AURORA PRIDE FOR ALL 2019: Aurora’s Renaissance in full bloom

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“I’d like to be able to build things. Build companies. Build communities. Build movements.”

Jevon Taylor isn’t defined by his art. Or his international company that’s based in Aurora, Colorado. He uses words like “revolution” and “universal movement.” Taylor is only 24 years old, and wise, powerful words fall from his youthful mouth like a seasoned politician.

He’s a man who wants to build platforms of collaboration to change the world.

Taylor is a fashion designer and the owner of False Ego, an environmentally sustainable clothing company. It isn’t just about fashion; it’s about culture, sustainability, the future of the planet.

Jevon Taylor. Contributed photo

“I found out that fashion’s the number-two polluter in the world right now, and I was like, ‘I wanna design something to make an impact.’ … Everybody wears clothes. Clothing just gives me a platform to go to these different companies and say, ‘I’m Jevon. This is what I’m doing. I’d love to work with you.”

Only in business for one year, False Ego has already partnered with a company that plants a tree for every product sold and a recycling company to turn used fabric into new garments.

Taylor is part of Aurora’s Renaissance. Signifying a rebirth or revival, The Renaissance goes back to the 14th century when Italy experienced a dramatic revival of art, architecture, literature, and learning. Today, Aurora is becoming an artistic hub of culturally diverse art and industry.

Taylor’s fashion line is riddled with symbols of change. He excitedly points to the many t-shirts and sweatshirts on sale. Each carries the company’s motto: “A Part of Everything.” Each contains a hieroglyph–Greek for “sacred writing.”

The symbols were heavily used during the Renaissance as an artistic representation of an esoteric idea. Today, they give meaning to his fashion line. “This one,” he said, pointing to a small hieroglyph on one of his cotton t-shirts, “means to ‘lift.’” Pointing to other shirts, he goes down the line, “this one is to ‘protect,’ that one ‘create,’ this one here means ‘connect.’”

The fashion is both cutting-edge and meaningful. Taylor shows me a beautifully designed tree root that stretches across one of his shirts. “It’s a root that signifies the foundation and values you stand on as a company … with infinite possibilities.”

Infinite possibilities are what Aurora is all about. A booming arts district in the north part of the city is attracting artists from around the world.

“I’ve noticed there’s more diversity in Aurora. And I think the art itself is expanding with different media. I think that’s a plus there,” said Jiacuy Roche.

Her one-woman show, Brazil Latin Fusion, was on display at the Stanley Marketplace–the same building that houses the men’s boutique, Squadron, that sells Taylor’s fashions.

Roche’s mural, Aqua Flower Lady, also graces a wall at the Stanley. The industrial warehouse and former airplane hanger sits right in the city’s arts district and is now home to dozens of independently owned shops that sell everything from maple and bacon donuts to completely sustainable antifreeze.

For the mural, Aurora-based Roche said she wanted to showcase the diversity she sees in the city she now calls home and the city where she was born. “I love flowers personally, so I wanted to incorporate that as the afro itself … She was very poised, beautiful, and very ethnic. That’s what I wanted to show.”

Roche was born in Brazil and, at three years old, adopted by a white, American family. Her art brings her back to her roots, “focusing on my culture, Brazilian culture, and how African influences are brought into the art.” Roche also said, “A lot of my mixed media paintings focus on Salvador de Bahai,” the area in Brazil where she was born.

What this means is her art is colorful. Immensely so. An explosion of bright yellows, blues, reds, pinks, and purples. Much of her work centers on Brazilian women wrapped in her vivid and vibrant designs.

Roche’s company, Universal Creative Expressions, is based in Aurora and sells not only her artwork, but t-shirts and swimming suits with her artwork on them.

Aurora’s city counsel is putting a lot into this artistic boom. They’re using grant money to create artistic spaces and are in the process of surveying residents to see what they want.

Economics also play a role. Like most artist colonies, Aurora attracts artists because it’s less expensive than its neighboring city of Denver. With Denver ranking 87th in this year’s WalletHub’s list of most diverse cities, Aurora far surpasses its neighbor in 38th place.

The Aurora History Museum reports more than 100 languages are now spoken in the city’s public schools.

The Census Bureau’s racial breakdown looks something like this: roughly 46 percent of the population is white; 29 percent is Hispanic, and 15 percent is black. That leaves a full 10 percent of the population falling into other minority groups. And it doesn’t stop there. The city is at the center of Colorado’s refugee growth with a sizable population of people from Nepal, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. And those minority numbers are expected to increase when the new census comes out next year.

That’s a lot of inspiration for upcoming artists, especially minority ones.

“I notice where I live, we have Ethiopians down the street; we have Indians; we have Asians. I mean, it’s just a melting pot. I love it,” said Roche.

Both Roche and Taylor are working on getting their products launched worldwide. Roche is working to bring her exhibit to Sao Paulo, Brazil. And Taylor has a line on bringing his fashions to New York.

More than that, Taylor hopes to use his art as a platform to bring consumers and companies together to make sustainable products the norm, not the alternative.

“I do believe in the power of numbers. If we’re able to come together and put our efforts towards one cause, that’s how big movements get built and how big problems get solved,” he said

You can purchase Jevon Taylor’s products at falseego.eco

Jiacuy Roche’s company can be found at universalcreativeexpressions.com.

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— YVONNE WRIGHT, For The Sentinel