Saturday, January 11, 2014

Journeys by Hand - bridging neighborhoods through art

Artists together, showing, working and laughing...what more
could you ask for to stir up creative energies? As mentioned in
my last blog post, I joined two other  Roxbury artists to share a
gallery space on Beacon Hill in Boston for two weeks in November.
Lisa Lee, Kristen Belton Willis and I are all connected with
 Discover Roxbury's ArtRox . The aim of this effort was to
bridge neighborhoods through art.

We showed under the collective name "Journeys by Hand" -
All of us do extensive hand work in our art.Our hands
have taken us on many journeys - together and individually.
The three of us live within a block of each other. The
hours in the gallery gave us an opportunity to share
stories about our individual journeys  and to get to know
each other better.   We all work with the children at the
Hawthorne Youth and Community Center in our
neighborhood - stay tuned for a blog post about Lisa and my
First Night project this year with HYCC.   In December,
Kristen led the kids in an improv performance of the Black
Snowman by Phil Mendez at the neighborhood Christmas
tree lighting as part of her work on literacy with the after
school children.

The space at 98 W. Cedar Street used to be the office of
Barry Reality Group.   Skip Barry had talked to Derek Lumpkins
of Discover Roxbury about renting it to artists in an effort
to bridge neighborhoods through art.  Derek proposed the idea
the all in the ArtROX group. We thought it sounded promising.

Of course, a few folks dropped in asking about apartments, but
then enjoyed the art.  We were the  second artists to occupy the
space, two more set up after us.  By in large our experience was
very positive, although comments by a few individuals made us
realize how important this sort of exchange is.  We're hoping the
effort can continue.

 We were able to set up displays and create workspaces.
 Kristen displayed and worked on  some of  her Abena Family
rag dolls, her  jumping brooms, tuxedos for wine bottles and more
 including scrumptious sweets for our gatherings. (She does
 catering  as well as visual art!)
 Lisa was their with her "ladies" of leather, leather trees and bugs,
and exquisite jewelry. The name of her art business is "Royal
Dainties". Lisa is also an awesome spoken word artist!

I set up my creatures and books on the other side of the room
and stitched up miniature books and worked on inventory for
December shows:

We used social media and posters to let folks know we were there
and held Friday night  parties welcoming all.  (The photo of us
laughing at the beginning of this post was taken by the
photographer, Windy Seven at the first party. Thanks Windy,
it really captures the spirit of the experience!)

A great group of  friends and family came out to support
our efforts.

 Across the street from the space is the Advent School annex
building for art and language. Turns out Saskia Van Vactor, the art
teacher at the Advent was raised in our Fort Hill Roxbury
neighborhood. Journeys have a way of intertwining. Each of us
did a workshop with a  class of the  Advent - Lisa made leather
bugs with first graders studying the rain forest; I made mythic
creature books of paper and wire with the  fourth grade
investigating"cultures" and Kristen made "jumping brooms"
with the third  graders and talked about the creativity shown by
people who figure out ways  to maintain ceremony in spite of
obstacles.  These are some of the creature books which emerged
during  my workshop with the Advent School children:

 Since we were up on Beacon Hill, we took the opportunity
 to  join the Artists Under the Dome event at the state house
and visited our legislators.  Here we are in Tito Jackson's office.

It's important for the voices of artists to be heard!

I feel blessed to be connected with such a dynamic
neighborhood art community.  Here's hoping  everyone's
journeys  are filled with fun and  surprises  in 2014.
I'm hoping we Journeys by Hand ladies can figure
out more joint projects!

 Adventure on!   Wendy

1 comment:

  1. I was so sorry to have missed you all. What a great experience and collaboration. Wouldn't it be great to ahve the same thing in Roxbury?