Connecting Is My Livelihood

Culture, Humanities

Gabrielle’s Story
“I am because you are, and because we are, I am.”
-Ubuntu/Zulu Philosophy

I came from parents who discovered in the mid-1960s that love transcends skin color.
My mother and father, one from a small farming town in Iowa and the other from Cabrini-Green projects in Chicago, endured trials and tribulations together because of race. Unified, they advocated for the Civil Rights Movement and marched in Chicago with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Because they fought for human rights…I am.

Exploring my biracial identity, I realized I come from two races and a wealth of cultures.Mother Africa Waits
During childhood, my mother helped me connect with children from international
cultures and attend events that cultivated an appreciation for the “global family”
culture. Through my formal and informal education, I’ve learned I possess passion for
embracing both unique individualism and universal culture aspects that bind humanity.

Internationally, one may discover that people CREATE for similar reasons. Could that
be due to our scientifically researched and connected DNA link to one African mother,
“Mitochondrial Eve?” Humanity has an impact on the earth we share, so I’d like to instill the African principle of Sankova in our young people. Sankofa, a concept from the
Ashanti and Akan people of Ghana, means “To reach back in the past, to understand
who we are and where we came from and move forward in the future.” I feel a forward
movement when I’m teaching African culture-based visual arts lessons. Moving
students’ minds to a deeper place of self-discovery and connectivity to where we ALL
come from, yields a sense of justice, balance and unity.

Offering culturally-integrated arts sessions through African Culture Connection and
my entrepreneurial business, G. D’Ebony Outreach, teaches others to look inside
themselves, form positive identity, and push further to embrace living purposefully. The
arts and creative process allow for insightful personal journeys, which can focus and
change lives. In the summer of 2013, I will travel to West Africa, home of my ancestors. May my journey be bound with the journeys of those which are “WE,” and may it be an artful journey.

About Gabrielle (aka G. D’Ebony)G D'Ebony bio photo
Certified to teach Art K-12, with a BS in Education from UNO and an ESL Endorsement from 
Concordia University, Gabrielle Gaines-Liwaru draws from her own multicultural heritage, reflecting diversity in her preference for mixed-media.

Gabrielle has facilitated workshops at UNO, the Hope Center for Kids, the Solomon Center for Girls, Nebraska Children’s Home Society, Omaha Performing Arts and Girls, Inc. In addition, she has partnered with UNO faculty, community organizations and local artists, to orchestrate mural projects and service-learning experiences for kids. As a working board member of African Culture Connection (ACC), Gabrielle has enjoyed teaching artist opportunities to engage students in African culture-based art projects in several OPS schools.

The arts transcend barriers and perpetuate positive change. Through arts, we celebrate our individual strengths, as well as our connections to others – historically, globally, nationally, and locally in our community.