United Diverse Artists & Art-Part'heid
In the Fall of 2014, myself and a number of diverse women artists and organizers got together to talk about disparities in the Baltimore arts community especially in regards to race, power, privilege and access. In an initial dinner conversation among this group, a few key issues were identified as needing to be addressed: gatekeeping and other forms of power exerted by mostly white arts institutions, arts administrators and arts leadership in Baltimore; barriers to access for funding, exposure and other types of support for communities of color and other marginalized groups in the city; a notable lack of diversity in artists included in cultural events, performances and exhibitions; and a similar reflection in venues and audiences. As our group concluded our first meeting, we decided to identify some concrete actions that we could take to make change. One of these was to work collaboratively as United Diverse Artists Inc. (UDA), to organize a panel discussion and event, with the aim of bringing artists and those with a stake in the arts community into a room to look at this issue.
In February 2015, UDA organized a panel discussion called “Art’part’heid: Bridging the Gap of Disparities in Baltimore’s Art Scene” at 2640/St. John’s Church in Baltimore. This panel discussion brought over 300 individuals from the arts community who listened to the stories and discussions amongst 10 panelists. This panel discussion was followed by a Q&A session and four breakout sessions in which guests compiled and reported action items addressing the topics we discussed. This conversation caused many ripples in the arts community and has helped to raise awareness about inequity in the arts. UDA created an online Facebook group called Artpartheid in which over 1,000 members have joined to share resources, job opportunities, and relevant articles. We are honored to have received so much recognition in Baltimore, including City Paper's Best "Overdue Conversation" in Baltimore's 2015 'Best Of' series.
Urban Arts Leadership Program fellowship
In November 2014, I was named a Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance (GBCA) Urban Arts Leadership Program fellow (UALP). For six months I participatedin intensive trainings and workshops to strengthen my arts administrative skills, then conceptualizedand built exhibition and program proposals catered to the needs of non-profitorganizational clients at Rowdy Orbit, a digital media production company.
The Urban Arts Leadership Program (UALP) diversifies and strengthens administrative leadership in cultural organizations by connecting emerging professionals to training and resources that will help position them for professional success. The Program includes training and placement that will help participants develop new and expanded skills and networks. It is open to all applicants with a particular focus on serving emerging leaders of color.
The Urban Arts Leadership Program is made possible through the generous support of the Surdna Foundation and the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.
November 15, 2015, Meet the Fellows event at Maryland Art Place
Devociones y Fe (Devotions and Faith) exhibition opens
May 1-31, 2014: I completed my M.F.A. in Curatorial Practice Thesis exhibition, Devociones y Fe (Devotions and Faith). Devociones y Fe (Devotions and Faith) was a series of programs and a co-creative exhibition featuring objects, artworks, and oral histories that investigated how Latinos express faith and devotion through spiritual traditions, and how those spiritual traditions create a sense of belonging within the Upper Fells Point and Highlandtown neighborhoods—the centers of Baltimore’s growing Latino communities. This exhibition was a result of fieldwork, one-on-one interviews, and surveys within the community.
On view May 1-31st, 2014, this exhibition featured a collection of altars, devotional objects, newly created paintings, and sculptures loaned by a diverse group of Latino residents, businesses owners and community leaders. Devociones y Fe took place in the family-run El Tesoro Restaurant (The Treasure) located on South Broadway in the heart of the community, making it accessible to the people that informed it. Listening stations featuring snippets of oral histories were located at each dining table alongside bilingual wall texts featuring quotes about the objects from participants. In addition, Devociones y Fe featured two short documentaries that I produced about devotion and faith expressed through dance and processions, and one documentary preview produced by Maria Gabriela Aldana Enriquez about the tradition and religious history of piñatas and posadas.
Devociones y Fe Programming included:
- An opening reception at the El Tesoro Restaurant, which included over 200 guests from the Latino community, MICA and the greater Baltimore community!
- “Neighborhood Walk: Altars on S. Broadway & Eastern Ave”, a tour and series of conversations with Latino business owners to learn about their histories, traditions and altars.
- “Discussing Latino Identity at MICA”, a private discussion with MICA Latino students to learn about their experiences, connect them to the Latino community outside of MICA, and figure out ways to advise MICA on how to better engage and support Latino students.
- “Working with Latino Communities in Baltimore”, a lecture and panel discussion in conjunction with the Latino Providers Network Inc., The Creative Alliance, Casa de Maryland, and MICA Graduate Students: Michelle Gomez, Tanya Garcia and Edgar Reyes to talk about best practices, resources and the importance of the Latino voice in creative community projects.
- “Closing Roundtable Discussion with Maryland Traditions”, a final celebration and discussion with exhibition participants in order to evaluate the project and connect Latino individuals to the Latino Providers Network Inc. and Maryland Traditions.
- A private tour and discussion with Powell Recovery patients who are recovering from addiction.
- A panel discussion about spiritual traditions at the Maryland Traditions Folklife Festival in The Creative Alliance featuring artist, Yesenia Mejia and dancer/musician, Carlos Gutierrez from Danza Guadalupana.
Devociones y Fe received so much support and positive feedback from the Latino community and greater Baltimore community. Click the links below to read or listen...
CONGREGATE art + faith + community exhibition opens
September 6-25, 2013: CONGREGATE art + faith + community was an exhibition and series of programs that created shared experiences for faith-based congregations and artistic communities within the Station North Arts and Entertainment District. Curated by myself and my fellow classmates from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) M.F.A. in Curatorial Practice class of 2014, CONGREGATE established artist residencies within five places of worship and offered public programs in which members of each congregation can collaborate creatively. CONGREGATE created a space in which artists and congregants can come together to develop a better understanding of one another—and allowed spiritual sites to become active parts of the Station North arts community.
CONGREGATE was a huge success! Click the links below to read or listen. For more press, visit the official CONGREGATE website.