"No more 'starving artists.' I believe in building "THRIVING ARTIST Communities. This philosophy has guided my life. Let us create and sustain ourselves through the mindful sharing of resources and ethical support." - Queen Mother Imakhu
Queen Mother Imakhu was a mom, wife, and full-time working artist when she was ordained as an Interfaith minister on December 27, 1997. She immediately began her ministry at her dining room table, feeding artists while answering their practical business questions about how to improve their careers, and spiritual questions of how to improve their lives. Over the years, Queen Mother has provided temporary housing, jobs, food, holistic healing, resources, business workshops, valuable connections, emotional support, and spiritual counseling to artists in their transitional points lives. She has also provided practical and holistic services to at-risk youth, in detention homes, to re-entry who have come back into society, and to neighbors with no addresses who were in transition.
As a full-time working artist, Queen Mother has faced a number of experiences of not being paid on time (or at all) for provided services. She knows how it feels to be disrespected as an artist, and how client or administrative neglect can create financial and emotional chaos. This has fueled her passion to help other artists overcome their own circumstances, and to educate arts administrators about giving proper respect to artists.
"What would the world be without art? Artists are needed. We enhance and influence society. No more 'broke and brokenness' when it comes to artists. It's time for us all to change our thinking. We are THRIVING artists." Queen Mother Imakhu has coined the term, "Artistic Wellness Practitioner" - one who has embraced the arts, the art of wellness, and the art of living well.
Queen Mother Imakhu's artists ministry eventually evolved to become Shenu Art & Yoga Sanctuary. In 2014, she opened the doors of her welcoming personal art studio. All who entered experienced calming incense, meditation music, and a living room-like sitting area surrounded by Queen Mother's visual art and clothing designs. African drums and percussion were available to Queen Mother's private music students, or for an impromptu drum circle. Herbal teas were offered to anyone who had a challenging day, or who just needed to talk (including local business people). The small food pantry discreetly provided groceries to artists who were between pay checks. Upon entering another door, visitors walked into the Shenu Yoga Temple. There, Queen Mother provided free and donation-based Khametic motivational yoga and meditation.
(Khametic is the term for Ancient Egyptian philosophy - a universal African empowerment tradition. Shenu is a Khametic word for harmonious circle; accountability.) Each session was goal oriented, encouraging students to visualize where they wanted and needed to be in there lives.
"My satisfaction came through the consistent reports of positive breakthroughs," Queen Mother says. "It's important to create healing spaces. Even the performances and events I produced in that space were driven by positive motivation."
Shenu Art & Yoga Sanctuary is now Shenu Harmonious Living Peace Centers, done as pop-up events to provide healing to a variety of artist communities. This "moveable feast" provides business, motivational, and holistic workshops to teach financial, emotional, and physical wellness, and connecting artists to local emergency resources for transitioning through temporary and dire challenges. Queen Mother Imakhu has invited her team of Artistic Wellness Practitioner experts to bring their talents and knowledge with the public at certain Shenu events.