storäe michele, [known by her ancestors as Michele Stanback] is an artist, writer, director, and educator of over ten years. As an Interdisciplinary Master of Divinity graduate of Union Theological Seminary and Master of Professional Studies in Creative Arts Therapy and Creativity Development graduate of Pratt Institute, storäe infuses the arts into theological inquiries--exploring rituals and breathing new life into sacred spaces for meaningful reflection. Her first film, [the listening heart], is performed by a cast of women of color, bringing to life an original story grounded in Mayan and Yoruba cosmologies. Through embodied poetry, song and dance, she uplifts the feminine divine and investigates ways we communicate the meaning of love. storäe is committed to the sharing of these stories with women of color as subject—[re]mythologizing and unearthing the narratives of our ancestors.
Photography by Anne Hoilman.
Black women who write in their native tongue.
Poetry is the language of knowing. It begins in your gut, igniting intuition. For a woman—especially, a woman of color—her words dance along the pages in a rhythm that reunites her truth from the spaces that fade in-between. Poetry is also her prayers and tears that reverberate the blurred words that most don’t know to listen to. My heart-work addresses the ritualized fragmentation of black women into caricatures—in order to call back their bodies, black women must both write and [re]mythologize the story of their bodies. I use my artistic license to intentionally write and engage with voices using the language of poetry—honoring its’ epistemology of healing and transformation.
Photography by: Anne Hoilman
[the listening heart] an original film.
written and directed by storäe michele.
An Afro-Native Futuristic film, [the listening heart] is performed by an amazing cast of all women of color, embodying poetry, song, and dance. This film uplifts the feminine divine and investigates the ways in which we communicate meanings of love.
[the listening heart], brings to life an original story grounded in Mayan and Yoruba cosmologies. The protagonist Ix Chel originated from collaborative conversations with Edyka Chilomé, as a child healer learning the meanings of the word "love." [Re]indigenizing the myth of the Mayan Goddess Ix Chel –a healer connected to Earth as a midwife of safe passage– this story follows a common paradigm of women who are hurt and disembodied when going against social norms. But, in this film, their voices are reclaimed through self-healing.
Brave space is created to speak to the mistruths we were given about love and ways to radically transform them through art as ritual, folk-talk and deep listening.
This film features dynamic individuals: Jadele McPherson, Shantez Tolbut, Jaguar Mary X, Kevonnie Shelton, Cocoa Sarai, Jaye Watts, Alexandria Johnson, Esperanza Lin, Medina Ouida, Kay Lowry, Tamara Dumay Murad, Jessica Peñaranda and Jazmin Peralta--who are exceptional artist, performers, entrepreneurs, mothers, activists, singers, songwriters, dancers, poets, & educators. Brilliant avant garde make-up design by Janis Crespo. This piece is beautifully captured by our dynamic cinematographer Cspinfilms Chris Gman. Powerful program production by sacred arts activist, Je' Hooper, founder of FrequencyHouse productions. Soulful & rhythmic sound production by Ony Irv.
The opening screening took place Thursday, April 6, 2017 at Pratt Institute in Memorial Hall. This screening featured an opening ritual by John Scott-Richardson, and panel discussion with the director & cast. Moderated by Yazmine Nichols.
Photography by Cspinfilms Chris Guzman.
magic moon | within.
I OPEN my mouth as wide as I possibly can
I will be a wombyn with a moon falling from my mouth
The moon made it uncomfortable to speak
Sore from sinking into a fixed posture
Battle scar craters
The moon harvested the power
Of what I now speak.
I scratch at my roots
Scratching out the stinking thoughts
Scratching out the dead air
Wild thoughts are sent fly-ing
Daggers in the wind
I am shielded by my truth.
What I am left with is unexplainable
In any language,
I am rooted and yet extended
Bees buzzing ‘round
Are they jealous because stars shine bright?
Picking one that sings to
covered in midnight violet orchids
What was silent and bare
Is now saturated
Never again empty.
My stages of growth are reflected in the phases of
Making room for other moons
As our mouths now wide
Dancing lamp posts,
Singing loudly in a new key
Glowing in the darkness
Resonating with conviction in our hearts.
To explore storäe michele's presentations, heart-work & speaking engagements, please click here.
interdisplinary artist. contemplative practitioner.
Creative Writer | Storyteller | Art Therapist | Director | Visual & Performative Arts | Ritual Performance | Producer | Project Manager | [Art]ivist | Facilitator | Educator | Community Engagement | Speaker | Interfaith Dialogue | Bold Collaborator |
Union Theological Seminary. New York City, 2014-2017. [Masters of Divinity.]
Barrie School: Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies. Silver Spring, MD, 2012. [Elementary I.]
Corcoran College of Art and Design. Washington, D.C. 2011. [Arts Integration.]
George Washington University, Washington, DC; 2010-2011. [Family Institute—Special Education.]
Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, 2005-2008. [Masters of Professional Studies in Creative Arts Therapy and Creativity Development.]
University of Maryland, College Park, MD; 2000-2004. [Bachelor of Arts in Individualized Studies: Art Reflections on the Human Condition.]
“Art as Ritual: [the listening heart] A Workshop & Film Screening.” Selected for The Women's Track: The Dignity of Women Across the World's Wisdom Traditions at The Parliament of the World’s Religions 2018—Toronto, CA, 2018.
Co-Facilitator, “Believe Black Women: A Communal Discussion,” the people’s Judson series, Judson Memorial Church—NY, NY, 2018.
Panelist, “Ancestors In Training: Queering Divinity - A Communal Conversation,” Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute—Harlem, NY, 2018.
Panelist, “A Stoop Conversation: Writing Black Queer Life Stories”, Lit Crawl Literacy Series—Brooklyn, NY, 2018.
Women Cinemakers, Special Edition Interview, “WomenCinemakers meets Storäe Michele, Art & Independent Cinema” published August 2018—Berlin, Germany, 2018.
Writer, Director and Co-edited, [the listening heart], an original story and film, officially selected for the following film festivals: Mediterranean Film Festival Cannes—Cannes, France 2017; Compassion Fest—Carbondale, Colorado, 2018.
Co-facilitator, “Healing the Disconnections: Home and Family in Our Natural and Constructed Environments,” Co-facilitator, American Ethical Union Annual Assembly—Albuquerque, New Mexico, 2018.
Co-facilitator, “Poly: A Storytelling, Truth-Telling, and Word-Working,” Queering Radical Pedagogies Black Lives Matter Pratt Conference, Pratt Institute—New York, NY, 2018.
Theology, Aesthetics & Art, Section Chair & Moderator, Mid-Atlantic Region American Academy of Religion 2018—New Brunswick, New Jersey, 2018.
Panelist, National Women’s Studies Association Annual Conference: "40 Years After Combahee: Feminist Scholars and Activists Engage the Movement for Black Lives,"—Baltimore, MD, 2017.
Presenter, “Your Faith on Feminism: Intersectional Feminist Theology Responds to the Climate of Fear” Conference, hosted by the World Student Christian Federation in North America, at the University of Alberta—Edmonton, Alberta, 2017.
Writer, Director, Co-editor, Creative Director, & Stylist of [the listening heart], an original story and film, presented at Pratt Institute—Brooklyn, NY, 2017.
Theology, Aesthetics & Art, Section Co-Chair & Moderator, Mid-Atlantic Region American Academy of Religion 2016-17—New Jersey, 2017.
Presenter, Art as Ritual: Intersections of Art, Environmental Justice and the Power of Resistance, Ohio Interfaith Power & Light, Earth-keeping Summit 2016—Columbus, Ohio, 2016.
Moderator & Performer, 2016 International Black Arts Movement Conference, at Dillard University—New Orleans, Louisiana.
An original eco-poetic | eco-feminist film, Landscaping Change Conference, at Bath Spa University—Bath Spa, London, 2016.
Key Speaker, [Re]storing the Legacy of Women in Community as Leaders and Builders, as the Keepers and Transmitters of Faith, Culture and Tradition and as the Cornerstone of Society and Global Community, The Commission on the Status of Women 2016—United Nations Church Center, The New Seminary Sacred Women’s Circle, 2016.
Key Speaker, SpiriTalk: Artist as Human—Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, 2016. Presenter, 10th Anniversary Conference of the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, at The University of Florida—Gainesville, Florida, 2016.
Presenter, 2015 VIII Annual World Youth Forum “Right to Dialogue”, “Old and New Poverties: Europe and other worlds”—Trieste, Italy, 2015.
Presenter, 2015 LTP Student Christian Movement- (SCM) USA National Leadership Training Program—New York University at the Spiritual Life Center in NY, NY, 2015.
Presenter, 2015 MAR-AAR conference, Building Bridges: Exploring Avenues of Connection in an Age of Religious Pluralism—Loyola University Maryland in Columbia, MD, 2015.
Artistic stylist | Costume designer, New Sanctuary: a film & ritual, directed by Andre' Daughtry--Judson Memorial Church, NY, NY, 2017.
Body Ecology Associate Artist, The Body Ecology Performance Project, under the direction of Ebony Noelle Golden, CEO and Principal Engagement Strategist of Betty's Daughter Arts Collaborative—NY, NY, 2016.
Co-Director, I Am Whole. An Original Ritual Performance. Created by Elaina Smith and Michele Stanback—Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, 2016.
Actor, Tamar: The Two-Gated City, A Staged Reading and Talk Back, written by Emma Goldman-Sherman, directed by Keisha Kogan—Performed at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, 2016.
Spoken Word Performer, Sorrow’s Gift: An original performance, produced by Min. J.C. Thompson, CEO of The Faith Centre NYC—Performed at Union Theological Seminary, 2016.
Actor and Collaborative Writer, The Thecla Project. The Yes, And Ministry—Performed throughout NYC and Philadelphia, 2014-.
4th Grade ELA Teacher, Harlem Village Academy Elementary School West—Harlem, NY 2018-
English Language Arts Specialist, Harlem Village Academy Middle School West—Harlem, NY 2017-2018.
Ethics Teacher, Ethics for Children; Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture—Brooklyn, NY 2017-2018.
Lower Elementary (1st-3rd grade) Lead Teacher, Baltimore Montessori Public Charter School—Baltimore, MD 2012-2014.
Kindergarten Lead Teacher, Arts and Technology Academy Public Charter—Washington, D.C., 2011-2012.
Lead Teacher & Early Childhood Task Force Leader, Friendship Public Charter School—Washington, D.C., 2009-2011.
Lead Teacher & Atelierista, School for Arts in Learning Public Charter (SAIL)—Washington, D.C., 2005- 2009.
Art & Humanities Intern, Intersections International—New York, New York, 2016-2017.
Community Organizer, SpiritHouse—Durham, NC, 2016.
Student Senate, Secretary—Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, 2015-2016.
Student Fellow, Center for Earth Ethics—Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, 2015.
Artist-in-Residence | Art Therapist, School for Arts in Learning Public Charter School—Washington D.C., 2005-2008.
Art Therapy Intern, Healing the Heart, M.V. Leckie Elementary School, Sponsored by Children National Medical Center—Washington D.C., 2002-2003.
Member, National Women's Studies Association, 2016-
Member, Riverdale-Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture, 2015-
Member, World Christian Student Federation, North American Region, 2015-
Student Member, The International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 2015-2017.
Student Member, American Academy of Religion, 2015-
references available upon request
Storae Michele as Artistic stylist | Costume designer, New Sanctuary: a film & ritual, directed by Andre' Daughtry | featuring Ricarrdo Valentine and Orlando Hunter of Brother(hood) Dance!--Judson Memorial Church, NY, NY, 2017.
As a costume designer, I fashioned garments for futuristic angels made from found objects and trash to be featured in a film project that addressed the inhumane treatment of immigrants. Following Ramesh, a Guyanese immigrant, the film records his walk to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices where he was required to check-in three times per week. I was deeply moved to have dressed the two angels who accompany Ramesh, adorn him with amulets, and dress his arrest anklet— a symbol of criminalization and the injury he incurred upon each visit. This procession took place in public, with the angels performing a public declaration of his humanity. It was groundbreaking to witness Ramesh walk in profound confidence in the busy streets of downtown NYC, and to watch crowds of people make room for him in a country where he struggled to find such space.
Top photo by Andre' Daughtry.