Meet Ryan Dennis, ’09 Program Intern

October 16, 2014

We recently caught up with Ryan Dennis, 2009 Program Intern and current Public Art Director of Project Row Houses in Houston, Texas, to find out what she’s been up to since her internship.

 

In addition to being an amazing intern back when The LP had a full-time staff of one, she also served on our 2014 Artist & Community Council AND is the newest member of our Catalyst Circle! Thanks, Ryan, for your ongoing support and for being a great friend of the organization!

 

Read on to find out more!

 

What year did you intern at The LP?

2009.

 

What was your position title?

Program Intern.

 

Were you in school at the time? If so, where and in what year of your studies? If not, what were you doing with the rest of your time?

At the time of my internship, I was a graduate student at Pratt Institute completing my Master’s degree in Arts and Cultural Management.

 

Why did you want to intern with us?

I loved the idea of having folks that are doing their laundry take a moment to engage with an artist through an art making activity! I was really intrigued by the LP because they confront the idea of access and art making head on. The organization was aligned with my interest and applying for an internship only made sense.

 

What were some of you primary activities while interning with us?

I did anything and everything that Petrushka Bazin Larsen needed assistance with! From volunteer coordination, to preparing for the art auction, to purchasing materials for the artists, to assisting in getting things prepared for the Works in Progress summer program that took place at the Laundry Room on 116th Street in Harlem. The LP was single handedly managed by Petrushka at that time and I supported her and we got a lot done as a team!

 

Where do you currently work?

I am the Public Art Director at Project Row Houses, located in Houston, Texas.

 

What are some of your primary responsibilities in your current position?

As the Public Art Director at Project Row Houses (PRH), there really isn’t anything that I don’t do! I curate Rounds (PRH’s version of exhibitions), work with artists to realize site-specific projects, manage a number of spaces on site, organize special events, and serve as a community liaison between the organization and Third Ward community. The list continues but I will spare you!

 

How did working at The LP prepare you for this opportunity?

It honed in on my time management skills! I know this sounds basic but it is such an important skill to master when working at a small organization that has ambitious programming. Time management is everything!

 

What was a highlight of working with us?

Coming to work everyday and being in such a pleasant, get-the-work done environment was a highlight. No matter how much work we had in a moment’s time, Petrushka and I always took a minute to laugh and express gratitude with the work that was being done. I would also say that having time to build relationships with the artists conducting drop-in workshops and engaging with the Harlem community kept me fueled. It was nice to see all the hard work you did in the office come to life on the street and to be in the presence of a mother and her children doing workshops together…priceless.

 

What advice would you give a future intern about how to get the most out of their experience?

  • Have a passion for the work that you are doing.
  • Don’t wait to have things given to you. If you feel there is a need that you can support, talk to your supervisor and take the initiative!
  • Don’t hesitate to try new things that maybe a bit out of your comfort zone.
  • Be selfless but know your worth.
  • Ask as many questions as you need to.

 

Ryan N. Dennis joined Project Row Houses as Public Art Director in October 2012. Prior to moving back to Houston she worked at the Museum for African Art as the traveling exhibition manager, working on exhibitions including El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You about Africa, Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria, and Jane Alexander: Surveys (from the Cape of Good Hope). She received her master’s in Arts and Cultural Management from Pratt Institute, where her research focused on the role of the artist as administrator and cultural producer through residencies and collaborative programming. Prior to moving to New York City, Ryan worked as a community organizer and a curatorial assistant at The Menil Collection in Houston, Texas.




Kevin 1

Kevin Chen

October 7, 2014

What’s your name?

Kevin Chen.

 

What’s your position with The LP?

Development & Communications Intern.

 

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

I decided to intern with The LP because of its commitment to connecting art and community building in a creative, sustainable, and, most importantly, fun manner. Over the summer, I interned at DiverseWorks, a non-profit art space in Houston. One of my primary duties was conducting outreach for The Idea Fund, a re-granting program geared toward funding community-based artistic projects. Seeing some of the work that has come out of that program and being able to help with planning the next cycle excited me and made me want to continue exploring the larger possibilities of art. After hearing about The LP and discussing it with my internship supervisor, I knew that it’d be an awesome opportunity to intern here.

 

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

Not at the moment.

 

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

I’m hugely inspired by Rick Lowe and Project Row Houses in my hometown of Houston, Texas. One of the most fascinating things about Project Row Houses is its resistance to clear definition. Its programs combine art and community engagement in a way that emphasizes and magnifies the mutual creativity of the two. A lot of the work that they’re doing speaks to the importance of history, space, and identity, and has inspired me to rethink about how I relate to art.

 

What is your favorite… film?

Her, partially because of the amazing soundtrack.

 

 …album?

Beyonce by Beyonce. Because Beyonce. #HTownVicious

 

…food?

Banh mi, aka a Vietnamese sandwich. New York food has its merits, but nothing will ever beat a banh mi from Houston.

 

Where do you do your laundry?

The laundry room in my dorm…which is currently free since they haven’t installed the new electronic payment system yet.

 

In your opinion, why does art matter?

For me, the most powerful aspect of art is creativity. Something that I’ve been exploring recently is expanding the definition of art to the everyday. If actions in our everyday lives are charged with creativity, then how much difference is there between that and a work in a museum? How might we be artists in our own lives?

 

I’m thinking specifically about the times three generations of my family would sit together in my grandma’s house, folding ceremonial papers to be burned in a religious rite. On the one hand, the act of folding paper was an artistically creative process. On the other hand, my family performing that act together strengthened our communal bonds to one another. During those times, art, everyday life, and community blended together into a singular act of creativity.

 

In that sense, looking at art in that way opens up possibilities for what art can do for individuals and communities. Art, as creativity and innovation, becomes personal and political, creates change from within and from without, and strengthens the connection between the individual and the community.

 

Follow Kevin on Twitter @kxchen926.

 

Kevin Chen is from Houston, TX. He is currently a sophomore at Columbia University, where he is studying anthropology.




ChefElle

Meet Chef Elle Simone

October 2, 2014

Meet Elle Simone of SheChef, our 5th Annual Public Art Potluck chef!

Tickets to the Potluck are available here.

 

We’re really excited to be working with Chef Elle this year—her food is incredibly delicious, and in our brand-new venue this year, we’ll be able to accommodate more guests than ever before. So come one, come all—and don’t forget to bring your ideas!

 

How would you describe your cuisine in three words?

Many people have used terms to describe my food but I would say that it is: intentional, organic and traditional.

 

When and how did you first discover your love for food and culinary arts?

I spent a lot of quality time in the kitchen with my Granny as a child. Cooking became a communal ritual between her, her mother, and sisters. I was a very inquisitive child so in order to deflect all the questions I’d have about what she was doing, she’d show me and tell—not only to teach me but to keep me distracted from questions, I think!

 

CISC Detroit Action Shot

 

In addition to working as a chef, a culinary producer, and food writer, you also run a mentoring program for young women. Can you tell us more?

I think above all the work titles I have, I am most proud of being an activist and advocate for change as it relates to Women’s Rights, Child Abuse/ Sexual Assault issues, and Health Advocacy. I was a Social Worker for several years before becoming a chef so that part of me is always very alive and active.

 

What’s next for your LLC, SheChef?

SheChef is branching out to be a resource for women entrepreneurs. We are hosting our Inaugural Women Mean Business Conference. It’s a small business development conference with workshops and panel discussions for women who are looking to start a business and don’t know where to start and also as edification for those who are established and want to up the ante a bit. That’s on November 15th and its website is http://goo.gl/KY3ngN.

 

That sounds amazing!

What’s your neighborhood, and what do you love most about it?

I live in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn. I love that my immediate community is very active in the beautification of the neighborhood. We all look out for each other and have respect for each other.

 

Cool! What’s your favorite film, book, or song about NYC?

Book:Remarkable, Unspeakable New York by Shaun O’Connell

Song: On Broadway by George Benson

Movie: Brown Sugar.

What excites you most about working with The LP for our 5th Annual Public Art Potluck?

I LOVE The LP mission of providing understanding and creative space for artists. I feel that there are some arts and artists that are less traditional who need a voice, kind of like culinary arts. Also, I love cooking fall-themed menus and feel very excited about providing that for everyone.

 

We’re excited as well! Without spoiling any surprises, can you tell us about the inspiration behind the menu you’re planning?

Growing up in Detroit, I was exposed the cuisines of the dominant cultures there, Greek & Arabic! My menu represents that a bit and ALSO the kinds of comfort / communal meals that I grew up enjoying during the fall season.

 

And what dish are you most excited to present at the Potluck?

I’m most excited about the Greek Moussaka!

 

Visit Chef Elle on the web at shechef.org.

Don’t forget to buy your tickets to our Public Art Potluck!