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Art About Homelessness: Hunter Reynolds and Koko Surani

July 8, 2014

In the lead-up to Residents of New York, our collaboration with Andres Serrano, we featured artists who have made socially engaged work about homelessness.

Now that our Engaging Artists residents are beginning to formulate their projects, we’d like to take another look and profile some more artists that have worked with the homeless community.

On July 10th our Engaging Artists will be in conversation with artists whose practice involves or has involved working with homeless individuals or organizations. Artists we will be hearing from include Jody Wood, Heather Stoltz, Hunter Reynolds, KOKO Surani, and Kenji Nakayama.

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.”