received_1416966011654799

Meet Gabija Kertenyte, Development & Communications Intern

November 16, 2016

Get to know Gabija Kertenyte, our Fall 2016 development & communications Intern:

 

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

This summer, I decided to take time off from school in order to have space to think and reconsider what I was doing. I went home to New Jersey and started waitressing hoping for something more interesting to come along. It happened much faster than I expected. On my 21st birthday, I came across the LP and it felt right: I felt drawn to LP’s political commitment and its perspective on art. I admired how the LP’s artists and communities use art as a way to think about what brings them together and what matters to them; as a medium for thorough, authentic, and loving ways to engage with each other, their surroundings, and their thoughts.

 

I am happy to say that I just made a decision to return to Barnard next semester and decided to go for it and study visual art. I want to do art in order to learn to think better, to express myself more, to see more, to observe more, to care more, to connect, to authentically engage, to be more honest, more present. And I am very grateful to be learning from The LP about art’s versatility and power.

 

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

Hopefully there will be more to share soon. I used to write. I’m always doodling. I like to sketch.
The most creatively satisfying thing I’ve done is this flower I crafted last fall. I was doodling with markers and applying tide pen (laundry reference!) to make it blend and bleed thru the page. I ended up with a whole jar full of colorful pieces of paper out of which, along with blue and see through tape, I constructed the petals.
The approach to art I am most interested in pursuing is something extremely mixed-media. I like to draw, then paint over, then glue things to it, tear the page burn out a hole and discover it in the process.

 

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

Since I started my work with The LP, I worked on a social media campaign called “10 years in 10 days,” in which I researched the projects the LP community created during the 10 years of The LP’s Create Change program. I found many of the projects and the artists incredibly inspiring and felt very grateful to have a chance to learn about them.

 

What is your favorite… film?

The Science of Sleep

 

…album?

Rihanna’s Anti

 

…food?

Mac and Cheese

 

In your opinion, why does art matter?

I think making, sharing, and appreciating art allows us to be particularly present and to think in a way that is more honest, authentic, caring, and engaged. Our mind needs beauty, it needs stories, metaphor and meaning and art provides that.

 

I was reading a book about a woman named Simone Weill that explores her unconventional approach to politics and philosophy. An idea that struck me was that in order to not let our thinking patterns serve all forms of authoritarianism, we need to think by paying attention. She claimed that opinion was evil and we shouldn’t jump to conclusions and learn in an expedited way just to avoid not-knowing. Instead, we should always stay empty and curious and wholeheartedly pay attention. I believe that engaging with art is precisely what allows for that type of thinking.

 

 

Gabija Kertenyte was born in Lithuania, grew up in New Jersey, and currently returning to her studies at Barnard. She came to New York so she can walk and has most recently been walking in the Standing Rock solidarity rallies.

 




lppotluck2016-101-of-253

Words from Lindsay Catherine Harris, 2016 Create Change Fellow

October 20, 2016

2016 Create Change fellow Lindsay Catherine Harris’s 2016 Public Art Potluck speech:

“When Yvette [Programs Coordinator] first asked me to speak, at the nomination of my fellow fellows – I was very honored but also hesitant. At this moment, I didn’t want to be on display, pranced around like a fluffed up poodle, airing my dirty laundry. But…after thinking a bit, I realized of course I would do it. Poodles are kind of cute, and what better reason to wash my clothes, which I did last night?!

 

I love the LP, and that’s because I love the people. I believe in their vision, passion, and dedication. Yvette, Hatuey, Ebony, and Kemi. And I love my cohort – so many brilliant artists of color – Walter, Ivan, Dalaeja, Adalky, Claudia, Autumn, Terrence, Vanessa, Rahviance, Lyra, Misra, Katherine, Salome, Ayo, Ro, Havana. And I especially love my Bed Stuy Boos – Shamilia, Sal, Sue, and Cynthia. Our amazing community partners – qtpoc organizers who let us in with generosity and love and served as such an amazing example of what it really means to be self determined. This fellowship has been an incredible, long and time consuming, experience, grounded in deep and thoughtful work and is solely attributed to the people. So I guess I do believe in the power of the people to create change. And I’m very fortunate to be a part of this community, and share with you all a little bit about that experience.

 

Let’s start the spin cycle – I’m in the Bed Stuy crew. We partnered with the Audre Lorde Project’s Safe OUtside the System collective, which does rooted organizing in anti-violence work and self determined safety led by and for qtpoc in Central BK. A few of the key members we worked with – Tasha, Jamisha, Eugene, Santiago, Ceci, Danielle, Share, Ashleigh, and countless others who contributed along the way. Our field day, Politics of Protection: Building Safety OUTside the System, was a day of creative exploration of what safety looks like, sounds like, and feels like, through tangible tools build with SOS. As a queer mixed race black woman, a media artist, an educator, an activist, who’s been living in Crown Heights for 8 years, who works with young people & who recently turned 30 (!!) I’ve been thinking a lot about self determination. How to ground myself in intentionality of community and liberation. To understand the historical, social, and physical limitations of my body and mind and to work towards liberation for myself, the communities I’m a part of, the communities I support, and the communities I hope to support – with radical love, creativity, joy, and humor. That is what I’ve come to be more present to in the last year, more grounded in during this fellowship, and what propels me for the next step.

 

Now, for our tumble dry – How do I represent 14 other amazing artists, all different people, with such unique experiences, perspectives, passions, disciplines? We are all asked, often forced, to be representatives – of our families, our friends, our work, our communities. But that is our task as artists interested in creating change. We are about things bigger than ourselves, grounded in ourselves. That is self determination, and that is the work of the LP.

 

I am so excited to liberate myself with Gabriella’s amazing cuisine, (!) and I am excited to share and grow with you all. Thank you for your time, love, and intention!

 

I leave you now, not with a dirty laundry reference, but dirty dancing:

I’ve had ..the time of my life.. and I owe it all to you.”




lppotluck2016-100-of-253

“Nawartouna!” Words from Katherine Toukhy, 2016 Create Change Artist-In-Residence

October 20, 2016

2016 Create Change Artist-In-Residence Katherine Toukhy’s 2016 Public Art Potluck speech:

 

“In Arabic we like to say “Nawartouna” which literally just means “you light us up.” There is no English equivalent for this. And if you look around the room, you will find that this poetry is truth.

 

I start with Arabic, my native tongue, because it’s precious to me and I feel like I can be more of who I am and who we are, when I speak it …. It’s a personal thing that has become political, in a global culture where people are getting pulled off airplanes or searched at checkpoints or physically assaulted because this language that we are is hated and feared, for all the wrong reasons.

 

The more I work with my language, through “The Khayamiyya Monument” a project commissioned by The Laundromat Project this year, that brings together stories of Arab women immigrants and U.S. female veterans, the more I remember that it is a language of incredible generosity and sweetness. And when I visit the Arab American Association in Bay Ridge, and work with the women there, I hear phrases like “ enti ya amar “ – meaning literally “you, like the moon” a term of endearment, spoken by the aunties there.

 

As an Egyptian woman, raised here in the Northeastern U.S., who comes from a long line of creative people who would have never called themselves artists, coming into my role as an “artist”- the type of self-driven self-interested artist we learn to be here in the Western institutions- has not been a comfortable or seamless path.

 

I was blessed with immigrant parents, solid middle class people, who came here and worked hard, and hoped that I would become a doctor,,, then a lawyer,, then a pharmacist,,, or marry one… Well none of those things turned out to be my life. And still the self-driven self-interested artist thing, that I was picking up in the culture all around me here in the New York didn’t seem to be quite my thing either.

 

But I had this language, and this imagination, and this need to show Americans- especially post 9/11- that the places I’d travelled to with my family or on my own hard-earned dime, places that are part of me, like Egypt, Lebanon, or the Palestinian Territories- are not cesspools of terrorism. I had the need to make art. And so here I am. Enter the Laundromat Project.

 

If you’ve been part of The Laundromat Project community or events before, you will see something very unique in an arts and organizing setting- a group of people that reflects all shades of black and brown, making and remaking our own images, claiming our stories, shaping public opinion, all because we have urgent things to say.

 

It feels most real to be in community with artists who understand the value of those places where the personal or collective imagination and the political will overlap, and who use that as a motivation for our work.. Who understand that that our voices are not universal, or abstracted, or devoid of context- that they are our stories in their specificity and particularities- and that This is powerful … who understand that who we are, and what we need to express, is the very fabric that builds a community moving towards more equitable futures. That’s a radical idea if you can really envision what it means.

 

Maybe this is why our visions and nightmares are a threat to the traditional gatekeepers of the arts and culture spheres, or why very few of us are allowed in, as token artists of color.

 

But we know we are the majority, not the minority. We are doing this already, inside and outside of the gates. We are building spaces where our voices are heard, without being given permission to do so.

 

The Laundromat Project, to me, is one such space, which really isn’t a centralized space… But more of a network of people and ideas throughout the city, anywhere from public laundromats to neighborhood gardens to community centers… Igniting and highlighting the creativity, the joy, the struggles, that shape life here in NYC and beyond.

 

And one of the guiding principles of the Laundromat Project- to be propelled by love- that’s the one that always gets me. Because you can be savvy and political and creative and get big on the scene here in NYC, but in the end: Who are you? And where are your people?

 

Something about this right here feels right,, feels like who I am now, and where I came from, and is where I am going. I don’t have to leave it behind to grow into being an artist. Because I was propelled into this world by love, and I’ll continue to be propelled by love in the creative work I do.

 

We are here because we know we need change and we are change. And that we can’t do this alone. Artists create the cultural capital to move people, and the Laundromat Project brings together a network of people, resources, and encouragement to do this Right and to do this with Big love.

 

Thank you.

Nawartouna.”