My Latino Ambition

 

Latina Productions

This is a year of cultural growth for me. By the end of 2016 if I know my heritage and that of other Hispanic and Latino cultures in at least minor common sense details, become an intermediate Spanish speaker learn how to cook anything other than Spanish rice, beans and pastelillos and feel confident enough to easily engage in Hispanic/Latino social engagements, I will feel accomplished.

Luckily for me, in Allegheny County there are a few organizations that are going to help me do just that!

Jesabel Rivera-Guerra, director of Latin American Cultural Union, has a goal to be resourceful. What event? Whose hiring? And my personal favorite question WHO SELLS THIS FOOD!? These are all questions  one can usually easily answer through LACU and most times at their website Lacunet.org. The website is armed with information about different Latin@ organizations, an events calendar that LACU partners can use, and even a grocery store list (chills). Jesabel and her partner Kenya Dworkin save my soul on a regular basis.

LatinaProductions1In fact through LACU I met a giant heart by the name of Mayela Taylor. As the director of Latina Productions she is on a mission to spread Latin@ culture through choreogLatina Productionsraphed dancing! Which she did at BCLA’s Art Lending Collection beautifully (the proof is in the pictures). Latina Productions is probably the main influence to my mission this year. Every song came with a new costume and brief history lesson. I walked away from this event much prouder of who I am and what I represent. Then to top that off, I turned around to the audience. I believe (aside from those aiding Latina Productions) there was only one Latino present but the seats were filled, and there were people outside watching!latinaproductions6 When that realization first presented itself I thought “Man, where’s the Latinos? This is for them!” But I immediately realized that yes it was for Latinos, but to be understood by those present. When cultures at least understand each other the bondage of prejudice is destroyed. When these young ladies and gentleman danced, faces lit with joy, some with new experiences and others with realization of familiarity. Then I brought out the cultural food, and love for a people grew with every bite. “I need to make some Puerto Rican friends just because of these rice and beans!” said one patron.Latinaproductions2

After getting everyone excited about the culture, it was pretty easy to find friends who wanted to further the experience by learning Spanish. Angeles Stiteler answered the callSpanish classes and is now teaching at the Braddock Library every Monday from 1-2 and Wednesday from 5-6. She comes with 30 years of teaching experience and a wealth of knowledge about the local Hispanic/Latino movement.

Another chain reaction my connection to LACU started is Cafe Con Leche!  Tara Sherry-Torres, the founder of Cafe Con Leche, is an exceptional event planner. You can count on her to bring culture to any gathering whether she’s helping you plan an event or teaching a group of people how to cook Puerto Rican dishes. You can learn more about her services and events at her website Cafeconlechepgh.com.

With these people by my side I’m sure my mission will be easy to complete. I might even join Hope Rawls Zumba classes at the library with all this ambition. Or maybe not, I got scared just thinking about it but hey maybe you can every Thursday 6:30-7:30.

Oh and by the way! Free Oscar Lopez Rivera 

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New Art Lending Books

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Jim Shaw’s “The Hidden World”
Kerber Art’s “Larry Sultan”
Jack Witten’s “Five Decades of Painting” Eva Respini’s “Walid Raad” and Ryan Trecartin’s “Site Visit” came to crash the Art Lending Collection! New inspiration. New Installations. New Culture. New Social issues. New Critique. New art!

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What the Frack!

Since 1949 fracking was considered a safe practice yet recently large numbers of people have been standing against the practice pointing out that at its recent invasive volume and practice it is far from that. In 1949 there was only vertical hydraulic fracturing and very little of it, but as of the early 2000’s there is horizontal hydraulic fracturing and mass amounts of it. Although fracking companies like EQT will tell you that horizontal fracking has “less of a ecological footprint” it has little to nothing to do with having an impact on the ecological damage it causes and everything to do with capitalizing on production.

Mandy Kendall, the August/September participant of the Artist in the Library Series used her exhibit Sacrificial Fire to make probably one of the more subtle arguments recently waged against fracking; though if her exhibit is subtle, I’d vow to approach everything else about fracking carefully and with real concern.

Sacrificial Fire Exhibit: 1

Mandy Kendall’s approach to fracking is one that is too often ignored. By targeting the fracking sites in Lawrence County her work implies that even if water damage wasn’t the issue, there is a lot of light pollution and noise pollution that comes with hydraulic fracking. Urban cities that are already well lit are probably less affected by the light pollution from fracking because there is already a cloud of light covering the city, but in Lawrence County fracking creates an ominous glow for tens of miles from this one-source-star-blocking light. And as far as the noise, some of the neighbors moved just because they couldn’t hold a normal conversation without screaming at each other.

Sacrificial Fire Exhibit: 2

We made that scenario a reality August 13th at the Braddock Carnegie Library when Mandy brought along some sound recordings of neighborhoods in Lawrence County and played them while we engaged with each other to discuss how we can stop the frack movement from taking over North Braddock. While I was mostly busy with patrons at the front desk I stepped in from time to time for a moment to see frustration rising, people asking if we can just shut the noise off.

“I can’t hear myself think!… Literally.” one woman begged.

Another patron asked, “Is it possible to even fight this? Seems to me if a mayor or someone above us wants it to happen then it’s going to happen. And even if we do want to complain, like to the media, why would they care? It seems to me that they want to stop us from complaining because they are all on board with the money they offer.”

That statement was a bell that rang true to me. I attended a public meeting with EQT in McKeesport the first week of October, part of Fawn Walker Montgomery’s mission to increase transparency to the city. As an anti-frack Mckeesport citizen, I asked a series of questions that shed some light on the negativity fracking brought to the table. Mayor Cherepko was upset by citizen fears and relayed unto us that-

“The city is desperate and needs the money and so we have to allow it. Year after year I catch myself trying to make sure this city doesn’t shut down! Because that’s an option we’ve come dangerously close to using. It’s either use another band aid or shut down the city. That’s it.”

What is he saying? Frack or Flint? No police force, fire department or God forbid garbage days if someone like EQT doesn’t save us? It interests me how often this happens. This theology that the only way cities can gain revenue is by depending on large corporations to hold them afloat. There is almost never the discussion of encouraging local wealth that can add to city revenue such as. If local owned businesses was something that is encouraged more maybe some cities wouldn’t be so “desperate” but not just any businesses; why not encourage movements like Worker Owned Cooperatives? If there were more city wide acknowledgments of those types of businesses (btw I don’t believe there is such a thing in Allegheny County), there would be more funding available for them. By design WOC’s create community wealth and participation in ways that fracking wouldn’t even compare to. How? Well because WOC’s wouldn’t be a quick fix. Those types of businesses would provide for poor communities consistently for the duration of the businesses existence. Sure there are hurdles, but the main hurdle is simply educating leaders, funders and the community about such a business movement.

Why is it that frack corporations target poor communities anyway? I’d take a moment to consider. If the idea of fracking is so sound then people in rich communities wouldn’t mind benefiting from it either. More wealth for them right? It seems to me the message is pretty apparent. If the only people frack corporations can convince are collective desperates such as these groups of mayors, then richer communities are aware of the damage fracking can cause and even they feel that the money is not worth the ecological damage. I’m getting pretty tired of being the crash dummy for corporate needs.

 

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Hear Ye Hear Ye!: New Books in Town!

Our extraordinary collection of books for the Art Lending Collection are expanding! Some of these books are fresh on the art scene while others have been gracing earth with it’s presences for quite a while, but it’s new here! So today I’m taking a moment to show off our new toys and inviting all of Pittsburgh to come play! And by play I mean take them home and enjoy them for 3 weeks!

Pic a Book

Here what the books on display have to say about themselves:

Agnes Martin

Edited by Frances Morris & Tiffany Bell

One day Agnes Martin, an abstract expressionist, was thinking about trees. Trees to Agnes represent innocence and thus was born her creation of grids, which equally represent innocence.

Pastures Green & Dark Satanic Mills: The British Passion For Landscape

Edited by Tim Barringer and Oliver Fairclough

The editors take a look at art from Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales, which give a history of Britain’s landscape. Under the views of multiple disciplines, they are able to reach back as far as the eighteenth century to the present.

Lisa Yuskavage The Brood: Paintings 1991-2015

Includes essay’s by Christopher Bedford, Suzanne Hudson, Catherine Lord, and Siddhartha Mukherjee

Lisa Yuskavage uses controversial and seductive oil paintings to speak on female transgression and empowerment.

Chris Ofili: Night and Day

Edited by Massimiliano Gioni

Chris Ofili, a Turner Prize Winner, uses paint, resin, glitter, and elephant dung to put together semi abstract art.

Mike Kelley

Edited by Eva Meyer-Hermann and Lisa Gabrielle Mark

Mike Kelley artistically examines cultural identity, production, power and belief using many disciplines.

Theaster Gates

Essay’s by Carol Becker, Lisa Yun Lee and Achim Borchardt-Hume

Theaster Gates went to school for urban planning, ceramics, and religious studies. His schooling is highly advertised in his politically inclined art which seems to mimic black history.

Latoya Ruby Frazier: The Notion of Family

Essays by Dennis Dickerson, Laura Wexler and Dawoud Bey

Three generations of life in Braddock, 1 family whose roots have been here since the very beginning. Latoya’s photography gives an aerial truth that even Google Maps seems to hide.

Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic

Edited by Eugenie Tsai

Kehinde Wiley uses American and European portraiture to combat race, power and the politics of representation.

How to Draw and Paint Science Fiction Art

By Geoff Taylor

Step by Step teaching of how to design science fiction art.

Hadid: Works 1979-2013

Futuristic architecture designs by Zaha Hadid

Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series

Edited by Leah Dickerman and Elsa Smithgall

Jacob Lawrence’s paintings of The Great Migration of 1915-1916.

Elizabeth Catlett: An American Artist In Mexico

Edited by Melanie Anne Herzog

Discovering the “Mexicanness” of Catlett’s work, a 50 year resident of Mexico and a black woman.

Edgar Heap of Birds

By Bill Anthes

Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds (That’s his entire name) uses his contemporary art to tell Native American History! Yes even the history some societies choose to ignore.

Joan Jonas: They Come To Us Without a Word

Edited by Jane Farver

Joan Jonas, A professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, uses interwoven fragments of videos to speak her concerns about the condition of the world. There is an urging to share with that which we ignore, like air and animals.

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This is a Request!

This is not an ARTicle, it is an urgent request!

As an Arts and Culture Facilitator I stand to represent the YOU in art. I keep my ear to the streets and try to make connections in under-served communities. I take the messages of the artwork that we have adopted at BCLA’s Art Lending Collection and use them as the imagery of any topic I’m faced with.

The Art Lending Collection is very new, and there are holes here and there that I expect to run into. When we at BCLA, specifically myself and Mary Carey, run into these holes we make a move to fill them in. We have successfully covered so many categories that orchestrate a need for change in areas such as racism, urbanism, the woman’s voice, governmental iniquities against man kind, prisoners rights/outreach and even the importance of play.

Today I am saddened. After standing up as a community leader agreeing to take action against violence and mimicking the messages of long time leaders such as Tim Stevens, Rob Conroy, Fawn Walker Montgomery and Valerie Dixon, I came to work today to see what I’ve got to offer and came up with NOTHING! This is a failure HEAVILY on MY conscience because I should have noticed it much sooner. I shouldn’t of woke up at 8 in the morning, checked my phone, heard that shots were fired at a Homewood vigil not even 2 days after we all stood together urging for action throughout our community for me to notice that I have NO ART that directly targets violence. My latest ARTicle has a photography of guns in police museums and even with great persuasion it was not enough!

I am reaching out to a visual artist, hopefully an Allegheny County resident, to fill this void for me! At the Art Lending Collection we seasonally collect artwork for circulation-meaning I work at a library and people can check your artwork out the same way they would a book and bring it back a few weeks later for someone else to enjoy. By blessing me with your statement I can promise to give your art the ability to really engage with it’s audience uniquely.

A short bonus mission is if you have read any books that have taken an artistic approach to violence send me a title!

In the past we have proudly taken our artwork to outstanding events such as Summit Against Racism, traveled to local businesses who have honored the use of our art to encourage public conversation, and we also still partner with the educational department at the Carnegie Museum which has hosted our artwork and would like to keep an open window to us.

If you or someone you know can help me resolve something that should have been done by me a long time ago please give me a call.

Braddock Carnegie Library – 412-351-5357 ask for Arts and Culture Facilitator Jonathan Reyes.

Black Leaders

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Conversations with a Cop

The Art Lending Collection has this photograph by Zoe Leonard called “Police Museum” available to be checked out with a library card.

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Zoe Leonard “Police Museum”

 

Recently I was invited to a Crime Watch event in Turtle Creek. I had a fun time with the locals as we ate, engaged and then enjoyed a set of presentations from local police.

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Conversations with a Cop: Drug Paraphernalia

These gentlemen were very nice and willing to answer our questions, showed us some presentations on drug paraphernalia and cop gear, gave a tour of one of their police vehicles and how they use their CAD software, and offered to tase us. It was a joke.

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Conversations with a Leader: Black and White Reunion BBQ

This engagement proved to be an awesome juxtaposition to this years Black and White Reunion’s BBQ on August 1st. During which we voted to endorse the National Mobilization Against Police Brutality and the Fraternal Order of Police.

At the Crime Watch event though I spend a good bit of my time saying awful, awful stuff about police, I chose to withhold personal opinion and listen. Of course, I had to ask a few questions that led to some interesting views on body cam’s, getting pulled over, how hilarious it would be if the vehicle we toured was a Ford Escape (it was an Explorer) and Freddy Gray! It’s important to know that I am simply QUOTING the officer, and it does not in any way reflect my personal thoughts on these issues but HERE THEY GO!

Body Cams?

“Well I can’t say that I agree with the whole idea of body cams but there’s a method to my madness.” Say’s the cop, “There’s more to it than what some people may think, which is that I have something to hide.” He started “For one I don’t like the phrase ‘body cam’, I mean my body functions from more extensions than just my torso or chest.” He explained, “Currently I’m talking to all of you, however if I had a body cam on, the only person you will think I’m talking to is him.” As he points in my direction, “Now imagine a heated altercation, I may be trying to arrest one guy, and his buddy could be trying to blind side me to the left or the right and you can’t see it, but I still have to bring it up in court but what? Is it going to get ignored because it’s not on camera?” he wondered. “And now I have to feel like I’m walking on eggshells to do my job. I mean I don’t like to have to be mean, but sometimes ‘excessive force’ is what it takes to get the job done with some of the real bad guys.”

A fellow police officer offered, “I think if we had to have cameras the ones that go on like backwards glasses are best, because it goes by head movement, but even those won’t capture our whole experience. It gets intense out here at times.”

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Conversations with a Cop: That’s Not a Ford Escape!

“Right! And then you have the whole who’s controlling what. And no one seems to be happy with either result. Like if I control the camera, that’s one extra step I have to take under distress. I have to focus on grabbing my gun or whatever and now I have to remember the camera, and what happens if I forget to turn it on? Am I a shady cop? Even if I handled the situation correctly?” he questioned “Then you have privacy, and I mean not just for me, for you too. What if I have to come to your house, cameras blaring, and it turns out nothing’s wrong. You didn’t do anything illegal, but footage exposes personal information about you. I mean we are all human. We have our secrets or whatever, and now your business is on camera for everyone at the police station to see!” he warned.” And yeah I don’t like the idea of having the camera constantly on me neither. Imagine your boss literally hovering behind your back with every move you make.” He offered, “Look, I know everyone is freaked out about what media has been putting out there, and I will be the first to admit that we got some fucked up cops, but they don’t define the entire police department. If you perceive one of my guys to be an a-hole, chances are, me and half the police department agree with ya! But, like, Freddy Gray, what we see on the media is only half truths. I mean when you dig deeper, you find out that Freddy had a long criminal history and that in the past would be difficult, flight risk and even while processing him he had a history of hurting himself or others, so when a cop has this kind of profile of someone, we have to approach them differently.”

So, in order to stay safe, what do I do when I get pulled over?

“Ok! So let’s back up a minute,” he insisted “because you have to understand, this is just as frustrating for me as it is for you! I’m like omg, just caught this guy speeding, wth is going on with him? Is he gonna be sheisty because he has warrants? I’m gonna have to play guessing games with him. He might try to run or have a whole gang rolling with him in his car. I might have to grab my gun. I mean WHO KNOWS! Meanwhile you’re just pissed you got pulled over, alright alright I understand. So boom your speeding right? I let my sirens go, but we are on a busy highway. Acknowledge me! I know it doesn’t make sense to just stop right here and right now, so go ahead wave at me or put your hazards on, whatever, and get us to a safe place to pull over, not somewhere where I gotta practically lean against your car so I don’t get hit or something. He clarifies, “When we get that done, just put your hands where I can see them. It makes most sense to just put your hands on your steering wheel and just keep em there. People have the tendency to freak out like ‘he’s gonna get mad if I don’t have all my paper work to present him by the time he gets here.’ No I won’t!” he exclaims. “So now you’re digging around all frantic, and that’s just making me nervous, relax dude. I’m not in a rush. I already pulled you over. We got nothing but time. You can wait till I ask you for the paper work to get it. At least then I know what you are reaching for right?”

Vehicle searches:

“O yeah! No, no, I don’t have the right to search your vehicle without probable cause, All Congress did was expand what probable cause means. It use to be we were limited to just a few senses, but if I smelled something or something I was still limited. Now I can be more versatile and rely on other senses to tell me something doesn’t seem right and be allowed to search your vehicle. And of course dogs. I can’t smell what dogs can so if the dog gives me a hit, now i’m searching based on the dogs expertise.”

I pondered, at this point, about joking with the guy about if they trained their dogs to bark, but that was a bit much, and he was good to me.

It was nice to at least hear what an officer thinks about the topics that I spend a good bit of time raging over via Facebook, and it’s safe to say that those opinions are pretty standard throughout the police force (because the 4-6 officers listening in were nodding they’re heads in approval).

I can empathize with their views, simply because I’m not the professional behind the uniform. BUT I am a citizen, one who I believe it is their job is to protect and serve. What it boils down to is I’m concerned with the way the national police force chooses to serve me, the citizen. Protect me, the citizen. Which means I, the citizen,  must reach back out and demand change. I don’t believe we should fight to render our police useless. We MUST use some aspect of common sense, because when it comes down to it, if YOU were the offended, you’d want them to get that criminal off the streets, in which, if we render them useless, you’d have to practically hope that your offender was compliant. In what world would that happen right? If Freddy Gray HAD to be tackled off that bike, in my eyes, common sense policing means you’ve got the man cuffed now. He’s complaining of pains that are unrelated to the cuffs. He’s visually struggling. Keep him on the ground and allow the ambulance to do their part. Let THEM prove he’s ok, because the reality is YOU HAD TO TACKLE HIM OFF A BIKE! Anything can be wrong with him. Maybe that choice might have saved his life. And yes a CRIMINAL’S life. Because they are also human beings that deserve life as well, and had you charged him of something, he wouldn’t have gotten the death penalty would he? But he did.

I have a personal theory of regulation between people and police. At the end of the day, I feel that a variety of the police force feel they can mistreat us because of the fact that they’ve got that badge on, which somehow makes them greater than me. The way I see it, we should be in a position, as citizens to tell THEM what policing looks like, not the other way around. And quite frankly, we vote in presidents, senators, reps, mayors, judges… Why does is stop at cops? And it doesn’t have to be on the same format of the polls. It can be a locally controlled motion that says cops protect and serve, citizens watch and decide who is doing their job properly. It’ll allow them to do their jobs, and us to protect ourselves by voting in our agreement of selected officers, and the power to vote them out. All it would take is for a State rep to introduce this bill, and it can be possible. I guarantee they’d stop breaking body parts over traffic stops then. Or at least think about their actions.

Those views in no way reflect Turtle Creeks police force AT ALL. Just the format of the police force IN GENERAL.

It’s easy for conversations such as this to be had with the visuals we can offer at the Braddock Carnegie Library,s Art Lending Collection! Come visit us today!

 

 

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Pour Me a Bowl of Henry Taylor

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“Painting to me is like milk in the fridge, it’s just gonna happen” – Henry Taylor

 

Oh dear, Henry’s getting hungry again. Somebody grab him a bowl of cereal, and a paint brush.

 

There are many strings that people have tied into Henry’s work. Some call him an outsider artist, politically geared, and even a man void of sacrosanctity but I see a man who simply values life. His life. I see periods, phases and fads in his work, current issues in his life, ways of life that he lives by, codes that he respects I don’t really see a set topic. I see a rapper spitting flow’s about his block, a poet scribing his view on the black struggle, an anchor giving you Usain Bolt’s  statistics  a man telling his friends who he ran into at the corner store, and rumors being spread about who, what, where and why.

 

And just like life is happening in the content of his art, so is life happening in the contents he invests in. Cereal boxes, cigarette cartons, bleach and detergent containers, you name it he’l paint it “It’s just gonna happen”

 

The man himself, Henry Taylor, was an athlete in High School, a psychiatric nurse for 10 years and a father. Because of his strong demeanor, a man who will speak to the president with the same unfiltered dialect he would speak to his “homie” I fear a lot of his work may be misjudged and that somehow he is cognitively viewed as a product of his environment. That’s not a fair view to have, if you take away his living in his  environment, whose to say that those who defined his work would even find value in it anymore? With most of his work being portraits, how is all his work technically telling any other story outside the identity of who is displayed in the portrait? That’s a guy, who use to sleep on my porch, that’s my uncle and his friend, that’s Jonathan from Braddock Library and somehow all this means he’s a product of his environment? Why not enlightening culture and day to day people? Why not an artist’s point of view? You may argue that these views are “blase” but isn’t that how successful artist of the past are viewed? Those artist are considered legends today, and their art was viewed by the contents of their work, the tactics that they used, different views in detail, the fact that there are signature occurrences that are dead giveaways that will lead you to believe that “this has to be a Picasso.” When comparing an article  to Alice Neel, an artist he is constantly compared to, I notice that there is a whole lot of embracement of her own view of her art, and slight mentions of using art as a coping mechanism to mourn the loss of her husband. Henry however has even declined views on his art, ushered them off to other artists who may fit that category but not his, he likes to push his limitations and test his talents, he’s not close minded to outside views, but it just seems most of the attention goes to his identity. Black man, lost his daddy, bad neighborhoods and this work is a reflection of all of it they say. When someone points to rolls of toilet paper on a sugar cane and he tells them it reminds him of one of his mother’s proverbs, you can connect that art to his personal background and his history with his mom. But if you notice one of his installations bring a comparison to detention centers and jail cells, why assume he’s been a troublemaker since elementary school?

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IMG_0705IMG_0707At the Art Lending Collection here in Braddock Library you will find one of Henry’s originals, a friend of his painted onto the front of a Life Cereal box and a book from his MoMA PS1 installation and is available to be checked out for 3 weeks with your library card! Pick it up today!

 

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Our Nature Is Our Virtue: The Series

Untitled: Our Nature is Our Virtue Series By Ginger Brooks Takahashi

Untitled: Our Nature is Our Virtue Series By Ginger Brooks Takahashi

 

This piece has been in our collection from the very beginning; and yet, it has proven to be one of the most difficult for me to engage with.

 

The piece is made up of words. What can be so difficult?

 

Well let me suggest even more of a problem:

The Artist herself, Ginger Brooks-Takahashi, is not far from reach, she has a very personal relationship with me and other folks of the library. There hasn’t been a month that has gone by that I haven’t seen her 3 or more times! Shouldn’t I know more? Be more professional of “all things Ginger?”

 

I think my excuse, if any, is that she respects the speculative aspect of ALC in which, even if we know the real story there is a chance we may personalize it and encourage more personalization from others. So shall we?

 

What you are seeing is a white cloth with blue lettering, cross stitched with thread that reads:

 

THIS

IS WHY

YOU HAVE

CHOSEN TO BE

ON THE JOURNEY

HOLDING ME

ON THE NECK

BORNE ON

MY ARMS

 

The words are stitched into the fabric, one of Ginger’s favorite mediums.

I see this text and questions arise. Who has chosen this journey? Is ’holding me on the neck’ violent? Is this a riddle?

A SHIRT! She’s talking about a shirt isn’t she? Because the collar is around your neckline but without arms and shoulders it would be hard to keep the shirt on! Plus it’s stitched on cloth which is typical for shirts!

 

Makes sense sort of, if I blink and squint really hard.

 

Punctuation, and this is not an attempt to pose to be an english major, is also an issue for me. Without it, it leaves an unlimited amount of assumptions to be made. Are there two sentences? Is this one persons journey or two people? This is why you have chosen to be on the journey. Holding me on the neck borne on my arms. Is someone being stalked? Is someone being arrested? AHA! A civil rights activist! Standing for greater good while being punished by the law of man!

 

Pretty common, happens all the time.

 

This is why you have chosen to be on the journey, holding me on the neck, borne on my arms. Awe! I remember when I got married! There was that moment, when Jona and I were sealing the deal, the moment everyone waited for after hearing the words “I do”. I pulled the veil up and gently pulled her in as she embraced me, holding me in her arms, we became one as we kissed.

 

The point is, I would use this art to advocate all of these ideas. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Make it your story.

 

This Art is available to be checked out at the Braddock Carnegie Library. Take it home and enjoy it for the next 3 weeks. See you soon!

 

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Prism Project

Prism Project Logo“For me it’s about the kids”. Say’s Mary Carey, an Art Lending Facilitator at BCLALC. “It’s always about the kids to me, almost everything I do is pretty much for kids. When I hear the stories from the inmates, a lot of them will mention that they didn’t even know they had the talent until they went to jail. I don’t want our kids to get locked up for them to know that they have a talent.”

 

She’s speaking about the Prism Project, an art movement curated by ALF Mary Carey and inmate Richard Guy who, for obvious reasons, spoke through his cousin Jodi Guy.

 

It all started brewing way before we as Art Lending Facilitators even knew it was an idea. Richard Guy, a lifer in Sci Fayette state prison, has the spirit  to organize and lead to the extent that triumph defeats his uncanny position. He simply wanted to REACH OUT from WITHIN, and what better way to reach out to people then through art! And so was born the Prism Project.

 

Now on our end, as art enthusiasts, it really didn’t take too much debating, the moment Mary told us about the Prism Project she was talking to open ears. We just couldn’t wait to see the results! Nobody knew what to expect BUT I knew it was going to be off the charts!

 

Richard, apparently didn’t know what to expect either. “I wanted to do something like 10 pieces from 10 artists, but once word got around that we were collaborating to collect art I couldn’t stop the submissions.” Jodi Guy read from Richards letter. “ I can imagine the look on Mary’s face when I sent in the first 60+ submissions with a promise that there was plenty more to come!”

Hole by Richard Guy

Hole by Richard Guy

 

On November 16,  we  celebrated the 60+ final art works submitted with an opening dinner. All of the 65 guests were connected to the prison system in some way: relatives of someone incarcerated or someone who fights for prison injustices or service providers, we felt this was a good way to connect with the messages the SCI Fayette prisoners wanted to share with us. This was also a great time to reach out to people of a like mind and participate in a  powerful movement.

 

“Don’t take this moment for granted!” I spoke “there are barriers between we and them and some of those barriers had to be torn down in order for this gathering to happen. I’ve been there on the other side of that barrier and I know for a fact that they would be rejoicing to be able to witness this moment because this just does not happen.” I explained

 

And dare I ask for more? I literally wish we could of marched our way to SCI Fayette with our chefs and decorations and partied and ate with the inmates themselves but even I know that is impossible so I was happy with what we had, yet I couldn’t help but ask for more. For everyone to walk away from this gathering and not make one small connection would have probably hurt me on a personal level just because I feel such a bond with inmates. I know the turmoil they face and today was a very seldom had victory and I am assured that connections were indeed made.

 

The passion I personally have for inmates, most people believe is because I was incarnated myself but that is not completely true. I was always concerned about the lifestyle of the kids in my community. I had this need to understand why it was so unusual to them that I was me, and why I was a laughing stock for the traits I carried. Proper talking wasn’t praised, being humble wasn’t praised, and neither was getting good grades. The enormous difference between my peers and I led to me not being too popular at least in my own neighborhood. I still loved them. I didn’t feel like the differences meant we should be enemies but there were plenty of foundational values that led to all of us feeling uncomfortable. I mean if you sell drugs and I’m against it and you take that position offensively then obviously we can’t go much farther.

 

Bob Marley by Raymond Seybert

Bob Marley by Raymond Seybert

And well, we both ended up in jail! Two completely different types of people in the same exact situation. Thing was, I knew that when I got home I wanted to live my life better, I had that kind of built in conscience. The others from my neighborhood, I wasn’t to sure about. I came to the conclusion that I can talk to these guys, but talking to them isn’t going to be of much help if I can’t take it a step farther. So my helpful spirit became more defined. I don’t  just want to become a social worker, I want to create a program that works with local government to come up with a different way than the way the legal system currently handles adolescent cases. This program would at some point get involved with the young person to talk about the barriers that keep them from seeing things in a different light. It would define the lifestyle they live and where it stemmed from, how it functions and how it can hurt them and try to find ways to build a new foundation.

 

I know that this is not the only reason the kids Mary was referring to would end up in jail and discovering their talents for the first time. Core things like parenting,  lack of community/school resources and public figures all play a role in how a child sets foundational boundaries. We all come from different walks in life, and to decrease the high jail rate and low education rate in poor communities would take an impeccable will and a separate individual concern for each and every person we come across.


How do we achieve that?

Posted in Art Lending Collection at the Braddock Carnegie Library, Resident Artist in Residence: Jonathan Reyes | Leave a comment

Introducing art from the Art Lending Collection

Check this piece out at the Braddock Carnegie Library!

Paul Robeson by Lincoln Cushing

The man depicted in this piece of art was alive between the years of 1889 and 1976. Not the strongest time period for the Black man in America, yet he is undeniable like a statue that refuses to be knocked down. Elegance shines bright through his dark clothing which is garnished by his bright confident smile and a silver emblem stretching across his torso. Phi Beta Kappa is what the emblem represents which spoke volumes to the mans educational background. The text at the bottom gives an extremely brief bio and a quote from the man himself: Paul Robeson.

When I saw this image I had no clue who he was. But of course I was interested enough to learn more and it made absolutely no sense as to why this was the first time I was hearing about him. I mean honestly it just makes sense…. MLK, Rosa Parks, Malcom X, PAUL ROBESON! This man was a trail blazer in the Black community and a motivation to be the best we can be! 20 languages, law school graduate and he knew 20 different languages! I haven’t even learned spanish yet and I’m Hispanic! Now when I look at this image I see the endless possibilities I can become, and more importantly, my children can become.

Lincoln Cushing made this image possible whom is a very interesting person himself. I’l be happy to bring you up to par soon after we are done discussing his work!

Where does this image take you? Share your story or opinion with me!


Posted in Art Lending Collection at the Braddock Carnegie Library, Resident Artist in Residence: Jonathan Reyes | 2 Comments