Tess. Lotta Photography

“You find peace . . . by realizing who you are at the deepest level” – Eckhart Tolle

Posts tagged ‘art’

#RadWomenUnite: Rebecca Amado-Sprigg

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One of Rebecca Amado-Sprigg’s many attractive qualities is best defined as composed optimism. More a calm assurance, her brand of positivity is shaped by a natural intelligence and emotional maturity tempered by a streak of mischievous teasing. She wears this lovely strength honestly, and it is never more awesomely branded than when she gifts you with what I affectionately refer to as her “Bitch Eye.”

This isn’t a disapproving scowl. Not even close. It is more an assessment, a sizing up of one’s mettle, a convince-me smirk that holds the promise of a full on grin. I’ve witnessed folks that are weak of character digging deep to grow a quick-ass spine when on the receiving end of her impressive grace. If you square up with Rebecca with your own brand of honest backbone and self-reflective humor, you are so in, baby! You best be prepared to become a co-conspirator in her generosity of spirit, easy laughter, knowing accountability, and open heart.

Originally from the small border town of Nogales, Arizona, Rebecca’s career tenure in social work is rooted in California, her adopted home with her husband, Enzo. From her work with homeless families to her current position working with survivors of trafficking, Rebecca squares off daily with monoliths like institutionalized poverty and racism, exploitation, malignant misogyny, slavery, and untreated mental illness. Every day, Rebecca walks into the reality of an estimated 24.9 million trafficked victims worldwide (1.3 of every 1000 people in the Americas are enslaved), as well as over 610,000 homeless folks in the US alone, including one-fifth that are suffering from a severe mental illness, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and severe depression.

Bitch Eye, indeed. Read on and discover one stunning Rebel Beauty.


After 22 years of marriage to your high school sweetheart, what advice would you give for making a successful marriage?

You have to like each other in order to love each other. I think it is really important that you also grow individually as well as a couple. You can’t stunt that growth because, ultimately, you will grow apart.

How did you become involved in a career in social work?

I am a high school graduate and do not have a higher degree. When my husband and I moved to California, I started out as a support staff for an organization called Career Closet. It is an organization that provides low income women with interview clothing and job coaching. Soon, I moved up to Director of Volunteer Services.

I found I had a love of working with clients and supporting them. I wanted to move into a position where I would be able to work with them for a much longer period. So, I applied for a position as a Case Manager at a homeless shelter for families called Shelter Network. I loved working with the clients and helping them transition into permanent housing.

Because I didn’t have a formal education, I felt I needed to make sure that my supervisor knew that I wanted to move up within the organization. When a position for Program Director became available, I applied for it. I didn’t think I would get the position because I had only been at the agency for about 6-7 months. BUT I got it! I worked at Shelter Network for over 8 years until I moved to Los Angeles. Since being in LA, I have worked at St. Joseph Center, Imagine Los Angeles, Upward Bound House, and, currently, at CAST.

What keeps you passionate about this work – what makes it rewarding?

I really found my passion working with the homeless population. I really believe that the career found me. Growing up in a very small town (back in the day) the community was the social workers and food banks. So, I didn’t really know that a career in this field was an option.

When I applied at Career Closet, I was attracted to the mission. Before then, I was forging a career in retail, which I hated. But it was all I knew.

About 4 years ago, I felt I needed to broaden the population that I work with, so I applied for my current position at CAST. I missed working in a shelter setting developing programs.

Tell me a bit more about program development – why did you miss this and what about it makes it satisfying to be back in shelter program development?

Program Development allows you to really take a hard look at the program to see what improvements can be made to help the population you are serving to thrive. It also is exciting to ask for client input to understand what part of the program needs tweaking and what is working for them and what isn’t. It’s what makes the program better and keeps it from becoming stale and so formulaic that, in the end, you are not helping the client at your most optimum level.

What one aspect of social work do you feel has changed you, made you grow as a person? 

Hearing the horrific experiences that people have had to live through and, somehow, really pick themselves up, learn to trust again, and become empowered—this has forever changed my perspective.

I admire that they have found their strength and their voice to be the person that they have always known they could be. It’s so inspiring! It really makes you take a hard look at yourself, especially when you haven’t had to go through anything remotely close to what they have.

I am so lucky that I have a supportive loving family and the most amazing husband. I have never been without shelter or food and I have never been abused in any way. So, I have to really hear myself when I complain because it is so minuscule.

You have managed and trained volunteers for mentoring programs that provide direct support to homeless families. In what ways are these programs successful for participants and volunteers – what makes a success story for both?  

For the clients, it shows that there are good people in this world that care about them. It is important for them to know that there is still humanity in a world that has abused them and made them feel they were neither cared for nor had a voice.

For volunteers, it helps break the stereotype. So many people have such a negative opinion and judgment. They don’t realize one stroke of bad luck (death, job loss, and mental health) can contribute to homelessness. Many are hardworking people that just can’t seem to get ahead no matter how hard they try. They just need someone to believe in them and support them.

What do you feel the everyday person can do to change their own negative perception of homeless folks to one of shared humanity? Is it just a matter of getting involved?

Talk to them. Ask them their story! VOLUNTEER!!!!!!! Even if you can only do it twice a year. And, I am not talking about just donations. Actually go to an organization and have a conversation. It will change your life for the better, I promise!

 What are you hoping Santa brings you for Christmas this year?

A new President and peace to those that are suffering. Other than that, I can honestly say I have everything I need. Love, family, and health.

What is one aspiration you have the New Year and why?

To continue work toward becoming a more evolved and better person. I don’t ever want to stop growing. I also hope that through my work I can help more people become empowered and safe.


Dial In:


Volunteer Resource

Food on Foot

#RadWomenUnite: Fred Los Angeles

This slideshow requires JavaScript.



I am psyched to feature Freddie McCullough for the next installment of my Rebel Beauty Project. Fred Los Angeles, as many know her, is a veteran of the LA and Northwest rock, punk, and queercore scenes. She has a knack for finding ground on the best side of all upsides. This magic owes its success to an easygoing, sociable charm and honest graciousness, qualities that underscore the work ethic of a serious musician dedicated to her craft.

At just 13 years old, Freddie began drumming in local swing and country music bands, a determination that later landed her at the Musicians Institute in LA and under the instruction of pro drummers like Joe Porcaro. After honing her chops in Los Angeles, Freddie made her way to Seattle in 1993, where she served as a founding member of the groundbreaking all-female punk band Rubber, as well as played in various bands, including the originative all-female Pink Chihuahua.

I met Freddie while also playing in the Northwest music scene, and, to my glee, she accepted my invite to play drums for Bobbitt (as in Lorena), a feminist metal band that I was forming with local Seattle vocalist Tonja Renee Hall.

Freddie headed back to LA in 2007 and jumped right back in with bands Kim D and The Killer Bees, Charlie Don’t Surf, and Kittenhead, and she has never stopped. Endorsed by District Drum Company, Freddie currently plays drums for Sapphic Musk and The Derolinas, as well as teaches private drum instruction, volunteers for Rock N’ Roll Camp for Girls, and does session and recording work.


What is your history with the drums? Why this instrument?

I tried piano, guitar, and accordion, but I didn’t have the patience to get past the rudimentary stuff. One day, I came home from school and my dad’s band was rehearsing in our living room. I had never really seen a band live before and had probably only seen a drummer on TV once or twice. I was blown away and immediately zoned in on the drummer.

So with a little bit of begging and pleading, I had about a year’s worth of lessons, and I just gained what I could listening and jamming to my mom’s records. I really loved Lou Reed, The Boys, Elvis Costello,The Talking heads, and the Ramones.

I’ve spent a lot of time playing punk rock, and I really, really love that genre—fast and interesting stuff. But, I grew up with a lot of R&B and pop. As a drummer, pocket and feel are important and exciting to me.

Do you think it is important for drummers to seek formal music education?

Oh yes, but I also think it’s an individual choice. For me, there wasn’t any question in my mind that I wanted to develop further than I could take it on my own, and the timing was right to take advantage of a great program. But, again, it really depends on the individual.

I’ve also known very successful killer drummers that are self-taught. It’s great to have mentors and inspiration. Music isn’t really something that you do alone, especially when you’re developing.

What are some of the challenges you have faced as a drummer and how have you personally overcome some of these challenges?

One of the hardest things I found was having a place to practice on the kit without disturbing others. You need a dedicated space. There are times I find myself without that.

Also, keeping it fresh and interesting has been another challenge. That means getting out of your space and watching and learning from others and listening to new or old great music….and playing gig’s….rock on!

Back when we were playing together in the Seattle 90s and early 00s, rock music was saturated with misogynistic and sexist attitudes toward women musicians. Have things changed? Is it just within certain communities, or are there some positives you’ve noticed about how female musicians are embraced in the larger rock music scene? 

Your are not always going to be accepted, but you could say the same goes for anyone. Still, while sometimes it was just hard to fit in with the guys, I have met and worked with many awesome dudes who totally support and are great friends and musicians.

Best thing, really, is practice and play as well as you can and hang and play with people you like that stretch your abilities and have fun.

But, yes, things have changed in a positive way. I think we are more accepted, and there are more of us, especially within certain communities. In the larger rock music scene, we are being embraced, and things are definitely getting better. Women musicians are way more present, available, and involved. It’s not 50/50, but we are showing up with skills, and that is the bottom line ultimately.

What do you think has brought about some of the positive changes? Would you agree that our generation of punk feminist musicians are part of the changes you see today?

Most definitely. I think the Riot Grrrl scene and female musicians who were shaking things up spawned activism and workshops. There was also a coinciding feminist presence in the spoken word scene with people like Tara Hardy, Annie La Ganga, and Michelle Tea bringing in even more activism and workshops.

Right around that time or shortly after, Rock N’ Roll Camp for Girls came into being, and it’s become such a natural phenomenon. I don’t think we’ve ever had as many resources and safe cool places for women and girls to try out their creativity and build community.

Is that what inspired you to get involved with Rock N’ Roll Camp for Girls?

Yes! The camp is so amazing, and the people that bring it together and the community that they serve….just rock!  It is a heartwarming and positive experience all around. It is a unique opportunity for the girls. I am thoroughly honored to be involved anytime it is possible. I am always amazed at what happens.


Click here for my artist statement on The Rebel Beauty Project. Like the Tess. Lotta Photography Facebook page for a heads up on the next Rebel Beauty post, as well as my photo projects. Thanks for supporting indie artists!

Dial In:

Freddie’s website & Reverb Nation page

Rock N’ Roll Camp for Girls




#RadWomenUnite: Courtney Cook

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Courtney as Debbie Harry

For the second installment of the Rebel Beauty Project, I am excited to share my photography collaborations with the talented actress, singer, and writer Courtney Cook. I met Courtney through a friend, and, instantly, I wanted to shoot her.

Cook’s charm is part sharp intelligence, a dash of girlish toughness, easy humor, and a good amount of earned confidence, qualities that speak to her life experience. After our first headshot shoot, I knew Cook was the perfect model for Debbie Harry, one of the women I pay tribute to in my female icons series.

A lifelong singer, Cook has lived and performed in New York and Los Angeles, but set aside singing to focus on acting, a move that netted her roles on shows that include “Parks & Recreation,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.”

Pulled by the need to sing again, Cook recently performed her first solo show in LA. As a writer, Cook has not only written an award-winning romantic comedy, but also writes a food blog.


Pursuing a creative passion in the entertainment industry is not for the weak-kneed. What draws you to singing and acting? Does it drill down to simply a career choice, or does the drive come from somewhere deeper?

The drive most definitely comes from somewhere deeper! I’ve tried doing other things, and I always come back to singing and acting. I think it’s programmed in my DNA!  Performing feeds my soul, and it’s something I have to do no matter what.

With acting, how do you deal with the vulnerability of putting a piece of yourself into a character? Is there a cathartic moment that somehow makes it worth it?

There’s always part of me in the characters I play. I think playing a role gives you permission to be vulnerable; whereas, sometimes in life, we don’t always feel we have permission, and it doesn’t feel safe. It’s fun to let go in a role because it also feels like you’re working through something for yourself.

Shifting artistic focus can bring up a ton of things—fear, liberation, joy. Tell me about your recent choice to shift a chunk of your focus and energy into singing. What tough and/or good pieces have come up for you and how do you feel those are motivating you?

I quit singing for almost 10 years, and fear was one of the reasons. I was a perfectionist, always singing to get something: an agent, a job, a role, etc. I was fearful that I wouldn’t be perfect and get what I wanted from it. It got to where it wasn’t fun for me anymore.

When I started singing again last year, it filled me with such joy! I’m now singing for me and not for an end result, and it’s completely changed things for me! Perfectionism still rears its ugly head sometimes, but I’m trying to not let it take control. I force myself to sing in situations that take me outside of my comfort zone and it’s exhilarating! Usually. Ha!


Click here for my artist statement on The Rebel Beauty Project. Like the Tess. Lotta Photography Facebook page for a heads up on the next Rebel Beauty post, as well as my photo projects. Thanks for supporting indie artists!

Dial In:

Courtney Cook:

Find her food blog at www.happybellywholeheart.com

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2422874/?ref_=nv_sr_1 

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLZCjugQtH85MuimUFzqbWA


Rebel Beauty Project

Welcome to the Rebel Beauty Project!
Putting to work my research training and freelance journalism background with my photography practice, my Rebel Beauty Project is a visual qualitative research study: I’m speculating that Rebel Beauty translates to a personal bravery to Be in a way that resonates with the truth of who you are, the authenticity of your core self, out loud and with your soul, heart, and passion.

Fred Los Angeles – rock drummer, urban cyclist, bad-ass!

I want to know and share what drives Rebel Beauties to push through the blocks, emotional pitfalls, victories, and losses.
Whether we are parents, philosophers, plumbers, or artists, I believe there is Rebel Beauty in all of us. I’m excited to see where my research takes me!
I’m starting the project with photo-profiles of the incredible women I’ve collaborated with in my photography work.
Look for the first post this week!

New Beginnings

Welcome the first blog post on my new website. I’ve managed a few blogs and websites over the years, and I am excited to bring together in one place my devotions to a lifelong rebellious art practice, esoteric mysticism, and the fearless pursuit of a self-defined beauty aesthetic. I look forward to sharing my art and journey!