Our Engaging Artists residents are currently volunteering each week with the local homeless population. Some of the volunteer opportunities involve creating collaborative artworks with homeless residents who are either in shelters or in affordable housing. We’d like to celebrate their hard work and compassion by taking a look at previously realized projects around the issue of homelessness. The first artist we’re featuring is Fanny Allié.
Fanny’s The Glowing Homeless (2011) was exhibited at a public art event organized by Bring to Light NYC (Nuit Blanche), in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The Glowing Homeless is a neon outline of a human form resting on a park bench. Representing the homeless person sound asleep amongst the park’s crowds, through a rendering of neon light, I created an alluring object for Bring to Light NYC (Nuit Blanche). She says “Through my implementation of attractive materials, I reversed the normal reaction of avoidance, and drew people towards the form on the bench.”
We featured Jody, Heather, and Kenji in an earlier post. Now we’d like to share the work of Hunter Reynolds and Koko Surani.
Hunter Reynolds has exhibited his work at museums and galleries widely in the United States and abroad. As an AIDS activist, he was an early member of ACTUP and in 1989 co-founded Art Positive, an affinity group of ACT-UP, to fight homophobia and censorship in the arts. Hunter Reynolds is the founder of Arts in the Woods, a summer arts camp designed to help homeless or disenfranchised LGBTQ adults to explore and express themselves as the leaders of tomorrow’s gay rights movement through art, music, dance, and theater.
One of the talented participants of Arts in the Woods is Koko Surani. Koko is a young African American lesbian woman who had previously been homeless in NYC for five years. She is an amazingly talented sculptor and performance artist with the hopes of attending art school. Hunter says “I met Koko last July when I was conducting art-making workshops at the LGBTQ homeless shelters in NYC, preparing for our first Arts in the Woods LGBTQ Homeless Youth summer camp at Easton Mountain. She appeared with her hyper-realistic sculpture of a baby in a carriage at New Alternatives and took part in our workshop. Homeless because of her very abusive home environment, Koko was living between shelters and abandoned buildings. She called me just before Thanksgiving and said she was desperate and could no longer sleep on the subway. I told her to come over, and she moved in with me.”
We hope to see you on Thursday July 10th, 6:30pm at Judson Memorial Church (239 Thompson Street, New York, NY)!
We featured Jody, Heather, and Kenji in our previous post. Now we’d like to share the work of Brazilian artist Virginia de Medeiros’ Fábula do Olhar (2012/2013). Virginia is in NYC for a residency at Residency Unlimited, and will be present for our workshop on July 10th (6:30pm at Judson Memorial Church/239 Thompson Street)
Here is a description of the work provided by Galeria Nara Roesler:
“For Fábula do Olhar (Fabulations of the gaze), Virginia de Medeiros invited Mestre Júlio Santos, an artist from Ceará who took the craft of hand colour photography to a digital platform, while still preserving all the markings and textures of the traditional technique. Hand coloured painting belongs to a near extinct tradition in Northeastern Brazil. It carries a very specific characteristic: that of retouching the photo image with tint to enhance accessories — suits, jewellery, makeup, dresses, flowers, — details that aggregate a certain prestige to their respective subjects. Crossing this technique with the portraits of individuals who live on the streets, where material lack is confused with subjective and existential misery, becomes a tactic of removing given images from a predefined reading.
During one month and a half, de Medeiros installed a photo studio in two cafeterias destined for homeless people living in the streets of Fortaleza. Photographing 20 home-less individuals in black and white and collecting their personal accounts on video, the artist posed a key question that directed the outcome of the work: “How would you like to be seen by society?” This question opened up a field of subjectivity of the individuals portrayed who, fabulating their own conditions, made themselves co-authors of the work.
The moment of fabulation are thus moments when the difference between what is real and what is imagined become indiscernible; when, through this process, the individual constitutes itself as subject of the scene and not as a mere object to be observed; to create a world and in it believe and project. The artist Mestre Júlio, through the technique of hand coloured photopainting, coloured the portraits in black and white, interfering on the images in accordance with the revelations of the homeless individuals. What results is an image-fabulation that removes the identity veil that covers and neutralizes the lived presence of these individuals, who have their personal consciousness ignored and covered by identity stigmas and stereotyped images by means of which is represented.”
We were left inspired by many incredible words, stories and ideas that were shared by all of our Engaging Artists residents and our speakers. It was wonderful to hear about how each resident has been flourishing in their volunteer work and their ideas for projects realized through volunteering. James Macklin (Director of Outreach at The Bowery Mission), Chris Tabellario (Common Ground Community Director, Street to Home, Brooklyn and Queens), and Marcus Moore (Housing Campaign Leader with Picture the Homeless) spoke about the amazing work they do as advocates for the homeless residents of New York City. They were equally amazed at the incredible work our Engaging Artists residents are doing, and their compassion and commitment to helping those in need. In fact many of our residents have been volunteering at Common Ground and The Bowery Mission Women’s Centers, so it was a special moment for them to connect with leaders from those organizations.
Chris spoke about how Common Ground’s housing programs work. Their street to home program takes a two-pronged approach. The first part of the program is outreach through 24/7 street canvassing to get individuals immediate services (i.e. shelter or detox) and identifying chronically street homeless individuals to be referred to the next phase which is case management. In case management, each chronically street homeless individual is assigned a case manager who works with them towards individualized permanent housing.
Marcus and James spoke to us candidly about their own struggles with homelessness and how they overcame living on the streets and shelters by committing to help others who are living on the streets and in shelters. The work that they do in their organizations provides hope and camaraderie for the homeless community. Marcus is involved in organizing homeless members of the community to become active in local and national politics and lobby for progressive issues dealing with housing equality, civil rights, and community land trusts. James spoke about The Bowery Mission’s diverse and extensive residential, spiritual, and well-being programing for homeless men, women, children and families.
Marcus is featured in a documentary titled “Living As Struggle: Story of a Homesteader in Ten Chapters.” Watch the trailer:
James Macklin stated: “No one wants you to solve their problems, they just want you to listen. If you listen long enough, they will solve their problems themselves.” These guiding words of wisdom resonated throughout the evening as we shared personal stories and listened to each others. The conversations and connections that began that evening will flourish far beyond the length of this residency.
We had a wonderfully motivating time last Thursday at the second session of our Engaging Artists program.
Todd Lester, founder of freeDimensional gave a great keynote speech and you can view his slideshow Arts/Culture as a Social Change Tool here: AVS_presentation
Martha Dorn (Executive Director of the Art Therapy Outreach Center) introduced to the practice of Art Therapy and Art Therapist Karen Gibbons spoke about using art to heal and communicate when words cannot suffice and led us through a cathartic experiential exercise.
Our Engaging Artists residents made these Engaging Flowers!
Join us this this Thursday night (June 26th) when we discuss homelessness, advocacy for affordable housing, and a better quality of life for all New Yorkers! We will be joined by James Macklin (Director of Outreach at The Bowery Mission), Chris Tabellario (Common Ground Community Director, Street to Home, Brooklyn and Queens), and Marcus Moore from Picture the Homeless.
Our 2014 Engaging Artists residents. Bottom, sitting from left to right: Christina Sukhgian Houle, Jamie Grove, Anne Peabody, Flavia Berindoague, Sue jeong Ka, Corinne Cappelletti, Anthony Heinz May. Top, standing from left to right: Anna Adler, Kate Weigel, David Wallace, Fanny Allié, Dato Mio, Travis Fairclough, Julia Ann Frances Rooney, and Emily Miller.
Our Engaging Artists residency program officially kicked off on Thursday, June 12th! We are honored to have fifteen amazingly talented artists who are committed to serving the community and working with the homeless. Each week Engaging Artists will convene at Judson Memorial Church for a series of workshops, activities, and peer to peer collaboration. These meetings will take place Thursday nights beginning at 6:30pm. The first portion of each session (approximately 90 minutes) will consist of speakers who are experts on topics such as art therapy, activism, and homelessness. This portion is free and open to the public. The second half of each session will consist of workshops and discussions for our fifteen artists as well as homeless artists and individuals.
Michael and Charise, who participated in Residents of New York, our public art exhibition with Andres Serrano, joined us for a discussion with Andres about the project and their experiences living on the streets of New York. It was really amazing to share stories, hopes, and encouragement together. Michael and Charise are exceptional human beings who are full of love and hope for a better tomorrow. They are two of the many people nationwide who have fallen on hard times due to a massive widening gap between the rich and the poor. The cost of life in American cities is getting extremely expensive and many hardworking Americans are receiving paychecks that are well under the amount that they need to live and provide for themselves. It is difficult for couples especially with limited space and resources provided by the city. See our previous feature on Michael and Charise: here. Michael and Charise will be joining us again for our workshops (a list of which you can find here) and will work with our artists in residents on collaborative socially engaged projects.
After our discussion with Andres Serrano, we all went underground to view Residents of New York. Michael and Charise saw their portraits for the first time at the West 4th Street Subway Station!
We were also fortunate to have Ravindra in attendance last night. Ravi is a homeless musician and spiritual leader from the Camba Shelter in Brooklyn. Ravi instantly hit it off with our resident artists and we’re thrilled to hear that he will be collaborating on a few projects! Our artists will also get to take part in the homeless organizing efforts that he’s a part of!
Ravi talks with Jason Maas (Founder and Director of the Artist Volunteer Center).
We are looking forward to our next session of Engaging Artists, when we will have an evening of Art Therapy with Karen Gibbons, and Martha Dorn! We will be doing an experiential activity! Todd Lester (founder of freeDimensional) will lead things off with a brief keynote address on activism, social justice, and leadership!
It all begins this Thursday, 6:30pm at Judson Memorial Church’s Assembly Hall (239 Thompson St, New York, NY)!