The LP at Gracie Mansion

April 15, 2015

On March 31st, 2015, Program Director Petrushka Bazin Larsen and alumni artists LaTasha N. Diggs and Shani Peters attended a panel at Gracie Mansion on Change Makers in the Arts Panel, moderated by Thelma Golden, Director of The Studio Museum and hosted by First Lady Chirlane McCray Tuesday, March 31.


The panel featured established women who are creating change in performing arts and arts administration, including journalist Maria Hinojosa, TV producer Courtney Kemp Agboh, Alvin Ailey dancer and instructor Hope Boykin, and Roberta Uno, Director of Arts in a Changing America. The questions centered around the women’s trajectory to becoming change makers, and lessons learned on their journey. Below are some brief reflections from Petrushka, LaTasha, and Shani on the panel.


Shani Peters

A First Lady in a Mudcloth Jacket is a beautiful thing. A powder blue room full of richly hued brown people is also a beautiful thing. Strong women make miracles with their strength. They perfect the art of harnessing and sustaining it in their own lives, AND actively work to share it with others. I left feeling strong and grateful.


Petrushka Bazin Larsen

I too felt grateful for the “way making” that has happened on behalf of women of color by women of color. I also felt grateful to be in a room with so many people that I love and admire.


LaTasha N. Diggs

The bus ride there said it all: you are going to experience something your mother had not. What a blessing it was to be granted this. A room full of women, young and old with layers of wisdom, a room full of women engaged and sharing their lessons with each other. And there, the First Lady in mud cloth. I felt stronger leaving there. I felt myself breathing. I felt a purpose.


We’d love to hear your thoughts! What does “way making” look like to you? We’d love to hear more stories about sharing lessons learned along the journey of becoming a change maker in the arts.


Leave a comment on our Facebook page, or tag us on Twitter, and let’s continue the conversation:








Meet Felicia Perez, Development & Communications Intern

April 9, 2015

What is your name?

Felicia Perez.


So, what made you decide to intern with The LP? How does the internship relate to your studies?

I was planning on applying to either an internship opportunity with The Whitney Museum or The LP. The way I decided was by truly thinking about which program I would be able to relate to the most. The Whitney Museum is a great opportunity because it is popular, they are opening up their new location in Chelsea, and it is a great way to meet new people. However, The LP caught my attention the most because I can relate to the mission: “to amplify the creativity that already exists within communities by using arts and culture to build community networks…” If I were to create a manifesto for my future teaching career, it would without a doubt include most, if not all, of those words: community, culture, creativity, and identity. I want to teach my students the importance of playing a role in their community. I also want to teach them to embrace their culture in order to connect with their identity. This internship relates to my studies because it is helping me focus on what I truly believe in. I love that The LP uses art as a way to problem solve and strengthen community relations.


Do you have your own creative practice? If so, tell us more!

Since I am trying to become an art educator for secondary education, I must know a little bit of every kind of art practice. This is not to say that I do not have a personal preference—I do! I thoroughly enjoy making letters and sending them through regular mail. I like the idea of using stamps, quill pens and ink because it is a form of art that I feel is not used often anymore. I also really like performance arts because it reminds me that art does not have to mean using a paintbrush and paper.


Can you tell us about an artist or project that has inspired you?

One project that has inspired me is Waste Land by a Brazilian artist named Vik Muniz. I saw a documentary about his practice one day on Netflix and I can say that what I saw truly transformed me. In a nutshell, Muniz went to the largest trash city in Brazil, interviewed the workers living there and photographed those people who had very touching stories. He asked them to participate in his project which they all agreed to. They went to the place where the entire city deposits its trash and they collected pieces of garbage that seemed interesting. Finally, Muniz gathered all the garbage, projected each photograph in a huge loft and filled in the projection on the floor with the gathered trash. He then photographed the final product and had an exhibition where wealthy people were able to buy the photograph. The proceeds ended up going directly to the community who participated in the art making process. I was moved by this because he taught me there is beauty in waste, the importance of giving back, and most importantly the idea of incorporating the community into the art in order to remind those people that they matter in the world.


What is your favorite… film?

A few of my favorite films are 500 Days of Summer, Wolf of Wall Street, Silver Linings Playbook.



My favorite album is Lana Del Rey’s Born to Die.



My favorite food is authentic Italian because Italians have a simple way of cooking.


Where do you do your laundry?

I do laundry in my building’s laundry room (fun fact: I actually have to do laundry tonight).


In your opinion, why does art matter?

Art matters because it is the only subject that allows you to explore your culture and embrace your identity while building community, all at the same time.


Felicia is a student and artist studying Art Education at The City College of New York. She is particularly interested in making the middle and high school experience a positive one for all students.

Wonder Lee, Bio Feliciano, Joe Conzoby Trevon Blondet

Report from the Bronx: BX200 Launch Party

April 1, 2015

Development & Communications Associate Akiva Steinmetz-Silber reports from the Bronx Visual Artist Directory (BX200) launch event at the Bronx Museum. (Image of Wonder Lee, Bio Feliciano, and Joe Conzo by Trevon Blondet.)


On Wednesday, March 25th, I had the pleasure of DJing at Bronx Museum for the BX200 launch party. Co-created by Bronx artists Laura James and Valeri Larko, BX200 aims to promote the work of Bronx visual artists, creating a new platform for visibility and community-building in the Bronx and beyond. Their list of artists is impressive, a veritable who’s who of Bronx visual artists—and incredibly diverse in age, race, backgrounds, and geography.


BX200 Launch Party

Photo by Ed Alvarez


I was honored when Lady K-Fever (Bronx artist and veteran teaching artist with The LP) approached me to DJ at the event. The Bronx is a musical Mecca—the “Boogie Down” is not only the birthplace of hip-hop (which traces its origins to Sedgewick Avenue in the West Bronx), but also the fertile soil that nourished so many other musical styles—from jazz and r&b to salsa and doo-wop—and indelibly shaped popular music as we know it today. (For more on the Bronx’s rich musical history, visit the Bronx Music Heritage Center—and be sure to check out their map of lost music venues of the Bronx.)


Needless to say, I wanted to do my part to represent this rich musical tradition correctly.



Photo by Akiva Steinmetz-Silber


Just to raise the stakes a bit higher, I found out that a few days later, the Bronx Museum’s spring opening reception would feature none other than legendary hip-hop pioneer, the “Master of Records” Afrika Bambaataa. But, no pressure! I loaded my crates with a variety of records I knew this crowd would appreciate, and made sure to include plenty of artists that helped shape the sound of hip-hop as we know it today—especially disco, soul, funk, and jazz greats like Roy Ayers, Chaka Khan, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Kool & the Gang, and Earth, Wind, and Fire. You can’t go wrong with records like these!


Alexis Mendoza Xavier Figueroa  Beatrice Coron Melissa Calderón Martine Fougeron Sean Paul Gallegos I and Daniel DelValle

Photo by Ed Alvarez (left to right: Alexis Mendoza, Xavier Figueroa, Beatrice Coron, Melissa Calderón, Martine Fougeron, Sean Paul Gallegos, and Daniel Delvalle”)


I was impressed with the level of organization the BX200’s co-founders brought to the event. They invited a host of Bronx businesses to serve as food and drink sponsors, and screened a slideshow of work by the artists. Despite its immense musical and artistic contributions, we all know the Bronx often doesn’t get the credit it deserves, so it was immensely heartening to see the level of dedication and love with which this event was organized by and for Bronx artists.



Photo by Akiva Steinmetz-Silber


As I expected, the response was incredible. Over 300 guests attended the event, and while I was mostly stationed behind the turntables, I did get a chance to make the rounds and say hello to some familiar faces. The energy in the room was electric, and I was truly moved by the feeling of camaraderie and community. It’s been my experience that Bronx artists have always tended to support one another, but hopefully, the BX200 will offer a brand new platform to promote the Bronx visual arts scene to a wider audience. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next. Thanks again to Laura and Valeri, and to the Bronx Museum, for including me in this magical and inspirational event!



Photo by Akiva Steinmetz-Silber


Visit for more information about the Bronx Visual Artists Directory. Meet Akiva and find out more about him here.