Nomad Two Worlds launched this past Tuesday in Los Angeles, and we are honored to be a part of this amazing collaboration and movement uniting art, education and culture. We took some time with Russell James, the creator of Nomad Two Worlds, and got his insight on the exhibition, cultural education and collaboration. Russell is a renowned fashion photographer, enthusiastic humanitarian and close friend of Urban Zen.
WHAT INSPIRED THE CONCEPT BEHIND NOMAD TWO WORLDS?
Being raised in Western Australia in the 70’s and 80’s I was exposed to both an urban and outback lifestyle. My father was a policemen who was posted around the vast state – about the size of Texas – sometimes in the city and occasionally in remote townships. There, I witnessed firsthand what I define as a ‘collision of culture.’ The affects of 200 years of genocide and the forced relocation on the world’s most ancient culture – the Australian Aboriginal People – have left devastating social consequences. I began working on active reconciliation. Around the same time, in 2008, the Australian Government formally apologized for the decisions and policies that led to the atrocities and the near total loss of self-esteem. Spending time primarily with my Walmajarri ‘skin’ brother Clifton Bieundurry, I created a collaboration – “artists as equals.” We have spread that message to other artists and musicians and now tour the world with our message of “moving forward together.” We can’t take away the past, but we must acknowledge it in order to move forward to a collaborative future.
HOW DO NOMAD AND URBAN ZEN ALIGN? CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE COLLABORATION?
Urban Zen hosted our very first opening in the United States. With the extraordinary generosity and caring of Donna Karan, we found the Stephan Weiss Studio and Urban Zen as our home, a space to deliver our message with shared values – preservation of culture, health care and education. Donna has since become the most gracious host of Nomad. From Haiti to outback Australia to urban cities in United States, we have literally traveled the world together on Urban Zen and Nomad Two World’s aligned missions. The journey and the collaboration has become so deep that Donna herself was given her ‘skin’ name by elder Olive Knight on her recent visit to a remote community in Western Australia. Donna Karan is in fact ‘Nangala Karan’ to the indigenous community of Australia.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE PEOPLE TAKE AWAY FROM THE NOMAD EXPERIENCE?
Nomad Two Worlds began as an effort to understand a very complex issue through art. Today it has evolved into a movement to create socially responsible partnerships between corporation and indigenous communities in Australia, U.S.A., and more recently Haiti. We believe that economic equality for the artisans and communities we partner with is vital to their self determination and to building a future together.