RINKU SEN

Meet Rinku Sen, 2018 SOAPBOX Honoree

May 13, 2018

On the occasion of The LP’s SOAPBOX 2018 Benefit, we’ve got five questions for the honorees, artists, and honorary chairs, starting with honoree Rinku Sen! This content was originally published on www.themaven.net/rinkusen/. Please visit Rinku Sen’s website for the original post. Rinku will also be profiling fellow honorees, artists and honorary gala chairs to get to know them and their work.

 

Rinku Sen is a writer, political strategist and innovator of solutions for racial justice. Here are five questions to understand what makes Rinku tick:

 

Who is a person in history that inspires you?

 

Harriet Tubman. Who would she not inspire?

 

HARRIET TUBMAN

 

How did you get started in the work?

 

WOMEN FIGHT

 

When I was a sophomore in college, my friends Yuko and Valerie tried to recruit me to a racial justice rally the next day. When I said I wasn’t into it, they said: “You’re not a girl anymore, you’re a woman now.” And “you’re not a minority, you’re a person of color.” There was more, but basically, they told me I had to grow up, expand my horizons and deal with reality. I went to the rally. To my surprise, there I felt the fullest sense of belonging since emigrating from India at five years old. I had found my people. I discovered that I love living in a multiracial community and that such a thing could be built and held. We won many changes on our campus that year, for students of color and for women. Once I learned that organizing leads to winning, at least more often than doing nothing, I was all the way in.

 

Who is your community?

 

My community includes all lovers of justice. The inner circle is mostly people who also love fighting for justice.

 

My [personal] community is very diverse. I have friends from different walks of life.

 

What is your superpower?

 

I can put words together in combinations that make really complicated ideas easy to understand.

 

How do you think art can do more?

 

RINKU SEN GDMA

 

Art can help us love the questions as much as we love the answers. Every answer generates new questions, so we can’t stop loving the questions when we think we’ve got an answer. Also, people constantly have questions and loving their questions is key to loving the people themselves. As Grace Lee Boggs writes, “Loving your people and loving questions are, I believe, the two most important qualities that an individual needs today to help create the new kind of politics we need to bring about fundamental social change in our country. Even if the people of our respective communities or of our country are acting in ways that we believe are unworthy of human beings, we must still care enough for them so that their lives and ours, their questions and ours, become inseparable.”

 

Buy your tickets now to celebrate our honorees at SOAPBOX 2018.




elia alba

Meet Elia Alba, 2018 SOAPBOX Honoree

May 13, 2018

On the occasion of The LP’s annual SOAPBOX Benefit, we’ve got five questions for the honorees, artists, and honorary chairs. SOAPBOX 2018 Honoree Rinku Sen has been collecting this series of interviews to profile fellow honorees, artists and honorary gala chairs to get to know them and their work. This content was originally published on www.themaven.net/rinkusen/. Please visit Rinku Sen’s website for the original post. 

 

Elia Alba is a multidisciplinary artist whose work has been exhibited throughout the United States and abroad including the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Science Museum, London, and ITAU Cultural Institute, Sao Paolo and the 10th Havana Biennial. She is also a recipient of numerous awards and residencies and her work is in the collection of the Smithsonian Museum of Art, El Museo del Barrio, Lowe Art Museum, and more. We got the chance to dig deeper with her, here’s a little window into Elia plus a bonus question.

 

What’s the most important thing that you hope people take away from your work?

Community. As folks of color, we need to look at ourselves in a bigger picture and not keep ourselves separated from one another and understand commonalities versus trying to figure out or point out what makes us different. Maybe it sounds a little kumbaya but that’s my wish, for people to be more together.

 

Who is a person in history that inspires you?

 

dominican hero

 

 

I can name a bunch for different reasons.

 

As an artist, I would say Ana Mendieta and I’m going to sound corny, but Frida Kahlo as well.

 

Ana, as an Afro Cuban, though I don’t know if she would consider herself an Afro Cuban, came to this country as part of Operation Peter Pan, a mass exodus of unaccompanied Cuban minors to the United States in the early 60s. To come to this country, not know the language and somehow rise above all that to become who she is was speaks of her strength as an individual. Also for a long time, her career was second to her husband’s. She was a female artist working against the time and working against the convention of being a wife, and of being with someone who, at that time had a lot more visibility than she did

 

As far as Frida Kahlo, she was also a very strong artist, and again married to another well-known artist, and she pushed against that, too. I think they both loved their husbands, but they were incredibly ambitious artists. With Frida, not only were the conventions even more so in her time, she also had those illnesses. She was in constant pain. The fact that she worked through all that pain and transformed that pain into these magnificent works of art for me was incredible.

 

There is also Audre Lorde that I love, like myself, she was a native New Yorker and a daughter of Caribbean immigrants. Her work speaks of the importance of the struggle for liberation of people across race, gender, class and age. There is Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson because they worked together and were leaders in the movement for queer rights. I love the Mirabal sisters. They’re not that well known outside the Dominican Republic, although Salma Hayek did a movie about them. They were three sisters [one of them actually went to school with my mom] who pushed against the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic and in the end were killed for it.

 

How did you get started in the work?

 

I was a late bloomer as an artist. I did not graduate high school and knew I was going to be an artist. I didn’t go to college and study to be an artist. I got a philosophy degree. Art came because I felt the need to move all those ideas I had and express them visually. In the 80s, I was a photographer but I didn’t consider myself a photographer. I just knew I walked around with my little Canon AE1 and I snapped a lot of pictures wherever I went. I would also photograph small theater and opera companies in New York, but that wasn’t enough.

 

elia fashion

 

When I turned 31 or 32, I realized that I really wanted to be an artist. Up until that time, I didn’t make that choice to be an artist out of fear. I didn’t know what that meant for me. When I would see some of my friends, they knew they were going to be painters, sculptors, photographers. I thought you had to be very specific with what you were going to do as an artist. My work has always been about a natural evolution. My practice isn’t always a straight line. I jump around a lot. That’s how I evolved and became an artist. So when I hit my early 30s, I said, I have to do this now or never and I threw myself into it.

 

 

Who is your community?

 

Thinking about the recent project I did called the Supper Club where I photographed about 60 artists of color, South Asian, Latinx, African, African American, some Latin Americans. A lot of them I knew and were friends. When I think of community in my artistic field, that’s what it is.

 

My [personal] community is very diverse. I have friends from different walks of life.

 

What is your superpower?

 

I think my superpower is that I am a good judge of character. I think I read people really well. Even though I come across as not, I am very sensitive to the people around me and my surroundings and I think that’s why I’m able to navigate through so many different worlds. I know how and when to push and when not to when to enter and when not to enter. So I would say that is my superpower.

 

elia space

 

 

How do you think art can do more?

 

When I mean art, and I don’t mean artists, I mean the whole mechanism of art, the whole apparatus we need to be more conscious, of what we put out there, of what we say. Be more mindful. I think we’re starting to do that, be more open. I think this is why we’re seeing a lot more Black artists getting a lot more attention, a lot more prominence. But there’s still a long way to go. That’s where we can do more. More empathy. There’s not enough empathy.

 

People need to be aware of what goes out there. And why? What does it mean? What is the reaction going to be from this community or that community? We have to start understanding that we’re not just one type of community. We’re a multitude of communities. How do we interact? How do we make it so it empowers other people? Not make it so it diminishes other people. Curators need to be more inclusive; writers more sensitive. Institutions also need to be more inclusive, and artists as well need to be more sensitive and understanding.

 

Buy your tickets now to celebrate our honorees at SOAPBOX 2018.




Rinku Sen featured

Meet Tattfoo Tan, 2018 SOAPBOX Honoree

May 13, 2018

On the occasion of The LP’s annual SOAPBOX Benefit, we’ve got five questions for the honorees, artists, and honorary chairs. SOAPBOX 2018 Honoree Rinku Sen has been collecting this series of interviews to profile fellow honorees, artists and honorary gala chairs to get to know them and their work. This content was originally published on www.themaven.net/rinkusen/. Please visit Rinku Sen’s website for the original post. 

 

Tattfoo Tan is an artist who collaborates with the public on issues relating to ecology, sustainability and healthy living. His work is project-based, ephemeral and educational in nature. Here’s a glimpse into what makes Tattfoo tick:

 

Who is a person in history that inspires you?

Buddah

Buddha, Mohammad, Jesus. They are activists and reformers in their time. Their ideas influence millions. See them without the organized religion that their name attached to.

 

How did you get started in the work?

 

What work? I just have fun discovery myself. I learn, practice and teach. It is a seamless process from life to art and art back to life.

 

Tarfoo Art

 

Who is your community?

 

LP is my community, my neighborhood is my community, ecology-minded artists are my community, I belong to many but not identify with none.

 

What is your superpower?

 

Surrender. It illuminates the mysterious journey you are on.

 

Tattfoo in studio

 

How do you think art can do more?

 

Art can do more or less depends on the needs of the world or community. See it as a tool, not every problem will use the same tool. See it as an identity, something you can embrace and disrobe. See it as a system, something that you subscribe to and you can update.

 

Buy your tickets now to celebrate our honorees at SOAPBOX 2018.