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Meet Markita Miler, Teaching Artist

December 14, 2016

Markita Miler is our 2016-17 teaching artist for Youth POWER  (Power Organizing for Winning Explorations of Resistance) Lab, The Laundromat Project’s after-school program at Brooklyn Community Arts & Media High School (BCAM). this opportunity is structured to equip young people with the creative tools, civic engagement skills, and confidence necessary to envision and take action in service of a better world.

 

What is your bio in one sentence?

I am a designer and creative thinker who approaches all things with passion, and studied fashion design and footwear at Pratt

 

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

I have resided in Clinton Hill/Bed-Stuy for 12 years, in the same apartment for 8 years. I used to design footwear in corporate America, and I decided to leave since I realized that I’m here for more than just designing footwear. I wanted to give back to the community that I live in, so I started teaching art and design in an afterschool program in my neighborhood. I’ve been working directly with students now for about 4 years and my students always give me a breath of fresh air and a new perspective. My shift toward working with my community inspired me to start my own company called Kí-netics Art, through which I teach art in my community.

 

How did you get connected with The Laundromat Project as our YPL teaching artist?

Through James O’Brien, principal of BCAM. We met each other through mutual friends, and immediately connected on all things art and design and a month later he reached out to have me interview for this opportunity. He felt I would be a perfect fit for the model materials students, who are working on this project.

 

What most inspires your creative practice as a fashion designer and as an artist?

Exploring, traveling around the world, and going on adventures and getting lost. When you travel to a new place you see new things and it forces you to pay attention to detail simply because it is not your normal practice and daily experiences. It is through those details I am inspired to create.

 

I work with the masses on a daily basis through my work as a creative thinker and I consider myself more a footwear designer though I also studied apparel design in school.

 

Much of your work is around footwear design. What is the most interesting or a favorite project you’ve worked on?

I used to travel to China all the time. It was a second home to me and I stayed out there for a month at a time. During one of my one-month trips, I was able to lock down three major design accounts and put an entire design plan together during that time. I was back and forth between Shanghai and Dongguan, working closely with the factories doing prototyping and pattern corrections, and was able to see my creative thoughts come to life all in one month. While in Shanghai, I also met an amazing friend who now visits me in New York, so I made a new friend there as well.

 

What has been a highlight so far from your experience working with the students at BCAM?

The students and I have been working around the subjects of the Black Lives Matter Movement and gentrification within Brooklyn, and what it looks like to the residents who have been there for a while and the newer ones moving in. For one of our assignments, we went on a blindfolded guided tour and the students had to focus on sounds, smell, and touch. Bed-stuy is where their school is situated, and some of students are from the area, so they had an opportunity to experience the neighborhood in a completely different way. Their senses besides sight were heightened and they were able to make a lot of comparisons between their neighborhood and others despite being blindfolded. For example, the students went into a bodega that was gentrified and noticed that it wasn’t the typical Brooklyn bodega they were familiar with, and they instantly felt a disconnect despite not having their sense of sight. The students feel that Bed-Stuy isn’t considered part of the “real Brooklyn” anymore, and it was interesting to hear their perspectives through this exercise.

 

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

“Do the Right the Thing” by Spike Lee. The film is centered in the heart of Bed-Stuy and I live one block away from where it was filmed. The storyline is still very much relevant to today’s issues and the Black Lives Matter movement.

 

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

Fashion

Design

 

Bodega

Latin music

 

Bed-Stuy

Community

 

Culture

Diversity

 

Community

A Safe Space

 

Television

False Advertising

 

Music

Love

 

Shoes

Life

 

Laundromat

Clean

 

Neighborhood

Brownstone

 

Neighbors

Connections

 

Oral History

Knowledge

 

Markita “Ki” Miler is The Laundromat Project’s 2016-17 Youth P.O.W.E.R. Lab teaching artist. Find out more about her and her work as an instructor and creative guide at http://www.kineticsart.com/




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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.

 




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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.”