It’s been an embarrassingly long time since I’ve written a post, so here goes . . . If you have a chance, please check out the new projects posted in the “Work” section of my site- there, you will find many new photos of recent work.
In December, I was excited to be invited to Amnesty International’s Art for Rights event in New Orleans, where I focused my work on a campaign to free Teodora del Carmen Vasquez in El Salvador. At work one day in 2008, in the 9th month of her pregnancy, Teodora tragically suffered a stillbirth. She was then arrested and charged with “aggravated homicide” and has been sentenced to 30 years in prison. Amnesty is working to free her, and you can learn more about her story and how you can help here.
At the end of last year I also wrapped up a long project at Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx. Tired of the lack of safe and affordable exercise facilities in their community, the hospital and neighborhood worked with me to transform the first 3 floors of their massive stairwell into a wellness and exercise facility of sorts. See more in my gallery! Both the planning and installation were massive team efforts and I so loved working with the Lincoln family. My dear friend Eric Okdeh even came up from Philly to help install. Hopefully in the next year or two we will take the mural all the way up to the 12th floor.
Currently, I’m working on a couple of books and a couple of murals in their early stages.
Vito Valdez, longtime Detroit muralist and dear friend of mine, and I won a Knight Arts Challenge grant to create a mural in Southwest Detroit, centered around peace and non-violence. We will be working with many families, members of law enforcement, and other community members who have been personally impacted by gun violence in the SW community. We are painting on a wall where an Aztec shield was painted in the early 90’s, an effort to halt gang violence by rival members. The project wasn’t finished then, but we intend to do so. We are currently fundraising for our matching grant and beginning to have community meetings. Any leads on fundraising for this project are more than welcome!
I’m also back working with Philadelphia’s Mural Arts program. A couple of years ago, my friend Kien Nguyen and I created this mural with a team of young men in various detention facilities in and around Philadelphia. Now, we are going to paint the other side of the wall and have begun meetings with the local community about the concept. The first mural, “Heavy Blanket,” reflected a still moment of contemplation and identity. The central figure considering his identity within the context of our nation’s “heavy blanket” of racial and ethnic discrimination. For the opposing side, we intend to utilize similar visual motifs, but focus on lightness and motion, and how the youth of the Smith Playground community see themselves as active, healthy beings. Design coming soon! Here’s the crew from an early design session.
Caleb Neelon and I have also done a couple of new projects, both at Welling Court in Long Island City, Queens. Last year’s was about Kalief Browder (please read). This year, we did our project related to the Flint Water Crisis.
Finally, I’m working on some books! “When the Cousins Came,” is wrapping up and most of 2016 has been devoted to this project. Inspired by my own giant family and cousins from diverse backgrounds (racially, culturally and geographically!), this is the story of cousins visiting for the weekend and learning more about themselves and their own identities by spending time just being kids and having fun. Soon, I’ll be working on my grandfather‘s biography for Lee and Low, and more to come after that!
Here is a sneak peak of some collage works-in-progress from “When the Cousins Came.” Coming soon from Holiday House!
Thanks for taking the time to catch up with me!