Meet Arizona Artist Ebone “Muse” Johnson | Desert Botanical Garden

OPEN DAILY 8 A.M.|7 A.M. FOR MEMBERS WED. & SUN.

The Garden is commemorating Juneteenth, also known as Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day, June 14-19, which includes a special storytelling experience hosted by artist Ebone “Muse” Johnson. 

The federal holiday is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the end of chattel slavery in the US. On June 19, 1865, tens of thousands of enslaved Africans in Texas were emancipated, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Lincoln.

On June 15, the Garden is hosting a special storytelling event Liberation with Muse that will feature stories from various stories from local Black community members?. 

Meet Muse who hosts these events called Centered. (stylized with the period) in the Valley.

Q: Can you tell us about your background? Who is Ebone “Muse” Johnson?

A: I am a Mississippi girl who moved to the Valley 13 years ago and have had my hand in a little bit of everything — but “all the things” made sense! I have a great passion for youth, the liberation of Black women, racial justice, HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) advocacy, educating and volunteering with teen girls of color and all things arts related.

My love of the arts began at a very early age where I was inspired by my mom’s entrepreneurial skills and my father’s love for carpentry which sparked the artist within. It took 20 years but I was able to dive headfirst into the arts scene in Phoenix. First as a thrift store owner (Rejected Thrifts), then renamed Modern Day Muse, to pre-COVID being the owner of Your Art Party a Paint and Sip business hosting in-studio, private and pop -up paint experiences around Phoenix. Since COVID, I’ve decided to pivot and began teaching myself (and still learning) digital art so MuseTease Prints was born.

Q: What is Centered, and how did it start?

A: Centered. is a storytelling experience that highlights the diversity of voice and lived experiences within the Black community. Each event features a unique perspective/experience through the eyes of various Black speakers. Of course, with love and joy. No harm allowed. 

Q: Where do you think the power comes from storytelling? Why is storytelling important within Black culture/ community?

A: “It is strange to both fit in everywhere and belong nowhere, to never feel completely at home outside of your own skin” ― Maquita Donyel Irvin

There’s something so poetic about being able to be seen while also being invisible. Storytelling for black folks has been an integral part of our heritage hailing from the Griots of West Africa to some of our most heralded authors, playwrights and folklorists of our time. With the frequent reframing of our nation’s beginnings, avenues like storytelling, scribing and art are some of the transformative ways we have to own our truths and our history. Telling our own lived experiences from the first-person perspective versus the third-person voice of observation.

Storytelling is how we reclaim our time. Storytelling is how we reclaim our voices.

Q: What can guests expect at the Garden’s Centered event on June 15?

A: Guests can expect an evening of joy! Centered.’s primary goal is to focus on community. There may be some stories that make you cry, double over in laughter, we may break out into a singalong! We will be honoring Juneteenth with the focus on liberation. The lineup of storytellers is pretty exciting too! From religion to social justice to journeys in self-love and sexuality! The event is 21+ as there are many ways to liberation.

Q: What do you hope guests take away from the event?

A: I hope the guests take away the name of a new friend, a plan to return to the Garden, a new outlook on liberation and a deep commitment to keep speaking their own truths through their stories.

Q: How can people get in contact with you and find out more about Centered.?

A: Website: Museteaseprints.com

Facebook: MuseTease Prints

Instagram: @museteaseprints

@centered.phx

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Archer House patio is temporarily closed.