Today we’d like to introduce you to Ami Worthen.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
Writer. Revolutionary. Rocker. The aspiration of filling those roles guides me. This work is woven into days which also hold time in nature and with beloved community.
The written word and social justice both compelled me from an early age. A tenacious reader and writer, my journal helped carry me to adulthood. Friendships with my classmates whose lives differed from mine informed a budding analysis of oppression as early as adolescence. I became best friends with an artist and began speaking out about injustice.
Discovering intersectional feminism in college led me to professional roles at Planned Parenthood of the Triad and the YWCA of Asheville. Falling in love with a group of musicians (including my partner, Jason Krekel) led me to pick up an instrument. During the first part of my career, I worked in the nonprofit field while touring with my band – now called Krekel and Whoa – on the weekends.
For the past seven years, I’ve been a freelancer, pursuing collective liberation through writing and collaborating with transformational grassroots leaders of color (while keeping music in the mix). The projects I’ve been a part of include Date My City, Hood Huggers International, JMPRO TV, and the African Americans in WNC & Southern Appalachia Conference.
I believe in the power of a love-driven narrative and the role of music in healing. I navigate my place in our ecosystem with empathy, honesty, creativity, and care.
Please tell us about your art.
My art is twofold – writing and music. My writing usually takes the form of essays and arts and culture feature stories, both online and in print. My music happens with my partner Jason Krekel, in our band Krekel and Whoa. Depending on the situation, we play a mix of music which ranges from stripped down acoustic folk to danceable electric rock ‘n’ roll. Everything I do is towards collective liberation.
Interconnectedness informs my art. I create to connect and to shape understandings in ways that increase connection for others. Justice and joy are mantras of mine. While my writing tends to point directly at the issue, my music is lighthearted and brings in energy for new outcomes. My hope is that my readers will shift perspectives and actions towards community good and that my listeners will enjoy the medicine of music.
My writing and music is shared with the world because I am called to do so. My intentions as an artist include practicing honesty, integrity, and levity.
When my words or sounds resonate, I am grateful.
What do you think about the conditions for artists today? Has life become easier or harder for artists in recent years? What can cities like ours do to encourage and help art and artists thrive?
Capitalism, patriarchy, and white supremacy are devastating for each of us in specific ways. Conditions for artists differ depending on how systems of oppression impact us. How one might define an easy or hard life, particularly over the course of history, depends on the vantage point. An opportunity from unfair advantage and a closed door from unfair discrimination both have costs to bear.
Art is a form of freedom. A central part of human life, it is beyond logic and linear notions of time. It is often is best when spontaneous, challenging, and outside of the dominant culture. How to authentically nurture art in an urban setting is a complicated question which I am not sure I can answer.
Cities are full of perspectives – corporate, independent, governmental, elite, excluded – all with differing levels of power and resources. What type of art and artists are seen/heard/resourced is affected by race, class, gender, ability, etc. When we ask how can we encourage artists to thrive, this fact cannot be overlooked and must be addressed.
For all I am not sure of, I do know the solutions will be collective. My hope is to witness more people in cities truly listening across difference, and that those honest reflections lead to a redistribution of resources for everyone, artists included.
Art is a tool we can use to build alternatives to the outdated institutions that bind us. Art shapes cities more than any city can shape it.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
My writing and community projects can be found on my website, amiworthen.com. My band Krekel and Whoa’s website is krekelandwhoa.com – you can find videos, recordings, and a schedule of live shows there.
As a part of an interconnected community of fellow revolutionaries, I want us all to flourish. I celebrate the successes of my kindred. When my work gets attention and lift, I spread that nourishment throughout my network.
- Website: amiworthen.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: facebook.com/amiworthenwrites
- Twitter: @amiwhoa
Sandlin Gaither, Emily Bishop, JMPRO, Jason Krekel