Central Brooklyn, it’s that time of year again…
February 1 is the start of Black History Month, and what better way to contextualize the experiences, contributions and stories of Brooklyn’s rich culture and black history than through art?
Beginning Monday, February 1, Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership presents the 4th Annual Black Artstory Month, a month-long series of free public exhibitions celebrating the enduring influences of African Americans through visual and performance art.
Recognizing art’s ability to expose, communicate, question and inspire change, Black Artstory Month each year explores cultural, racial, gender and identity politics in the context of the African-American experience. This year’s theme is entitled, “Some Assembly Required.”
Black Artstory Month will transform Myrtle Avenue in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill into a cultural destination and veritable arts hub with window murals, art exhibits, music performances, artist talks, film screening and other events, featuring the work of 50 artists.
Daonne Huff, curator for Artstory Month, said “Some Assembly Required” was this year’s chosen theme to serve as a rallying call for artists to build an assembly and work together, as the changes needed in today’s environment cannot be done alone: “It requires planning, building and a collection of hearts, minds and bodies,” said Huff.
“There’s much work to be done to create the kind of change so very needed within the current political and social climate—a climate of injustice, displacement and brutality that we as a people, as a society, as a country, as a species are undergoing.”
This year, artists were invited to respond to a series of mainstream hotbed topics and historical turning points, including (but not limited to) Obama’s 2008 ‘Race Speech’; the Young Lords/Black Panthers/ Black Lives Matter movements; the intersections of art and politics; the role of religion and the church in social change movements; police brutality and more.
Free events will take place every Friday in February, from 7:00pm – 9:00pm at various locations (see below). Visitors can also enjoy the artwork any day, every day at ART INSIDE/OUTSIDE, a self-guided Artwalk featuring the artwork of 15 New York-based artists, on display at 12 independent businesses along Myrtle Avenue between Flatbush Avenue Extension & Classon Avenues and at BLDG 92 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
For a complete listing of events and featured artists, go here.
“Every year, we are excited to create opportunities for local artists, celebrate our community’s rich African-American history, and invite new audiences to Myrtle Avenue,” said Meredith Phillips Almeida, executive director at Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership. “We hope that our work this month can elevate current conversations about racial and social justice, and show the power of art, and collective action in its many forms”
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:
ART: INSIDE/OUTSIDE (Self-guided Artwalk)
Date: All Day/ Every Day Feb 1-29
From hair braiding to Black Lives Matter to President Obama on Horseback to cleaning greens—we seek to assemble, we seek to gather, we seek to build ourselves and our communities within private quarters and public squares. 15 artists have activated interior and exterior spaces along Myrtle Avenue between Flatbush Avenue Extension & Classon Avenue with 14 window murals and art installations. An additional exhibit is located at BLDG92 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
BLACK ARTSTORY MONTH KICKOFF: MEET ME AT THE GYM
Date: Friday, Feb 5, 7-9pm *Space is limited/ RSVP Required
A Night of Performance, Engagement & Art featuring gospel group Manifest, Sophia Dawson and her Roller Skating Crew, Victorious Dance Company, live painting by Ashton Agbomenou, artmaking workshops with SONYA (South of the Navy Yard Artists) and more. Taking inspiration from the community gatherings of organizers during the Civil Rights Movement and experimental art Happenings, the night is equal parts artistic expression and community building. All-ages welcome! Ingersoll Community Center, 177 Myrtle Ave. RSVP here.
Conversation: Art as Protest, Protest as Art
Date: Friday, Feb 12, 7-9pm *Space is limited/ RSVP Required
Moderated by Erica Cardwell with Panelists Jamal T. Lewis (cultural worker and emerging multidisciplinary performance artist), Janisha R. Gabriel (Speak My Name Project, board member of The BLK Projek, and the Technology & Design organizer for the #BlackLivesMatter), and Isissa Komada-John (Exhibitions Manager at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture). This panel will discuss the collective power of radical artistic communities. Artists will share their “entry points” and define “radical” as black practitioners and art makers. Leisure Life, 559 Myrtle Avenue between Emerson & Classon. RSVP here.
Date: Friday, Feb 19, 7-9pm *Space is limited/ RSVP Required
Featuring films by Yisa Fermin, Lindsay Catherine Harris & Esteban del Valle. A Night of Short Films & Documentaries spotlighting voices unheard or unseen. A night to re-view and re-frame perceptions and interpretations of the lived experiences of people of color. Pratt Institute’s Film/Video Center, 550 Myrtle Avenue. RSVP here.
PERFORMANCE: The Glass Eye Featuring Hot Hands & members of Victorious Dance Company
Date: Friday, Feb 26, 7-9pm
The placement of a camera on a body of authority as a deterrent of violence to another has created new forms of perception and symbolism concerning race relations and the growing paranoia for “the other” from both citizens and those sworn to protect them. The Glass Eye is a multi-disciplinary performance piece for voice, music, dance and film concerning the disembodiment of the black body through police violence; and the subsequent protests in reaction to these incidents—witnessed through the camera eye. BLDG 92 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, 63 Flushing Ave at Carlton Avenue. RSVP here.