April 29, 2018 Interviews
Returning Home with the Artist and Designer in her Washington Heights Studio
As a textile artist and designer, Mengly creates work for her textile brand Linea Germania that is instinctive, refined and free-flowing. Born and raised in Washington Heights, NYC where she still lives with her husband and two children, Mengly is passionate about global travel and remains deeply influenced by her Dominican heritage.
With Shydeia Caldwell
Photographed by Dee Williams
Tell us about what you have been working on recently.
The shoot that I worked on recently for my new collection entitled "Daydreaming in Present" was captured by the talented Curt Saunders and co-styled and art directed by me and Jazzmine Bustamante. We featured two models for the campaign. The first of the more colorful images is Friday and the second model is Lauren Muller.
It was important for me to work with women of color for various reasons. First, I feel we are underrepresented in the industry. So I wanted to work with creative women who embodied an inner and outer strength coupled with a feeling of softness. I feel many times women of color are portrayed as angry and tough. However, it was important to show us in our natural state of openness and strength.
One of the photo shoots were captured in my neighborhood, Washington Heights. It was vital for me to include staples of our Dominican culture. For those who do not know, Washington Heights has a high percentage of Caribbean people mainly coming from the Dominican Republic. For that reason, I chose to incorporate staples like plantains and fruits. The most important representation was capturing the life of a creative woman. In the images, you will see her first few hours after waking up and you can follow her through food shopping, grabbing flowers and finally visiting her studio to create magic.
Where are you from? What was a defining memory from your origin?
I was born in Harlem, NY and raised in Washington Heights with parents who are both from the Dominican Republic. I love my culture and appreciate the beauty of color, music, and food. All the elements I mentioned are a very important part of Dominican people and they influence my design work. Especially as it pertains to color. I do not necessarily have a defining memory. I think of it more as a mixture of influences and different experiences. Growing up in NYC in the 80s has inscribed vivid memories for me. Growing up in a Dominican neighborhood has also influenced me, but the greatest factor of influence is my curiosity to explore and learn about my culture and those of others.
Necklace made by Lulu Bak
You expressed your passion to lay down roots and not run away from the place that shaped you. How are you currently laying down roots in Washington Heights, New York?
I am laying down roots by organizing and helping people in my place of residence to make a difference. It’s easy to run away from a place that you feel is not exactly where you want it to be and go to a place that you feel has more but sometimes you get to a point that guides you to do the work right where you are. To be the difference in order to make a difference.
Describe your personal style. How does it reflect back to your way of life?
My personal style is based on mood and functionality. I operate and dress on extremes at times. I love color and texture and often try to incorporate those elements in the way I dress. On the other spectrum, I am a mother of a 2-year-old and a business owner so there are times when I choose clothing based on comfort and monochrome elements. It is easy to get up and go without having to think too much.
How has your experiences as a woman of color revolutionized your aesthetic development?
My aesthetic development is tied to being a woman of color incidentally and very purposefully. Working and evolving with purpose means knowing who I am on multiple levels. Being of a woman of color is on a very high level for me.
What does returning home mean to you?
Returning home means feeling at ease and a sense of comfort to a place you recognize not only visually but with all your feeling.
is part of
a theme that the Black Girl Magik collective explored and invited the community to investigate with us through a practice of communal healing and coalition building.