Beginning in Fall 2016 and continuing through this year, the Laundromat Project has been bringing artists and communities together at our Kelly Street Collaborative space in Hunts Point/Longwood to address shared struggles, differences, and diversities while centering BlackLivesMatter.
Regarding the ongoing and longstanding crisis of racial violence in our communities, we want to be responsive by actively creating spaces of healing, creativity, and reflection for a better, oppression-free future. In late 2016, we began Perennial Love: Black Lives Matter, a series of public programs led by local activists and artists communities in the Bronx. Perennial Love: Black Lives Matter has taken form through workshops and intimate events addressing resistance, self and community preservation, and activation of conversations and alliances. Most recently, we worked with artists from The LP community to support the following events:
“I Can’t Breathe” on Saturday, with Shaun Leonardo
February 25, 2017
We invited artist Shaun Leonardo to our Kelly Street space to lead “I Can’t Breathe,” his ongoing public-participatory workshop and performance that takes the form of a self-defense class. During the workshop, participants were taught pacifist, defensive moves, in particular, how to protect oneself when being placed in a chokehold. Shaun’s demonstration of the chokehold defensive move was in direct reference to the move used by officer Daniel Pantaleo to restrain Eric Garner, leading to his untimely death.
After practicing various defense moves, Shaun took participants through a review of the training. As Shaun recited Nina Simon’s “Freedom is No Fear,” participants were prompted to demonstrate particular moves, triggered by specific words in the poem. The participatory workshop was followed by a panel discussion facilitated by Shaun, featuring Bronx-based activists Shellyne Rodriguez (Take Back the Bronx), Shannon Jones (Why Accountability), and Omar Arponare (People Power Movement). Each discussed the importance of vigilance, organizing, and uniting together to protect our communities and combat violence and racial injustice directed at communities of color in South Bronx and beyond.
Bronx Father’s Project, with Dennis RedMoon Darkeem
March 25, 2017
2016 Kelly Street Collaborative Artist-in-Residence Dennis RedMoon Darkeem recently received a Spaceworks Bronx Community Artist Grant. As part of his grant, Dennis created the Bronx Fathers Project—a creative outlet for Bronx fathers and their children to create memorable memories through free arts workshops and cultural activities. Through this project, Dennis also creates space for fathers and their families to learn about wellness.
For Dennis’s workshop, we were joined by fathers and families living on the Kelly Street block, friends from the Kelly Street Garden, and other fathers and their children from around the neighborhood.Participants began with a drawing exercise, which they were prompted to think about ideas associated with joy, happiness, and place. They then learned about the medicinal uses of herbal teas such as chamomile, lavender, and mint, which has calming and refreshing properties, and hibiscus, which can be anti-viral.
URE:AD Press Screen Printing Workshop, with Shani Peters
March 29, 2017
URe:AD Press is a print and media based collective by artists Sharita Towne and Shani Peters, 2014 Create Change Artist-in-Residence. For their Kelly Street Collaborative workshop, Shani Peters led a screen printing workshop and invited participants to openly discuss African ancestry and identity. They were joined by local neighbors including high schoolers from an afterschool program at Bronxdale High School.
Participants focused on ways to support black communities, beginning with defining diaspora and sharing which diasporic communities they personally identify with.. They were then asked to think of ten words to describe the importance of supporting Black communities. Three words—“respect, strength, and unity”—were then selected and silkscreened onto tote bags with the URE:ad Press logo. Participants were able to take the bags they created with them.
The Black School, with Joseph Cuillier
April 5, 2017
The Black School, organized and facilitated by 2017 Create Change Artist-in-Residence Joseph Cuillier, is an experimental school for Black, POC, and allied individuals, exploring art making and Black history. For his workshop at Kelly Street,, Joseph was intentional in creating a space for reflection and healing.
Neighbors and students from Bronx High School for the Arts joined us for this workshop, which began with a conversation about protective resistance movements in Black communities and communities of color. Participants then took part in a visioning/imagining exercise, which challenged them to consider what they love about their community. They then wrote and drew their responses and were asked to go back and underline words that stood out to them. This activity became the inspiration for reflective watercolor pieces created using images and text generated as a result of the exercise.