Comment

Walls are Going Up, Up, Up… Construction Update 10/09/2019

 
Team QCA: Kate, Gianna, Willie & Angela

Team QCA: Kate, Gianna, Willie & Angela

 

Good news for the Maximilian residents! Willie says the ductwork noise will probably end in a day or two, tops.

“What do you think?” Kate frowned at the half wall by the gaping hole in the back which will eventually be the service door. “The width is wrong and will eat into the black box space.

“It will have to come out,” said Willie nudging the wall with his foot. I am still trying to picture this ramp to the door.

 
Walls of the offices and artist-in-residence space

Walls of the offices and artist-in-residence space

 

Thinking about soundproofing options for the conference room & the offices as well as options to enclose the ceiling.

We have decided to keep one of our artist-in-residence spaces open with the potential to put up walls in the future. It sits midpoint in the space and can function as another gathering space for people. Me, personally, I like the openness and the break it provides people moving from one end to the other.

 
Gianna, trying to put the GoPro camera together

Gianna, trying to put the GoPro camera together

 

“Look, I got this whole thing together with this piece to stick to the window,” Gianna maneuvered the pesky little pieces into place. “Madonna! I left that new SIM card in the restaurant.”

 
Jannick and Stanley

Jannick and Stanley

 
 
Gianna & me

Gianna & me

 

The hole in the wall is still there, pending a further discussion about the ramp.

There is a pile of cinder blocks where our black box theatre is supposed to be.

We’ll be back in a few days for a site visit with one of our funders who will be giving us money for theatre lighting.

“Oh, and I’ll coordinate with the boom truck guys to get the condensers on the roof,” Angela looked up from her notebook with a grin. “I like saying boom truck.”


Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer is the Executive Director of the Queens Council on the Arts.

You can find her here:

hoongyee.com 
Instagram @hoongyeelee
Twitter @hylkrakauer


Comment

Comment

Who Knew a Hole in the Wall Could Be So Funny? Construction Update - 10/01/2019

 
Travis, Kate, Willie & Angela

Travis, Kate, Willie & Angela

 

Yes, we are all just fine. 

There are different levels on the floor on our side and on the other side but Angela is going to check with management to see if we can create some kind of ramp. Just another construction detail.

“The width of the gym floors is different so you’ll see how we had to fit them together,” Willie tapped the floor with his boot. “Nice wood, maple.”

 
2.JPG
 

“Weren’t the condensers in the front of the space last time we were here,” asked Hoong Yee.

“Let’s check the roof,” Angela started walking to the back of the space with Kate.

 
Don’t try this at home

Don’t try this at home

 

“Nope, no condensers up here,” Angela called down. Kate was already on the roof snapping pictures. 

“The HVAC guys should be done by tomorrow and they’ll get them up there, one, two, three,” said Willie. I think he was more amazed that Angela could actually get down the ladder in heels than getting the condensers up on the roof with a crane.

 
Facing 47th avenue

Facing 47th avenue

 

On the right side, Willie has the areas for the office, kitchen area, one artist studio and the bathrooms blocked out. The walls should be up by our next meeting.

“We’re going to have our next board meeting in here,” Hoong Yee gestured to the open conference room area where the last of the gym flooring was being pieced together. “Do you think I should get hard hats for everyone?”

 
5.JPG
 

I think that’s a yes.


Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer is the Executive Director of the Queens Council on the Arts.

You can find her here:

hoongyee.com 

Instagram @hoongyeelee

Twitter @hylkrakauer

Comment

Comment

The Stories of Our Space: Construction Update - 09/23/2019

 
Kevin, Matilda & Masud

Kevin, Matilda & Masud

 

Willie and his guys are piecing together pieces of not one, but two, different gym floors.

I like that.

And the story behind it, and the stories that will be built upon it.

This will be a space for working artists, for the creative process, for people walking down 47th avenue to see people making things in the street level window galleries. 

“You want that feeling of building something from nothing. Putting stuff together in a quirky creative way. Isn’t that what artists do?” Enrica poked the slats with her shoe. The guys started drilling. 

 
Our team is growing

Our team is growing

 

I couldn’t agree more. There is something deeply satisfying about giving new energy to a floor that lived a full life in a different form. How a choreographer will be placing dancers on the same wood that basketballs once bounced on. How high school seniors will gather cross legged with their sketchbooks open to practice life drawing skills where countless teams of young gym students practised their full court press drills.

Speaking about stories, here’s another one:

Kevin, pictured with his colleague, Matilda, is a High School to Art School alum who went to art college, graduated and runs his own graphic design company, For Good Measure.

He won the bid to do the branding and marketing work for Queens Council on the Arts, a project generously funded by the Altman Foundation. 

How cool is that? 

What a pleasure it is to see his future forming, his career coming together and for us to be on the receiving end of his maturing talent. 

 
Piecing together the floor

Piecing together the floor

 

Just like the gym floors, his work will become part of the evolving, unexpected, curious, crazy quilt story of our new space. 


Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer is the Executive Director of the Queens Council on the Arts.

You can find her here:

hoongyee.com

Instagram @hoongyeelee

Twitter @hylkrakauer


Comment

2 Comments

QCA Construction Update: And We’re Off! - 09/11/2019

 
Me, Gianna and Masud in our new space

Me, Gianna and Masud in our new space

 

A father, a James Bond lookalike and a restaurateur walk into an empty space.

I can see that eye roll forming as you read this. Oh, great, another bar joke.

What am I getting myself into?

Let me get to the point. 

It is Monday, September 2, 2019, and we are standing in a cavernous place on the ground floor of The Maximilian/Rose NYC, a property of O'Connor Capital Partners.  It is a 12-story full-service luxury rental building in Long Island City that boasts a French bakery on the corner where you can pick up a quelque chose and munch on that as you walk to the waterfront, and the future home of the Queens Council on the Arts.

“Hey, can we get someone from management down here? How about Angela? Did anyone speak to Izzy?” asks Mark, our architect and young father of 2, and spokesperson for our team on the ground. We have our architects, engineer, and contractor here coordinating schedules with the building management people. Finally.

It has taken us just about a year of many meetings, many designs, many disappointments and many weeks of waiting for approvals to get to this point where we can say to Willie, our Irish contractor who bears a startling resemblance to Daniel Craig, the English actor who plays James Bond in Firefall, “We’re good to go!”

Like one U.S. president who was not known for leadership expertise but was reknown for having a brilliant Cabinet, I am very clear about what I don’t know anything about. In this case, construction.

Which is why I have the best team. 

 
The team

The team

 

This is our kick off meeting. We will be on site every week for a construction pow wow from now until January 1, 2020, our scheduled completion date.

Permits will be pulled, the wood flooring we salvaged from a school gym will be set up and work on the door is going to start, all this week. All of us will get lots of meeting recaps and updates.

Gianna, our board president and owner/chef of Manducatis Rustica, a country style Italian restaurant just around the corner on Vernon Boulevard, has already scoped out a place to mount a Go Pro camera to run continually throughout the construction.

 
The space

The space

 

As we were leaving, I turned to Willie and asked, “Does this space look smaller to you than the last time we were here?”

Masud, our development manager, said, “Actually, I think it looks bigger.”

“That is why we are in charge,” said Daniel Craig in that great brogue and with a grin, looking up from the plans.

My perception, of space and construction, is about to be shaken and stirred.

*** 

HoongYee Lee Krakauer is the Executive Director of the Queens Council on the Arts.

You can find her here:

hoongyee.com

Instagram @hoongyeelee

Twitter @hylkrakauer


2 Comments

Comment

Reform: Kerri Edge's Dance Making on Racial Disparities & Criminal Justice

Screen Shot 2019-09-19 at 3.15.19 PM.png

BY ACP ART PRODUCER, SHARON M. CHIN, FOUNDER OF CREATIVE SANCTUM

Within a jail or prison, tap dance shoes are “dangerous contraband,” prohibited for their potential use as weapons.  Kerri Edge, a dance-maker and “artivist” from Jamaica, Queens, weaponizes tap shoes but in a different manner. In her latest dance work, “Reform,” commissioned by the Queen Council on the Arts and 14 other community organizations, Kerri combines individual stories of incarceration and tap-dance rhythms (“tap dance monologues”) to galvanize our attention to the urgency of criminal justice reform.  Premiering September 20, 2019 at the Black Spectrum Theater, “Reform” is a 60-minute visual and performing arts theater piece tracing the plight of African American males in the criminal justice system, making stops at incarceration stages endured within “the system,” including: central booking, an interrogation room, Rikers Island, and other state and federal correctional facilities. Layering vignettes based on the lives of the presently and formerly incarcerated with tap dance, urban political music, poetry, and provocative film footage, “Reform” fuses  inspired dance, emotionally gripping speech, and thought-provoking moments, compelling us to pay attention to racial disparities and the need for reform in the American criminal justice system.

Screen Shot 2019-09-19 at 3.15.30 PM.png
Kerri Edge educating on dance at Edge School of the Arts

Kerri Edge educating on dance at Edge School of the Arts

While Kerri may not have been born a social justice activist, she was born into dancing. Dancing since the age of three, Kerri Edge likes to say “I was born into dancing. My grandmother was a dancer, my mother was a dancer, and I am a dancer.” Kerri trained in African American dances, specifically tap, jazz, and modern,  as well as ballet- beginning at the Bernice Johnson Dance Studio of Jamaica, Queens and continued to NYC’s own fame school, La Guardia High School of the Performing Arts, SUNY Purchase, the Martha Graham school, Alvin Ailey, and more.  As Kerri moved from a dancer into a dance-maker, Kerri became “an ‘artivist’- which basically means that I create work which intersects art with my social justice interests. I seek to make statements with my artistic work versus making political statements.” While Kerri identifies as a dancer, as well as a professor of dance at Medgar Evers College and the founder of the Edge School of the Arts, for the past twenty-four years, Kerri has rarely performed as a dancer. Kerri has instead focused her energy as a choreographer and director- particularly with the mission to help black children understand the importance of their history and to believe in the beauty of being black.

Kerri’s dance work has long focused on the civil rights and racial issues affecting the African American community. Kerri recalls attending elementary school at P.S. 195 in Rosedale, Queens in the 1980s, as one of only 4 other black students, and experiencing being boycotted among other racial incidents. Recognizing the trauma of this experience, “I learned to work through that via my art and I recognized how important it was to discuss issues that black people face… to help other cultures understand who we are.” Kerri’s primary project for the past few years is a dance film entitled “4 Little Girls: Moving Portraits of the American Civil Rights Movement.” The film tells the “story of the 4 little girls who died in the Birmingham church bombing” and began after Kerri recognized that black history was often neglected within public school education. One film scene focused on the letter, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King wrote while in a Birmingham jail, and came to have tap dancers dancing in a prison cell. The tap dancers included former cast members of “Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk,” a 1996 Broadway musical, and proved to be spellbinding. York College administrators, upon seeing the footage and impact, declared “You have to bring this story to the stage. It will be powerful to experience live.” And in January 2019, when Kerri Edge received a Commissioned Work grant from the Queens Council of the Arts, Kerri began to work toward a live stage version.

Reform Cast: Omar Edwards @omaredwardsnyc Abron Glover Jason Samuels Smith @jsamsmif Baakari Wilder @baakari Tai Ducati @taiducati Saiku 720 Branch @afrikanpoetrytheatre_saiku720

If Kerri’s original vision for a stage production focused on the historical civil rights movement, that spring, Kerri had a conversation with a recently released incarcerated friend that catalyzed the production’s evolution. “The stories I was told with with respect to the punitive and cyclical nature of the penal system, in particular for the black community, shocked me, outraged me- and I felt that my dance piece needed to evolve to incorporate our contemporary realities.“ And thus “Reform,” which focuses on the racial disparities in the American criminal justice system and the lasting effects on both the African American family and the community at large was birthed. Kerri notes “We started to research individual stories- from the start of the penal system in the Angola state prison to the experience of solitary confinement in New York today. People don’t recognize that a large percentage of our men [black men] are impacted. They don’t understand what happens inside and how many black individuals return so quickly into the system.” And Kerri knew that tap dance, a dance form with deep African-American roots, would be an incredible vehicle for furthering attention to this topic, noting “I’ve often felt that dancers are supreme beings. They can get their message across visually and be less offensive. By communicating in a more universal way- a way without words- they communicate without offending. It creates room for dialogue where otherwise there might be none.

Reform Alliance’s Meek Mill: Rapper Meek Mill was the victim of the miscarriage of justice. His experiences are leading him to speak out:

There’s the adage “It takes a village” and if “Reform” were a baby, there’s a host of community support and collaborators behind it. Politically, the project is loosely aligned with Reform Alliance, an advocacy organization inspired by rapper Meek Mill’s own incarceration experiences that seeks to “dramatically reduce the number of people who are unjustly under the control of the criminal justice system – starting with probation and parole.” The project has the support of local politicians, including Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman and New York State Senator Leroy Comrie and 14 arts organizations, from Cultural Collaborative Jamaica and Rehabilitation Through the Arts. Artistically, acclaimed tappers include Jason Samuel Smith, Abron Glover, Baakari Wilder, and Omar Edwards. “These individuals are masters at their craft and if tap dance is an inherently improvisational dance of self-expression, I trust so much in the individual choices of these performers- whether Jason is subtle and Omar is boisterous.” Audience members can expect musicians BayoFaymei, joined by Charles Bartlett, Dougie Baldeo, from Kinky Boots, providing two monologues, and the MARSHALL PROJECT, providing us with Yusef’s Salaam’s The Exonerated 5 “We are Witnesses”

Cast member, Omar Edwards, at the QCA Preview at the Queens Botanical Gardens with Y? Guyadin on guitar.

With 6.6 million individuals in the U.S. penal system and approximately a 30% national recidivism rate that disproportionately affects people of color, the impacts of the current U.S. penal system are widespread and deeply felt. And with this topic being discussed more prominently in recent days, including at the September 2019 democratic primary debate, momentum on this conversation has perhaps never been stronger. Brendez Wineglass, a former Edge School of the Arts alum and Jamaica QCA Arts Commissioner describes how Kerri’s voice is contributing to the conversation: “Kerri’s eclectic, methodical, and somewhat anal in her methodology- but it all pays off because you see a final masterpiece. From conception to now- I have been blown away at the artistry that is committed to executing the project- blown away by ability & use of community ties. The project has a life past September 20th and will continue to give voice to the under-served. Trust me, this work is timely, inspiring, and audiences are not going to be disappointed.” And for Kerri, when asked on her ambitions for the impact of this piece, hopefully declares “I want people to be moved to take this issue seriously. I hope there is increased empathy. If this inspires one person to write a letter to their congressperson, hire an ex-convict, or send money to a relative in jail, then “Reform” will have catalyzed the criminal justice reform our society needs.”

 
reform_postcardA_r1.jpg
 

More from Kerri Edge

Kerri Edge

Kerri Edge

Where Can we See You Next: ””Reform” will premiere September 20 and 21, 2019 at the Black Spectrum Theater and November  23 and 24 in Washington, D.C. Follow us at https://www.reformlive.nyc/ for more.”

Who Are You Watching: “Dule Hill- He is a noise funk university alumni who has taken dance super far and  who also remains down to earth and is truthful. He’s also passionate about bail reform. Edgar Godineaux - he is from Jamaica Queens and has been a music video performer since 15. He was recently the assistant choreographer for Temptations: The Musical.  Omar Edwards- one of my tap dancers, is also growing rapidly as a dancer and artist- using it for healing himself and others. David Sincere Aiken creates music videos & is an ESOTA alum who I follow as a choreographer, dancer, and rapper.”

Who Inspires You: “I am inspired by the legacy of those who came before me. For the African American community, when writing and other forms of education were denied to us, the arts and being creative were one of the sole vehicles to pass down traditions. I am inspired to carry on the legacy of Bernice Johnson, who broke color lines as a Cotton Club dancer, and influenced so many artists, from Ashanti to Ben Vereen to Michael Peters.”

One Fun Fact: “I love Michael Jackson. Michael Peters was my teacher and the choreographer behind Thriller- so I learned Thriller and Beat it before Michael Jackson did.”

Published on 9/19/19 at The Creative Sanctum. The Creative Sanctum is a digital magazine, shining a spotlight on the creative process and behind-the-scenes efforts of innovative and adventurous artists. Via in-depth artist interviews and engagement with both finished and in-progress works across all mediums and forms, Creative Sanctum offers insights and deeper conversation on the current projects, artistic development, and passion behind today’s inspired artists





Comment

Colors of Us: Claire Marie Lim’s Electronic Album Amplifying Asian American Female Voices

Comment

Colors of Us: Claire Marie Lim’s Electronic Album Amplifying Asian American Female Voices

BY ACP ART PRODUCER, SHARON M. CHIN, FOUNDER OF CREATIVE SANCTUM

Credit: Sean Chee

Credit: Sean Chee

Sitting on the lush, green grass at the Lewis Latimer House in Flushing, Queens, 40 listeners are actively grooving and pulsing to the electronic music of Claire Marie Lim. It’s a preview party for Colors of Us, Claire Marie Lim’s soon-to-debut electronic music album inspired by the experience of Asian-American female youth from Queens.  If the demographic sounds oddly specific, and, indeed it is, the music and lyrical messages regarding identity, empowerment, and emotion, powerfully resonate. Claire Marie Lim is a brilliant music technologist- capable of E. Pluribus Unum, amalgamating many individual voices and sounds with lucid and catchy clarity, of making a multitude chorus into a singular amplified voice.

Claire Marie Lim, aka dolltr!ck, is a music technologist- composing and producing music made with computers and technology. Claire notes this often “manifests via music composition and production and DJ-ing on the radio.” And at 23 years young, petite, female, Asian, and quite baby faced, Claire has often been met with skepticism and challenged in her identity as an electronic musician. Claire recalls “I’ve walked into countless industry spaces where I am the only female identifying musician and I’m often been mistaken for the DJ’s girlfriend and not the DJ. There’s this perception that Asian females don’t become electronic musicians , but that’s sexism and racism.” For Claire, this experience has fueled her desire to be more visible and to embrace her identity as a female Asian electronic music technologist. “I know how powerful mentors and role models can be and when young Asian women see other young Asian women doing this, the realm of what’s possible becomes just a bit larger. I wished for these examples when I was younger.”

Credit: USC Annenberg Women in Music 2019 Study

Credit: USC Annenberg Women in Music 2019 Study

Looking at USC Annenberg’s 2019 women in music industry study, women are lacking in representation and numbers.  Disturbingly women approximate only 2.1%  of producers and 21.7% of artists within the music industry. And for women in the recording studio, many face objectification, being dismissed, or serving as the sole female identifying individual. Claire keenly felt this even as a student at Berklee College of Music, and by studying ethnomusicology and dance music culture in addition to music technology, she became more aware of where she came from (Asian, Singapore) and how important this lineage was both to her and to potentially her ethnic community at large. “In 2018, I actually had a wake-up moment on how powerful embracing identity was to me. I was invited to play in honor of Berkee’s new electronic music undergraduate major and I invited 4 other musicians to work with me. We performed one of my original songs called “Chemistry” about standing up for yourself and doing what you were meant to do. And I recognized that 4 of the 5 musicians were Asian and female, and I was so proud to see all us (an Indian, a Korean, a Malaysian, a Singaporean, and an Argentinian) being unapologetically who we are, combining our individual talents and sounds to make a more unique and powerful sound.”  

Video of Chemistry Performance at Berklee College of Music

When Claire saw the Queen Council of the Arts Commissioned Art grant opportunity in October 2018, she was inspired by the prospect of creating an outlet for Asian-American youth to see themselves in music. She conceived of an electronic music album made with the voices and creativity of female-identifying youth of Asian descent from Queens- “recognizing that girls in many Asian families are often treated differently from their male counterparts. And sometimes by focusing on a specific group, we can start to build more openness.” Claire conducted intimate workshops and gatherings with over 50 youth from middle and high schools in Queens, sharing both her music DJ and composer career, demonstrating music composition technology, and then collaborating collectively on music production. Claire was struck by how engaged the students became in electronic composition, once they had the space to voice their ideas and understood how accessible it was. One middle school student, Emily, from Taiwan/Flushing noted “I could never do this with my parents, my two older brothers- but I love doing this and being here with you.”

            Conducting “word vomit exercises, students would spit out phrases and ideas describing their goals and concerns about identity, with various themes repeatedly emerging. For Claire, one powerful concept begged to be morphed to song. “the idea of choosing to be a leader versus a follower.” In Asian families, where the family identity often supersedes individual identity and choosing to listen is perceived and rewarded as a desired trait, Claire notes “choosing to be a leader instead of a follower- in the context of school or family- becomes a choice. This theme became “Follow” and it’s the song I’m proudest of ideating. “ The lyrics point to the strength of the community and role reversal, noting “take my hand this time, we’re going to make the stars align.”

Credit: Creative Sanctum @ Colors of Us Listening Party@ Lewis Latimer House

Credit: Creative Sanctum @ Colors of Us Listening Party@ Lewis Latimer House

At the preview listening party, Claire noted “If Colors of Us were to have some highlights, they would probably be “Hello” and “Skylight.” Hello emerges with voice recordings from workshop participants, stating greetings, origins, and hopes. Claire quickly realized many of the concerns from the youth participants were universal across Asian American women and she broadened her collection of voices to the NYC Asian Creative Network (ACN), a FB based group, soliciting “introductions” and recorded speeches, which Claire then amalgamated into the beautiful “Hello”.   “Skylight” is another powerful and upbeat track, in which Asian-Americans, familiar with the concept of the ‘bamboo ceiling,’  are reminded to stay ambitious and to “light the sky.”

Colors of Us will officially premiere on September 15, 2019 at the Queens Borough Botanical Gardens. Viewers can expect a selection of songs grounded in electronics but eclectic in term of genre; “You will hear electronic pop, tropical house, and drum & bass. I was originally  a classically trained pianist and flautist- and  if you listen closely, you can hear Bach and other classical influences.” Participants can expect to hear the songs in person at the world premiere, and be ready to dance, claps hands, and move in solidarity with the music. The album will also be available as a free digital album on September 13th. Claire notes “I was once a kid with no pocket money and I want this album to be available to anyone and everyone digitally. I want these voices and themes to accessible and these voices will live on in my future work. And I would be thrilled if this inspired other voices to let themselves be heard.”  Claire, in embracing her identity deeply,  empowers her own voice and all the amalgamated voices with the vibrantly engaging electronic music of Colors of Us.

Credit: Queens Couuncil on the Arts

Credit: Queens Couuncil on the Arts

Credit: Queens Council on the Arts

Credit: Queens Council on the Arts

More from Claire Marie Lim

Where can we see you next:Sunday, September 15th, 4pm in the Queens Botancial Garden will be the premiere. You can join my mailing list at https://www.dolltrick.com to be kept in the loop for my new music and future shows. On September 13th, you’ll be able to stream Colors of Us on digital platforms like YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, and Bandcamp!”

Why dolltr!ck? dolltr!ck is my artist alter ego and it came about as an accident. I  took a lesson in college on turntablism – which was a lot deeper than I thought it would be- and our first assignment was to come up with a DJ name. My peers often joked that I looked like a doll and I knew I wanted to have a trick or two up my sleeve, so I decided to go with dolltr!ck! dolltr!ck is more free spirited whereas Claire Marie Lim can be a bit more instructional.”

 Who are you watching:  “I’m definitely watching TOKiMONSTA, a Korean American electronic music producer - who is the first Asian American woman to be nominated for a GRAMMY for Best Dance/Electronic Album. She’s a proponent of lifting up younger people and is proud of her heritage and story. I also like Conrad Tao - who excels at electronic music composition - taking what has influenced him in life and rephrasing that musically for other people. Also Igudesman & Joo - a classical music comedy duo - who take their passion for music, combined with comedy, to make it relevant for others.”

 How has NYC influenced your work: “Diversity, diversity, diversity. And representation! Just being able to see NYC pride and how open everyone was, I felt such joy for being in this space .If any city encourages you to be who you are, it’s New York. I feel like NYC gives Colors of Us a place to stand.”

 One fun fact: “I am obsessed with food- particularly Singaporean food. My guilty pleasure is char-kway-teow, a noodle dish that has dark soy sauce, and little cockles, and noodles. Oh, and soup dumplings! Is that my mouth watering or yours?”

__

 Published on 8/31/19 at The Creative Sanctum. The Creative Sanctum is a digital magazine, shining a spotlight on the creative process and behind-the-scenes efforts of innovative and adventurous artists. Via in-depth artist interviews and engagement with both finished and in-progress works across all mediums and forms, Creative Sanctum offers insights and deeper conversation on the current projects, artistic development, and passion behind today’s inspired artists

Comment

Comment

Trigger Warning: Behind The Scenes of Shooter

Screen Shot 2019-07-30 at 3.27.50 PM.png

Trigger Warning: Behind The Scenes of Shooter, An Immersive Theater Project on Gun Violence

Shooter will premiere August 3, 2019 at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning.

Shooter will premiere August 3, 2019 at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning.

By ACP Art Producer, Sharon M. Chin, founder of Creative Sanctum

At the corner of Sutphin Boulevard and Jamaica Avenue in Jamaica, Queens, the summer daylight is beginning to fade and I feel anxious as I prepare to watch Shooter, an experimental theatre experience on gun violence. With my pulse running more rapidly than usual, I’m uneasy, knowing that the fourth wall is about to break as participants are asked to role-play in an incident of  gun-violence.  Developed by immersive arts playwright, Y? Guyadin (Yogi Guyadin), and divided into two Acts, Shooter explores the complex power dynamics between victim and perpetrator in a gun violence incident. Staged at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, Act 1 audience members actively role-play as the "Shooter" or the "shot," probing on the question “With gun violence, who is the victim: the Shooter or the shot?” Act 2 continues to explore this dynamic through Y?’s own harrowing and often painful autobiographical experiences with friends, family, mentees, and gun violence.

In the wake of Trayvon Martin, Ferguson, Parkland,  and far too many similar headlines, American artists feel increasingly compelled to confront gun violence and police brutality. With gun violence often a brutally political and divisive topic, artists recognize the power of their medium to open up more welcoming places for dialogue, to create spaces less for judgement and more for listening, questioning, and empathizing. Y? fully subscribes to this opportunity and notes that “success as an artist is defined not by an audience commenting on a piece they’ve seen but by an audience internally reflecting on what they’ve seen.” Y? purposefully designed Act 1 to accelerate introspection as each audience member is thrust into a  scenario where one is patted down by security, asked to follow rules with no questions asked, and confronted with a gun. After walking through caution tape and staring into bright heady police lights, one finds oneself with a heavy-weighted realistic pistol (prop) in hand and an anonymous voice directing you to shoot the stranger, the person before you. As you move between the roles of the Shooter and the shot, as you stare into the eyes of the person before you, you feel uneasy, forced to determine how to act, and to confront the emotions elicited by this intense immersion.

Y? is a recipient of the Queens Council of the Arts Commissioned Arts program as a playwright. Y, however, notes “I’m not a playwright. I got paid to be a playwright. But, art is everything, and everything is art.” And Shooter, which is reflective of his own autobiographical experiences with gun violence, is also a culmination of Y’s  cumulative artistic toolbox from 12 years as an artist. As the child of West Indian immigrants who encouraged more practical vocations over creative ones, Y?’s artistic beginnings began as an adult who studied musical instruments and audio engineering. Attending audio school, Y? intended to make audio engineering his profession;  the technology of the industry, however, abruptly changed and this specific professional ambition disappeared. Y felt compelled to continue to work creatively and discovered Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Taking the message “theater is a tool of liberation,” Y? discovered teaching artist work and began to work with students on responding to critical issues through art. Y? was given the opportunity to design his own immersive program with BEAT Global (Bridging Education and Art Together), where he initially focused on the issue of gun violence, and this experience with students inspired him to further grow his work. Y? also began to work with the Playback theater, primarily from a sound perspective, and once had to play the part of a cast member who did not show up. Y received very positive feedback on his acting, which gave him the courage to put himself on the stage. Y? began to invest in the “power of theater as an umbrella” to capture his love of music, immersive experiences, and acting and decided to move forward with the long form art of playwrighting and immersive art.

Screen Shot 2019-07-30 at 3.28.24 PM.png

As Act I gives way to Act II, Shooter Act II continues to be an intense experience. Presented by Y? himself, the piece follows Y’s repeated experiences with gun violence. We begin with Y? as a child who remembers the sounds of Jamaica, from playing with cap guns and throwing glass bottles into the sky until “they crashed to the floor like diamonds.” With some profanity and 90s hip hop, the piece follows his “troubled” childhood vis-a-vis his original childhood ambition-- to “be a cop to fight the bad guys.” As Y? matures, Y? has encounters with authority that challenge his perception of good and bad. His tale poignantly follows a friend lost to gun violence, a police officer family member who commits suicide by gun, and a student who becomes a victim of gun violence upon moving to “safe suburbia.” Y? uses rap, spoken word, visual imagery, dance, and a hip hop and rap soundtrack based on both original composition and the nostalgia of his youth to share these experiences. Y? found catharsis and healing in producing Shooter, noting “If you don’t learn a lesson in life, it’ll keep hitting you hard until you get it.”

In terms of creating Shooter, Y? retreated to his “shed- an internal place for thought, solitude, and effort” to write the work. While Shooter may at times feel like a one man show, Y? involved many collaborators in the development of this work- trusting their feedback and experiences as a guide. And notably each collaborator possesses their own story with gun violence-“ I picked each collaborator strategically for their gun violence experience- from a friend who served 5 years for using a gun in self defense against rape to individuals with martial arts and military background where gun use was normalized.” The genesis for Shooter also began several years ago during a roadtrip to Florida; Y? and eventual collaborators, Ayano Hirose (Projection and Set Design) and Anthony Irving (Light/Sound/Production) were pulled over by two officers on I95 for essentially driving while colored. After being held and interrogated for an extensive time, Y? notes “We were supposed to feel lucky we were let off with a warning, but really we were held without cause and had our rights violated in every sense of the word. It made me so angry- that we had to deal with this mindf*ckery-and I sat with that feeling. I was questioning who were the actual thugs in this scenario- - and with Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, and all the other gun violence and police brutality issues on social media, I felt compelled to write.” And indeed, Y? wrote, with lyrics from these incidents pervading his work. He writes “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. Till he can’t breathe- get your hands off me / You better listen to me/You got that weed.” Y? would emerge from his shed- having written his long form work- and would run it by his collaborators with 2-3 iterations or variants. He would take feedback seriously until the strongest form of his writing found resonance with his audience. He would also trust in his collaborators- including Michael “Theatrics” Grant- for a dance piece- to allow movement to continue to say what words could not fully express.

Screen Shot 2019-07-30 at 3.28.37 PM.png

 As Act II nears completion, we end with the song Shooter. There is a powerful hook, where Ayano, a female voice, sings “If I saw you as my brother would we understand each other/ If I saw you as my brother/ My brother/ My brother.” The music of the piece crescendos and rests into silence during this piece and it is easy to get swept up into thought, to reflect on what we’ve just seen, and to reflect on how the choices made by various Act 1 participants when confronted with a gun in hand. As Shooter Act II concludes, I am reminded of historian Simon Schama who once noted “The power of the greatest art is the power to shake us into revelation and rip us from our default mode of seeing. After an encounter with that force, we don’t look at a face, a color, a sky, a body, in quite the same way again. We get fitted with new sight: in-sight.” Shooter with its immersive of Act 1 and the catharsis and empathy created by Act II,  prods us into contemplating how deeply unacceptable and disturbing gun violence is, and of the myriad factors that make us all victims of it.

Shooter Front.jpg

Based on 10 runs of Act 1, Shooter will officially premiere on August 3rd at the Jamaica Centerfor Arts and Learning leading with an exhibition and the official version of Act II. The show will be free and Y? hopes that people from the community will show up in force. “I want people to see quality art from people in our neighborhood- from people who look and speak like people from Jamaica. I want people who have trauma to see this show. I want people to know they can make this journey and come back stronger.”  And with Shooter offering introspective questions over defined morals and answers, audience members are asked to reflect on the root causes of gun violence and to witness art as a response for healing trauma. Y?, with a grin, also notes that, “every Act II can have an Act III, so there may be additional surprises for Shooter.”


More from Y?

yf6.jpg

Where Can We See You NextShooter will be at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning on August 3rd. The performance is free! Follow us on https://www.Shooterart.com/ for future performances.

Who are You Watching: “I study people for both their career and for their artistic output- and my top influences are Lin Manuel, Miguel Pinero, and John Leguizamo. Lin Manuel-Miranda in inspiring to me for his paving the way and opening up doors for multidisciplinary artists like me. For their specific artistic outputs and craft, I admire Miguel Pinero, founder of the Nuyorican Poetry club and writer of Short Eyes, and John Leguizamo who originally bought his one man show to Broadway. Jon is from Queens and I relate to his stories.”

What Are You Influenced by: “I’m also a musician and enjoy how music reflects emotion. I listen to a lot of instrumental and classical music, music without words- and it’s amazing to me how orchestral music with 77 instruments can amalgamate their individual sounds to be one thing. I especially like Jazz (Johnny Payte- arranger for Curtis Mayfield; Adrienne Younge for scoring)  and rachet trap (Tierra Whack) .”

What Has the QCA Grant Meant to You: “I learned so much on how to produce work- from an end to end long form perspective- through this grant. I hope to continue to see people of color earn grants to realize their artistic ambitions and bring their voices to the stage. This is my first grant and I intend to keep iterating my work. Shooter will be my Hamilton- the piece that puts me on the map.”

How was NYC or Queens Influenced Your Work: “All these stories are more or less within 1 mile of the JCAL- right by Suphtin Blvd. My opening line begins with the sounds of the streets of Jamaica and I than use stories based in Manhattan and other parts of NYC. “

How did you become Y?: “I was born Yogi and as a music artist, I used to be Why?- until another artist with the same moniker became more famous than me. I was forced to rebrand and became the essence of contemplation with Y?”

One Fun Fact: “Monday is my favorite day of the week-and I use it to work hard on my passions. It means I do what I love.”

 
Published on 7/30/19 at The Creative Sanctum. The Creative Sanctum is a digital magazine, shining a spotlight on the creative process and behind-the-scenes efforts of innovative and adventurous artists. Via in-depth artist interviews and engagement with both finished and in-progress works across all mediums and forms, Creative Sanctum offers insights and deeper conversation on the current projects, artistic development, and passion behind today’s inspired artists

Comment

Comment

5 Tips for Your High School to Art School Application

Thinking of applying to our High School to Art School program? Helping our student or child put together the application? Here are a few tips to make your application stand out.

But first, more important than any of these tips is the deadline:
be sure to get your application in by June 1!

be thorough

hand-writing-close-up-animated-gif.gif

You don’t have to write a novel, but roughly a solid paragraph per question can’t hurt - enough to give us a sense of who you are and why you want to attend this program. When we see one or two incomplete sentences, we wonder if you really invested in participating in this program. Also, be sure to use formal language rather than something you would put in a text message or email. Capitalize your “i”s, use punctuation - edit your writing the same way you would if you were submitting an important paper for school.

2. don’t be shy about sharing why you need the program

223.jpg

Everyone likes to be needed, and our program is no exception. In fact, the purpose of the program is to make an incredible arts education accessible (and get you into a great art school, of course). So if you want to be part of High School to Art School because your school doesn’t offer many art programs, or your parents can’t afford to send you to a tuition-based program, tell us! These are things that we really care about.

3. it’s not all about the portfolio (really)

giphy.gif

We would much rather have a student that is passionate, committed, and wants to learn than someone who has it all figured it out (because no one does). Or maybe you do have it all figured out, in which case we applaud you, but then why do you need the program (see point #2)?

You can say, for instance, that your observational drawing skills aren’t where you want them to be right now, and that you’d like to work on them. That’s a good reason to apply to this program! We honestly look more for interest and dedication than a perfect portfolio.

4. do your homework

21a1cab3-e5ba-4611-b4a8-a9bf72ed3269_rw_600.gif

Before applying, make sure to read through our High School to Art School Page, and get a sense of what session is right for you (spoiler: it could be all of them; we have students that start with us in the Spring, and continue on through our Summer and Fall Sessions, and we welcome that). But think about it: if you’re convinced, say, that the Summer Session is perfect for you, and you tell us why, we’ll be more likely to agree.

5. check your email

WarpedVastBluegill-small.gif

While this may hardly feel like a tip, but we have students that make it all the way to our interview process - or are even accepted into the program - and we never hear back from them. And we have to give away their spot to another candidate. How else are we supposed to get in touch with you? We don’t have the budget for a carrier pigeon.

Now that you’re armed with the best information, take the next step!

All researched and ready? Go ahead and apply for the Summer Session here! We just ask a few questions and for some images of your work.

Learn about what the Summer Program has to offer, review the program schedule, read about our accomplished alumni, and more.

Comment

SU-CASA @ JSPOA THEODORA JACKSON

Comment

SU-CASA @ JSPOA THEODORA JACKSON

Cecilia Lim, 2019 SU-CASA Artist-in-Residence

Cecilia Lim, 2019 SU-CASA Artist-in-Residence

The SU-CASA Artist-in-Residence program places artists in senior centers across the city in an effort to improve the quality of life of our city’s elders. This year socially-engaged visual artist Cecilia Lim was a SU-CASA Artist-in-Residence at JSPOA Theodora Jackson in Jamaica, Queens. Cecilia’s final event with her students culminated in “Queens Elders Rise!”, an exhibition of visual art. The presentation shared the elders’ work in drawing, writing, storytelling, and book-making. The final event also featured a video of the students’ progress throughout their classes and the impact that making art has had on their lives (you can check it out HERE).

Cecilia and her students

Cecilia and her students

To learn more about how the arts can positively impact the quality of life of older adults, please join us on May 15th for our second annual Creative Aging Conference, “Aging with Dignity through a Creative Lens.” We will cover topics including resources and best practices in creative aging; the impact of the growth and changing demographics of New York City’s older adult population; and ways that artists and institutions serving the older adult population can work together. It’s open to artists, arts educators, social services, workers, and anyone committed to serving our city’s elders. RSVP HERE.

Comment

1 Comment

Hustle For Your Worth: Behind the Scenes with Art Producer LaNeese Ray

Jamaica-based Art Producer and visionary behind upcoming Artist Commissioning Program event Hustle for Your Worth sat down with QCA to talk about the role of an art producer, professional development for artists, and the relationship between arts practitioners and community.

Copy of Hustle For Your Worth - Kelly Edits.png

Held on friday, May 3 from 5 - 7pm
at Jamaica Central Library,
Hustle for Your Worth
is a free professional development event
for artists and community members
covering the topics of Art Law, Branding,
Finance, and Networking.
Read more and RSVP below!

QCA: Tell us about yourself! What made you want to be part of the Artist Commissioning Program?

Laneese Ray.jpg

LaNeese Ray: I am a dancer and choreographer who was born and raised in Queens. I grew up training and finding my love for dance and the arts here, so this is where it all started for me. The Artist Commissioning Program is a great way to connect with fellow artists, provide support to them using the knowledge I've learned over the years, and develop myself on the opposite side of the art.

I started college and my career at the same time outside of New York and it took me leaving home to ignite a fire in me because I no longer had my comfort zone. It was great for me to leave but I feel it's always great to give back to a community that gave so much to you.

For more about Laneese, read her full bio here.

The Artist Commissioning Program is a great way to connect with fellow artists, provide support to them using the knowledge I’ve learned over the years, and develop myself on the opposite side of the art.
— LaNeese Ray

QCA: After selecting the artist grantees through a panel process, the ACP enters this sort of artist-support and event-planning phase. What sorts of things have you been up to recently as an Art Producer representing Jamaica?

As art producers, we have the experience of being invited to see the creative process of the grantees’ projects .

LaNeese: Right now I have been working on organizing the Hustle for Your Worth event.

 I've booked speakers and guests for the event that I think will benefit the community. I've also been able to collaborate with some of my fellow art producers and the grantees for the event as well.

As art producers, we also have the experience of being invited to see the creative process of the grantees' projects and we're starting to see what the artists have been working on since they received their grants. We give any feedback or assistance that they ask for to make their premieres a success.

QCA: As an art producer, you were tasked with organizing an event for the Artist Commissioning Program. Why did you decide to organize a professional development workshop? Do you see professional practices for artists as a discrete need in our field?

When I was brainstorming the type of  event that I wanted to organize...I knew I wanted to do something not only for the grantees but for the artist community. Professional Development is so important for artists because we work in an industry that is constantly evolving with the times.

LaNeese: When I was brainstorming the type of  event that I wanted to organize, I felt the most passionate about having a professional development workshop.

I knew I wanted to do something not only for the grantees but for the artist community. Professional Development is so important for artists because we work in an industry that is constantly evolving with the times. No matter how great your message is or how great your work is, if you don't adapt with the times that you live in it is easy to not find the connection with the audience that you want to reach.

Artists are always working on their art and I wanted to have an event that helped to give resources that help developed the business of their craft as well. It can take years to find out exactly how you want to introduce your art to the world and there will be many trials and errors to get to a place where you not only see growth but also build longevity.

QCA: For your event, Hustle for Your Worth, you chose to focus on the topics of branding, vision boards, art law, and finance for artists. What made you decide on these topics?

LaNeese: Being around artists that were trying to establish themselves, some of the biggest discussions that always occur were the lack of knowledge on how to negotiate or draft a contract that works for them. Artists also struggle finding ways to promote themselves and their work using the technology that is out now especially in New York where there is a huge saturation of artists. It can be really frustrating and scary because sometimes you don't know where to start. We're in an age where getting the information is so easy because of Google and smartphones, but can we say it's always truthful and helpful information?

QCA: What can participants expect for the Hustle for Your Worth event? How do you see the evening unfolding?

LaNeese: Participants can expect to ask questions and find out information about topics such as Art Law, Branding, Finance, and Networking from people that truly live and breathe it and know it inside and out. They can also expect to be introduced to the Artist Commissioning Program Grantees for the Jamaica community (Kerri Edge and Y? Guyadin), learning how these artists were able to create a brand that resonated with the art producers, and will get one-on-one time to talk to them.

QCA: What do you hope that Jamaica-based artists and community members walk away with after this workshop?

I hope [artists] walk away feeling like they found a community... sometimes people need to find their tribe, and I hope any Jamaica artists that attends realizes their own community wants to support what they do.

LaNeese: I hope that they walk away feeling like they found a community that genuinely will help and support them. I hope that they not only find some information to enhance their work but find a network of like minded people through not only the speakers but the other guests that attend as well.

Sometimes people need to find their tribe, and I hope any Jamaica artists that attends realizes that their own community wants to support what they do.


LaNeese’s Artist Commissioning Program (ACP) event, Hustle for Your Worth,
will take place at jamaica central library (main plaza) on may 3, 2019 from 5 - 7pm. event is free and open to the public.

1 Comment