Meet the Mentors | Leavv, Lorette C. Luzajic, and Shahé Mankerian

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The COUNTERCLOCK Arts Collective is a fellowship program that allows creative writers, visual artists, and musicians to explore, illuminate, and grow through collaborating on interdisciplinary projects.

Fellows participate in a free 4-week collaborative program, connect with talented and passionate peers, have around-the-clock access to highly accomplished mentors, and are eligible for a monetary stipend to help them pursue projects and arts-related initiatives. To apply or for more information, visit here.

Meet Leavv (music), Lorette C. Luzajic (visual art), and Shahé Mankerian (creative writing), three mentors for the 2019 COUNTERCLOCK Arts Collective.

CAC: What themes have you always aimed to explore with your art? What is a topic you want to explore with your art, but haven’t yet?

L: I always had themes of traveling, memories and dreamy thoughts. In the future I would like to dive into deeper and more personal topics. There is no single topic I have planned at this point; I tend to go with what feels right at the time.

LCL: My work is best understood as an expression of curiosity, so the themes are incredibly varied. I'm processing everything, greedily devouring the world around me, then grabbing random puzzle pieces and juxtaposing them. It's a blend of the unconscious jumble of dreams or the surrealists and pointed questions or observations. In this way, it's difficult to pin down a particular theme, but I would say that recurring themes include remixing the ones from art history, poetry, literature, and music; mystery and religion; and the wide ranging emotions and experiences that are part of love and grief.

There is nothing I have avoided so far, but my passion for art is so intense I want to explore the work of other artists and its impact on me in a more focused and personal way. There is a series in the works that will do just that.

SM: Most of the themes in my poems deal with growing up in Beirut during the Civil War of the 70s. My poems deal with the external battles and internal family feuds. Another prevalent theme in my poems is the coming-of-age immigrant story in the United States. Finally, I am fascinated with my mother’s battle with dementia and memory. I would love to explore the art of translating poems from Armenian into English.

CAC: If you have one piece of advice for emerging artists, what would it be?

L: Connect with like-minded people, whenever and wherever you can. Networking really is key nowadays and there is a lot of great minds to meet.

LCL: Don't rob yourself of the depth that understanding art history can bring to your work. It seems so obvious as to be facile, but even an art degree grossly neglects what the diversity of past artists has to show you. It's very in vogue today to think in terms of activism and theory, but that's only a tiny fraction of what art means. Studying the artists and their intentions, historical context, personalities, experiments, techniques, and bodies of work is the ticket to finding your own voice and knowing what you're talking about. It's too vast to ever be complete, but you should have some idea of who's who and what's what when you enter any art museum, then get excited about new discoveries and deeper pathways that build on what you already know.

SM: You have to be passionate about you art. Passion without devotion is futile. Devotion demands investment of time. The right time to share your work is now. Rejection leads to revision. Revisions make you prophetic.

Listen to Leavv’s latest album, “Mind Garden” (2018). "Mind Garden" tells a story about exploration, reflection and finding a place to call home.

CAC: If you were to summarize your latest work/project in less than ten words, what would they be?

L: Smooth yet raw, old-school flavoured beats.

LCL: I'm exploring darkness again, from a position of light.

SM: I am revising poems that have been rejected multiple times.

CAC: If you could have dinner with any artistic figure from any time period, what would you eat and with whom?

L: I would grab a burger with J Dilla.

LCL: It's tempting to name a dozen favourite artists instead, but just the other day I was lamenting that the great wit of Christopher Hitchens had so seldom touched on matters of art in his brilliant essays. Hitchens, who is best known for his extremist atheism infamy, a position I no longer share, is also remembered for his writings on politics and current events. He was a great thinker and I especially enjoyed his observations on literature and cultural events, but we needed more. If he could come back for an evening, I would serve some great tapas and  wine, then ask him about various paintings and movements in art.

SM: I would have dinner with my father, who died without nurturing and fully realizing his art. We would cook shakshouka and eat with warm pita bread.

CAC: What are you most looking forward to as an Arts Collective mentor?

L: I’m looking forward to meeting people with intriguing visions and helping to realize those together!

LCL: I'm excited about how much I can learn from the experience. I'm looking forward to connecting personally with younger artists and seeing the world through their eyes.

SM: In the process (and the art) of collaboration, I am looking forward to learn from my mentee.

Learn more about the Arts Collective here.

Apply to the Arts Collective here.

About the Mentors

Leavv| Germany

Leavv is a musician hailing from Germany, with a focus on silky, relaxing instrumental hip hop. Spherical synths and smooth piano chords are often part of his music, which is generally themed around little moments, travels and dreamy memories. Songs from his album Mind Garden (2018) have been listened to over 7 million times collectively across Youtube, Spotify, and music streaming services. His previous works include recreation (2017), essence (2017), and currents (2017).

Lorette C. Luzajic | Toronto, Canada

Lorette C. Luzajic, of Toronto, Canada, is an award winning artist, writer, and founding editor of The Ekphrastic Review. She creates collage and mixed media based works that are at turns abstract, urban, surreal or pop. Her works are inspired by eclectic curiosity, a sense of adventure, and an irreverent outlook on the world. Lorette takes in the stories around her, through poetry, fiction, travel, cinema, art history, music, mythology, psychology, religion, and individual narratives and remixes them in her studio laboratory. She has exhibited in hundreds of shows and venues locally in Canada and around the world, and is collected internationally. Last year, she was awarded top prize for a painting by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Canada.  In 2017, she participated in a two week symposium of international contemporary artists in Tunisia, North Africa. Visit her at

Shahé Mankerian | California, USA

Shahé Mankerian is the principal of St. Gregory Hovsepian School in Pasadena and the co-director of the Los Angeles Writing Project. He is the recipient of the Los Angeles Music Center's BRAVO Award, which recognizes teachers for innovation in arts education. His manuscript, History of Forgetfulness, has been a finalist at the Bibby First Book Competition, the Crab Orchard Poetry Open Competition, the Quercus Review Press Poetry Book Award, and the White Pine Press Poetry Prize.

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Patrick Tong is the outreach director for the Arts Collective. He is a high school junior from the northern suburbs of Chicago. His work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the Poetry Society of the UK, and appears in Eunoia Review and Rising Phoenix Review. Besides reading for COUNTERCLOCK, he currently serves as an Executive Editor for Polyphony H.S. and a copy editor for its affiliated blog, Voices.