Family

William Melvin Kelley PUBLISHER – Born in 1937 and raised mostly in the Bronx, NY, William Melvin Kelley began writing fiction at Harvard College under the guidance of John Hawkes and Archibald MacLeish. He has published novels A Different Drummer, A Drop of Patience, Dem, and Dunfords Travels Everywheres; and a book of short stories Dancers On The Shore. His fiction and non-fiction has appeared in such publications as The New Yorker, Esquire, Mademoiselle, Playboy and Mosaic. He has received awards and grants from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Rockerfeller Foundation and the New York Foundation of the Arts. A professor of creative writing, he has taught at Sarah Lawrence College since 1989. He lives in Harlem, USA surrounded by women, a female cat and a barky little dog.
JesiPortrait MANAGING EDITOR – Having lived the life of an artist’s child, The BearMaiden (Jesi Kelley) vowed that she would never be an artist. She had fairly meaningful careers in media sales and technology support spanning 14 years and commanded the highest salary any Kelley has made thus far. However, the noncreative life nearly pushed her to insanity and one lovely August day she walked off a job in the hedge fund industry.  One month later, the World Trade Center fell and she took that as her cue to succumb to destiny, rejoining the family business. At age 39, she was accepted at Pratt Institute to study graphic design and illustration. She freelances as a designer, but mostly she makes photographs. Citing Weegee and Cartier-Bresson as her influences, she seeks to tell a story within each image. Working digitally, her images pay homage to her darkroom training. She also writes, because it’s in her blood. Mother to one aspiring football player she currently resides in Harlem, up the hill from the elderKelleys and the Kelley With The Letters After Her Name.
Aiki CONTRIBUTOR – An art teacher at Sarah Lawrence once told the class that for a woman to become a Great Artist she should remain single; devoted to her creativity above all else. Aiki (Kelley) decided to make Art out of Family, to devote herself to staying creative creating a living breathing moving entity. She took baby #1 to Slugg’s jazz club to hear Thelonius Monk. In a three-bedroom Bronx apartment, the master bedroom was her studio, the baby had a room, the husband had a room to write in and the couple slept in the living room. Later in Paris, when baby #2 arrived Aiki worked on paper at the all-purpose table. Then the unit decamped to Kingston, Jamaica where they did home-school and they learned to draw and look and think and sew and look at the world. When she couldn’t paint, Aiki wrote poems; when she couldn’t write she learned to sew and she found Taijiquan. The babies–who now have babies–stayed their own independent, cantankerous, opinionated, brilliant selves.  And now the Art is the grand-babies, clear-eyed and amusing and the best of all, the Masterpiece, the Great grand-son is just that. And still, her most important work is before her.
ProfessorKelley CONTRIBUTOR – Cira is the Kelley With Letters After Her Name; currently “LMSW” and “SSW”. She obtained her BA in psychology at Touro college where she is also an adjunct professor, and has a Master’s degree in Social Work from Fordham University. Additionally, she has a diploma in Paralegal Studies, is a NYC licensed teacher and is currently working on a second master’s degree in Special Education. She didn’t have any teeth until she was over a year old, didn’t talk until she was two and didn’t begin her educational journey until she was a 28 year old mother of two. Cira has an uncanny ability to understand and attend to children, though she fights incessantly with her own beautifully recalcitrant and independent daughters. While she famously once declared she didn’t have an artistic bone in her body, the Kelley gene has compelled her to create beautiful wampum and beaded jewelry, inspired by her Blendian heritage. She lives in Harlem, across the courtyard from the elderKelleys.
The Blossom CONTRIBUTOR – A 19-year-old anthropology major, Blossom Kelley-Washington is taking a semester off from Hofstra University where she is a straight-A student. She has had a lifelong interest in biology, and a strong interest in social justice. Her second-favorite pastime is arguing with her mother, Cira. Her favorite past-time is studying earlobes. She plans to write a paper exploring the genetic differences of earlobes for her future thesis.
Miss ChiChi CONTRIBUTOR – Born a Wrighton, Cherlonda adopted the Kelley jingle not too long after her birth—before she could even speak. And once she started talking she never stopped, earning the moniker “Radio Londa, broadcasting non-stop from 7AM to 7PM.” Her alter-ego Chi-Chi is “not really predictable and hates to be usual, standard typical, or anything of the normal sort” and tends to be around most of the time. Self-proclaimed “The Triple D’s—the Diva Dancing Darling” Chi Chi says that if the shoe fits, “I’m not going to just wear it; I’m going to dress it, flaunt it and let it morph flawlessly to my foot.” With flamboyant style and a lightfooted prance, she rocks the streets of NYC—all five boroughs of it—harder than any supermodel has ever rocked a runway. Born and raised Harlem, she owns it, and could run it in her sleep. Searingly honest and bitingly funny, Chi Chi will take you places you’ve never imagined but are right under your nose, her seven-year-old mini-me right behind her.
TraciDouglass PHOTOGRAPHER – Born in Central LA, Mr. Anderson arrived in New York City during the summer of ‘77. A precocious seven year old fascinated by trains, he took off to explore the subway system and found himself stranded on one during the great black out.  Alone.  At nine, his exasperated mother sent him to an exclusive English-style boarding school in rural New Jersey hoping to contain his wandering spirit and lack of fear. A year later the school took the young boy and his classmates to Europe. With instructions to take pictures of everything, his mother presented him with a camera and during the month-long trip, far from home and taunted by his white classmates he found solace through the camera lens. Later, he found a niche shooting for “eye candy” magazines but his deep love of fashion and trends has transitioned him into the fashion world. Not born a Kelley, Mr. Anderson was unwittingly sucked into the KelleyFamilyVortex where he become an integral member.
RicoKayKay JUNIOR CORRESPONDENT – At 14, Joshua is a reluctant violinist who has already played on some of the more exciting stages in NYC alongside members of the Performance Ensemble at Opus 118. But his true love is football. Three years ago he signed himself up for a Harlem team, and this year with no introductions and a lot of hard work this high school freshman made the junior varsity team. He is also an avowed “Sneaker Head”, hiphop fan and Playstation gamer. The one thing he dislikes most is homework and he finds creative ways not to do any.
skycarday-01 COMIC RELIEF – Possessing the same dramatic flair as his mother Miss Chi Chi, almost-eight-year-old Skycarday loves to dance and beatbox. He also draws and creates amazing things out of duct tape and cardboard boxes. While he won’t have a contributing profile on this magazine, we are quite certain he will have things to share that we will all take turns posting on his behalf.
Photos: Images of  The BearMaiden, Aiki and Miss ChiChi copyright Noxie Studio Digital Photography. All other images on this page copyright The BearMaiden.
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3 responses to “Family

  1. Blossom! You have turned out to be such a beautiful woman! The last time I saw you, you were at CPE2 as a beautiful little girl. I was your teacher (Mary) and I am so honored to have taught you and proud of how far you have already gotten in life!

    • Mary, of course I remember you! You were my favorite teacher then, and someone who I still talk about today. You were such a kind person and an amazingly dedicated educator. You are one of the reasons why I’m a writer. I still remember you letting me sit in a corner and read when I got too overwhelmed, or when you would let my friends and I braid your long red hair lol. Or, that fun trip we made to queens to see your parents jewelry shop.

      You never made me feel strange, weird or different for being who I am. I remember how dedicated you were to us little heathens as a teacher, and how proud you were of us even though we couldn’t appreciate it at the time. Thank you so much for your kind words, but please know that without your guidance and support, I would have turned out very different. I wish you nothing but the best.

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