NJPAC Celebrates Kwanzaa

You may ask…what is Kwanzaa?

The following text is from this link :

In 1966 Dr. Maulana Karenga created a uniquely African American and Pan-African holiday called Kwanzaa, which is celebrated from December through January first. Kwanzaa is related to many African celebrations of the first harvest. The name Kwanzaa comes from a Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” which translates as first fruits.

In African-American culture Kwanzaa is a time for five fundamental activities:

  • To reestablish interpersonal bonds

  • To express reverence to the creator

  • To commemorate and honor ancestors

  • To commit to following cultural ideals

  • To celebrate life, family, community and culture

Kwanzaa recognizes and celebrates these 7 principles of African culture:

  • Umoja (unity): To work towards unity with others whether family members or members of a larger community.

  • Kujichagulia (self-determination): To define oneself and find one’s unique voice in the world.

  • Ujima (collective work and responsibility): To cooperate in community building and problem solving.

  • Ujamaa (cooperation): To build and sustain business from which the community as a whole profits.

  • Nia (purpose): To collectively strive towards cultural unity based on tradition.

  • Kuumba (creativity): To use our creativity to improve our community.

  • Imani (faith): To believe in each other, our leaders, and the righteousness of our struggle.

During Kwanzaa, children receive gifts of books and heritage symbols. The book represents the value of learning recognized since ancient Egypt and the symbol is to remind the child of his or her commitment to African traditions.

Kwanzaa colors are red, green, and black. A mat (called a mkeka) is laid on a table and decorated with 7 candles representing the 7 principles and one is lit on each day of Kwanzaa. Ears of corn are placed on the mkeka, along with a unity cup (called a kikombe cha umoja) for pouring libations in honor of the ancestors. The mkeka is also decorated with beautiful art objects and books that represent the best that African culture has to offer.

The final day of Kwanzaa is set aside for reflection. Celebrants spend this day in quiet contemplation and maintain a peaceful, humble attitude towards others. It is a time for individuals to answer three questions:

  • Who am I?

  • Am I really who I say I am?

  • Am I all I ought to be?

Answering these questions honestly can bring about a renewed commitment to being the best we can be and to honoring the time honored African cultural traditions. Kwanzaa does not reflect any religion but rather plays tribute to ancient cultural values and traditions.

As you can see it is a beautiful holiday and I was very happy to be referred to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) to photograph their Kwanzaa celebration back in December. It had all that you read above, including speakers from the President and CEO John Schreiber, Vice President of  Community Engagement, Donna Walker of NJPAC, and three of the Elders. These Elders were honored by dancers and young  people.

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Leaders Luncheon With Burlington Coat Factory and The Phillie Phanatic

I had the pleasure to photograph another fun event for the Burlington Coat Factory back in December for their end of the year Leaders Luncheon. It was held inside the Diamond Club at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team and their mascot, the Phillies Phanatic. This was a lot of fun, because the Phanatic was up to his usual mischief(I even got a photo with him!), and then afterwards, they split up the large group into 2 groups to tour the field and where the Phillies warm up, their locker room, and the media room.

The Diamond Club offers sweeping views right above home plate in the ballpark, and lucky for us, the month was mild, so we were able to go outside and not have to worry too much about jackets. It was “brisk” with the breeze, but a gorgeous day!

Thank you once again to everyone at Burlington Coat Factory and of course, the Phillie Phanatic 😀 You were awesome!

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Painting, Wine, Food, and Fun at Pinot’s Palette in Princeton

On the night of January 22th, 2016 Pinot’s Palette Princeton had its VIP Grand Opening in Forrestal Village.  It was a huge event for Kathleen and her husband, Michael, who decided to open up their own franchise after going to a night of painting at another Pinot’s Palette.  At these venues you can eat, bring wine and paint! They are great for a date night, going out with friends and co-workers or with family.

They hired Suzanne O’Rourke of  www.cre8astory.com played a big part to plan the event to bring it all together and also hired me to capture the event.

Please note all images copyright Deirdre Ryan Photography. Do note screen grab images, it’s not only bad karma, it’s also illegal, thank you 🙂

Grand Opening of Prineton's Pintot's Palette Photo by Deirdre Ryan Photography

Grand Opening of Prineton's Pintot's Palette Photo by Deirdre Ryan Photography

Grand Opening of Prineton's Pintot's Palette Photo by Deirdre Ryan Photography

Grand Opening of Prineton's Pintot's Palette Photo by Deirdre Ryan Photography

Grand Opening of Prineton's Pintot's Palette Photo by Deirdre Ryan Photography

It was catered by Tre Piani, and House of Cupcakes.

Grand Opening of Prineton's Pintot's Palette Photo by Deirdre Ryan Photography

Grand Opening of Prineton's Pintot's Palette Photo by Deirdre Ryan Photography

Grand Opening of Prineton's Pintot's Palette Photo by Deirdre Ryan Photography

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The balloons were done by Monday Morning Flowers & Balloon Co.

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Grand Opening of Prineton's Pintot's Palette Photo by Deirdre Ryan Photography

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Grand Opening of Prineton's Pintot's Palette Photo by Deirdre Ryan Photography

Grand Opening of Prineton's Pintot's Palette Photo by Deirdre Ryan Photography

After the mayor of Plainsboro and the President of the Princeton Chamber of Commerce helped to cut the ribbon to official open, Kathleen and Michael said a few lovely words.

Grand Opening of Prineton's Pintot's Palette Photo by Deirdre Ryan Photography

Grand Opening of Prineton's Pintot's Palette Photo by Deirdre Ryan Photography

Grand Opening of Prineton's Pintot's Palette Photo by Deirdre Ryan Photography

Michael gave her a small gift, it was a beautiful moment 🙂Grand Opening of Prineton's Pintot's Palette Photo by Deirdre Ryan Photography Grand Opening of Prineton's Pintot's Palette Photo by Deirdre Ryan Photography

Afterwards, everyone started to eat, have some wine and settle in to start with the painting lesson!Grand Opening of Prineton's Pintot's Palette Photo by Deirdre Ryan Photography Grand Opening of Prineton's Pintot's Palette Photo by Deirdre Ryan Photography Grand Opening of Prineton's Pintot's Palette Photo by Deirdre Ryan Photography

This was our awesome painting instructor!

Grand Opening of Prineton's Pintot's Palette Photo by Deirdre Ryan Photography

Everyone had a great time!Grand Opening of Prineton's Pintot's Palette Photo by Deirdre Ryan Photography

Grand Opening of Prineton's Pintot's Palette Photo by Deirdre Ryan Photography

Grand Opening of Prineton's Pintot's Palette Photo by Deirdre Ryan Photography

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After every painting party there’s a photo of everyone holding their finished piece and a funny, crazy photo right afterwards like the one below. Grand Opening of Prineton's Pintot's Palette Photo by Deirdre Ryan Photography Grand Opening of Prineton's Pintot's Palette Photo by Deirdre Ryan PhotographyGrand Opening of Prineton's Pintot's Palette Photo by Deirdre Ryan Photography

When everyone left, I wanted to get a shot of Kathleen, Michael and their staff of talented people together. It was a great night, but the wind was kicking up because as we remember, that was the night of a huge blizzard and we all drove home in it and made it home safely.

Thank you everyone for such a great night and for letting me be a part of it!

Lighting the Night For Lymphoma and Leukemia

 

When you’re part of a larger picture for an assignment, filled with people who are fighting for their lives, survivors or who have lost loved ones to cancer, you know that the photos you’re taking are special to those around you.

A fellow photographer was unable to shoot that night, so I was able to step in. Photographing for Burlington Coat Factory Stores last week for the Light The Night Walk at Forrestal Village in Princeton, NJ, made me once again, feel grateful.

We have all been touched by cancer of some kind, whether in our family, a co-worker, a friend or yourself.  Take a moment each day, to look around you, breathe, and be thankful for all that we have.
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