Category: Kings Style Published on Sunday, 08 May 2011 13:52 Written by Ron Coxson Hits: 1109
When I first met Nate Couser, I was admittedly stunned by his disposition. The African-inspired clothes, military boots, and brown backpack was what I would expect from a “Black power,” or “Black is beautiful” type. However the Afro-hawk, cheetah cat smile, and most surprising, a hearty room filling laugh were welcome surprises. I have to be honest, when I first meet individuals with an Afro-centric “outlook,” I often attach a military spirit to them. Given the archetypical Black Panther look, and the severity of the social climate from which it arose, it is it understandable. Nate knows this approach and through his beautiful work, helps us all to remember that being aware is not only about being proud, but also rejoicing in our beauty.
Nate is a graduate of Coppin State University’s Theatre Arts program, which included coursework in theatre, visual arts, and Africana cultural courses. His program was headed by world renowned professor Amini Courts. “[At] Coppin, Dr. Courts allowed my love of theatre and performing to grow in various forms.” While there, Nate realized that he not only had a knack for acting, but also for costuming. His costumes help to bring life to shows not only at Coppin but also at various other local theatre companies. Kuumba Collective and traveling national tours are two examples. At Coppin, Nate met individuals not only in the arts scene but was also highly involved in politics and academia. He met several “Accentics and realized that individuals can wear many hats – artist, parent, teacher, author and do all of them well.” More importantly, at Coppin he found his “personal style (which is) never trendy nor on purpose. I like the wow factor of fashion and art. This has been translated in my work, my life, my style and my creativity."
After about 3 years “of working with and for everyone else,” Nate took a step out on faith and started Vashtiblue, an accessory line that offers support for various after school programs and art- based nonprofits. Nate recalls “taking classes and learning from elders all around and saw a place in the market.” Baltimore is a place full of shops and consumers, [ I know it may seem weird but Swagger runs a mock in Baltimore. The Swaggakings writing this article is from there, but I digress] but it lacks jewelry outlets catering to this particular audience, so he jumped in.
As I took a stroll through the artist gallery/apartment, I was taken aback by the artwork. The works varied from pieces from his days working for African art dealers to framed Peanut cartoons. When we walked into the studio room I was engulfed by the colors of the pieces. The greens, yellows, and bronzes often associated with the Black Pride Movement centered the color scheme. Nate almost took the words out of my mouth when he confessed, “I love to take an abnormal material and make it a wonderful, wearable piece of art. My blackness isn't measured in how many black people I know, how many books I read, how big my afro is etc....”
There was a new energy transplanted in this room, a certain whimsical element to his pieces. The straight lines and hard curves that usually identify our African roots were played with and rearranged. The tradition still stands in his works, but with a twist. Nate’s magic is in taking raw materials and refining them to make it personal but still keeping in mind its original source. He’s like a great 90’s producer, who could take the original piece and rearrange it, thus making a remix.
-View more of Nate Couser’s Vashtiblue at www.vashtiblue.etsy.com
-Coupon code "smaggerking" (don't use the quotation marks) to receive a 15% discount , type in the coupon code when you are ready to purchases your order