Artists Mapping Racism

From left to right: Etta Cetera and Bekezela Mguni

“So, just by our own knowledge as a group, I want us to create a list based on this question. What is Structural Racism?” Yeah…. That  huge question was asked to us by Bekezela Mguni at the meeting Mapping Racism in the Arts ran by Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council. My mind went on a frenzy, and based on the steam dripping from the earlobes of practically everyone else in the room, my assumption was that we all were wondering “ummm, exactly what does she mean by this.” Of course Bekezela Mguni wasn’t going to help us out any and neither was Etta Cetera our other facilitator. It was obviously up to us to just figure it out right? Ok so, I got the racism part, but that other word. Structural. Well structures have to be built right?

As I’m working out the genes of what was created to be a very simple question, one brave soul starts off the list with a very safe guess and a hope that it will lead to more clarity to the question. “many variables? I mean, It seems like there are so many different ways that term can be used”

“Got it! Many variables!” and that started the bullet on the bulletin list, as they looked around for other assumptions.

“pervasive?” Written.

“Learned?” Written.

A little bolder now. TAUGHT! Which lead to a series of interested mumbles and then the list seemed to just spout out: Cradle to Grave, Systemic, School, Unknown, Ubiquitous, Invisible, Fear, Does not question itself, Normalized, Violent, Industrialized and finally I blurted out Historical! Phew, that was a tooth pull if I ever witnessed it.

To have this question asked to ANY group of people is interesting, but it wasn’t just asked to anyone, the target was artists and anybody else tied to the art world. The fact that the question was presented speaks volumes to the impact art has on society especially to tackle such a topic as racism. To see a group of artist/activist trying to make a commitment to understand racism and how to tackle it, made me (not that I’m any father, of any number of importance) proud. I’l get to my “pride” at a later date however! Anything to add to the list? Btw what IS structural Racism? What does Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council feel about the impact artists have on such an important topic? Is there even a point in fighting racism?

From Left To Right: Tiffani Wilhelm and Jonathan Reyes

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Welcome to Art Lending Talks!

Left to right: Jona Reyes and Jonathan Reyes

Welcome to Art Lending Talks! A place to talk about lending! Noo.. Art lending? Maybe just art? Before we start the fun Let me first introduce myself, the words that first colored my birth certificate was Jonathan Reyes, I am a current Art Lending Representative/Resident Artist in Residence at the Braddock Carnegie Library and when I’m not fighting for the art world and getting art on the streets I’m on the streets fighting for social change using art to make a statement. I am often asked questions like what do you think society can do to change racism, or how can the community come together to lower the crime rate? So I came together with the Art Lending Collection to create this very unique forum where I can give you my opinions as well as get the opinions of others, There will be photo posts inquisitive conversations and sometimes just me writing thoughts and feelings about certain topics. So lets get into more about Art Lending Talks.

Well at the Braddock Carnegie Libraries Art Lending Collection (BCLALC) we talk about a lot. Community, economy, and politics are just a FEW topics that come to surface at BCLALC aside from art. Why? Well because of vibes! I mean walk into the Art lending Collection and the the walls just start talking to you, windows reveal life’s secrets and the floor is just to dance on.

So my goal is to sample that feeling, drag it down to my laboratory, extract it’s potent content, do some dissecting and create some literature out of it. The general Idea behind Art Lending Talks is to establish a place that honors multiple approaches to art by collecting opinions. Every movement has an image is a phrase I’m famous for spitting out, yet every onlooker has another view. We welcome those views and dare you to express yourself right here on Art Lending Talks because thats is exactly what art stands to do, express itself.

Join us in the conversation!

Jonathan holding his son Jonathan's Urn

From left to right: Jonathan Reyes and Jona Reyes

Jonathan doing some article editing

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The Art Lending Collection

Deavron Dailey, Jonathan Reyes, Ruthie Stringer, Mary Carey

The Art Lending Collection at the Braddock Carnegie Library makes artworks available for check-out to anyone in Allegheny County with a valid library card in the same way one would check out a book.

By integrating an Art Lending Collection into a public library we are proposing that a library is a unique space in which to experience contemporary art and arts programs, with a unique potential to develop critical arts discourse that is not dependent on the market economy and its familiar exclusions; one that is fueled by autonomous learning, guided by curiosity, and that nurtures diverse social arrangements and modes of exchange.  The works within the Art Lending Collection accumulate value through their free circulation and through the conversation of our patrons.

The collection features work by nearly all of the artists in the 2013 Carnegie International, but It also honors the discourse production of our neighborhood by including three groups of works gifted by library patrons with whom we have had an arts based dialogue: James Kidd, Regis Welsh and Ray Henderson.  These collections speak to the diversity of aesthetic perspectives that exist in our neighborhood, and fill in some gaps in the dominant arts discourse, particularly in the inclusion of explicitly political and African American themes.
The collection values the expertise of our neighbors as cultural workers and fulfills our commitment to examining our direct economic impact as artists in our neighborhood through the creation of paid positions for three Art Lending Facilitators hired from our library service area, who pursue individual and collaborative research, assist patrons in selecting artwork, develop arts related programs, and ensure that the collection remains relevant to the neighborhood by guiding its growth as we acquire new work.

The collection projects the aesthetic discourse of our neighborhood into the Carnegie Museum of Art. For the duration of the international patrons can select artworks from the collection to be hung in the museum. These works rotate every two weeks.

Art is a socially constructed system, made by us as we make meaning together.  It reflects social conditions and has similar relations of power as other systems such as our education system and our economy, but we believe that it is a system that is uniquely able to examine itself as it examines the world in which it exists. This capacity is what creates the potential for art to be transgressive, radical, transformative. It cannot access this potential when the discourse that shapes does not adequately include the voices of people of diverse ages, ethnicities, cultural and class backgrounds. Art is impoverished when it does not include the discourse of the people who live in our neighborhood. By developing a collection that includes multiple voices in its curation, by creating positions for cultural workers from outside of the mainstream art world, by offering artwork for free circulation in a library, by moving the aesthetic choices of our neighbors into the museum, we seek to serve art by offering the discourse of our neighbors.

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The Neighborhood Print Shop is open every Saturday from 9:30-3:30, schedule a time by emailing

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Collaboration with James E. Kidd

James Kidd, Dana Bishop-Root, Leslie Stem, Ruthie Stringer

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greetings from the Braddock Carnegie Library

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happy new year, free your mind, body, soul, be kind, open your mind and breathe in the stars

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smiling faces

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