Nari Headshot cropped

Meet Nari Ward, 2016 SOAPBOX Honoree

May 19, 2016

We asked Nari Ward, 2016 SOAPBOX Honoree, to share more about what inspires his work, his connection to The LP, and more. Read on to find out what he had to say.


What is your bio in six words or less?

Faith, Family, Work.


Can you tell us about your relationship with your neighborhood (or a neighborhood), and how it may have shifted over the years?

In the past my practice of retrieving found objects from my neighborhood was easy going and laid back; that “thing” will be there for at least a few days. Now if I see something I need to pick it up right away or it will be discarded because the sanitation services around the neighborhood are much improved.


How did you first get connected with The Laundromat Project?

It was through The LP’s Executive Director Kemi Ilesanmi and my friendship with several artists / educators The LP works with.


What most inspires your creative practice?

Change and anxiety.


Much of your work utilizes found, discarded objects. What is the most interesting or unusual object you have used in your work?

American Flag ashes.


What is your favorite book, film, and / or album about NYC?

Sugar Hill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight.


Free-association—tell us the first word that comes to mind:












Star Trek















Nari Ward’s dramatic sculptural installations are composed of systematically collected material from his urban neighborhood. By revealing the numerous emotions inherent within found everyday objects, Ward’s works examine issues surrounding race, poverty, and consumer culture. Nari Ward’s work has been widely exhibited internationally, including solo exhibitions at the Perez Art Museum, Miami (2015); Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia (2011); Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams (2011); Institute of Visual Arts, Milwaukee (1997); Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston (2002); and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2001, 2000). The artist has taken part in important group exhibitions, including the Whitney Biennale (2006); Prospect 1 New Orleans (2008); and Documenta XI, Kassel (2003). Nari lives and works in Harlem, NY.


Meet Betty Yu, 2016 SOAPBOX Alumni Honoree

May 11, 2016

We asked Betty Yu, 2016 SOAPBOX Alumni Honoree, to share more about what inspires her work, her connection to The LP, and more. Read to find out what she had to say.


What is your bio in six words or less?

Interdisciplinary artist and media maker advancing social justice.


Can you tell us about your relationship with your neighborhood (or a neighborhood), and how it may have shifted over the years?

I was raised in Sunset Park Brooklyn and spend over 20 years of my life there. My parents still reside in the house I grew up in and I still call Sunset Park my home. It is a neighborhood where the social issues, languages and cultures of the Chinese and Latino communities intersect – it shaped who I am today. Sadly that is rapidly changing. In the last 8 years, Sunset Park has been getting gentrified and the working class folks, immigrants and small business owners who made the community vibrant and culturally-rich – are systematically getting pushed out. I am concerned about the housing situation for folks like my parents and future working class generations to come. This is why I’m so passionate about anti-displacement organizing work and how arts and culture can advance this fight.


How did you first get connected with The Laundromat Project? What impact has participating in the Create Change residency had on your practice?

I joined the Laundromat Project community in 2012 as a Create Change artist in residence. Through the residency, I was able to teach and engage in participatory art-making with the Chinese immigrant community in Sunset Park, Brooklyn where I grew up, at the laundromat that my parents have used for years. The LP continues to have a profound influence on me and my development and trajectory as an artist and media maker committed to economic, racial and social justice. I am so grateful to The Laundromat Project and artist community who helped open up doors and opportunities to collaborate with other social justice-minded artists and community organizations. I am grateful for The LP community, their integrity and all that they have taught me as an change-maker artist. The Laundromat Project is an extremely unique and important organization that does work in the intersection of social justice and the arts with communities that are hardest hit by racial and economic injustice.

What most inspires your creative practice?

When I am able to collaborate with community members, community based organizations, folks that are hardest hit by racial and economic injustices – to use and create art, media and culture to help tell their stories and advance social justice. It’s the intersection of arts and activism that inspires me. I feel like we’re in an exciting moment and critical juncture where community-based arts and cultural organizing approaches are being used in really innovative ways to advance Black Lives Matter, workers rights, housing equity and immigrant justice in NYC and around the U.S.


What is your favorite book, film, and / or album about NYC?

“Do the Right Thing” (film by Spike Lee)

“The Warriors” (film)

“Midnight Marauders” (album by Tribe Called Quest)


Free-association—tell us the first word that comes to mind:






















Anything else you want to tell us?

I hope there will be other organizations around the U.S. that replicate or exemplify The Laundromat Project’s model, as an arts organization dedicated to supporting and fostering artists of color who are invested in community-based arts with a social justice mission.



Betty Yu is a NYC based multi-media artist, filmmaker, cultural worker, media educator, and longtime community organizer. For over 4 years, Betty managed the national Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net), a project of the Center for Media Justice. Her documentary “Resilience” about her garment worker mother fighting against sweatshop conditions, screened at film festivals including the Margaret Mead Film and Video Festival. Betty’s interactive multi-media installation, “The Garment Worker” was part of a art exhibit in Chinatown in 2013, and featured at Tribeca Film Institute’s Interactive 2014. She was a 2012 Public Artist in Residence at The Laundromat Project, collecting oral histories and teaching media making to Chinese immigrants in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Betty is currently on the Board of Directors of Deep Dish TV and Third World Newsreel, two progressive media arts centers that distributes and exhibits social issue films. Betty is a 2016 A Blade of Grass Fellow for Socially Engaged Art.


Meet our 2016 Create Change Artists

April 28, 2016

On April 23, we convened for the first time for an orientation with our 2016 Create Change artists—Commissioned Artists, Fellows, and Artist-in-Residence. A centerpiece of our full-day orientation was a workshop facilitated by Urban Bush Women on Entering, Building, and Exiting Community, as pictured above.


It was a great opportunity to get to know the artists in our 2016 cohort, hear them talk about their work, and engage in critical dialogue and deep listening about community engagement and more.


Artists’ Projects (Commissions & Residency)



Artist Fellows:

Rahviance Beme

Adalky Capellan

Walter Cruz

Vanessa Cuervo

Dalaeja Foreman

Ivan Gaete

Lindsay Harris

Sue Jeong Ka

Shamilia McBean

Lyra Monteiro

Salvador Muñoz

Autumn Robinson

Cynthia Tobar

Terence Trouillot

Claudia Zamora