For our next episode of The New Black History series here at Stadium Goods, we’ve turned inward to feature an amazing individual from our own ranks. Ambi Lewis is an indispensable part of the Stadium Goods team as the Executive Assistant to our two CEOs. But all of us know her as so much more than that. Artist, astrologer, philosopher, healer, and all around bringer of good vibes, Ambi is the resident renaissance woman of the SG office. We sat with her to discuss a few of her many interests, including what Black History means to her. Find the video clip and full interview below.
Can you tell us your name, where you're from and what you do?
Ambi Lewis: My name is Ambika Martha Lewis. I'm from Brooklyn. I work at Stadium Goods for the CEOs. I'm their assistant. I'm an artist and healer, I study metaphysics, philosophy, lots of stuff.
What got you into philosophy, metaphysics, healing, et cetera?
AL: My childhood, it was kind of traumatic. So growing up and healing myself, I needed all kinds of tools and all of those tools became my interests.
And now you'd like to share that information with other people?
AL: Yeah, I mean, when it comes up in conversation, I don't go around preaching things that I've learned. But yeah, I definitely like to teach also.
What benefits or positive things has it brought to your life?
AL: I think the most important thing is self-expression and learning that it's okay to express yourself in whatever form you choose to. And expression comes from feeling. So you have to learn how to feel yourself to express yourself. So it's an entire process. So I think all of that led me to become an artist. I can learn how to express myself. I met the amazing photographer Jonathan Mannion and he asked me what I did and I started to cry. By the end of the conversation, basically what I got from it was learn how to tell my story. And I did. It may not be the way many people choose to or the way my friends wanted me to, but learning how to express myself and release myself through my art was a huge deal.
As for your art, can you tell us what some themes are that resonate with your work or how you would describe your work generally?
AL: The entire theme is, it's about having a broken heart. As I mentioned, I grew up in a traumatic childhood. So a lot of my having a broken heart had to do with my mother being mentally ill. At one point I started going to therapy and I didn't even realize that I was heartbroken. It was something that I learned from going to therapy and something that I learned from doing art. My therapist wasn't like, "Oh, you're heartbroken." And I wasn't like, "Oh, I'm here because I have a broken heart." It was something I had to figure out for myself. And I did that through creating. I mean literally, one day I picked up a paintbrush and a palette I found on the street and I just painted what I thought was just a heart. And then I took it to my therapist and he was like, "Oh, you're learning about yourself." And I was like, "Oh, okay."
So when I learned how broken I was at that point in my life, it became a huge theme of my art. So a lot of my paintings in the beginning were broken pieces of hearts that were put together because that's the state that I was in and that's what I was expressing without really realizing it. And over time it translated from painting broken hearts into making hearts out of razor blades.
And that's got its own meaning also: love hurts. And the amount of love that I put into trying to take care of my mother and the amount of pain that I experienced from being unsuccessful in getting her treatment and things like that, and then realizing it's not my responsibility anyway. So it was just a whole circle of love and pain and it's not necessarily the romantic kind of love that I've been focused on, but just love in general. I mean, so many things can break your heart, and especially with the chaos of the world right now, I think so many people are walking around broken and not even realizing it. So that's the whole theme of my heart work, which is what I call it.
One day some really tough macho guy from Brooklyn, actually part of my graffiti crew, sent me a message. He goes, "Oh, I always thought I was being macho and I was always laughing at your hearts pieces, until one day I realized how committed you are to your message. And it resonated." He was like, "You touched me." He was like, "You removed my macho senses and you really made me see something about myself." And I didn't know until he said that that people actually would see that. So I felt like, "Okay, there's a point to all this." Even if it's only one person out of hundreds that are going to see it and understand it, "Okay cool. I touched someone." So yeah, that's what my art's about.
What other mediums of art do you dabble in? And it doesn't have to just be physical, like you mentioned metaphysical healing. So what other things inspire you?
AL: I studied energy kinesiology, which is like a biofeedback system. So your body can tell you everything you need to learn about yourself. So I studied that intensively for a year and I've been practicing it for about 10 years now on myself and other people as it comes up. I'm not a hardcore pusher of the work, the energy work that I do. But I have used it for myself.
I've been studying the tarot heavily lately, but energy kinesiology is really where it's at. It has elements of Chinese medicine and the Hindus use mudras. So it combines all of these different things: chakras, acupressure points, all kinds of things that you can put together in so many different sequences to help so many different ailments. It's tapping into the subconscious emotional blockages that are trapped in the body and using all of the different facilities from all over the world. You can shift the energy to get people moving and heal and create better for themselves and understand themselves better.
Have you shown your art anywhere? Do you sell it? Where does it end up?
AL: I've done three shows. I have all of my hearts in a restaurant called The Heights in Crown Heights. I take commissions. I've sold pieces that I've made that people want when I post on Instagram. I had a show, I think it was two years ago at Kinfolk, and I sold a couple of pieces there. That was really cute. It was my first solo show. One of my favorite pieces I made was a collaboration with KEL from the Graffiti Crew I'm a part of called 5MH where he spray painted an upside down flag and I laid out razor blade hearts on top of it. It was so epic and it was in a group art show called the BQE Collective that was in Dumbo at Powerhouse Bookstore. That was so memorable and it was my first show where I was up with major artists and that was really cool.
What does black history mean to you?
AL: There's so much power in melanin. I mean, we take energy in from the sun. I think there was a recent study that says that our bodies actually retain energy because of our skin, which is phenomenal, something we should be proud of, not feel bad about.
It's important I think for me as a woman, and a brown woman, and just being a part of this culture that I express myself and that other people learn that it's okay to express yourself in whatever medium you choose.
What do you think of the new black history?
AL: I think it's going to be amazing. I saw recently on YouTube, they had the top Googled people, and all the greatest of the greats right now that are being searched, they're all black. It's really, really amazing. I mean that right there is the new black history. It choked me up to see that. It's profound. It doesn't get better than that. It really doesn't.
Do you feel like you're contributing to new black history?
AL: I do. I mean, maybe not on a huge scale. But I think that the people around me that I engage with and have conversations with, I think I've definitely have had an impact on them and the things that they do and the things that they create that are awesome.
I think through self-expression and creating art from a place of feeling, from a pure place, I'm not adjusting what I'm doing because it's not accepted in galleries or because it's not necessarily what the art world wants to see. It's my form of expression, it's what I choose to do.