Author Archives: Folasade Ologundudu

  1. Meet Board Member Kevin Harry

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    Join us in welcoming Kevin Harry to The LP fam! Kevin recently joined our board —read our short Q&A to get to know him!

    The LP: As a supporter of the arts, why does art matter?

    Kevin Harry: Art is a reflection of the heart and soul of the person who creates it. It is a statement they want to make to the world. It is sometimes a mirror for us too. It can be a reflection of the times—both good and bad. Art can be political and it can also be just for fun. Art is inspiration. It can bring joy and happiness. It can also make us emotional. Art can also be interpreted in many ways. We can all see it completely different from what the artist intends.

    LP: What attracted you to The LP and excited you most about joining the board?

    Harry: I greatly admire The LP’s committment to artists of color and community inclusion. I believe the LP removes what is often an invisible wall between people and art. The organization makes art accessible. When you make it accessible you also nurture artisitc tendencies in people who heretofore never really thought about art—either making it or buying it. I love how the organization supports artists both financially and offering them exposure. I deeply want to encourage young people of color to create and to call themselves artists. They must know that this path is open to them….and that it’s open to them in the neighborhood they live and the world beyond.

    LP: What is your neighborhood? What’s your favorite thing about it?

    Harry: I live in the Ocean Hill section of Brooklyn. I love the Blackness of my neighborhood. It reminds me of my hometown of Detroit. The neighborhood is a cultural melting pot with a heavy Caribbean influence. I feel at home and a real sense of community where I know my neighbors. We look out for one another. One of my favorite things about my neighborhood is our annual block party. There’s ton of food, lots of games. We sit around and laugh and I’m always happy to see the children playing in the street.

    LP: Can you tell us about a project/event/moment that was a particular highlight of your personal/professional work?

    Harry: The creation and publication of my zine KH. I have been a long time collector of zines. I also love photography. Growing up I poured over Ebony and JET magazines. The images of Black people in those publications inspired me. Over the years, I realized that it was difficult to find zines made by Black people with Black images. So, I created a zine made of my photos of people of color. The images are taken at New York City area festivals and events where mainly people of color gather. I am very humbled that the zine is archives at The Moorland- Spingarn Research Center on the campus of Howard University, my alma mater. The complete collection to date has also been archived at the Getty Center in Malibu.

    LP: What song gets you moving and going when work gets hard?

    Harry: Anything by Marvin Gaye or Donald Byrd and The Blackbyrds

    LP: What’s your favorite home-cooked dish?

    Harry: My mother’s fried chicken and macaroni and cheese. She also makes a delicious peach cobbler.


    Kevin Harry is an Emmy Award-winning television producer, with four nominations for outstanding achievement in television throughout his career. He is currently a producer at Inside Edition. In addition, he’s a photographer and founder/editor of a zine/art book, and an expert on pop culture. Based in New York, Kevin has covered some of the most important news stories of our time, from 9/11 at ground zero to interviews with countless newsmakers and cultural icons. Throughout his long career, Kevin has been a witness to history. He began his career as an on-air reporter in Jackson Mississippi. He continued to produce local newscasts in Jackson, Oklahoma City, and Philadelphia. In addition to his background of covering hard news and breaking stories, his extensive knowledge of art, fashion, and pop culture has made him a go-to consultant.

  2. Meet angela abiodun, Programs Coordinator of Arts & Pedagogy

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    In what neighborhood do you live?

    Kensington, Brooklyn

    How did you first become connected to The LP, or hear about The LP?

    I was first introduced really informally. While at Pratt, we would receive biweekly newsletters with writing, job and community opportunities. The LP was in one of the first newsletters we received, but I was still getting acclimated to Brooklyn and school, so I didn’t pay it much attention. But Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts explicitly sent me an email. She was my mentor/professor/thesis advisor while at Pratt, and when you all were searching for a Community Engagement Manager and Senior Manager of Arts & Learning, she thought the position and organization would have resonance. By the time I reviewed the email and application, I had missed the deadline. I even tried to submit my application but the form was closed lol. She didn’t let up with the reminders.

    So, what attracted you to The LP? How does working here relate to your professional goals?

    Sharifa’s continued encouragement attracted me and how every time I came back to the website, I saw someone who I knew was doing amazing work in the community being supported by the organization kept me invested. I see art organizations as spaces that could and should encourage the blending of personal, professional and political considerations and interests (word to Nina Simone and Audre Lorde). A new goal of mine is to expand the idea of artist residency and use them as community builders, centering the most ignored parts of the Black diaspora.

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

    Yes. It includes writing, dance & movement, collage, music making (primarily with instruments), textile work, and figuring out my nephew’s favorite anime.

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

    Wangechi Mutu’s exhibit at the New Museum was the first art exhibit that I could see my mom in.

    What is your favorite… film?                         …album?                         …food?

    I don’t like favorites, and these answers will change. Top 6 Films: Selena, Eve’s Bayou, Everything Everywhere All At Once, Their Eyes Were Watching God, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, The Photograph Top 6 Albums: What Now | Brittany Howard; Ibeyi | Ibeyi; The Secret Life of Plants | Stevie Wonder; Stripped | Christina Aguilera; Full Moon | Brandy; Luxury | Alex Isley Top 6 Foods: cassava leaves, mangosteen, popcorn, bacon, hibiscus mint popsicles, chocolate turtles.

    Where do you do your laundry?

    Growing up, in the basement of my parent’s homes. For most of my childhood, at my mom’s we line dried clothes. Now, in the kitchen 🙂

    In your opinion, why does art matter?*

    Because it requires the same thing as revolution to be successful, creativity and criticality.

    What LP value do you most related to and why?*

    “We Write Our Own Histories” is the one I’ll choose because I’m cheating and think it encompasses all the others. As a person who likes to challenge the ethnographic, anthropological, and sociological studies of people from those outside of community, being able to write both your and your people’s history is incredibly illuminating, powerful and an act of propelling yourself forward. Through that writing, you’re able to look forward and create the change you want to see. In any project of archiving (which I would argue this value is), there is an encouragement of the use of various mediums, which probably would encourage learning something new, which is part and parcel to nurturing creativity. In committing to writing your own history, you’re writing the history of people and places you love and value. Because of my foundation, and the people I would be honoring in writing my history, it’s inherently an encouragement of a POC (specifically Black) centered understanding of history. And through an understanding, assessment, demystification of what your people experienced, you can see all the spaces for expansion and abundance that existed, exist, and will continue to exist.

  3. Meet Melonie Knight, Development Associate

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    In what neighborhood do you live?

    Crown Heights

    How did you first become connected to The LP, or hear about The LP?

    In 2021, my “Art Money” professor at the time, Amy Whitaker, recommended I look up The LP because I was interested in community-centric fundraising and co-owning artworks with my community.

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

    Yes! I have multi-medium and installation practices, confronting the memories of Black women residing in the body and home. I often think about W. E. B. Du Bois’ “twoness” (The Souls of Black Folk), and I meditate on “home-ness” to crack open the embodied simultaneity of Black home and displacement. I work with aqueous-mundane materials and scenes to explore everyday opportunities to journey inward, backward, and forward as the feeling-body remembers, sheds, and regenerates. In collaboration with Black and domestic objects such as West African Black Soap, cotton rags, Epsom salt, and Kool-Aid, I hope to make pieces that invite more space for my subjects to imagine beyond and through engaging with everyday multiplicities.

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

    I am currently inspired by Wangechi Mutu’s use of paper pulp in works such as The Sticks (2016). But I often find inspiration in slang words and phrases collectively defined and archived in places like Urban Dictionary. I also frequently return to the song “These Walls” by Kendrick Lamar.

    What is your favorite… film?                         …album?                         …food?

    One of my favorite albums is MAGDALENE by FKA Twigs

    Where do you do your laundry?

    In a laundromat right up the block from me.

    In your opinion, why does art matter?*

    Art helps us to remember and connect. Jessica Fern, a psychotherapist, public speaker, and trauma and relationship expert, explains that “trauma can be simply defined as any experience of a broken connection”. The process of creating art involves a cycle of seeing, feeling, touching, smelling, and following where those senses lead, ultimately bringing back what you discovered as a creation to share. For healing BIPOC community members affected by traumatic systems, I believe creativity plays a crucial role in reconnecting us back home to each other and ourselves.

    What LP value do you most related to and why?

    As an artist from a low-income household in Brooklyn, I am moved by The LP’s Value: Nurture Creativity as someone interested in how we could use “creativity as a rich and renewable resource that turns strangers into a community of strong and resilient neighbors. ” Working here as the Development Associate orients me to continue exploring ways to practice and think creatively about sustainable and equitable resource redistribution amongst our neighbors and supporters.

    You can view our values here: https://laundromatproject.org/about/

    Please share your short bio below. 100 words or less is a good length for our website.

    Melonie Knight (b. Brooklyn, NY) is the Development Associate at The Laundromat Project, providing critical administrative support to a dynamic development department. Before joining The LP, she was a Development Intern at the Studio Museum in Harlem and a Program Intern at VIA Art Fund. She holds a BFA from New York University in Studio Art and a Minor in Business of Entertainment, Media, and Technology (BEMT). She believes that creativity is an impelling energy that advocates for our existence and helps us honor and activate our ever-abundant resources, stories, and connections. She’s invested in creative and fundraising work to encourage generosity and collective stewardship of resources. As an artist herself, she collaborates with sensuous, domestic objects such as West African Black Soap, cotton rags, and Epsom salt, to create artworks that reveal everyday opportunities to re-member one another and regenerate into rich futures.

  4. Meet Chloé LaBorde, Special Projects Coordinator

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    In what neighborhood do you live?

    Midwood, Brooklyn

    How did you first become connected to The LP, or hear about The LP?

    I was having dinner with friends late last year and while talking about our plans for the new year, I mentioned wanting to get more involved with arts and community based organizations. My friend shared that she knew of one based in Brooklyn and would send me the details. A few days later she sent me a DM with a post from The LP’s Instagram page.

    So, what attracted you to The LP? How does working here relate to your professional goals?

    The LP’s mission, specifically the part that states “we envision a world in which artists and neighbors in communities of color work together to unleash the power of creativity to transform lives.” I appreciate the collaborative nature of this statement and believe that creativity is essential and should be encouraged in all aspects of life, especially when creating change.

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

    Yes! I studied theater throughout high school and college, and continue to direct and act from time to time. My brother and I also enjoy creating multidisciplinary art projects together. I find lots of inspiration through learning about and engaging in different art forms whether that be through reading books/scripts, taking classes, attending performances or exploring exhibitions.

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

    Lackawanna Blues, written, directed, and performed solo by Ruben Santiago-Hudson at Manhattan Theatre Club. He tells a beautiful story about the Black woman who raised him and was admired throughout their community. It’s performed masterfully by Santiago-Hudson who seamlessly, but clearly, morphs into and embodies 20 amazing characters.  

    What is your favorite… film?                         …album?                         …food?

    This is tough! My favorite film series is Harry Potter. I also love the films Sound of Metal and Her. But honestly, I love the show Game of Thrones more than any film. My favorite album is The Jungle Is The Only Way Out by Mereba. As for food, I’d have to say french fries.

    Where do you do your laundry?

    In my apartment.

    In your opinion, why does art matter?*

    Art is vital to human connection and expression. It creates community, heals, educates, brings joy, and can give us something to believe in.

    What LP value do you most related to and why?*

    The LP value I relate to the most is “Practice Abundance.” I truly believe that we encompass everything we need to sustain and thrive in this life. When we cultivate an abundance mindset and collaborate, the possibilities are endless.

  5. Reflections on Toni’ Morrison’s the Source of Self-Regard

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    Photographer, Helen Marcus/Contact Press Images (NYT)

    Here at the LP, we’ve built a practice of grounding ourselves in the wisdom of our ancestors and the critical thinkers who’ve impacted our work, providing a blueprint for us to live fuller, richer lives through self-expression, collective care, and a shared vision for liberation from oppression in all forms.

    What roles can a POC-centered arts & cultural organization actively take in its community to support its neighbors? Through Spin Cycle, we offer a dedicated space to dig deeper, explore ideas, and be in dialogue with you.

    Earlier this year, our ED Ayesha Williams shared her staff pick for a Read, Rest, and Reflect, which is posted weekly on Sundays.  In offering us the liberatory work of Toni Morrison to reflect upon, Ayesha, unknowingly, sparked in us the desire to reflect more deeply  on the essay, “The Future of Time.” Published in Morrsion’s collection of essays, speeches, and meditations on life, The Source of Self-Regard, “The Future of Time” encourages a reimagining of ourselves as authors of time. Below, our Media & Storytelling Manager, Sade, and our Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Kas, we consider a world that holds our collective past and the complexities of our present and creates space for a radical liberatory future. Read the Spin Cycle below, in which The LP communications Team share their reflections on Morrison and her essay, “The Future of Time,” in The Source of Self-Regard.

    Sade’s Reflections

    As I read the last few sentences of Toni Morrison’s “The Future of Time” essay, where in those final words she asserts that time does indeed hold a future for all of us, I’m immediately struck by the mention of more than ten other writers in this short but meaty work. Over several pages, I am introduced to Ralph Ellison, Umberto Eco, Toni Cade Bambara, Leslie Marmon Silk, and James Baldwin to name a few. These short introductions, interspersed throughout the text, tease out clues to the ways in which other writers have thought about time and our relationship to it, the conditions of our lives, and the weight of forces outside of our immediate control. Morrison celebrates authors whose narrative styles illustrate her positionality on our connection to time through literature and narrative storytelling. “When the power and brilliance of many late-twentieth-century owners focus on our condition,” Morrison writes, “they often find a rehearsal of the past to yield the most insightful examination of the present, and the images they leave with us are instructive.”

    As I draw my gaze further away from the ideas of time, how we bend and shape it, or are shaped by it, I am drawn closer to the equally poignant matters of style. Morrison’s masterful techniques, her moral compass, and literary prowess are weaved through crisp language and emotive descriptions. She poses questions to the reader that cause immediate pause and reflection. World histories are revealed through the recounting of critical moments that have come to define our modern world, The Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Holocaust are some examples. Excerpts from other literary works hone in on the richness and fullness of literature as a keeper of time itself. Morrison writes, “literature, sensitive as a tuning fork, is an unblinking witness to the light and shade of the world we live in.” In the reading of “The Future of Time,” one must slow down. The text requires deep thought and consideration of oneself and the world – of which we are an integral part. While reading the essay I’m compelled to discover not only more of Morrison’s work, but other authors whose use of language pushes literature forward in the same way art pushes culture forward.

    Kas’s Reflections

    Who are the authors of time? This is a question Toni Morrison invites us to consider throughout “The Future of Time” essay. Morrison masterfully teases apart the historical trajectory of time, as told by the Western world. Morrison situates time as a persuasive tool across decades of U.S. politics, from the Cold War of the 1940s, to the overlapping Vietnam war and Civil Rights-induced cultural clashes of the late ‘60s, to the emerging telecommunication technology of the early ‘90s. Calling upon the Darwinian era of evolution, Morrison suggests that the public perception of time has always been rooted in deep colonial speculation–a way of thinking that continuously situates the past as “imperialist appropriations of the future.”

    In other words, our fixation with the past comes from an inability to grasp a future, or even a present, that is not riddled with outdated narratives about the institutions and ideologies that serve only those in power. For instance, think about a public institution whose founders have remained the same for the last 40+ years (yet their equity, diversity, and inclusion statement is plastered at the top of their homepage).

    Being stuck in a slow, everlasting, past contradicts the Western world’s ideas of “progress”, as Morrison outlines. How can our nation’s leaders and we as citizens claim to want progress when we continue to reference old paradigms designed to disenfranchise our communities? As a society, we are conditioned to be afraid of “articulating a long earthly future” beyond the constraints of these old, exclusive histories. To truly imagine our future, we’d have to consider the true quality of our human lives beyond the nation’s political agendas, beyond just our individual, capitalistic pursuits.

    Morrison posits repairing our relationship to time as the way to truly embody our present and build a liberatory future. We need to venture into the “cellars of time” on our terms: “What becomes most compelling, therefore, are the places and voices where the journey into the cellar of time is a rescue of sorts, an excavation for the purposes of building, discovering, envisioning a future.” According to Morrison, the future of time rests with the people pressed into its margins.

    So, what happens if we venture into Morrison’s “cellar of time” to time to call upon the Black thinkers, organizers, and cultural leaders of our collective past? We may have cracked the code…

    The LP community works to preserve our histories not as static, untouched memorials where legacies dissolve into nonexistence under the pressure of dominant narratives, but to preserve them instead as cultural blueprints. The wisdom of our ancestors, like Toni Morrison, serves as our blueprints, allowing us to honor our past, contextualize our present, and lean into our shared visions for the future. 

    As we use community preservation to advance artists and neighbors as change agents in their neighborhoods, part of our responsibility becomes clear: We must always remember
    And with that, we must consider not just what we remember, but how.

  6. Leadership in Moments of Change

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    “All that you touch, you change. All that you change, changes you. The only lasting truth is change…” – Octavia Butler

    At The LP, a foundational principle we highly value is the cultivation of leadership. We are dedicated to fostering the leadership of individuals at every level and stage within The LP community. This commitment extends to supporting the leadership of our staff, the LP artist community, those in our local Bed-Stuy community, and our board.

    Our board members play a pivotal role as valued partners in our pursuits. As collaborators aligned with our values, they not only oversee the financial aspects of The LP’s operations but also contribute invaluable guidance, offer insights to advance our mission, and provide unwavering moral support on our journey toward realizing a vision for a more just and equitable society powered by creativity. Recognizing their significance as essential collaborators, it is imperative that we consistently consider succession, transition, and change within our board ranks. Thoughtful planning ensures healthy growth and a seamless continuity of leadership, ultimately enhancing the impact of our work.

    Last year, we celebrated the transition from our former Executive Director, Kemi Ilesanmi, to our current Executive Director, Ayesha Williams. In moments of change, we reflect on the legacies of Black critical thinkers such as Octavia Butler and Audre Lorde, who embraced change in their practices and pursued the same transformative work that guides us at The LP––supporting POC communities, rewriting narratives, and utilizing the transformative power of art to drive social change.

    In this spirit, we are delighted to share the news of our board chair transition this year from George Suttles to Ashima Aggarwal! While George remains an integral part of our team and, as he humorously puts it, assumes the role of a “regular ol’ board member,” we are excited to witness the organization thrive under Ashima’s thoughtful and compassionate guidance. At The LP, we firmly believe that changes in leadership offer an opportunity to build upon the upward trajectory of the organization, propelling us to the next level of growth and expanding our capacity to delve even deeper into our mission, affirming our values and principles.

    Ashima Aggarwal has served on The LP board since 2019 in the capacity of board secretary. As she takes on the role of Board Chair, she simultaneously bids farewell to a position she has held for over 17 years at the  200+ year old global publishing company, John Wiley & Sons, Inc, where she served as the general counsel for their Education Publishing business. 

    George Suttles has been at the helm of The LP board, leading us through several significant growth periods––including the move to our permanent home at the Storefront and the transition from Kemi to Ayesha as Executive Director. George is the Executive Director of Commonfund Institute at Commonfund. He previously served as a Program Officer with The John A. Hartford Foundation, a private, nonpartisan, national philanthropy dedicated to improving the care of older adults. 

    As we reflect on this time of change––and the ever-present and ever-constant condition of our lives––we’d like to take a moment to learn more about Ashima and George and their time with us at The LP as they move into their new roles this year. 

    –– Words by Ayesha Williams, The LP Executive Director, and Folasade Ologundudu, The LP Media & Storytelling Manager  


    Read our interview with Ashima and George below! 

    As you both reflect on your time working with The LP in your respective capacities, what have been some moments, memories, and/or experiences that stand out to you as profoundly impactful and/or meaningful to you?

    Ashima Aggarwal: When I went to my first GATHER in 2019, I was stunned by how many people I and the guests I had invited knew. The interconnectedness of The LP community is a beautiful thing. I’ve had many conversations about The LP during which someone tells me that their best friend’s mom was a Create Change Fellow 10 years ago or that they worked on a comms campaign for the organization. In one case, a friend of mine who is a high school teacher shared that her students raised $5K and donated it to The LP right before I joined the Board. Each of those conversations sticks with me and drives home the wide-ranging impact that The LP has. 

    On a more personal level, our most recent board chair, George Suttles, had been saying to me for a while that I should be the board chair when he finished his term. I didn’t feel qualified or really understand why he thought I would be a good candidate for this role. This is the first time I’ve served on a board. I don’t work in the arts, and The LP has so many board members who are powerhouses. I will never forget the smiles and cheers of support, excitement, and encouragement that my fellow board members gave me when George shared his intention to nominate me as Board chair with them. I’ve felt so supported; that has been so incredibly affirming.  

    George Suttles: There have been so many moments, memories, and experiences that stand out to me, both exhilarating and joyous and uncertain and turbulent. The fact that the organization was able to navigate the way it did at the height of the pandemic is something that I will always remember as a pivotal time for the organization. Like the entire world, The LP had to figure out ways to adapt to remote work, take care of staff, and ensure that we continued to show up for the community during COVID-19 and then after the murder of George Floyd. On top of that, we decided to move forward with the build-out of our new storefront space, moving from our Harlem office to our current space on Fulton Street in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. The LP has always leaned into its values, and 2020 was no different. I think that is why we were able to continue to support artists and the community and do all of the things we had set out to do. Of course, there were uncertainties and challenges, but I am proud of the way the LP leadership, staff, and board showed up. It was an amazing experience, even though those were scary times. 

    Any advice for folks interested in joining boards or participating with non-profits in a meaningful way?  

    George Suttles: If you are going to join a board, join the board of an organization that you care deeply about and is values-driven. There are so many nonprofits in the City; find an organization whose mission you care deeply about, whose leaders you trust and want to support, and whose values are aligned with yours. Everything that I just mentioned I have found with The LP. I have learned more than I have contributed and have gained tremendous insight, knowledge, experience, and friendships.

    How did you come to work with the organization, and what were you doing professionally before being a part of The LP’s board? 

    Ashima Aggarwal: I joined The LP’s board in 2019. I had been thinking about nonprofit board service for a few years at that point. I am a lawyer and had been working as an in-house counsel at a publishing company at the time. I was looking for a way to broaden my experience, give back, and, hopefully, build a bridge between what I was doing and the NYC arts community. I flailed around for a long time with no idea how to go about getting on a board. Then, I asked a friend who was on a nonprofit board how she got her role. She connected me with someone who was an ED at a nonprofit, who then connected me with Kemi, the ED at The LP at the time. It all came together from there. 

    What are your hopes and dreams for The LP’s future, and what do you envision the organization can achieve? 

    Ashima Aggarwal: I believe The LP can achieve anything it wants to achieve. My wish for the organization is that it continues to grow and build community––and that everyone involved feels supported in our mission.   

    George Suttles: Under Ayesha’s leadership and with Ashima’s support, along with the rest of the board and staff, the organization’s future is bright and can achieve anything! I hope the organization can (and will) continue to show up for artists and the community, and I dream of a day when there is liberation, abundance, peace, and justice in this world. But, until then, The LP will continue to do its part to strive toward that dream!

    Thank you to Ashima and George for their words. We look forward to sharing more reflections from our leadership on Spin Cycle in the coming months.

  7. The Laundromat Project Announces 2024 Create Change Artists-in-Residence and Fellows

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    Bedford-Stuyvesant-Based Arts Nonprofit Awards More Than $140,000 to Creative Projects Exploring Issues Impacting Well-Being of New York City Residents and Communities of Color.

    BROOKLYN, NY – The Laundromat Project (The LP) has announced its 19th cohort of artists and cultural producers chosen to participate in its 2024 Create Change Artist Development Program. Through Create Change, The LP will invest more than $140,000 into artist-led, community-based, and community-responsive projects that explore topics impacting the well-being of New York City residents and communities of color.

    Each Create Change Artist-in-Residence, Bedford-Stuyvesant (Bed-Stuy) Resident, and Fellow will receive an award ranging from $1,500 to $25,000, along with a year of advising, mentorship, and peer-based support to help develop and implement their ideas in neighborhoods across New York City. The 2024 Create Change cohort includes projects that explore themes such as genealogy and family histories, healing collective trauma, identity reclamation through portraiture, historical preservation, dynamic movement, creative play, and love. 

    “The projects led by our 2024 Create Change Artists-in-Residence and Fellows cohort reflect the ways creativity can help us address and acknowledge the challenges that affect our well-being as individuals and as a society, “ Ayesha Williams, Executive Director of The Laundromat Project, said. “What we know is that healing is a creative, continual, evolving process that shifts with what we witness, experience, and initiate in our own lives. I’m excited to see how these projects will evolve within the Create Change community and most importantly, how the experiences of our artists and neighbors will be shaped and impacted by them as well.”

    Artists-in-Residence and Fellows participate in a series of workshops, individual and group coaching on cultural organizing, mentorship from The LP staff and celebrated practitioners in the field, and the opportunity to participate in or lead public activations at The LP’s Bed-Stuy-based storefront and surrounding neighborhoods. 

    This year,  The LP saw a 110% increase in applications for the Create Change Artist Development Program from Bed-Stuy and New York-based creatives and cultural producers indicating a need and urgency for artist support and more creative approaches to socio-economic initiatives

    “The LP’s Create Change program is entering its 19th year, affirming to the need for and importance of cultural organizing work in building and sustaining our communities, particularly communities of color in New York City facing a unique set of challenges,” Catherine Mbali Green-Johnson, Director of Programs at The Laundromat Project said. “It’s no surprise that each year we receive an increasing number of applications from individuals and teams seeking a creative community that nurtures their ideas, but that also prioritizes their needs as human beings whose work is inspired by their own curiosities, challenges, and experiences. I’m excited to see how this cohort advances each others’ efforts through this year’s initiative.” 

    Faculty for The Laundromat Project’s 2024 Create Change Artist Development Program includes Ebony Noelle Golden, Shawnee Benton Gibson, Kamau Ware, Urban Bush Women, and The Laundromat Project staff, among others.

    Learn more about the Create Change Residency and Fellowship.

    2024 Create Change Artists-in-Residence include:

    Anjali Kamat and Rehan Ansari
    Breaking the Silence
    Queens 

    Breaking the Silence is a storytelling and oral history project within the South Asian American community in Queens, New York. This project will offer workshops for South Asian American youth to develop a multimedia storytelling project about the legacies of ethnocentrism as well as stories of resistance within their family histories. 

    Khidr Joseph
    All About Love: Community Narratives 

    Brooklyn

    All About Love: Community Narratives is an immersive video archive endeavor inspired by the transformative insights of bell hooks’ seminal work. Through intimate video narratives, participants will candidly share personal experiences, reflections, and perceptions of love, offering profound insights into the role love plays in shaping our lives.

    Immanuel Oni
    Beyond Memorial | Sacred Sites 

    Brooklyn

    “Beyond Memorial” Sacred Sites is an art, spatial, and healing justice response to the invisible yet palpable scars left in spaces of community trauma or loss.  “Beyond Memorial” Sacred Sites involves crucial dialogue with community groups, such as a peace-keeping youth cohort, exploring how to reclaim public spaces for community well-being and belonging.

    2024 Create Change Bed-Stuy Artists-in-Residence include:

    Alicia Foxworth
    Brownstone Steps Garden Reading Series
    Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, and Fort Greene

    The Brownstone Steps Garden Reading Series is a theatrical arts program designed to provide free entertainment to local and low-income communities in easily accessible public settings for residents that can not always afford tickets to theatrical productions in Times Square and other arts districts.

    Timothy Prolific Edwaujonte
    Egungun: The Afro-Indigenous Genealogy Project

    Bedford-Stuyvesant

    The focus of “Egungun” (Yoruba for “ancestors”) is to utilize genealogical and genetic research as a catalyst for healing and creative expression in pursuit of reparations for Afro-Indigenous people. At no cost, participants will chart their family lineages, take tests from African Ancestry to uncover their ancestral genome, conduct oral history interviews, engage in indigenous ancestral spiritual rituals, and synthesize their findings in a culminating artistic presentation in Bed-Stuy.

    2024 Create Change Fellows include:

    Jenella Young
    Jennella Young is an artist and educator based in Brooklyn, specializing in painting, photography, mixed media, and book art.

    Ashley Rucker
    Ashley Rucker founded TherapART to promote the positive effects of art therapy after struggling with the anguish of a sibling suffering from drug addiction and incarceration.

    Zumilena Then
    As a native Brooklynite, grassroots organizer, and activist, Zumilena Then works in various capacities to preserve her home community. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Pratt Institute and is the Preservation Manager for the Weeksville Heritage Center (WHC).

    Jessica Doe
    Jessica Doe, PhD is a multi-award-winning Aniyunwiya interdisciplinary poet and artist. As a native of the occupied land of what is often referred to today as “Oregon” and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, space, place, and de-colonization are the driving forces behind her work, which includes 15 books and several solo exhibitions.

    Kevyn Way
    Kevyn Way is a Black, queer; gender expansive, multi-genre writer who weaves stories to make the reader gasp, shutter, and cackle. They center stories with themes about race, family, and adoption while highlighting the connection between gender and Blackness.

    Wema Ragophala
    Wéma Ragophala has worked at the intersection of art and community for over 20 years. She is a director, performer, educator, and administrator who has directed the Sankofa Project, The Homecoming Queen, Grown Adorable Adult, In Her Memory, a play healing from trauma in four generations of women in one family.

    Ziedah Diata
    Ziedah Diata is an artist-facilitator committed to justice, community art, and healing. She is a current LP 2023 Create and Connect grantee who designs and leads collaborative art-making experiences that deepen human connection.

    Tcheser Holmes
    Tcheser Holmes is a drummer from NY who grew up submerged in Brooklyn’s “Afro-centric” culture. After studying at the New England Conservatory, Holmes moved back to New York and remains a fixture in the jazz community.

    Khaila Batts
    Khaila Batts is an emerging artist whose creative journey delves into the depths of human relationships, culture, and emotions.

    Juan Pablo Caicedo Torres
    Juan Pablo Caicedo Torres (Bogota, 1991) is a visual and performance artist, photographer, poet, and cultural producer whose practice approaches multiple cultural and political notions from a critical, interdisciplinary, and collaborative approach.

    Florian Koenigsberger
    Florian Koenigsberger is a photographer and technologist on a mission to advance representational justice for historically underserved communities.

    Nafisa Ferdous
    Nafisa Ferdous is a feminist artist born in Dhaka, Bangladesh and based in Queens, NYC. She has worked in sexual rights and gender for 10+ years in Asia, Africa & the US and weaves transnational movement politics into her art practice.

    Tiffany Smith
    Tiffany Smith is an Interdisciplinary Artist from the Caribbean diaspora working between photography, video, installation, and design to create photographic portraits, site-responsive installations, user-engaged experiences, and assemblages informed by researching histories of representation and themes of displacement.

    Stay up to date on their work with The Laundromat Project by following us on Instagram.

    ABOUT THE LAUNDROMAT PROJECT: 

    The Laundromat Project is a Black-rooted and POC-led community-based arts organization dedicated to advancing artists and residents of New York City as change agents within their communities. We envision a world in which artists and neighbors in communities of color work together to harness the power of creativity that can inspire and initiate meaningful change and generate long-lasting impact. We make sustained investments in growing a community of multiracial, multigenerational, and multidisciplinary artists and neighbors committed to societal change by supporting their artmaking, community building, and leadership development. 

    Since 2005, The Laundromat Project has directly invested over $1M in nearly 250 multiracial, multigenerational, and multidisciplinary artists; nearly 93 innovative public art projects; and a creative community hub in Bed-Stuy, while engaging close to 50,000 New Yorkers across the city and beyond. The idea of a laundromat as a primary place for engagement has expanded over time. It now serves as a metaphor for a variety of community settings in which artists and neighbors transform their lives and surroundings. Our programming has evolved to take place in community gardens, public plazas, libraries, sidewalks, local cultural organizations, and other places where people gather.

  8. The space in between…

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    As we close this unprecedented year, and I near my one-year mark as the executive director of The Laundromat Project (The LP), I find myself reflecting on the spaces in between. Similar to the Japanese concept of ma or the Akan concept of Sankofa, these are the moments of contemplation where I consider what has been and what can be, what appears inevitable, and what is imaginable. This past year has unfolded as a continuous state of in-betweenness, a sensation that can sometimes be disconcerting yet also serves as a potent catalyst for possibility—a force capable of instigating change, fostering transformation, and ultimately leading to personal and collective liberation.

    At The LP, in our commitment to nurturing creativity and community, in 2023, we supported four Artists-in-Residence projects. These initiatives honored the voices and stories of long-time Bed-Stuy residents who shaped and defined their communities in big and small ways. They explored a more human and equitable approach to envisioning the design and use of public spaces. They guided us in imagining new worlds and preparing for the possibilities within. They co-created a community-driven and informed toolkit aimed at combating gentrification.

    The Laundromat Project Presents Artists As Neighbors: A Cultural Convening on Living Liberation – July 16th, 2023 – Photography Coverage Provided By: KOLIN MENDEZ | © 2023 KOLIN MENDEZ PHOTOGRAPHY | www.kolinmendez.com

    Equally audacious, our Create Change Fellows upheld the importance of investing in, relying on, and affirming the value of assets sourced directly within our communities and from nature for sustainability and wellness. Simultaneously, at our storefront, we cultivated shared spaces for connection and the exchange of ideas and supported the creative endeavors and civic actions of artists and cultural practitioners in Bed-Stuy through funding opportunities. With our Convening, we explored how artistic expression and cultural preservation can serve as powerful tools to challenge oppressive systems.

    The Laundromat Project at Life Wellness Center

    Throughout all these engagements, I have been moved by those who ignite their creativity and dare us to dream. These individualsoccupy the space in between what is and what is possible, challenging us to view possibility not as a passive longing but as acts of resistance. This radical hope compels us to build a more equitable and passionate future.

    Looking at the year ahead, I am excited about the projects we will support, the communities we will engage, the neighbors with whom we will co-create, and the inspired visions for the organization we will put into motion. I am confident that possibility will serve as the flame igniting our collective action, propelling us forward in our mission to manifest a world where equity and compassion are not just ideals but lived experiences for us all. In this space in between, we find the power to transform our aspirations into reality.

    In community,
    Ayesha

  9. A Very Short Reflection on Liberation

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    To my dearest neighbors, 

    This past year, The Laundromat Project has engaged in The Liberation Series, an ongoing event series embodying the visions and practices of liberation that strengthen collective power and cultural organizing for social change. Each event in The Liberation Series is a call to action. It is a response to our Bed-Stuy neighbors’ desires for a community free to gather and connect, empower and organize, and ground in legacies of place, memory, and history. 

    In service, I facilitated artmaking and community-building workshops exploring themes of Black American traditions, memories of home, rituals of care, land stewardship, gentrification & reclamation, and intergenerational resilience.

    As the year comes to an end, and I reflect on my memories, my heart echoes back to our most recent program at Quincy Senior Residences in November. The Black & Asian Elders Neighborhood Roundtable allowed Black and Asian community members to meet, build solidarity, and converse with Elders in Bed-Stuy while gathered in a story circle.

    Naturally, as the last event of the series, the Black & Asian Elders Neighborhood Roundtable quickly revealed itself to be the most intrinsically heartfelt and visceral gathering of the entire year. Elders and young adults came together to share stories from their lives and their hopes for what a cross-cultural and intergenerational community can look like when we take the time to listen, understand, and express unyielding love for one another in the face of our shared struggles.

    Just imagine…a room filled with over thirty people from all walks of life seated in a circle as they share their deepest memories about where they grew up, who they’ve become, and how they’ve lived. Listen closely, and you’ll hear a room of spirited neighbors exchanging cries of joy and warm tears as though they were speaking with friends they had known their entire lives. Now, open your arms and picture the strong embrace of those dearest friends who know and unabashedly accept all of who you are. Imagine being loved. That was what the Black & Asian Elders Neighborhood Roundtable created and brought into reality—a loving community.

    Amidst the many wonderful and heart-wrenching stories shared, one particular phrase stood out to me. As one community member shared a difficult story of loss and remembrance, another Elder in the room reassuringly said, “Tears are a form of prayer. You’re strong for that.” 

    It’s a phrase that has occupied my thoughts these last few weeks of the year. The strength to carry on in service of a community, as well as liberation, is perhaps best defined by our willingness to express love, whether as tears of remembrance or a voice calling for change. 

    In reflecting on the past year, what I have come to observe and experience can be summed up with a short phrase of my own.

    Liberation is the freedom to be. Liberation is with community. Liberation is being loved.”

    Yours truly,
    Alexander Huaylinos, Programs Associate

  10. The Laundromat Project receives MetLife Foundation’s Accelerating Committment to Equity Innovation Fund

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    The Laundromat Project is among 24 non-profit organizations across the United States selected for their work addressing income and wealth inequality .

    The Laundromat Project, an arts organization that aims to develop Brooklyn artists and neighbors as agents of change in their own communities was picked for the funding initiative, which will award the nonprofit with a $250,000 grant.

    MetLife Foundation says that the purpose of the ACE Innovation Fund is to support nonprofits across the U.S. with addressing income and wealth inequality in their respective communities.

  11. 2023 People-Powered | Crowdfunding Workshop

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    The Laundromat Project’s annual crowdfunding workshop teaches participants tips and tricks for running successful fundraisers! The 2023 People-Powered workshop was be led by artist and LP Board member, Salvador Muñoz, and Freelance Marketing Strategist, and a North Star Fund People-Powered Giving Circle Cohort member 2020-21, Sharlene Chiu.

    The LP community is preparing for our People Powered Challenge—our annual 10-day campaign (Oct 23 – Nov 1) where we will fundraise through the collective power of our friends, family, neighbors, and social networks.

  12. Create Change Open Call | Info Session

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    Learn more about the Create Change program and the selection process from LP staff and alumni artists by participating in the info session. If you missed the info session on July 21 you can watch the recording below.

  13. Meet Amanda Boston, Arts Research with Communities of Color Fellow

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    Amanda Boston joined The LP team as our Arts Research with Communities of Color Fellow earlier this month. Get to know more about her!

    In what neighborhood do you live?

    Clinton Hill, Brooklyn

    How did you first become connected to The LP, or hear about The LP?

    I am thrilled to have been selected to work with The LP as part of the Social Science Research Council’s Arts Research with Communities of Color program.

    So, what attracted you to The LP? How does working here relate to your professional goals?

    My research uncovers how Black popular culture has been incorporated into real estate projects that marginalize Black communities. The LP represents a powerful antidote to that sort of extraction by using art to build local power. Working here is aligned with my goals of exploring and elevating Black life, history, and culture, and challenging conventional wisdom about race, power, and the world we live in.

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

    My primary creative practice these days is writing — mostly scholarly essays and articles as well as a book I’m completing on race and gentrification in Brooklyn.

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

    Jacob Lawrence’s The Migration Series is my favorite artwork of all time. In 60 panels, it captures the challenges and triumphs of African Americans’ move from the rural South to the urban North — one of the most transformative demographic events in U.S. history. As the daughter and granddaughter of Southern migrants, I find that the series poignantly captures an important chapter in the history of my family and so many others like it.

    What is your favorite film?…album?…food?

    My favorite film is The Wiz. My favorite album is “Ready to Die” by the Notorious B.I.G. My favorite food is my mom’s macaroni and cheese.

    Where do you do your laundry?

    I do my laundry in the basement of my apartment building.

    In your opinion, why does art matter?

    Art matters because it is an accessible medium of expression for everyone. For that reason, when we look at the artistic production of people who have been marginalized within dominant venues for expression — such as the mainstream media and formal politics — we can find rich archives of creativity, joy, self-reflection, and resistance that aren’t as readily available elsewhere.

    What LP value do you most related to and why?

    “Be Propelled by Love” — in a time of so much overt interpersonal and institutionalized hatred, love is critical to building a future where freedom, dignity, and justice are available to everyone.

    Amanda Boston is an assistant professor of Africana studies at the University of Pittsburgh and a visiting scholar at New York University’s Urban Democracy Lab. As a recipient of the Social Science Research Council’s Arts Research with Communities of Color Fellowship, she is conducting a year-long study with The Laundromat Project to document its history and culture. A proud Brooklynite, Boston’s research explores gentrification’s racial operations and their role in the making and unmaking of the borough’s Black communities. She holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. in Africana studies from Brown University as well as an M.A. in political science and a B.A. in political science and African & African American studies from Duke University. Boston is a trustee emerita of Brown and a member of the board of directors of the Municipal Art Society of New York. She is also on the alumni council of the New York City-based Prep for Prep program, which provides students of color with life-changing educational and leadership opportunities.

  14. Meet Nyra Wise, Development Intern

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    Nyra joined The LP team as our Development Intern this month. Get to know more about her!

    In what neighborhood do you live?

    Morningside Heights

    How did you first become connected to The LP, or hear about The LP?

    Through the Athena Advocacy Institute at Barnard College

    What is your favorite film?…album?…food?

    Film: my guilty pleasure is “Why Did I Get Married?” Albums: Room 25 by noname and Dirty Computer by Janelle Monae Food: Sushi

    Where do you do your laundry?

    In the basement of my building

    In your opinion, why does art matter?

    Art ultimately provides the space for self and communal expression and can both be a creative space of healing, play or one of disruption. Art matters because it allows us to highlight and discuss archaic and novel topics in thought-provoking ways that go beyond essays or theories. Art opens up an entirely new world that is told through the perspective of the artist and can not only offer the different aspects of dealing with old or new topics, but it also paves the way for unique solutions.

    What LP value do you most related to and why?

    The LP value I most related to is “We Write Our Own Histories” because marginalized folks telling our own stories is a powerful tool to challenge oppressive, dangerous stereotypes and histories popularized in mainstream society. Telling our own histories connects us to them and to powerful figures that paved the way for us to be where we are now. Knowing and sharing our history is an empowering, change-making practice that underlines the joy, struggle and agency that is characteristic of our community.

    Nyra Wise is from South Florida and is an incoming senior at Barnard College who’s working towards a B.A. in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. The work that she does focuses on the community around her at Barnard–Nyra is a Writing Fellow in her campus’s Writing Center and currently co-runs a podcast that caters towards young Black women navigating and reclaiming their pleasure. In her free time, Nyra can be found trying out new restaurants or daydreaming on Pinterest.

  15. Meet Munira Khapra-Reininger, Director of Development & External Affairs

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    Munira joined The LP team as our Director of Development & External Affairs this month. Get to know more about her!

    In what neighborhood do you live?

    Lower Manhattan

    How did you first become connected to The LP, or hear about The LP?

    I was introduced to The LP during my time at A Blade of Grass when I attended the 2013 Creative Time Summit with my colleagues. There, I had the privilege of experiencing Risë Wilson moderating a conversation on placemaking and gentrification in Brooklyn. To this day, I am deeply moved by the impact of her words when she challenged the audience to acknowledge our complicity in perpetuating systemic racism and urged us to reflect on how much we are willing to sacrifice for equity.

    So, what attracted you to The LP? How does working here relate to your professional goals?

    For me, my profession is my activism and politics is always personal. Because of the intertwined nature of possessing a livelihood that is in harmony with my whole self, I have long admired The LP for how they embody a set of explicit institutional values––many of which I share on a deeply personal level. These values, which include coming from a place of love and abundance and honoring the power of storytelling, require intentionality, reciprocity, and reflection. I am excited to participate in this practice with my new colleagues and to grow from it. In return, I offer my expertise and perspective in support of LP’s mission.

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

    Recently, I have discovered a love for storytelling and reading out loud to children! My interpretation of Hagrid may sound like a pirate, but that doesn’t stop me from having fun.

    What is your favorite film?…album?…food?

    I’m hard pressed to pick favorites, but a movie I feel like was made just for me is Sorry to Bother You; when I listen to Coltrane’s Lush Life I feel chills; and I can eat my mom’s samosas day in and day out.

    Where do you do your laundry?

    At home, sometimes in a salad spinner, usually in our washer and dryer.

    In your opinion, why does art matter?

    Art is the manifestation of ideas. It reflects back to us all that we are and could be.

    What LP value do you most related to and why?

    I have always been in awe of practicing abundance and the transformational impact it could have on a personal and societal level. It’s a value I hope to impart on my son, despite the hyper-capitalist and individualistic context we live in.

    Munira Khapra-Reininger supports organizations by telling their story and rallying support in innovative ways. She brings rich experience from serving as senior leadership for values-driven cultural institutions, including Eyebeam, Creative Time, and Queens Museum. As a consultant, she supports fundraising, communications, and strategic planning for clients who have included the late, great Wayne Shorter, National Sawdust, The Trust for Governors Island, Leslie-Lohman Museum, and Data & Society. Munira is committed to dismantling racism, a core value recognized by artist-activists who tap her expertise in the production of new works. Currently, she holds advisory roles at The Center for Artistic Inquiry and Reporting and an inclusive family center soon to open in Lower Manhattan.

  16. Artists as Neighbors: Living Liberation | Kilombo Chronicles: Celebrating Resilience and Collective Liberation

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    Watch the recap of our keynote conversation at our community brunch event, “Kilombo Chronicles: Celebrating Resilience and Collective Liberation.” This unique gathering shined a spotlight on artists of color and their profound contributions to resilience and collective liberation. Through captivating storytelling, powerful performances, and thought-provoking dialogue, we explored the transformative power of art as a catalyst for social change and empowerment. Deeply inspired, we honored the resilience and creative spirit of artists of color, celebrating their unique narratives and the profound impact they have had on our communities.

    Featuring Chief Baba Neil Clarke and Dr. Angela Fatou Gittens moderated by Catherine Mbali Green-Johnson.