Rooted in Neighborhood: Bx Artists Working in Their Communities
**This event is free and open to the public, but space is limited! Please RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join A Blade of Grass and BronxArtSpace for a conversation on the different ways artists and cultural anchors create the Bronx’s physical and social community gathering spaces in our ever changing city.
We’ll begin with the public premiere of a new short film about Higher Sails, a design workshop facilitated by A Blade of Grass Fellow Ronny Quevedo. Through the workshop, Bronx teens developed a new visual identity for local restaurant La Morada to communicate its role as a community anchor in Mott Haven and the culture of its owners. Quevedo will be joined by La Morada’s Marco and Yajaira Saavedra, long-time immigrant rights activists, in a conversation moderated by Bronx Documentary Center co-founder Danielle Jackson.
We’ll also be joined by other Bronx-based artists and organizers who maintain a committed yet varied practice of working locally, including artist and educator Blanka Amezkua, BX200 Bronx Visual Artist Directory Founder Laura James, and Sharon Lee De La Cruz, who will reflect on the following questions:
- Why is it important to root your art practice in the Bronx—how does it inspire you, and how do you give back to it?
- Does your creative work honor and build upon the legacy of Bronx cultural workers that came before you? How?
- How do you see the cultural ecosystems of the Bronx, and how do you choose to operate within them?
Light refreshments from La Morada will be provided.
About the Presenters:
Ronny Quevedo’s artistic practice is an examination of the vernacular languages and aesthetic forms generated by displacement, migration, and resilience. Inspired by his own family history and migration from Ecuador to the Bronx, Quevedo skillfully transcribes graphics of locality, community, and remembered environments directly into his work. This process often results in imagery that serves simultaneously as an homage to the narratives of historically marginalized peoples, and a platform for dialogue and community engagement on continued practices of marginalization. Quevedo’s Higher Sails project was supported by an A Blade of Grass Fellowship for Socially Engaged Art in 2017.
La Morada is an undocumented family-owned and operated Oaxacan restaurant in the South Bronx. Its goal is to preserve and share indigenous Mexican cuisine with neighbors and friends. La Morada loves sharing culture, art, and community initiatives while actively participating in social justice causes. Owned and operated by Natalia Mendez and Antonio Saavedra and their three adult children, La Morada has been an anchor for its South Bronx community for a decade.
Danielle Jackson has worked with leading photographers, filmmakers, and cultural institutions to develop projects, partnerships, and initiatives for social impact. She is a fellow-in-residence at NYU’s Center for Experimental Humanities and the co-founder and former co-director of the Bronx Documentary Center. She is on the faculty at Stanford in New York and at the International Center of Photography.
Blanka Amezkua is a Mexican-born, bicultural (Mexico/USA) mestiza artist, cultural promoter, educator and project initiator. Formally trained as a painter, her practice is greatly influenced and informed by folk art and popular culture. She currently runs AAA3A (Alexander Avenue Apartment 3A), an alternative art space in the living room of her home in Mott Haven, South Bronx.
Laura James has been working as a professional artist and illustrator for over twenty years. In addition to painting sacred images from various religions, she portrays women, families, and scenes of everyday life; blending intricate patterns, text, vibrant colors, and sometimes surreal imagery into what she calls "art for the people." Laura is also the originator and Executive Director of BX200 Bronx Visual Artist Directory, an online database of some of the Bronx’s best visual artists. BX200 also presents events and art exhibitions around the city, makes numerous studio visits with Bronx artists, and exposes their art worldwide.
Sharon Lee De La Cruz is a multi-disciplinary artist and activist from New York City. Her thought-provoking pieces address a range of issues related to tech, social justice, sexuality, and race. De La Cruz’s work ranges from comics, graffiti, and public-art murals to more recent explorations in interactive sculptures, animation, and coding. As the assistant director of The StudioLab, a creative tech lab at Princeton University, De La Cruz is an advocate for bridging the accessibility gap in STEM education.
About the Host:
BronxArtSpace is a non-profit gallery that promotes the innovative ideas of underrepresented and emerging artists and curators. Started in 2008 by Linda Cunningham and Mitsu Hadeishi, BronxArtSpace is dedicated to exhibiting the highest quality artwork from the Bronx and around the world. BAS’s mission is to foster dialogue around the contemporary local, national and global issues while advancing local arts education and opportunities.
Image courtesy RAVA Films.