Show Don’t Tell: A Symposium
with The Fellowship for Utopian Practice - Workshops
Presented by Culture Push
Sunday, April 28, 2019
1 to 3:15pm
Workshop I - Junkanooacome: Help Pitchy Patchy build Wild Indian
Workshop II - Building Common Ground
Workshop III - Preguntas, intrigas, dudas/Questions, intrigues, doubts
Workshop IV - Forming The Sacred Doll
Culture Push, a 2019 grantee of the Rubin Foundation’s art and social justice initiative, presented Show Don't Tell, a two-day symposium of workshops and panel discussions featuring artist recipients of the Fellowship for Utopian Practice. This colloquium provided an opportunity to get an up-close view into projects by artists working at the intersection of imagination and civic engagement, including Olaronke Akinmowo, Chloë Bass, Sarah Dahnke, Adelaide Matthew Dicken & Mel McIntyre, Alicia Grullón, Jerron Herman, Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow, Claudia Prado, and Clarivel Ruiz. Participants and audience learned through participatory activity and conversation about the unique perspectives that Culture Push Fellows and their collaborators bring to each urgent topic.
The symposium began with an afternoon of workshops featuring current and recent Culture Push Fellows, Adelaide Matthew Dicken & Mel McIntyre, Claudia Prado, Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow, and Clarivel Ruiz. The four individual workshops focused on themes and media relating to each artist’s practice, including Lyn-Kee-Chow’s work against gentrification using Caribbean carnival traditions; Dicken & McIntyre’s activism around disability and trans justice, and creating radically accessible space; Prado’s practice of revealing the power of shared bilingual writing practice; and Ruiz’s work honoring African cultural roots through the creation of sacred spaces. The workshops were followed by a panel discussion between the workshop leaders entitled In Common: Making Space for Collective Transformation, focusing on the ways in which their artistic and activist practices are intertwined to promote greater visibility and equity for communities that have been historically othered.
Workshop I: Junkanooacome: Help Pitchy Patchy build Wild Indian
Number of participants: Maximum 10
Fellow: Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow
Description: Junkanoo (John Canoe) is said to be of the name of the Akan warrior from Axion, Ghana and once a chief of the Ahanta people in the early 18th century who took control of the abandoned fortress of Fort Fredericksburg, once a slave port on the coast of what is known now as Ghana, defending it several times from Dutch conquest. News of this heroic act spread as far as the Caribbean. Junkanoo is a pre-abolition masquerade and satirical decolonization ceremony confronting slave-masters, practiced during Christmas in parts of the Caribbean. Celebrations include parading with ornate costumes, including grand pasteboard hats replicating houseboat mansions, and colorful characters with masks.
In this workshop, the Jamaican-born artist Lyn-Kee-Chow explored some of the different characters of Junkanoo as part of her Fellowship project, Junkanooacome, which revives the Jamaican Junkanoo tradition in order to decolonize historic spaces and monuments. Participants helped her build Wild Indian, the next character of her series, as she builds towards a complete Junkanoo troupe of 10-15 characters. Together the participants created one costume/art piece collectively which will then be worn in future performances at NYC’s historical landmarks and monuments still bearing the names of slave masters.
Workshop II: Building Common Ground
Number of participants: Maximum 10
Fellows: Adelaide Matthew Dicken & Mel McIntyre
Description: Communities fighting for disability justice and trans justice share struggles. While uprooting structures of body policing and resisting employment discrimination, we imagine autonomous uses of shared space. What would it look like for us to align towards developing cooperative working models, while cultivating lessons of sustainable environmental design? Join us for participatory problem-solving through getting to know each other, game play, and reflection.
Workshop III: Preguntas, intrigas, dudas/Questions, intrigues, doubts
Number of participants: Maximum 10
Fellow: Claudia Prado
Description: A creative writing workshop in Spanish that began with a question mark and ended with another. They had two hours to read and write together. Open to every level of Spanish fluency, from beginner to fluent.
Un taller de escritura creativa en español que va a comenzar con un signo de pregunta y terminar con otro. Dos horas para leer y escribir juntxs. Abierto a todas las personas que deseen participar, inclusive si no hablan español con mucha fluidez.
Workshop IV: Forming The Sacred Doll
Number of participants: Maximum of 16
Fellow: Clarivel Ruiz of Dominicans Love Haitians Movement
Description: In many cultures from around the world, the doll is not only a toy for children. It is also seen as a sacred artifact that has the potential to manifest corporal energy. Hopi Kachina dolls are given to children to learn spiritual stories and act as forms of protection as they hold ancestral energy. For the Senufo peoples of Côte d’Ivoire, the Kafigeledjo dolls are used as a divination tool to uncover misdeeds and culpability. The Voodoo doll originated with The Fon people of Benin and is used in present-day Haiti and Louisiana, containing gris-gris, a magic force that is a physical manifestation of a person and contains great power. During the workshop, people created their own dolls using the power of their hands, voice, and imagination to imbue the doll with magic properties.
Adelaide Matthew Dicken is a fat, Euro-descended white, non-binary transwoman. Mel McIntyre is a fat, queer, crip, femme, white Brazilian-American latinx. Mel & Adelaide are artist-organizers in the early stages of working cooperatively to create a worker-owned green gym that is accessible to all bodies, with particular focus on supporting liberated healing & movement space for people with disabilities and trans people.
Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow is on the faculty at School of Visual Arts MFA and has received a Rema Hort Mann ACE (Artist in Community Engagement) Award (2017), NYFA Fellowship in Interdisciplinary Art (2012), among other grants and presented work internationally. She has received support through Culture Push’s Fellowship for Utopian Practice (2018-19), Franklin Furnace (2017-18), and Queens Arts Fund New Works Grant (2019).
Claudia Prado was born in Puerto Madryn, Argentina. She is the author of three books of poetry: El interior de la ballena (Nusud, 2000), Aprendemos de los padres (Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, 2002) and Viajar de noche (Limón, 2007). She co-directed the documentaries Oro nestas piedras, about the poet Jorge Leonidas Escudero, and El jardín secreto, about the poet Diana Bellessi. In 2011, she was the recipient of a Fondo Nacional de las Artes grant, and in 2015, a Queens Council on the Arts grant. From 2006 to 2011, she was one of the teachers in the poetry workshop Yo no fui at a women’s penitentiary in Ezeiza, Argentina. Since 2003, she has run poetry and prose workshops for adults and adolescents. She now lives in Jersey City and organizes creative writing workshops in New York and New Jersey, working independently and also with some organizations including Hour Working Women Re-Entry Program, Word Up Community Bookshop, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Project Luz, and La colmena, among others, some of them with the support of Poets & Writers.
Clarivel Ruiz: We, daughter from Kiskeya Ayiti (aka Hispaniola aka Dominican Republic and Haiti), a land colonized but never conquered, raised in New York City on the ancestral bones and covered shrines of the Lenape people. In 2016, we initiated Dominicans Love Haitians Movement bringing together Dominican and Haitians to celebrate our commonalities through poetry and music at The Nuyorican and Wow Theatre Café. Through Dominicans Love Haitians Movement we were accepted into Culture Push’s Utopian Fellowship and the 2017 cohort of Hemispheric Institute’s EmergeNYC program to further develop ourselves as an artist’s activist. We have raised over $2,000 in donated black dolls that have been sent to Haiti and handcrafted dolls sent to The Mariposa Foundation, Dominican Republic. Currently, participating in the Civic Practice Seminar at the Metropolitan Museum, recently accepted into the 7th season of The Innovative Cultural Advocacy Fellowship at Caribbean Cultural Centers' for African Diaspora Institute and a 2019 Brooklyn Arts Council awardee.
Culture Push is an artist-run organization that creates programs to nurture artists and other creative people who are approaching common problems through hands-on civic participation and imaginative problem-solving. The mission of Culture Push is to create a home for ideas based in curiosity and interaction that have a positive impact on the world, and to create a lively exchange of ideas between many different communities; artists and non-artists, professional practitioners and laypeople, across generations, neighborhoods, and cultures. Culture Push supports the process of creating new modes of thinking and doing and serves a diverse community of creative people. The programs of Culture Push focus on collaboration and group learning through active, participatory experiences. Culture Push created the Fellowship for Utopian Practice in 2012 to nurture artists and lend institutional support to ideas that are in the development stage and/or may fall outside the purview of mainstream support. The Fellows work on projects that collaborate with the public to find new modes of civic engagement, and are encouraged to think big and engage deeply with their local communities as they take on issues such as sustainability, social justice, and the historical record, working with imaginative forms of social and political activism. Culture Push was founded in 2009 as the shared vision of three multidisciplinary artists, and is celebrating its tenth anniversary with events and publications throughout 2019.