For The Public Group Exhibition
Hosted at Local Project, 11-27 44th Rd, Long Island City, New York
Works on View from January 19 – February 19 2022
Gallery Hours: Saturdays between 12:30 and 4:30pm, Thursdays between 3:30 and 6:30pm
Schedule of Events:
February 3, 5pm-7pm – Zania Cummings “Black Bodies” Spoken Word Performance & Workshop
February 10, 5pm-7pm – Sherese Francis “Natural An/Dems” Workshop and Reading
February 17, 5pm-7pm – Robert Wallace “The Next Event” Performance
February 19, 1pm-3pm – Closing Reception with Rebecca KellyG Closing Cycles Sound Art performance
All visitors must follow Local Project / Flux Factory COVID safety protocol – vaccines will be checked at the door. Local Project is fully ADA accessible.
This Exhibition is part of The Rhizome Project series
Exhibiting AnkhLave Artists include Kiki Bencosme, Graciela Cassel, Renluka Maharaj, Moses Ros and Akemi Takeda with additional contributing performances and workshops by Rebecca KellyG, Zania Cumings, Sherese Francis, and Robert Wallace.
Curated by Dario Mohr, Teri Henderson and Haiba Hamilton
For The Public represents the physical manifestation of the artist’s desire to not just create, but to exhibit work that calls to be experienced by the public. As a pandemic struck the world, we all continued to exist, work and create. Artists of color have historically sustained a creative practice through tumultuous and uncertain times. The creative practice and resulting work serves as a method of self care and expression, as well as a source of inspiration for the audience. This exhibition represents the space for these artists to allow their ideas and works to emerge in the physical exhibition realm once again.
For the Public is the culminating exhibition of the 2021 AnkhLave Garden Project Fellowship. The AnkhLave Garden Project is an annual fellowship where artists present public work at the Queens Botanical Garden. The five fellows will each present one work as a sister piece to work created for the between June and September 2021 garden project cohort.
Participating Artists & Artworks
Kiki Bencosme, “Morir Soñando”
Morir Soñando is a celebration of ancestors, their journey through time and breathing into their legacy. When I was a child, what I desired more than anything was windows. Upon exiting my overcrowded basement home, the borrowed hug from the rays of the sun was worth more than any toy I could scribble onto a gift list. Stemming from my scant upbringing, I assemble repurposed objects in the form of sculpture and installation. I use art as a tool of resistance and to bring forth my ancestral tongue as a child of immigrants. Like the trash rummaging of the houseless folks that inspire me, my hands translate a voice of the low-income class. With a visual narrative directly influenced by community, these crafted objects become the window to telling our story.
Kiki Bencosme (b. 1992) is a Dominican-American interdisciplinary artist from Queens, based in The Bronx. Creating art to initiate a visual conversation with others, her work offers the opportunity to ask ourselves questions of social progress. Emerging from generational poverty, she creates socio-political sculptures, installations, and illustrations of which arise from her own experiences, confronting issues such as housing insecurity, gender-based oppression, and racism. Kiki’s practice is community-based, involving socially engaged public art and conceptualizing personal objects or stories into the work.
Graciela Cassel, “In Between”
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It is my belief that artwork, a place of intersection and metaphors, is not an isolated event but explores concepts that can exemplify a way of thinking, living, and working. The practice of art may have started as a ritual but with time artwork has developed roots in science, literature, and philosophy. Investigating questions of identity, reality, fantasy, and, both the objective and the subjective, opens up for me the possibility of working between fiction and reality. In my artwork, allegory is implied; this means that when creating art, I use the same elements as working in poetry: the use of references but at the same time the exercise of both metonymy and metaphor in a re-invention of a new meaning. My practice is a mindset of contradictions, allowing me to access both the logical and the irrational.
Graciela Cassel was born in Argentina and currently lives in New York. She earned an MA in Studio Art from New York University and received an MFA from School of Visual Arts. Cassel recently presented her installations at Spring Break (2017), Museo del Barrio (2018); Sotheby’s (2018); Clemente Center, (2019), Bienal del Sur (2019), BRAC (2019), Varis Center at Urban Glass Gallery (2020), Ankhalve Fellowship @ Queens Botanical Garden.and @SM Proart Residency(2021). Cassel’s videos received international awards and were screened in more than forty international festivals. Her films received the Queens Arts Fund in 2016 and in 2020. Citylife II best Director short film in 2021 from Barcelona International Film Awards, Spain. In 2019 Citylife II recently received: Best Experimental Picture and Best Sound design awards. Oceans, Best Female Director 2021, Barcelona International film Festival, 2021 commissioned for IAMSTRAIGHTFOWARD, Miami Art Basel
Zania Cummings, “Black Bodies”
Black Bodies is a Poetic dive into the Black experience, and an exploration of our most vulnerable parts. The work includes portraits with written poems, as well as a performance of “Slave Black” a 3 min spoken word piece.
Born and raised in Charleston SC, Zania Cummings is an Actor, Poet and Creative based in NYC. She received her classical training at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts where she received the James Fisher award. After living in NYC she rediscovered her love of poetry and used spoken word as another medium of expression. She wrote and produced her first poetic short “Alchemy” in 2019 which has received praise and Best Poetic Film at the Detroit Black Film Festival. She prides herself on making art that is intentional and simply unapologetic! She is a proud believer in activism through art often reflecting on her own journey through black femininity as a catalyst of expression. My objective is to offer a level of vulnerability within each performance, making the audience feel safe in the space. I want to bathe the audience in poetic realism, with an emphasis on expressing that poetic realism on black bodies.
Sherese Francis, “Natural An/Dems Workshop and Reading”
Showcasing my “Griot Sé/Mwen’s Beyonsense (National An/dem in Kwenglish)” Banner and “Henry Brown’s Speakerboxxxez (Blue(s)Prints Series)” Banner, I will lead an iteration of my Natural An/Dems Workshop, inviting attendees to partake in a collaborative writing exchange and reading performance, treating poetry as a form of currency, a “meant” instead of a “mint,” where we exchange meaning. The end of the workshop will result in a collective “poetry bank” piece.
Sherese Francis is an Alkymist of the I-Magination and expresses her(e)self through poetry, interdisciplinary arts, workshop facilitation, editing, and literary curation. Her(e) work takes inspiration from her(e) Afro-Caribbean heritage (Barbados and Dominica), and studies in Afrofuturism and Black Speculative Arts, mythology and etymology. Some of her(e) work has been published in Furious Flower, Obsidian Lit, Rootwork Journal, Spoken Black Girl, The Operating System, Cosmonauts Avenue, No Dear, Apex Magazine, Bone Bouquet, African Voices, Newtown Literary, and Free Verse. Additionally, Sherese has published three chapbooks, Lucy’s Bone Scrolls (Three Legged Elephant), Variations on Sett/ling Seed/ling (Harlequin Creature), and Recycling a Why That Rules Over My Sacred Sight (DoubleCross Press). Besides publications, Sherese has had her(e) work featured in various exhibitions and showcases from The Lit Exhibit, NY Live Arts, Queens Public Library, York College Arts Gallery, King Manor Museum, WorksOnWater, Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning, Jamaica Flux, Baxter St Camera Club, Bliss On Bliss, Maleza Proyectos, The Rubenstein Art Center and Ely Center for Contemporary Art.
Rebecca KellyG, “Closing Cycles”
Closing Cycles is an immersive sound experience that uplifts the necessity of self-care/accountability for collective justice. Rebecca creates multi-layered vocal soundscapes and offers reflections on her soul journey while inviting those in the audience to engage and reflect on their own. In this performance-workshop, we will start to disentangle from the ideas of “self” given to us by the oppressive systems we live within, begin to tap into our own gold, and joyfully step into the sun.
Rebecca KellyG (she/her) is a Healing Sound Artist and Facilitator rooted in anti-racist practices. Her passion for both sound and social change has been with her since youth, evolving from a love for theater and performance into work as a civil rights attorney and flourishing in her current expression as a facilitator and sound artist. Rebecca supports individuals and groups in challenging oppressive conditioned beliefs, embracing accountability, and cultivating self-care for our personal and collective liberation. She engages in this work through workshops, immersive sound experiences, equity and justice consulting, and retreats. A selection of Rebecca’s previous partnerships include Artists Space, Leslie Lohman Museum of Art, Ensemble Studio Theatre, and Yale University Art Gallery. Her work has been included in spaces such as The Everywoman Biennial, Black Girl Magik, Infinite Possibilities Art Festival, and for The United State of Women.
Renluka Maharaj, “Mast Heads”
My grandparents arrived as Indentured laborers in Trinidad in 1913 to work on the sugar plantations under the British. Slavery had ended in the mid 1800’s and they needed a new labor force, so the British decided to ship Indians to their colonies. My grandparents left their homes in India for reasons I will never know but can only speculate and this is what my work is about. The first 2 images presented are a blend of my photography and found photos of indentured women. the next 4 are of indentured women photographed in studio by a man named Felix Morin sometime in the late 1800’s. These women are important to me because they could very well be relatives I have never met, for I have limited information on my ancestry. I wish to decolonize the archives that hold these images and bring them into the light through the use of color and design, patterning and reverence, giving these women some sense of agency which I feel perhaps was not afforded to them at the time. I wish to show a connection between the laborers and women today and pay homage and respect to them as ancestors. Its an important part of history that is rarely recognized and yet it was one of the biggest movement of people across the globe.
Ms. Maharaj was born in Trinidad and Tobago and works between Colorado, New York City and Trinidad. She attended the University of Colorado, Boulder where she earned her BFA , and her MFA at The School Of The Art Institute of Chicago in. She has received numerous awards including Martha Kate Thomas Fund, the Presidential Scholarship at Anderson Ranch Center and the Barbara De Genevieve Scholarship. Her works are in institutional collections including The Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, Joan Flasch artist book collection, Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, special collections at the University of Colorado, Boulder as well as numerous private collections. Her work has been recognized with awards including fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center, Fountainhead Residency, Virginia Center For Creative Arts as well as The Golden Art Foundation and the McColl Art Center Residency in North Carolina. She will also be attending a residency at Project For Empty Spaces in Newark, New Jersey in 2022. Most recently, her work has been published in the second volume of Coolitude co-authored by Khal Thorabully and Marina Carter, an amazing volume of stories, poems and visual art which addresses Indian indentureship. Her work will also appear in Elle India, Harper’s Bazaar India and New American Paintings.
Moses Ros, “LoveIsAll”
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LoveIsAll is a mobile sculpture inspired by the belief that Love is the most powerful force in the universe. The mobile, formed in the shape of a flower and displaying a heart at its center, hangs from the ceiling. Attached to the sculpture are eight floating humanoid butterflies that move with the breeze, creating a graceful atmosphere.
Moses Ros is a Dominican-American sculptor, painter, and printmaker who lives and works in the Bronx. His art evokes his personal and cultural heritage recalling places, history, and social issues to the preservation of the environment. His creativity ranges from large-scale public sculptures to small intimate paintings and prints. His artwork has been exhibited in venues ranging from independent galleries to museums. Solo exhibitions include the Yeshiva University Museum in New York, the Paterson Museum in New Jersey, and the Bronx Museum. He has received commissions from the New York Department of Cultural Affairs, the Bronx Council for the Arts, the NYC Housing Authority, and the Metropolitan Transit Authority. His artwork is held in corporate and public collections, including the Smithsonian Museum of American Art and El Museo del Barrio. He is a member of the artist collectives Dominican York Project Gráfica (DYPG) and ArteLatAm. He has studied printmaking at Bronx Printmakers and has worked in some major printmaking workshops in NYC such as The Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop, Lower East Side Printshop, and The Manhattan Graphic Center. He is a graduate of Pratt Institute and is a Registered Architect.
Akemi Takeda, “Visual Memo Fallout”
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I find inspiration in found objects throughout New York City, as well as some other cities, and these moments are where I find creative energy. It is the “found” energy that characterizes the environment itself. I am attracted to altered subway posters, aged textures on streets, and the way shadow and light interact with nature and urban space. These alterations and interactions change the objects of the images themselves, and I record these spontaneous works of art and view them as powerful images where repetition, contrast and drawing call attention to them even more. My artwork is not a collage. Through digital heat transfer image, I combine my photography with my drawings. I prefer to call them “visual quilts.”
Born in Kanagawa, Japan, moved to New York City in 1976. Currently lives in Manhattan and works at her studio in Long Island City, Queens, NY. Studied Parsons school of Design, Pratt Graphic Center, Gendai Bijutsu kenkyujo and Wako University.
Robert Wallace, “The Next Event”
The Next Event is about James Lee Mass, a failed author living in Long Island, New York during the year 1985. Mass lost his nine-year-old daughter, Ava, due to pneumonia. Unable to cope with this loss, James’ personal and professional life deteriorates. He passively watches the dissolution of his marriage as he is incapable of picking up the pieces. With slowing book sales, and the lack of will to create anything new, he quickly finds himself spiraling into a deep depression with thoughts of suicide. James Lee Mass is a dark and deeply complex character, and throughout the play he addresses the emotional battles that some people fight within themselves everyday.
Robert Wallace is a Brooklyn native, who was classically trained in Theatre at North Carolina Central University. He is committed to developing an aesthetic that sits in a liminal space between Theatre and Film. Robert has starred in four independent films, and has borrowed from his academic experiences to propel himself in the world of picture-making. “I am of those that came before all of us.” His practice focuses on the format of a One-Man Show as an apparatus to explore the politics of black masculinity. His most recent experimental theatre work “The First Lefty,” was presented as part of Art In Odd Places (2021). He is also the auteur of a sold-out one-man play entitled “The Next Event” that was presented independently in 2017 at the historic Gene Frankel Theatre in New York City. Robert is not only a thespian, but a playwright, screenwriter, director, producer, and poet.