Bianca Kahn is an Artist Assistant working with Commissioned Artist Claro de los Reyes on his project My Baryo, My Borough. She sent us this report from Queens:
On Sunday, June 14th, I took the train to Elmhurst, Queens to assist Claro de los Reyes with his project: My Baryo, My Borough. This ambitious project aims to bring together the Filipino-American community residing in Queens for fun family workshops ranging from visual art and theatre to music—all of which will culminate in a series of inter-generational storytelling interviews as a way of creatively preserving and honoring Queen’s Filipino-American history.
I met up with Claro at St James Episcopal Church, where members of the Filipino-American community were celebrating Philippine’s Independence Day (June 12th) by coming together for a series of traditional performances and a delicious Filipino meal. There, Claro had a table set out with masks—alluding to the traditional Maskara Festival in the Philippines—where anyone could design their own. The kids thoroughly enjoyed this cultural and creative activity, and it gave us an opportunity to teach families more about the project and sign up for future activities!
On Saturday, June 27th, I took the train deeper into Queens, this time to Corona. At the pleasant Corona Plaza, I assisted Claro with his second workshop. This time the art activities had more of a focus on the neighborhood and what it means to different individuals. I therefore facilitated tote bag and bookmark design workshops connected to the theme of Queens, many of which displayed the phrase “Queens is… “ leaving space for participants to chime in with their different thoughts and experiences. Most of the participants were of Latin-American descent, challenging the My Baryo team to fight language barriers, providing for an enriching multilingual exchange: Tagalog, Spanish and English.
For more information about the project and upcoming events, check out our website at http://www.mybaryomyborough.com.
On Sunday, the 12th of July, My Baryo My Borough hosted a picnic at Flushing Meadows Park in Queens. This picnic was an opportunity to connect with the Filipino-American community (there was a huge turn out!) and to further discuss the idea of “Queens pride:” what makes Queens unique and special to every one of us? This conceptual work was expressed visually in the form of banners that we hung from the trees in the park. Other activities included traditional Filipino street games, portrait making, and painting. Moreover, we took the participants for a tour of the Queens Museum where we were all enthralled by the NYC panorama! This picnic potluck also gave many of us the chance to try delicious traditional food such as the famous Filipino ‘empanadas.’ It was a beautiful day of sunshine, activism and artistic community engagement!