Evan Bissell x Larkin Street Youth Services | True Compassion

Bissell True Compassion

Evan Bissell
True Compassion, 2012
Video shot and edited by Vladimir Gurewich

Over several months, Evan Bissell worked with Larkin Street Youth Services (LSYS) to define and investigate compassion through discussion of community and historical models, painting, stenciling and writing. Using Martin Luther King, Jr’s definition of true compassion as a starting point, workshop participants created collaborative symbols of compassion: bold, medallion-like paintings that examined compassion on personal and societal levels. These paintings formed the frame for a rotating set of ephemeral, double-portraits drawn in chalk pastel and installed in public on Hyde Street (between Golden Gate and Turk) in the Tenderloin. The portraits depicted LSYS youth clients and staff interacting with themselves in a self-chosen compassionate gesture. Inspired in part by the practice of Tibetan Buddhist sand mandalas, the five portraits were left untreated and wiped away each week before the following portrait was created in the same place every Thursday. Passersby frequently questioned why Bissell erased the portraits each week, why do all this work and not make it last? As portraits of neighborhood youth, the impermanent nature served as reminders that true compassion begins by valuing oneself and those already around. Bissell presents a video of the creation and destruction of the portraits.

Participating Artists: Josiah, Reyanna, Evelynn, Brittany, Thomas,
Ceci, Antionay, Yesenia, Manuma, Gia, Aaron, Brittany, Rayana,
Chandra, Kevin, Derek, Ebony, Angel, Felicia, Nigel, Precious, Sara,
Ciara, Pete, Angel, Elter, A.J., Larae, Joseph, Elston, Teana, Ressie,
Mariella, Jovan, Shantel, Jonathan, Joseph, Ishmael, Basir, John, and
Prince Jerrick.
Workshop Facilitators: Yukako Ezoe, Lex, Peter Carpou, and Rebeka Rodriguez.
Project Partners: Intersection for the Arts and Larkin Street Youth Services.
Special Thanks: Tenderloin Housing Clinic, Boxcar Theater, Dan Smith,
and the Hyde Street community.
Music: Ramsey Lewis Trio, The Last Poets, and Rich Medina.
Additional Sound and Video Editing: Lucas Guilkey, Alejandro Acosta

via YouTube

Being LatiNegr@ in a Digital Age

The Network

The Network

Finding Afr@-Latinidad in ‘the Network':

“My case, then, as an Afro-descendant, Afro-Latin, Colombian, Latin, Latin American, Black, from Bogota, etc., has not been different. I have wondered about those identities that are sometimes imposed, other times accepted, which guide our path. Sometimes through personal searches, other times from trying to understand the classifications imposed by  “others,” or by tradition, these questions have fueled my processes of cultural, social, academic and personal recognition and self-identification. They have led me from Colombia, a society that seeks to promote multicultural recognition as a way of becoming modern and contemporary regardless of the historical invisibility of its many cultures, to Canada, a multicultural society in which diversity becomes the advertising slogan of a product that sometimes does not exist. In general, this physical, symbolic and cultural journey has allowed me to explore some long-term questions that accompany the Black woman/man, the Afro-descendant; at the same time, this journey also allows me to ask and answer new questions.

These new questions became research projects and their answers resulted in concrete actions. With the first question, I formulated a route through the discourses and forms of representation and images that were not traditionally associated with Afro-descendants. However upon review they were displayed as belonging to ever changing universal images with varying degrees. The question that began to plague me was: What elements are considered Afro-descendant and African in artistic terms during this period of contemporary globalization?”

Read the rest: Eduard Arriga, “Representations, scales, and identities of Afrodescendants in a digital age,” afrolatin@ project.org | Proyecto Afrolatin@ http://bit.ly/16eWTqe

AfroPeruvian activist Rocio Muñoz on Django Unchained [Spanish]

ROCIO MUÑOZ

AfroPeruvian activist, Rocio Muñoz describes racist imagery in Peruvian media (El Negro Mama, La Paisana Jacinta) in the context of her reaction to ‘Django Unchained:”

“It was degrading to me. I recognized myself in that history. Although I didn’t live it, although I didn’t feel it, I know that history. Because when I look at that woman he went to find, I’m looking at myself.”

Interviewed by Dash Harris for In.A.Dash Media and Negro (www.negrodocumentary.com) a docu-series that explores colonization and the historical and present day color complex among Latinos.

(H/T AfroLatin@ Forum)

Hugo Chavez Dies at Age 58 x Media Resources

A mural of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Caracas  Photo: AFP/GETTY

 A mural of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Caracas  Photo: AFP/GETTY

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez Frías died yesterday from cancer. He was 58 years old.

Jamilah Aisha Brown writes:

“…While conflicting headlines fuel the discourse as to whether the Chávez legacy is that of one who constricted Venezuelan human rights or drastically reduced poverty, gains made in Afro Venezuelan communities through his radical socio-economic programs should not be overlooked….

…Prior to the Bolivarian movement, the status of Afro Venezuelans largely resembled others in the region that were subjected to historic racial and economic discrimination; the redistribution of oil revenues into social programs cut Venezuela’s poverty from 55% in 1995 to 26.4% in 2009. Halving the poverty rate has left an indelible impact Black communities who for the first time had regular access to free education, healthcare and guaranteed housing thanks to the implementation of Chávez’s Social Missions…”

Read the rest (via Ebony.com)

Jamilah Aisha Brown, global strategist and digital maven, has compiled a list of media sources to follow for more information on Hugo Chavez’s death. The list includes Spanish-language resources and is a great resource for anyone interested in reading more (or teaching about) Chavez and his impact.

Find it here: Hue in the World: Media Sources to Follow in the Wake of Hugo Chavez’s Death.

Image Credit: A mural of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Caracas AFP/GETTY

Salamisha Tillet on Wallis & ‘Black Girl Genius’ at The Feminist Wire

Quvenzhané Wallis

Salamisha Tillet writes:

“…..But, for those of us who want so desperately to shield her from racial taunts and sexist tweets, we are not simply thinking of Wallis alone. According to American Psychological Association, the self–esteem of American girls actually peaks at nine-years-old, the same age as Wallis. And then, in large part due to their sexualization in the media, their self-image takes a dramatic nosedive.

We also understand Wallis’s symbolism to the millions of African Americans girls – our most fragile citizens – who are vulnerable to extraordinary acts of violence, everyday.

Girls like the gone-to-soon slain teenager, Haidiya Pendleton, for whom the activist Aisha Truss-Miller & Family and the Black Youth Project launched a successful petition calling on President Obama to make a speech on gun-violence in Chicago.

And the vast majority of girls with whom I work through A Long Walk Home that experience sexual and dating violence at a crisis rate. Unlike Pendleton or Wallis, their lives continue to be unrecognized, their voices continue to be ignored, and whether they are prodigies or not, far too many have already had their confidence stifled by the intersection of racism, sexism, and poverty into which they were born…”

Read the entire piece: Taunts, Tweets, and Black Girl Genius | The Feminist Wire.

Glamazonia at the August Wilson Center

Fashion Africana (February 2013) / Photograph taken (with permission) by Jessica Marie Johnson

Last weekend, I spent some time enjoying Mario Epanya‘s Glamazonia, on display at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture in Pittsburgh through April:

One of the world’s most renowned and outspoken fashion photographers, Mario Epanya stirred an ongoing global dialogue in 2010 when he proposed the launch of Vogue Africa. GLAMAZONIA gives artistic expression to this continuing discussion, and more importantly, a vehicle to help shift our perception of the physical ideal.  The exhibition features images of black women with African inspired hairstyles, garments, and accessories, and offers testament to African beauty. Epanya’s photographic images underscore his African ancestry and capture the aesthetics of African ceremonial and special occasion dress.  This exhibition also features African-inspired sculptural work by Vanessa German and Thaddeus Mosley, and garments by FashionAFRICANA.

In 2010, Cameroon-born and Paris-based, Epanya’s name and art went viral when he shot a series of covers for a fictional Vogue Africa.  Glamazonia featured several of those covers (including this one–

Epanya's VogueAfrica

–my favorite!) along with a series of other works shot using models of with varying skin tones and hair textures.

Fashion Africana (February 2013) / Photograph taken (with permission) by Jessica Marie Johnson

Epanya discusses his motivation here:

The exhibit also featured artwork straight from the wickedly eclectic hands of visual and performance artist Vanessa German and sculptor Thaddeus Mosley.

The curator of the exhibit, Demeatria Boccella, elegant even in her heavy winter coat (it was cold in Pittsburgh!) took the time to explain the exhibit and show me and a guest around. As she spoke, it became clear that Glamazonia was about more than fostering a diverse vision of black womanhood in the fashion industry, already an important intervention. Much of our discussion centered around how she hoped to use Glamazonia as a venue for discussing body image and representations of blackness across all kinds of media, and to encourage schools and classrooms to visit the exhibit as a way to empower young women and girls of color living in Pittsburgh.

For more on the exhibit FashionAfricana » GLAMAZONIA by Mario Epanya