Making It Real

Growing up, I was afraid to express myself. I always had a love of reading, but I never told anyone about my interest in fashion because I was embarrassed.

It wasn’t until later in high school that I started to open up about my desire to create. There was a lot of trial and error; I realized that I needed to tell my own story, not what I thought others wanted me to say. It wasn’t until I founded Culture Piece Magazine in 2016 that I realized I didn’t need to conform to anyone’s standards but my own.

After I had a name for the magazine, the rest came naturally. I had previously written for other publications, but I could never get over the fact that I didn’t have creative control over what I published. So I decided to create my own world.

Culture Piece Magazine is a Twin Cities-based online publication featuring art, culture, and music. We publish everything from concert reviews to coverage of local fashion shows. We create original photoshoots featuring local, national, and international talent.

My pride and joy are the events. From fashion shows to music- based showcases to our “Serenity Sunday” self-care gatherings, we draw hundreds of fashion, music, and life enthusiasts.

When I produced my first event, I was humbled by the amount of people who came up to me afterwards to say how much it had inspired them. I never thought that I would have the power to bring that out in anyone.

I remember bawling an hour before that first event while filling the gift bags. I was nervous about people judging me and my magazine. I had this irrational fear that no one would show up, even though we had already sold out. It was imposter syndrome building up inside me. I could not believe that I was finally doing something I was proud of, and I thought it was too good to be true.

The only way to have a truly inclusive event is to ensure that the people who are working on each aspect represent diversity, and are getting paid in a real way. I am proud to say that Culture Piece’s events feature an entirely POC lineup of hairstylists, makeup artists, production teams, and entertainers. Everyone is paid for their contributions to the show.

When I founded the magazine as a 19-year-old Black woman in a white-dominated world, I knew it was about moving strategically to build my own seat at my own table.

Maya Clark

I am also mindful of diversity within the POC community. In every one of my shows, there are a mix of races, gender identities, and sexualities.

Of course, running the magazine and events by myself, learning as I go,  is a draining experience. I have no blueprint and I feel  a ton of pressure. From journalism to photography to creative directing, for the most part it is all me.

Why Do It?

I have a deep fear of being forgotten. It motivates me. Although people die and people forget, art never dies, which is why I have a strong desire to create.

Maybe I will get over my fear of being forgotten, or maybe not. I am looking forward to our future, which includes a podcast and our first print issue, arriving on our four-year anniversary in June 2020.

In the past, it seemed as though I was constantly in a battle with myself, and within the fashion and art community, to find a way to “fit in.” When I founded the magazine as a 19-year-old Black woman in a white-dominated world, I knew it was about moving strategically to build my own seat at my own table.

Maya Clark (she/her) is the mother of her infant boy, Reign. She is a 23-year-old St. Paul native. Details: culturepiecemag.com

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