prognosticated that within five years Turkey's fashion week could rival that of Paris, Milan, London, São Paulo, and New York; a trend which Vogue is capitalizing on with the issuance of a premier Vogue Turkey edition.

Turkish designer Hatice Gökce, who is a founder of the Association of Turkish Fashion Designers, says: “Traditionally, Turkey excelled in manufacturing but did so without an understanding of the design process. That changed with the recession, which has had the opposite effect in Turkey compared to its impact in other countries: it has not only encouraged many more young designers to set up business, but it has woken manufacturers up to designs importance.”

What was most fascinating but not as well-known were the Islamic fashions that were featured during this week. Muslim women, especially those who embrace the Hijab which is both the head covering that traditional Muslim women wear and adopting modesty in dress, are often patrons and attendees of the Paris and Milan fashion shows.  However, with the Turkey show, some designers decided to tap into this lucrative market by designing a line of clothes that were fashion forward but met the needs of conservative women who value modesty.

What is often not known by Westerners is the fact that there are many extremely affluent Muslim women, particularly of Saudi descent, who shop, purchase and wear clothes from some of the worlds most exclusive designers. Clothes which are usually worn beneath the Burqa when in public but in private are clearly displayed with pride.

The idea of modesty is not unique to Islam.  In fact every Orthodox sect of the major religions (Judaism and Christianity) practice some level of covering for women.  In Orthodox Judaism, Tzunit governs the conduct between women and men, the tenets of modesty, and dress codes for women. Part of Tzunit is the practice of covering one's head, particularly if married, since a woman's hair is her crowing glory and should be reserved for the enjoyment of her husband.

Chaldean Catholic women among others cover their heads, and for conservative, traditional women of all three faiths, the issue of modesty, particularly when traveling to coed beaches and swimming pools remained a challenge until now.

One of the fashions featured at the show was the "Burqini", a full body bathing suit that allows a woman to maintain her sense of modesty without restricting her movement in such a way that it would be difficult for her to swim.

Bathing suits that provide the wearer with a level of modesty to which they have become accustomed are sold by a number of vendors such as Ahiida, and the swimsuit line by Stingray Bay was most appealing because they focused on all three faiths - Islam, Judaism and Christianity, as well as providing alternatives for individuals who need to cover for environmental and health reasons.  In any case, the Turkey fashion show has challenged existing preconceptions of fashion, and informed the public about the diversity that exists among Muslim women.

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