Poetry and photography zine Tessellation explores piecing yourself back together—while raising funds for Barrier Babes.

By Kelcie McKenney
Photos by Travis Young

I reached a creative roadblock in the midst of the 2020 pandemic. I wasn’t making things for myself, and my mental health was suffering because of it. So I challenged myself to make. And this book was created.

Over the fall of 2020, I pieced together poetry and film photography to create Tessellation, a zine about falling apart and putting yourself back together again. 

Over a year and a half later, Tessellation is ready for the world. And because this zine helped me through a dark time, I want it to help others. So I’ve partnered with Barrier Babes—a Kansas City nonprofit that strives to promote inclusive and unapologetic sexual health education. Barrier Babes distributes condoms as a way to help lower rising STI rates in Kansas City. 

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Here’s the Deal with Mansplaining and Why it Needs to Stop

By Sophie Oswald
Illustrations by Matthew Vargas

“Men explain things to me, still. And no man has ever apologized for explaining, wrongly, things that I know and they don’t,” Rebecca Solnit remarked in her essay Men Explain Things to Me. While Solnit didn’t specifically use the word “mansplain” in her popular essay, she was one of the first to discuss this phenomenon. Conversations surrounding her essay shortly resulted in the term appearing in a comment section online.

Most women, maybe even all women, have been there. Men have been explaining things in patronizing ways for centuries. 

Generally, mansplaining involves a conversation between a man and a woman, but sometimes it can happen between two men or with a man and a non-binary person.

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How Photographer Jada Hester started her photography business

By Nicole Mitchell

Jada Hester is a photographer and small business co-owner of Film and Jpegs Studio located in Olathe, Kansas. Starting early on in photography, she has had plenty of time to create a style of art that is recognizable as hers—colorful, fun, and human-centered

Hester first got into photography when she was a child, following in her dad’s footsteps. “He had a cool camera when I was kid that I would play with,” she said. But it wasn’t until high school that she really considered photography as a potential career path. After graduating high school, she went to a local community college and took her first photography class. “It was fun to be around other photographers, but the class wasn’t 100% needed,” Hester said. “I thought, ‘Why didn’t I just teach myself all of this?’”

During the beginning of the pandemic, Hester and her boyfriend talked about creating a studio out of a shed in the backyard of her boyfriend’s parents’ house. With this, the two started a small business together (her boyfriend’s idea), offering Hester’s photography as a side job. “He’s more on the business side, and I’m on the art side,” she said. “Working together has been tough—as it would be in any relationship where they work together—but I’m really proud of it.” She shares that getting the shed started and creating their business together is what she’s most proud of in regards to her art.

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Cassie Taylor joins the music scene after years away from the spotlight

By Nicole Mitchell

Cassie Taylor has been a musician for all of her life—touring as a bassist with her father, Otis Taylor, from when she was 16. Stepping away from the spotlight in 2015 after the birth of her child, Taylor spent her time creating in other ways. She’s currently a full-time photographer and creative in Kansas City. But this weekend, March 5 and 6, she’ll be stepping on the stage once again.

Taylor has been working on new music for the past few years. Compared to her older music—such as her 2013 album Out Of My Mind—her music now is quite different. “When I produced my album in 2012, it was a product of the industry at the time,” she said. “The way that you made albums was to tour them. I really stripped them down and focused on the core. Production-wise it’s a lot different.” 

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Kharissa Forte prioritizes Black wellness, highlights self-care, in the heart of Kansas City

By Sophie Oswald
Photos by Travis Young

Kharissa Forte breaks through barriers. Today, she is a Black woman business owner at the wheel of Grace & Grind. It all started in 2018 when she and her husband, Wesley, were on the brink of filing for divorce, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Before Grace & Grind, Kharissa worked in digital marketing, social media, and website design. 

She was even an on-air radio personality and associate producer. She enjoyed her work in these positions, but she did not feel fulfilled. “Those industries can be so ego-centric, and I didn’t feel like I was actually making a difference in the world. Not to mention, I was smoking around the clock, and chugging energy drinks like my paycheck depended on it,” she explained. 

She was talented in these jobs and continued to work them for a while, but eventually, it all just clicked. “One day, I just had a breakdown and literally in that moment decided I want to work in health and wellness somehow. In hindsight, I think the need for me to prioritize my own health was the guiding light,” she said. “That year, it was 2019, I quit the agency I was at and started working at a local health store. I also enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to become a health coach. The next year, Grace & Grind was born,” she said. 

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