Mapping Soulville is a live art project Cousins curated last July, a part of The Laundromat Project, a New York City-based non-profit organization that funds public art projects inside of local laundromats.
With Mapping Soulville, Cousins challenged children to make a map of street signs and then a mural that pays homage to historical figures who have shaped who they are today.
Cousins said she came up with the idea for Mapping Soulville when she learned there was a petition out to change the name of Malcolm X Boulevard, the street corridor that runs north-south along Eastern Bed-Stuy.
For Cousins, the idea that there was an active campaign to change the name of a street named after one of the African-American community’s most formidable civil rights figures was disturbing.
“I saw it as connected to this wave of gentrification that we’ve been dealing with. And my thought was, well, if you want to take an inch, then we’re going to push back a mile,” said Cousins.
Cousins admits, it was a reactionary project, which is something she said she tries to avoid. But she also felt it would be educational and fun for children and a really beautiful public work of art.
“Afterward, everybody really liked how the murals looked and kept saying we should put them on display,” said Cousins.
So she did. You can see the first one of such murals inside Marmy Laundromat, located at 197 Malcolm X Boulevard (at the corner Putnam) where Cousins conducted her children’s workshops.
Cousins then went on to make a small collage and designed a calendar around it. The brown calendar dates represent weekends. The blue dates represent federal holidays.
“The calendar is a fundraiser for a another project I want to do for Malcolm X’s birthday where people raise butterflies as a metaphor for Malcolm X’s evolution, then release them on Malcolm X Blvd for his birthday,” said Cousins.
The Mapping Soulville calendars are $12 each and can be purchased at Marmy Ludromat or online here. If you buy more than one, use the code “2014NEWYEAR” to purchase at a discounted rate of $10. The code is good through January 15th.