Field Day is The LP’s annual festival that showcases the rich spectrum of local arts and culture in our three anchor neighborhoods: Bedford-Stuyvesant, Harlem, and Hunts Point / Longwood. The three day festival is open to everyone to participate by collecting a booklet containing a map and complete details on festival activities. The activities include open studio visits with Create Change Residents and Commissioned artists, free art workshops, public programs led by our Fellows, creative walks and more. Click here to see photos from Field Day.
With Day One (Harlem) and Day Two (Bedford-Stuyvesant) completed, the final day of Field Day 2015 commenced on Saturday, September 26, in Hunts Point / Longwood surrounding Rainey Park. Upon arriving at the Kelly St. Garden (924 Kelly St.) We saw a handful of eager adults and children making art. Some were focused on the printmaking while others were wrapped up in making unique pieces jewelry made out recycled paper. Much of the jewelry created was so skillfully done as if it were created by professionals.
Artists Alison Hall Kibbe and Sasha Phyars-Burgess, in association with the Kelly St. Garden created the brilliant project ‘Story Block.’ It is inspired by the powerful people and their stories both artists met at the garden during their time as Create Change Fellows in 2014. For their commissioned project, both artists were inspired to continue celebrating these great people.
In the Kelly St. Garden, each artist has a plot of land where they grew vegetation. Kelly St. resident Rosalba Lopez Ramirez, for example, has positive memories of gardening with her parents so it brings peace to her. Sajata-E who is also a resident, fabric artist and designer takes viewers through her studio and explains her eco-friendly approach. Her main goal is to avoid making an excess of garments that ends up in the trash, so her method enables her to reuse what she does not use.
Artist Fay Bonas also is environmentally conscious and says she always has paper in her house which she made no use of. She thought why not make something out of it. We spoke with Fay about her overall experience with Story Block. She said, “We came up with the idea of photographing the pieces in the garden. When Allison did my interview she made me feel comfortable so she pulled out My Story. I am more of a behind-the-scenes type of person. Field Day was awesome. This is my second time facilitating a workshop for the LP and as usual they always make it easy for me show others how to make paper beads.”
Hunts Point based artist Sharon De La Cruz led participants on a creative walk to the many sites bordering Rainey Park. What was interesting about Sharon’s walk was she created a template for the participants to interact with their surroundings by creating their own comic strips. As the group arrived at the Serrano Gallery of Fine Arts, each participant was to choose his or her favorite painting and draw their interpretation of it onto the comic with a sentence explaining why they favored it. By the looks of their respective drawings, the group was filled with artists.
So much occurred at the Serano Galleries of Fine Arts. The owner, Ray Serrano, introduced us to his gallery with his religiously themed exhibit of how God created Earth in seven days. The exhibit takes the title of ‘Bereshit’ which is a Hebrew word found in The Bible and means the beginning. Ray saw it fit to pay homage to God as “without God none of this would be possible.” The interesting part of the exhibit is Ray excluding the seventh day from his paintings. He states many people ask him about Eve but he responds she comes a little later as God rests on the seventh day.
Artist Seyi Adebanjo presented two short films. The first of which was ‘Ọya: Something Happened On The Way To West Africa!’ in which Seyi directed, produced and edited. This personal and political documentary follows Seyi’s journey as a Queer Gender Non Conforming Nigerian returning home to connect with the Òrìṣà (African God/dess) tradition, and follow a trail back to the powerful legacy of his great grandmother, Chief Moloran Ìyá Ọlọ’ya. In the documentary we see Seyi interact with locals as they are berated of their identity. The locals want to know who they are, are they a man or woman. It is a fascinating documentary that shows a person who has a love for their culture and a level of bravery that some can only wish to have.
Seyi’s second showing was Trans Lives Matter! Justice for Islan Nettles which is a multimedia photography piece. As Seyi says, “…because the personal is political.” The piece is a powerful and intensely moving document of a community vigil for Islan Nettles who is a transgender woman of color. It captured the love and support community brought to sustain each other and her family; this includes the continued oppression that occurs in the Queer community (transgender and gender non-conforming people.) Seyi explained the technique was intentional as they wanted people to sit with the images and hear people’s voices rather than hear the victims speak about themselves.
Rhynna Santos of Everyday Bronx held a workshop at the gallery on street photography. As a Puerto Rican woman who calls the Bronx her home, she realized when she would travel internationally, the minute a stranger found out she was from the Bronx, the response was always one of negativity. It became her passion to shine a better light on the borough. Eventually she took the reins of the Everyday Bronx Instagram page which recently reached 13,000 followers.
As a professional photographer Rhynna is one of a handful who have embraced the smartphone. Many photographers frown upon smartphones because it has made their craft mainstream. As Rhynna states, “The most important camera you can have is your smartphone and it is great for street photography.” She spoke about combining social media with your photos to create a personal brand and put heavy emphasis on the effects of hashtags. She even gave selfie tips, instructing the audience to hold the camera about 30 degrees above the face as it gives the face a more structured and well-lit effect. Following all the fun facts, Rhynna had the audience go out and use their personal phones to capture some candid moments in the neighborhood.
Nearing the end of the day we arrived at the Stebbins-Hewitt House Garden to meet the Hunts Point / Longwood Fellows (Sarah Lidgus, Dominique Hernandez, Stanley Cadet and Nicole Tammelleo). The atmosphere was similar to an art-infused family barbeque with playing, people eating, children getting their face painted, and people creating works of art by painting on miniature canvases. Stanley states the creation process for Bronx Brilliance was very organic: “our theme came by way of attending a series of meetings, reading articles and blogs, and visiting community events in Hunts Point. One action led to another action until we met our partners and listened to what they were doing in the neighborhood and what was needed in the neighborhood.”
As the minutes counted down to 5 there was a shower of smiles resting on everyone’s faces. There was a collective feeling of success shared by everyone involved, knowing that Field Day 2015 went off without a hitch. Harlem, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Hunts Point / Longwood showed off their beauty and historical presence on three different days making many aware how important it is not to let gentrification consume these priceless neighborhoods.