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Work Samples

Ain't NO "Picnic" - AV-ATAR Collection

The AV-ATARS will crash the picnic and rebuild the pieces of themselves and their ancestors.
With this piece I am communicating how Black humans add color to despair. The checkered red and white represents the idea of a "picnic" - Picnic, as used here, standing for "pick-a-nigger" which is to say picnic like events white Americans would have while torturing and lynching a Black human. In high school I was a part of a program called Operation Understanding DC and during our "Freedom Rides" Summer Journey we went to a museum in Alabama that simulated the process of the triangle trade.

A V -o l u t i o n 0.1 Collection

A V - o l u t i o n  0.1  Nature is key... To all evolutionary concepts
A V - o l u t i o n 0.1 Nature is key... To all evolutionary concepts These garments embody artistic influence from industrialism and construction in color & materials, and foreshadow futuristic elements of architecture and building design in shape. The show’s industrial elements will be juxtaposed with raw materials. This collection comes during an apocalypse as a response to living on the land as things get destroyed to be rebuilt.

AV-AIRY Collection "La Luna Mariposa" Gown

AV-Airy Collection
The AV-Airy Collection references a future moment where Black people will live as the magical fairies they are, basking beneath the rainbow, in the forest, enjoying a symbiotic relationship to nature. This Collection was inspired by the OMO Valley Tribes of Ethiopia who live together peacefully with one another and pay homage to the earth everyday through natural adornment using flowers, mud, leaves, tree branches, native fruit, vines and so much more.

Rainbow Mix (Official Video)

AfroVelvet first single, "Rainbow Mix" video edited by Velvet

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About Malissa

Baltimore City - Station North A&E District

Malissa Wilkins's picture
Malissa Wilkins, otherwise known as Afrovelvet, is a designer, art director, and performance artist who fuses together imagery, wearable art, and music to present inventive productions. Wilkins graduated from The George Washington University with a B.A in Journalism and Mass Communication. She is skilled in many fields, like photography, video, direction, design, styling, music and theatre, which allows her to work across disciplinaries. Her work has been featured at the National Museum for Women in... more

IMMOORTAL

The images paint two narratives. One of the Black humans' plight of existence in America, and,

secondly, the existence of Blacks outside of the construction of America upon actualizing power within. The name IMMOORTAL is spelled with two OO's to pay homage to the Moors, a group of the African Diaspora, who traveled the world teaching math, science, fashion, hygiene, cuisine, urban utilities, medicine, and more. They helped define the modern culture that exists now. The name also speaks to the perseverance of Black people, how we are infinite, and how we continue to stand strong even through years of oppresssion, hate, and abuse that exists even to this day. We are #immoortal. The series is a play on the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima. In these images the flag is ripped, torn, and stained with the blood of Black humans as they lay stacked lifeless, one atop another. In a couple of the images, the souls of the subjects reach toward the flag as the Washington Monument pierces the sky like a sword through the bodies upon which it was built. The second group of images shows the glorification and reverencing of Blacks. They are adorned in gold and ivory garments to reimagine the Greek gods of Mount Olympus. They are the guides to joy and freedom and a foreshadowing of the Fate to Come. This series was curated in 2016 by AfroVelvet in collaboration with Donnisha Hebert and Gary Williams The audiovisual accompaniment features a song and poem written by AfroVelvet in 2017 and 2018 respectively. The video was recorded in 2020 as a furthering of the series. Each piece arose from the killings and injustices of Black people in America from 2016 until now. The visual features movement by Ke'ja Telp, a Baltimore artist and dancer. AfroVelvet depicts the awakening of the blood of our ancestors from the earth and a dance that summons the spirits of protection as we enter into what will hopefully be our last fight for freedom.

The English language will say, "you've spelled immortal wrong." We are assertive in our rendition of the word. Having come from a long line of intelligent, worldly, and powerful, rulers, teachers, designers, doctors and warriors. We pay homage. We pay homage to the Moors, and to all of our ancestors and champions of world culture. Our Blackness has always had a hand in the cultural, technological, and structural advances in the world, yet the world has consistently moved to remove our kind. We fight the hardest to stay alive and free. We fight everyday for peace of mind, stability, and respect. We are resilient, we are protected, we are divine and we will not give into this erasure. We multiply and we strategize, and we mobilize for the sake of our lineage. Our freedom will be realized and we will bask in the glory of the strength that is our blood and bones. We are IMMOORTAL!

Ghosts of an Un-Consensual Past

A series encouraging victims of sexual assault and rape to find the strength to reclaim their bodies and power within. Also a personal testimony and my own reclamation of my power through my art and and the art of storytelling. The three poems below narrate the short film within this project, were written over the course of time, and were pieces of my journey toward letting go of shame, powerlessness, and self-hate. 

Untitled 1

"I felt the color leave my soul.
I felt the color leave my vessel.
I felt the love leave my heart.
Replaced by malice and a cold grey...

He entered me. No regard for my grunts, pleads, winces, or whines. 
I cried.
Turned my body and face to lay on my left side
Defeated, as he violated my sacred space.

Inside my two walls my muscles contracted, cringed, and then went numb.

I patiently waited till it was all over.
Four hours on and off.
My body jolting.
Me pretending to be sleep.
When the sun came up I escaped, but a part of me always felt bound there. 

I release her from the chains of regret, shame, and in some way, death.
For she deserves love. 
She will love and be loved.
She is very much still alive."

Untitled 2

"It's hard not to blame yourself.
To feel you had no part in a decision
that altered your very existence...
How do you move on from permanent pain?
One shower or one thousand showers?
I'm sure I've taken at least a thousand by now.
The only thing that seems to even slightly lift the stain... 
are my tears."

Untitled 3

"For all the women who were unexpectedly removed from their bodies, 
forced to grant another access - 
I still have nightmares too.

I still wake up restless and tired of the reminders,
finding it hard to name what happened to me,
to admit that twice in my life I felt lifeless, powerless...
at the hands of another.

My trust violated and obstructed.

No justice for my body, my soul, except for my own self-consolation and affirmation.

I am more than the sum of my parts.

Death to the objectification of my body and yours for the sake of him.

And death to all the men who ever fed on the souls of unwilling or unsuspecting women and never took responsibility for their desecration.

I PRAY YOU DIE A GRUESOME DEATH."

Untitled 4

The stories of my mother,
the spirit of my grandmother - 
tell me no man can take my strength from me.

They hold me up - Black women.
The magic and womb of the world

I feel my spirit rise again.
I feel my heart slowly become whole.
I am grateful for their determination running through my veins.
More life."

Their Stories

Their Stories is a series taking apart hyper-masculinity and exploring non-gender conforming beings and their relationships to the balance of  feminity and masculinity or multiplicity  - How they have felt restricted or empowered in their journeys to their true selves, and what has shaped their experiences to how they identify now. 

  • Jacob Marley 1

    Jacob Marley is a photographer, musician, and all around multi-dimensional artist from Baltimore, MD. Velvet - What was you journey like to embracing your multiplicity? Jacob Marley - I am a gemini. I am what I always have been.
  • Jordan Clark 1

    Jordan Clark of 2012 Bid Adieu forms expression through music, playful visual imagery, and unconventional performance art. When asked about his relationship to hyper-masculinity, Jordan explained that masculinity made him feel entitled throughout life - like everyone had to listen to him, or his ideas were the most important. He was unafraid to be the loudest in the room or take up the most space. He came face to face with his privilege when a woman in his first band expressed to him that she felt her suggestions weren't being heard or taken seriously.
  • Deondre Rice 1

    Deondre Rice, founder of Dres Gallery, is a photographer, painter, and music producer from Landover, MD. Dre's imagery is colorful and bold in style and spirit, yet has a soft, intimate tone. The way he photographs often draws the viewer to the soul of the subject and the emotion of the image is felt at a glance. His visual art and music produce similar feelings. Dre says his exposure to hyper-masculinity happened around the time he was in late middle to high school.

100% Cacao Production

100% is the brainchild of Malissa Wilkins, Founder of Afrovelvet. The production honors the diaspora of Black/African American peoples and their beauty. With this showcase exists the idea that black artists and entrepreneurs could come together to create a production that wholly represents the way they wish to be seen by the world. 100% addresses identity, class, and all things beautiful and lively within the culture. As the idea spreads, Malissa hopes to impart - “We are colorful, powerful, deeply rooted, and unparalleled as individuals and as a community.”

Presented by Afrovelvet, Spring 2022 will be the third iteration of the show which features models, designers, stylists, music artists etc. of the African diaspora. From production members to talent, Cacao represents the original “chocolate.” 100% Cacao seeks to present “blackness” in fashion, art, and entertainment from an inside perspective. The presentation, which mirrors NYFW, takes fashion to a multidimensional level; featuring wearable art, film projections, live music integrated into the runway, and performance art and movement, all curated by designer and director Afrovelvet. Next year’s Cacao conceptualizes the seen and unseen worlds we live in, and communicates the development of and transitions between these worlds. The pieces will tell a story that begins with modernism, or the here and now, transitioning to a post-industrial, apocalyptic world, which will then morph into a futuristic, avatar existence into a fantastical + ethereal realm, finally concluding at nothingness.

CATALYST

C A T A L Y S T  is a series of images by Malissa Wilkins, or Velvet, a curator, designer, director, producer, photographer, and stylist.

The image series is one celebrating Black women in positions of leadership. These images juxtapose Street Etiquette’s Black Ivy editorial shoot and complement Lean In by Nell Scovell and Sheryl Sandberg. The images illuminate a hidden identity while emanating power, grace, and a fluidity between "roles."

C A T A L Y S T was created in an effort to shatter the glass around the roles women have been assigned in contemporary society; who they can be, what they can wear and how they choose to carry themselves.

The project features 17 women who are artists and entrepreneurs in their own right and friends or colleagues of Velvet. 

Special Thanks to Kelcey Abney, Lloyd Foster, and Roderick Johns!

Malissa's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.