Bronx Artist Asks Visitors to Share Their ‘Sites of Struggle’ On NYC Map

By Eddie Small For DNAInfo

CONCOURSE — A Bronx artist wants to hear about your struggles.

Artist Hatuey Ramos Fermín has set up an interactive map of the city as part of the Bronx Museum of the Arts’ exhibit on the Young Lords Organization that asks visitors to write down something they are struggling with on a small paper flag and then place the flag in the corresponding location on the map.

“It doesn’t have to be exactly your place where you live,” said Fermín. “Maybe it’s where you’re from in the city, or it’s a struggle that pertains to that specific borough.”

Most of the flags are in The Bronx so far, which could be due to how many people from The Bronx have come to see the exhibit, according to Ramos.

A "Sites of Struggle" map is part of the Bronx Museum's Young Lords exhibit.
A “Sites of Struggle” map is part of the Bronx Museum’s Young Lords exhibit. Photo by Eddie Small

Struggles that people wrote down for the borough include environmental concerns (“Stop FreshDirect” and “Stop NYPA Power Plants“), economic concerns (“gentrification” and “empowering the underserved”) and personal concerns (“have fun”).

A few visitors also wrote down people’s specific names, which Fermín said he found surprising and possibly indicative of struggles the author was having with that person.

“It’s an open-ended invitation, so people can map what struggle means to them,” he said. “They’re invited to add their own meaning to that.”

The Young Lords were a radical group of social activists founded in the 1960s by young Puerto Ricans who demanded housing, police, employment, education and health care reform, according to the Bronx Museum.

In addition to the map, the museum’s exhibit on them also includes a reconstruction of the group’s Bronx office and an installation dedicated to women in the organization.

The map is meant to show how issues that the Young Lords fought for, such as social justice and racial equality, are still very relevant today, according to Fermín.

“I hope that it connects to today’s struggles. They’re all more or less similar,” he said. “They might not look the same, but they might be similar to the ones you faced 40, 50 years ago.”

The map will be up until the Young Lords exhibit comes down on Oct. 18, and Fermín said he was very pleased with the response it had received so far.

“I didn’t know if people were actually going to do it, first of all,” he said, “but it’s been great to see people walking through and reading and taking careful notice and writing thoughtful comments. That’s been great.”

“You never know with something like this how’s it going to work, if it’s going to work or not,” he continued, “but it seems like people are into it.”

The Bronx Museum of the Arts is located at 1040 Grand Concourse. Check their website for the hours of operations.

When the Young Lords Were Outlaws in New York

by Holland Cotter for the New York Times

The exhibition “¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York,” held in three parts at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, El Museo del Barrio and Loisaida Inc., recalls the Young Lords, a revolution-minded group that gained traction in the late ’60s and ’70s. Credit Ángel Franco/The New York Times

On July 26, 1969, a group of young Latinos stood in the band shell in Tompkins Square Park, in the East Village, and made an announcement. They were founding a New York branch of a revolution-minded political party called the Young Lords.

Inspired by the Black Panthers and an earlier street-gang-turned-activist Young Lords group in Chicago, their purpose was to gain social justice for New York’s working-class Latino population, then largely Puerto Rican and treated with contempt by the city government.

Most of the members onstage that day were recent college graduates well versed in leftist political theory. To gain the trust and cooperation of Latino communities — concentrated in the East Village, East Harlem and the South Bronx — they knew they needed to get their feet on the street, and they wasted no time.

The next day they started a “garbage offensive” in East Harlem, the Barrio, pulling mounds of trash left festering by the city’s sanitation department into the middle of Third Avenue and setting the refuse alight. Local residents pitched in.

In October of that year, the Young Lords teamed up with a band of mostly black and Latino hospital personnel to force improvements in labor conditions and medical services for the poor at Gouverneur Hospital on the Lower East Side. (Six months later, they would take over Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx for the same reasons.)

In December, they occupied an East Harlem church and, until the police evicted them, turned it into a food dispensary and free clinic by day and a performance space for music, poetry readings and history lessons at night.

The exhibition at El Museo del Barrio includes work by Puerto Rican artists. Credit Ángel Franco/The New York Times

By that point they had started a newspaper, Palante. (The name, a contraction of “para adelante,” means “forward” or “right on.”) Bilingual and published every two weeks, it was a color tabloid with some of the jazziest graphics around.

You’ll find dozens of copies covering the walls in the tripartite exhibition “¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York.” Spread over three institutions — the Bronx Museum of the Arts; El Museo del Barrio in East Harlem; andLoisaida Inc., a cultural center in the East Village — this show departs from straight political history by presenting the Young Lords as a cultural phenomenon as well as an ideological one, with a highly developed instinct for visual self-projection, right down to having an official party photographer, the gifted Hiram Maristany.

Each of the show’s three parts is more or less self-contained, giving a general picture of the party’s brief history while centering on events specific to each venue. The Bronx Museum portion, for example, organized by two New York-based art historians, Johanna Fernández and Yasmin Ramirez, focuses on the July 1970 takeover of Lincoln Hospital, which is not far from the museum, but also touches on developments elsewhere in the city.

It gives particular attention to links between the Young Lords and Taller Boricua, a print workshop started in East Harlem in 1970 by a group of Puerto Rican artists — Marcos Dimas, Adrián Garcia, Carlos Osorio, Manuel Otero, Martin Rubio and Armando Soto.

Photographs and pages from Palante at El Museo del Barrio. Credit Ángel Franco/The New York Times

Still in operation in a converted public school building at 106th Street and Lexington Avenue, the workshop was originally across the street from the barrio headquarters of the Lords, who occasionally appropriated prints for Palante covers. Mostly, though, the exchange was in the form of aesthetic influence: The workshop’s presence seemed to inspire members of the party who were artists.

Denise Oliver-Velez, an African-American member of the Lords who designed several Palante covers, was one. She was also one of the few women to gain a place in the party’s governing hierarchy. Like many other male-dominated radical groups, the Young Lords were inherently sexist and promoted a form of revolutionary machismo in their original statement of purpose. She would have none of it. Under pressure from her and another female member, Iris Morales, the group revised the statement to read: “We want equality for women. Down with machismo and male chauvinism.”

A 1970 video of the poet Pedro Pietri reciting “Puerto Rican Obituary” at El Museo del Barrio. Credit Ángel Franco/The New York Times

Those words appear in the Bronx show and again in the installation at El Museo del Barrio, organized by Rocio Aranda-Alvarado and sharply designed by Ignacio Vázquez-Paravano. There are brilliant, monumental prints here by Antonio Martorell, Juan Sánchez and Rafael Tufiño, although the general mood is dark.

A photograph by Geno Rodriguez records a demonstration after a teenager named Martin Perez died while in police custody. An issue of Palante records the death, under similar circumstances, of Julio Roldán, a Young Lords member. When the Lords staged an anger-fueled funeral procession for him in the streets of the Barrio, they were fully armed.

Bimbo Rivas reading poetry at an event in 1975. Credit Máximo Colón

A 1970 video of the poet Pedro Pietri reciting his chantlike “Puerto Rican Obituary” feels like a lament for the end of a certain type of activism. The Young Lords Party was already beginning to narrow along hard ideological lines and splinter into competitive factions. It had bought into American gun culture, becoming its own enemy in the process. The group had lost its connection to the grass-roots communities it was meant to serve.

The Pietri poem, however, ends with a direct address to the people of those communities, exhorting them to carry on and to find joy where they can and in who they are. The exhibition at Loisaida Inc., which opens next Thursday, is pitched in that key. Organized by Wilson Valentin-Escobar and Libertad O. Guerra, it’s about the cultural legacy that the Lords left, a populist activism that produced vivid images and had the imaginative lift of performance art.

An installation by Hatuey Ramos-Fermín, in collaboration with Johanna Fernandez, inspired by the Bronx office of the Young Lords, at the Bronx Museum. Credit Ángel Franco/The New York Times

In that upbeat spirit, Mr. Pietri often collaborated with another former Young Lord, Eddie Figueroa — you see them in beautiful photographic portraits by Adál Maldonado at the Bronx Museum. In 1976, Mr. Figueroa founded a space for experimentation, the New Rican Village Cultural Arts Center in the East Village.

Taller Boricua artists like Sandra Maria Esteves and Nestor Otero appeared there. So did a who’s-who of musicians combining African-Caribbean forms with jazz. The mood, as captured in a series of fabulous photographs by Maximo Colon, was ebullient and embracing.

In terms of identity, the Young Lords were, at least initially, also embracing. Puerto Rican society is multiethnic and multicultural; so was the party. This may be one reason that feminism was able to forge a presence, and why the Lords made common cause with the gay rights movement.

A month before the Tompkins Square Park announcement, the Stonewall riots happened across town. Sylvia Rivera, a transgender Latino performer who was rumored to have been involved in the riots and was arrested soon afterward, joined the Lords and helped attract a lesbian and gay contingent.

There’s a small photographic homage to her at Loisaida Inc. And there are tributes to other figures from the past by contemporary artists elsewhere.

A Young Lords march in 1971. Credit Máximo Colón

At the Bronx Museum, the young New York painter Sophia Dawson has three strong paint-and-collage pictures made in collaboration with women who had been Young Lords. And a sculpture by Miguel Luciano, also at the Bronx Museum, commemorates a militant offshoot of the Lords, a Puerto Rican nationalist group called Los Macheteros, or the Machete Wielders.

For them, Mr. Luciano has customized a pair of Nike sneakers by transforming the brand’s Swoosh logo into a machete emblem. In doing so, he symbolically gives these activists a swift means for attack and retreat. But he also asks a blunt question, particularly pertinent in the market-saturated present, about the bond between rebellion and consumption.

How revolutionary can you be if what you’re basically fighting for is the right to have the coolest — usually meaning the most expensive — shoes on the block? The Young Lords, who knew a lot about style, might have had a persuasive answer for that. We could use one.

Revisiting a heated chapter of Bx history

By Shant Shahrigian for the Riverdale Press

A large banner with an AK-47 silhouetted in front of a cutout of the Puerto Rican flag greets visitors to the Bronx Museum of the Arts’ latest show, conveying something of the shock New Yorkers might have felt when the Young Lords took the city by storm starting in the summer of 1969.

The exhibit offers a sympathetic history lesson on the group’s rise and fall by way of the posters, publications, paintings and other artwork that members used to fight for better conditions for Latinos and others in the Bronx, Manhattan and Puerto Rico. A recreation of the group’s Bronx office includes a wall covered in photocopies of FBI files on members, illustrating the police infiltration that contributed to the Lords’ disintegration in the early 1970s.

“¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York” also features items ranging from a list of the group’s 13 socialist goals to a sofa scorched during a 1961 work of performance art.

“A lot of the imagery is very violent. It’s obviously of its era,” said Yasmin Ramírez, an adjunct curator at the museum. “If we look at it at a broader level, I think it’s resonating with people in the community because these issues are still occurring, unfortunately, to this day.”

While the City Council continues to debate free lunch for all public school students, works documenting the Lords’ effort to provide free breakfast for children show the idea is an old one. There are also photos of the group’s one-day occupation of Lincoln Hospital and of demonstrations against the filming of “Fort Apache the Bronx.”

A wall covered in silkscreens by the still-functioning artists coalition Taller Boricua shows the Lords’ roots in Puerto Rican culture. One image is a vibrant homage to Puerto Rican labor organizer Luisa Capetillo, while another protests the death of Young Lord Julio Roldán while in NYPD custody.

Large collages commissioned for the exhibit emphasize the role of women in the movement, who demanded that the Young Lords’ 13 goals said “Down with machismo and male chauvinism” along with battle cries like, “We want self-determination for Puerto Ricans—Liberation of the Island and inside the United States.” Sophia Dawson’s  “Women of the Young Lords” incorporates a photo of activists Iris Morales and Denise Oliver-Velez. Her “Sistahz” references a 1970 poster protesting the sterilization of Puerto Rican women.

Organizers said the exhibit was five years in the making and incorporated lengthy discussions with original Lords members. Some of them, like Ms. Oliver-Velez, continued work as community organizers while others, like Juan González, have made their mark as journalists.

A long with Young Lords banners and the wall of FBI files, the recreation of the group’s Longwood Avenue office includes a table map of all five boroughs. Little blue flags mark the locations of demonstrations like the 1970 Lincoln Hospital takeover and a protest for greater minority representation at the Museum of Modern Art in the same year. Visitors to the free museum are invited to plant white flags and write causes that are important to them.

“What does struggle mean to you, and where can we map it?” said education curator Hatuey Ramos-Fermín, who made the office recreation. “It’s really open-ended.”

“¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York” runs at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, located at 1040 Grand Concourse, through Thursday, Oct. 15. Admission is free. For hours and more information, visit

Bronx Calling: The Third AIM Biennial

Jessica Vaughn, Glory, 2014, Digital Photograph, 30 x40 in Courtesy of the artist

July 9 to September 20, 2015

Curated by Bronx-based artists Hatuey Ramos-Fermín and Laura Napier, Bronx Calling: The Third AIM Biennial features the work of seventy-two emerging artists engaged in the Artist in the Marketplace (AIM) Program (classes of 2014 and 2015). AIM provides professional development opportunities for emerging artists residing and working in the New York metropolitan area. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog.

Participating Artists:

Anna Ablogina, Manal Abu-Shaheen, Keith O’Neil Anderson, Erica Bailey, Bryan Balla, Chloë Bass, Hannes Bend, Rebecca Bird, Sophia Chai, Xinyi Cheng, Felix R. Cid, Dexter Ciprian, Tim Clifford, Adrian Coleman, Corydon Cowansage, Mike Crane,Donald Hải Phú Daedalus, Cat Del Buono, Jamie Diamond, Patricia Domínguez, Glenn Fischer, Nicholas Fraser, Yoav Friedländer, Borinquen Gallo, Ian Gerson, Shanti Grumbine, Ronald Hall, Nicholas Hamilton, Tahir Hemphill, Tracie Hervy, Lucia Hierro, Samantha Holmes, Traci Horgen, Maria Hupfield, Tatiana Istomina, Ariel Jackson, Ian Jones, Tasha Lewis, Anya Liftig, Eleen Lin, Sharon Ma, Daniel Mantilla, Eden Morris, Meredith Nickie, Tammy Nguyen, Julie Nymann, Sarah O’Donnell, Dionis Ortiz, Mitch Paster, Armita Raafat, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Friederike Reveman, Carlos Rigau, Gamaliel Rodriguez, Sarah Ellen Rowe, Michael Shultis, Rob Swainston, Erik Shane Swanson, Martyna Szczesna, Rica Takashima, Catherine Telford-Keogh, Denise Treizman, Ryan Turley, Jessica Vaughn, David Gregory Wallace, Lindsey Warren, Margaret Inga Wiatrowski, Didier William, David J. Wilson, Ezra Wube, Christine Wong Yap, and Brian Zegeer.

For more info visit Bronx Museum of the Arts

Community leaders looking to restore Bronx tradition by bringing ‘Boogie on the Boulevard’ to Concourse Village

Bronx organizers and business leaders hope to bring ‘Boogie on the Boulevard’ to Grand Concourse nearly two decades after the pedestrian-friendly event was axed by Giuliani administration


A beloved Grand Concourse tradition put on hold under Rudy Giuliani may be revived for the first time in two decades if a Bronx police precinct approves, The News has learned.

“Boogie on the Boulevard,” a summer right of passage that until 1996 shut a three-mile strech of the Grand Concourse to vehicular traffic and replaced cars with Bronx families, may be returning in an abbreviated form, officials said.

“It’s a no brainer,” said Community Board 4 District Manager Jose Rodriguez, whose board voted to bring back to event this August following a presentation last week by The Bronx Museum of the Arts and Transportation Alternatives.

“It brings about a sense of community,” added Rodriguez. “Folks will see what will be happening and be compelled to participate, because it’s such a positive thing.”

f approved by the 44th Precinct this month, the event would close down Grand Concourse’s center lanes between 165th St. and 167th St. for interactive art exhibits, fitness classes and live music on Aug. 3, 10 and 17.

A petition circulated in favor of the proposal garnered more than 1,400 signatures — and organizers say Concourse Village residents believe the project would be a slam dunk.

“It would be a huge added value to the community, which we’ve heard over and over from residents,” said Caroline Samponaro, senior director of campaigns and organizing at Transportation Alternatives. “It’s so pro-neighborhood to have an event where neighbors can come together in public space and have positive, healthy activities to do.”

For some partners, “Boogie on the Boulevard” is an ideal scenario to showcase their offerings.

“This is something that we thought would be a great opportunity to bring programming outside the museum’s walls,” said Hatuey Ramos-Fermín, The Bronx Museum of the Arts Curator of Education. “This will be a great opportunity for us to provide our neighbors with great programming. It’s a great way to bring people together.”

The project was submitted as part of the city’s Weekend Walks program, which allows commercial streets to close in order to host pedestrian-friendly activities.

The idea was introduced in 1991 by then-Borough President Fernando Ferrer, before the Guiliani Administration ended it in 1996. A scaled-back iteration was reintroduced in 2006 but fizzled out shortly thereafter.

[email protected]



A Bronx Blast From the Past: Car-Free Grand Concourse Gets CB 4 Support

by  for Streetsblog

It’s been an on-again, off-again tradition for at least two decades: Turning the center lanes of the Grand Concourse into a car-free space for stress-free walking, biking and exercise. With an overwhelming vote of support from Community Board 4 earlier this week, it seems this tradition is poised for a return this summer.

In the early 1990s, then-Borough President Fernando Ferrer supported car-free Sundays on the Grand Concourse, giving Broxnites a chance to enjoy three-and-a-half miles of the borough’s main boulevard. The program, which started in July and August, was extended through November due to its popularity, but the Giuliani administration stopped the program in 1996. A limited version was brought back by Adolfo Carrión, Ferrer’s successor, in 2006, and was documented in this Streetfilm before again fading out a couple years later.

Now, the program is set for a return — if only for a few blocks and a few hours. On Tuesday, Bronx Community Board 4 lent its support with a 27-1 vote in favor of a proposal led by Transportation Alternatives, the Bronx Museum of Art, and a host of local health, cultural, neighborhood and business partners.

The groups are applying to DOT’s Weekend Walks program to open the center lanes of the Grand Concourse between 165th and 167th Streets to walking, biking and public events on three consecutive Sundays in August. Last year, there were three Weekend Walks events in the Bronx, but none on the Grand Concourse.

The event, called “Boogie on the Boulevard,” is scheduled for August 3, 10 and 17 — the same days that Summer Streets, the city’s marquee open streets event, has traditionally been held in Manhattan. ”It’s definitely playing on an extension of Summer Streets, coming up to serve folks in the Bronx,” TA field organizing manager Jill Guidera said. ”People from the Bronx go down to Park Avenue to enjoy their city in that way, and they were wondering where theirs was.”

While Summer Streets is a massive event featuring corporate sponsorships and thousands of people, the Grand Concourse organizers are planning something that better fits with the surrounding neighborhood, with an emphasis on arts, culture, and health.

“The museum is on the Grand Concourse, and it became a natural fit for us to become involved,” said Hatuey Ramos-Fermín, curator of education programs for the Bronx Museum of Art. “We’re not just a building with artworks on the wall. We see ourselves as a community-based organization.”

Organizers are planning to feature live music, interactive art, health screenings, and fitness classes from TA, the Bronx Museum and other partners including Bronx Health Reach, the Bronx District Public Health Office and Montefiore Hospital. Last September, organizers started off with a small installation on Park(ing) Day, converting two car parking spaces into a green (if temporary) space to build momentum for Boogie on the Boulevard.

In addition to cultural and health institutions, there are 13 small businesses along this section of the Grand Concourse, Guidera said, and they have all signed a letter of support [PDF]. Some store owners have already planned to set up tables outside during the event. A petition in support of Boogie on the Boulevard has gathered more than 1,400 signatures, most of which were collected by volunteers on the Grand Concourse and at events throughout the Bronx.

The community board was very receptive to the plan at Tuesday’s meeting. “There was nothing controversial and nothing negative in having that portion of the Grand Concourse closed,” said district manager José Rodriguez.

Guidera said some members of the community board were interested in extending the event’s hours and boundaries, from 161st Street to Moshulu Parkway all summer long. She hopes this enthusiasm could set the stage for bigger things to come, but is focused on getting this year’s event off the ground. “We’re going to see four blocks reallocated,” she said, “which is really great.”

There are still more approvals to get before the event becomes a reality: The group is beginning to work with the police precinct before sending its request to DOT, which will make the final decision as part of its Weekend Walks application process.


Ancestry and Spirit: Site Specific Performance in the Hunts Point Homes Residency

By Taja Lindley | June 2013

On a rainy day in May I’m making my way to the Bronx Academy for Arts and Dance (BAAD!). The walk from the 6 train station at Longwood Avenue is a long one, or rather it feels that way because I’m walking into a place that’s tucked away, out of the way, a place where there is minimal foot traffic. The train station hosts a bustle of pedestrians. But as I cross the Bruckner Expressway I am walking alone. Cars and trucks whiz by. And then I take a right onto Barretto Street. Though located right next to the expressway, it is an ironically quiet place with an occasional stream of cars. But people live here. Amidst the barbed wire, concrete, idle cars and seeming desolation, people live here.

I know I am getting closer to BAAD! when I see murals and graffiti art that responds to police violence, affirms women, and suggests safe sex practices. People live here, and art thrives here too. I arrive. And on this rainy day there is something different happening. What is usually a quiet street is now buzzing, a more noticeable hum than what is usually felt and heard. People are standing outside watching a dancer in the street and three dancers in the windows of the second floor of the building we are facing. The culminating performance of the Hunts Points Homes Dance Residency has begun. Hunts Point is the community; BAAD! is the site for this site-specific performance.

Coordinated by Jane Gabriels at Pepatian, the residency was a three-day process for five artists: four dancers, artists in residence – Alicia Diaz, Matthew Thornton, Marion Ramirez, and Jung Woong Kim; and collaborating media artist Hatuey Ramos Fermin. The three days included immersion (meeting with cultural workers and community-based organizations and leaders), research and on-site development, and performance. It was through the immersion process that the artists chose BAAD! and it’s immediate surroundings – Barretto and Manida Streets – as their site. It was their first stop in their tour of Hunts Point, and it was then that they learned the BAAD! building was formerly a warehouse where immigrants worked to produce garments and where South American currency was made.

Rich with history,BAAD! brings an unusual amount of activity to Barretto Street on this day and everyday. Attracting audiences and artists to enter its mysterious red double doors on the second floor, BAAD! is an undeniable presence in its neighborhood but the local community members are not always frequent patrons. BAAD! staff are engaged with their neighbors but only a few neighbors seem to enter the space. The community knows they are here and take notice of the activity – with its large glass windows, residents and the occasional passerbys can see movement in BAAD! come in and out of view from their homes and from the street. This idea of mystery, what is seen and unseen, the things that come in and out of view over space and time were central themes in the residency performance.

The artists in residence began their performance with a series of poses. movements phrases and contact improvisation through and behind the large glass windows at BAAD!. At times, seeing their performance through unopened windows felt like we were seeing ghosts. The dancers made contact through the window – one hand inside touching another hand outside—as well as contact between the three artists inside with the one who danced in our midst – reaching, watching, looking. There was a sense of longing in the movements. It reminded me of the mural I passed by on my way to BAAD! – the know-your-rights mural in response to heavy policing and police brutality. In a community that is heavily surveilled, how often do residents visit loved ones in jail or prison? Make contact through glass? What is the energetic impact on a community that constantly has its members policed and involuntarily removed from their community? Are their spirits ghost-like? What are the feelings and longing that linger?

While considering these thoughts, the audience was directed to move into the BAAD! space. We get to see inside what we witnessed from Barretto Street. Then each artist made there way to downstairs and out of the building, where we watched from the window as they performed in the street. As we sat on the windowsills watching, a environmental soundscape and video of the Bronx River, created by Hatuey Ramos Fermin, were playing simultaneously.

Through the movement, of audience and performer, the divisions between “stage” and “audience” became blurred, fictionalized, less and less important. The consideration of divisions, separateness and togetherness were major subjects of the residence performance. Through the large glass windows of BAAD! we witnessed two dancers on either side of an alley – one on Barretto Street, the other on Manida Street – moving and dancing simultaneously (sometimes in unison, sometimes not). During this moment I asked myself: What are the things that keep us together? What are the things that keep us separated? How does the asphalt, concrete, gates, barbed wires, walls and buildings that mark this alleyway and the landscape for this performance become symbolically and literally translated for the communities that live here?

This idea of togetherness and separateness was invoked again as all of the artists in residence did a series of walks on Barretto Street. Together and alone. Down the street and back again. Pulled and pushed. Tugged and dragged. Prodded and propelled. Walk and run. Leave and return. To be guided and moved by something other than yourself in an environment seemingly desolate and unconnected. But something lives here – people do, who walk and drive past; and you have to wonder what they’re thinking as all of this is going on.

Through this structured improvisation, the timing of the improvising was incredibly important as cars and trucks, whizzing by from the Bruckner Expressway, made their way down Barretto Street. Dispersion after walking together was not only an aesthetic choice, it was at times necessary for the environment. What does it mean to leave and return – out of choice or necessity? Voluntarily or involuntarily?

These considerations apply not only to the living. On a rainy day, the waterfall was a libation and the performers become conductors of spirit – the ancestors of the location, former workers in the building, all of the spirits that have moved through the community, the dislocated through gentrification and imprisonment, and perhaps even the ancestors of the artists. The movement from inside and outside, and the connections between the performers in multiple environments through sight and movement are reflections of ancestors – who are somewhere, looking in on a place they have been. The ghost-like appearance of the artists in residence behind the windows, the touching through he glass invoked imagery of spirit. And it also represents how BAAD! is positioned in its local community: to be seen mysteriously through its glass windows by residents who are not regular patrons – the activity of the unseen impacting place and people.

And it is in that vein that site-specific performance makes it impact. Through small and concentrated efforts, site-specific work is a gentle and impactful intervention. It is history interpreted through bodies — performers become a channel, a new lens through which we view a place and ourselves. It engages the metaphysical – dare I say spiritual –dimensions of art making: that intangible, indescribable affect on place and people that can only come through creative practices. It allows audiences and performers to both transform and be transformed by the space they occupy.

As artists are continuing to engage with the Hunts Points area through this residency, I imagine that this site-specific work will continue to make ripples that will echo through the community. The process of the first residency, albeit brief, conjured memory and history and nostalgia in a palpable way. I look forward to the next installment.

Process and Progress: Drew Manahan, Meta Local Collaborative & The Bronx River Alliance



On View from February 01 – February 23

Gallery Location: 305 E. 140th Street, #1A, Bronx, NY 10454
Reception: Friday, February 1, 2013, 6-9pm

GALLERY HOURS: Wednesday–Friday, 3pm–6:30pm / Saturday, 12pm–5pm FREE ADMISSION

Bronx, NY, January, 2013—Bronx River Art Center (BRAC) is proud to announce Process and Progress: Drew Manahan, Meta Local Collaborative & The Bronx River Alliance. This is the third in the series of five exhibitions that invites artists and architects to engage with systems of urban development in the Bronx and beyond. Process and Progress is presented in BRAC’s temporary gallery space in Mott Haven while our permanent facility in West Farms is undergoing renovation.

The exhibition series, Process and Progress: Engaging in Community Change, highlights the Bronx River Art Center’s development during a time of significant structural and cultural change in the borough. BRAC’s major building renovation project, now underway, is leading the way for more environmentally sustainable and technologically advanced designs within our local West Farms Community. At the same time, the surrounding area has become home to new and imminent urban development projects that will dramatically impact the built environment, social fabric, and cultural composition of our local community.

Process and Progress: Drew Manahan, Meta Local Collaborative & The Bronx River Alliancefocuses on the past, the present and the future of the Bronx River. Architect Drew Manahan explores how the wilderness around the river has resurfaced within the South Bronx’s urban environment through renderings and drawings and how this evolving ecology and the river is creating new ephemeral or transcendental experiences for the borough’s dwellers.

In partnership with the Bronx River Alliance, Meta Local Collaborative has curated a selection of photos, plans, maps, ephemera from the Alliance’s archives. They trace how spaces along the river has changed throughout the years, revisit past restoration and recreation plans, and consider the river’s present state and plans for its future. In addition, Meta Local is showcasing work they are developing focused on public access to the Bronx River Greenway.

Artists and Partners:

Andrew Manahan is an Eagle Scout from Northwest Ohio who received his Bachelors of Science in Architecture from the University of Cincinnati and his Masters of Architecture from the Cranbrook Academy of Art. His vision is to create architectural and cultural policy through an opportunistic and proactive practice. He completed his first building just this past year through a mixture of contemporary and digital fabrication techniques and traditional woodwork and handcraft, featured in Metropolis magazine. Andrew has become increasingly interested in the reemergence of wilderness and nature in highly populated or recently vacated urban areas, and is interested in crafting a relationship between culture architecture and wilderness.

Meta Local Collaborative is the practice of Elizabeth Hamby and Hatuey Ramos Fermin. Their work investigates the dynamics of urban spaces, exploring the histories of buildings and neighborhoods, and tracing the flows of people, ideas and products. Combining documentary strategies with performance and fine art, they articulate concepts of origin, and the sense of place. Meta Local develops site-specific, participatory works that refer to the complexity of their community in the South Bronx and beyond. The artists observe, analyze, and dissect the social, cultural and economic structures of their neighborhood, as well as the design and organization of buildings and spaces, and use the information gathered to develop questions that serve as a foundation for their projects.

The Bronx River Alliance serves as a coordinated voice for the river and works in harmonious partnership to protect, improve and restore the Bronx River corridor so that it can be a healthy ecological, recreational, educational and economic resource for the communities through which the river flows.


Celebrating Conversing Bricks

Please join us on Wednesday, December 5th 2012, 6:30 PM  @ Hostos Community College, to celebrate Hatuey Ramos-Fermin’s “Conversing Bricks” permanent public art installation. The installation was constructed from bricks sent by an anti-immigrant right wing organizations to those congressional representatives who voted against the legislation to build the wall between Arizona and Mexico. The artist repurposed the bricks by inviting immigrants to write their own messages on them and build a round table and a bench.

This event is part of BCA’s 1st Wednesday’s Bronx Culture Trolley.

Citizen Placemakers: Elizabeth Hamby & Hatuey Ramos Fermín Use Art to Bring People Together

By  for Project for Public Spaces

Elizabeth Hamby and Hatuey Ramos Fermín are people connectors. As artists, activists, and Bronxites, their creative collaborations are all about gathering information from neighbors and presenting it in ways that allow communities to better understand themselves and the urban spaces they create. The two have worked in all kinds of public spaces, from major thoroughfares and street corners to laundromats, grocery stores, and vacant waterfronts.

Recently, they organized Boogie Down Rides: Bicycling is Art. The artists used the social act of biking as a springboard for talking with people about the creation of healthy, active urban environments. Throughout the month of May 2012, they set up many different formats for engaging the public: a temporary bike shop that simultaneously served as an education hub, group rides across the Bronx, and visioning workshops about biking and greenway initiatives in the city.

The project was organized as part of the public art exhibition, This Side of Paradise, by No Longer Empty at the Andrew Freedman Home. I recently sat down with Hatuey and Elizabeth to talk aboutBoogie Down Rides and the other urban projects they have in the works.


What was it about your community that inspired Boogie Down Rides? Was there a particular need that you were responding to or wanted to address?

Hatuey: Boogie Down Rides grew out of another project of mine, Transmit-Transit. It explored the idea of taxi drivers as a mode of transport in the the Bronx, and the need for cabs to move around. Public transit in the north-south direction works well but east-west not so much. No Longer Empty first approached me about that transportation project, which became a video installation at the Andrew Freedman Home that connected the gallery space to the outside world. Then we began thinking about how to physically and conceptually expand transportation within the community. Transportation was a major theme extending back to Mr. Freedman’s time, with Mr. Freedman being a major backer of the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT), New York City’s original underground subway. The IRT addressed the linking of open space from Central Park to Van Cortlandt Park. Extending the idea of Transmit-Transit beyond cabs, we wanted to look at bikes as another viable option to address mobility in the Bronx.

One of the great things about Boogie Down Rides is how it brings together many activities that people may not normally associate but which all contribute to healthy places. Your tagline, for example, is Bicycling is Art. Can you explain how biking, public art, and urban spaces are linked in your project?

Elizabeth: Instead of representing reality as a painting, we live it on a bike. The bike embodied action for this issue of transportation in the Bronx, where biking is a social act and a political act. Instead of designing a solution to a problem, we tried to figure out the questions that exist in real life through the experience of biking. We both live in the Bronx. It’s part of our day-to-day reality, and because we’re artists, we have a compulsion to make what we see public. We often talk to people about the role that artists play as citizens and neighbors in our communities. We hope our work as artists can help make our neighborhoods more safe, lively, and liveable in many ways.

The project also involved community visioning sessions for the Bronx’s longer-term development. What came out of these sessions?

Elizabeth: The visioning sessions were really spearheaded by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which was just launching an interactive toolkit to gather data and address threats to active transportation and public space. They were key in leading some of the concrete visioning work happening around the Sheridan Expressway, where dangerous connections make it unsafe to bike between the parks. Rather than focusing on cause and effect, the visioning sessions were about figuring out opportunities for improvement. Safety—specifically, feeling safe in public—was an ongoing theme in the conversations we had with our neighbors.

Throughout your various interactions with the public, did you come across questions or reactions that particularly surprised you?

Elizabeth: One of the most surprising things that we learned from Boogie Down Rides was the number of adults—particularly women—who had never learned how to ride a bike, and who were very excited to find out about opportunities for biking in the Bronx. In the instance of another project, Mind the Gap/La Brecha, we talked a lot with folks in our neighborhood about their ideas for the waterfront. One of the critical components to the waterfront that came up over and over again was the basic need for clean public restrooms!

Collaboration seems integral to your work. What other community partners were vested inBoogie Down Rides?

Hatuey: Conversations and collaborations were important from the start; we worked with Transportation AlternativesDepartment of Health and Mental HygieneBronx River AllianceBike the BronxBronx Health REACHPartnership for ParksVelo City

Elizabeth: We also had a meeting with City Planning and the Mayor’s Office where we were able to show our recommendations. It was perhaps an unusual case in that the Mayor’s Office and City Planning came to us. Our collaborations really grew organically, and our project was timely in terms of how they related to conversations already happening in New York about biking, complete streets, and the South Bronx Greenway Plan.

And did people express any misconceptions that you were able to address through these collaborations?

Elizabeth: I think that artists working in public the way that we do are often confused with non-profit or other community-based organizations. We often talk to people about the role that artists play as citizens and neighbors in our communities—and the ways that we hope that our work can help make our neighborhoods more safe, lively, and liveable.

Any advice you would give to communities who are trying to build healthier places?

Elizabeth: You have to remember the factor of critical mass. If you notice a problem, someone else probably has too, so it becomes about working together in a long-term way.

Hatuey: It’s realizing there are already resources within the community, and that becomes the main point of departure. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel. You want to create space to bring stakeholders together.

Elizabeth: Also humility and willingness to listen and genuinely collaborate—those are really important, in regard to attitude. There’s a lot of work that goes into working together.

Hatuey: Listening is the biggest thing, listening with a big ear.

Laundromat Project’s Third Annual Public Art Potluck

Third Annual Public Art Potluck

What Do We Bring? Yummy Food and Public Art!
What Do You Bring? An Open Mind and Creative Ideas!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 | 7:00pm – 9:30p
Doors open at 6:30pm
University Settlement, 184 Eldridge Street, New York, NY 10002

The Laundromat Project invites you to celebrate this year’s Create Change artists at its 3rd Annual Public Art Potluck.

Engage our Create Change artists in conversations about their projects and creative ideas set in communities across New York City and Philadelphia.

You’ll hear about socially-engaged art projects ranging from yoga-based printmaking in Jackson Heights to envisioning a new waterfront for the South Bronx to a multimedia installation highlighting the history of garment workers in Sunset Park.

Dinner will be prepared by Organic Soul Chef Madea Allen.

How Do Supermarkets Decide Where to Open?

A funky, fresh look at how supermarkets work in urban neighborhoods

By CUP for Gilt Taste

Last year, we shared a fantastic video made by high school students on the food in convenience stores in their Bronx neighborhoods. Rather than take the tsk-tsk approach of many who write about the “food deserts” where low-income people can’t find fresh, healthy produce, it was a balanced, smart, and fun look at the issue, one that saw the store owners as their neighbors.

In that same spirit, we’re happy to share a peek at Funky Fresh another project by another group of students. Both of these projects (and many more!) were produced in collaboration with CUP, a nonprofit organization that uses design and art to improve public participation in shaping the places where we all live. Check them out. – Ed.

Who decides where supermarkets go? Are there enough supermarkets in the Bronx? Why does it matter? For Funky Fresha group of public high school students worked with teaching artist Hatuey Ramos-Fermín, to took a look at who gets supermarkets, who doesn’t, and why.

To find answers, the students got out of the classroom and into the frozen food aisles. They visited grocery stores across the boroughs, the Fresh Direct distribution site planned for the Bronx, and the real estate department of a major supermarket. For the story on how supermarkets choose sites, they interviewed the CEO of Western Beef supermarkets; a supermarket site analyst; the Department of City Planning; a Bronx Community Board member; organizers; and public health experts.

Afterwards, the group designed a booklet to teach others what’s funky and what’s fresh about Bronx supermarket access. Here are a few pages of their work. For the rest, check it out here.

Bienal de Arte en el Bronx

Por: EFE para Telemundo

Más de 75 artistas participan en la Tercera Bienal de Arte Latinoamericano en El Bronx, que se realiza bajo el tema de “correlación ilusoria” en un evento cultural que busca establecer el arte como lenguaje común en este condado.

“La mayoría de los países latinoamericanos están representados” en las cinco sedes de la bienal en El Bronx y una galería en el condado de Manhattan, dijo a Efe el comisario y cofundador de la muestra, el artista puertorriqueño Luis Stephenberg.

Los artistas de la muestra, que se extenderá hasta el 30 de noviembre, provienen de diversos estados del país, así como de países de Latinoamérica, el Caribe y Europa, explicó Stephenberg.

El comisario destacó que entre los artistas hay creadores de la talla de los puertorriqueños Diógenes Ballester y Carlos Fajardo, el ecuatoriano Amaru Chiza, el dominicano Hatuey Ramos, la peruana Carolina Bazo y el español Jesús Algovi.

La bienal de arte latinoamericano se realiza como parte del Festival Hispano de El Bronx, que cada año festeja el mes de la Herencia Hispana.

Stephenberg dijo que esta bienal aspira a contribuir en el trabajo cultural de la misma forma que las bienales de Sao Paulo (Brasil), La Habana, Cuenca (Ecuador), la trienal poligráfica de San Juan o la trienal del Caribe de República Dominicana.

“En sicología, la correlación ilusoria es la percepción de algo que aparentemente es pero no es. La discriminación está basada en la correlación ilusoria, se llega a una conclusión de algo que no se ha estudiado”, explicó el comisario, que agregó que los estereotipos también están incluidos en este concepto.

De acuerdo con Stephenberg, esta bienal, que en su primera edición de 2008 exploró el tema de los recuerdos y la historia y en 2010 el tema de la inmigración, contribuye a cambiar “la imagen negativa que muchos tienen aún de El Bronx”, agregó.

Funky Fresh debut presentation

Who decides where supermarkets go? Does the Bronx have enough supermarkets? Does it matter?

This summer, CUP collaborated with teaching artist Hatuey Ramos-Fermín and a group of Bronx public high school students from CUNY College Now at Hostos Community College to look at who gets supermarkets, who doesn’t, and why.

To find answers, the group got out of the classroom and into the frozen food aisles. They visited groceries across the boroughs, the Fresh Direct distribution site planned for the Bronx, and the real estate department of a major supermarket. For the scoop on how supermarkets choose sites, they interviewed the CEO of Western Beef, a market research guru, the Department of City Planning, a local Community Board, organizers, and Bronx health experts. They’ve designed a booklet to teach others what’s funky and what’s fresh about Bronx supermarket access.

Please join us for the world premiere of Funky Fresh on Thursday, September 13, at 7 pm! Free and open to the public. RSVP to [email protected]

Funky Fresh was made possible by the CUNY College Now program. Additional support was provided by public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York City Department of Culture in partnership with the City Council.

2 BX artists bring ‘Mind the Gap’ project to Mott Haven

2 BX artists bring ‘Mind the Gap’ project to Mott Haven by Bornx News 12

MOTT HAVEN – Two Bronx residents have launched a project in an attempt to bridge the gap between the waterfront and Mott Haven. ‘Mind the Gap’ is part of The Laundromat Project, which brings artists to neighborhood Laundromats to document what locals think about the waterfront and how to improve access to it. The participants hope the project helps residents appreciate the area’s natural resources. ‘Mind the Gap’ will be stationed at the Blue and White Laundromat on East 140th Street through September.

Art show at Bronx Museum curated by local teens features artworks also by area teens

By Tanyanika Samuels / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

When “The Other I” art exhibit opens Thursday at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, it will be a triumph not only for the artists but also for the curators.

The exhibition, inspired by the theme of alter ego, was curated by the museum’s Teen Council–13 high school students who work with two staffers to produce media projects on issues affecting youth.

“The idea is to give teens a forum to express themselves,” said museum educator Hatuey Ramos Fermín.

After choosing the theme, the Teen Council put out an open call for teen artists citywide and received about 100 submissions.

“It’s a great opportunity for (young artists) to show at a museum at such a young age,” said Hannie Chia, the museum’s programs manager.

Teen Council members narrowed the selection to 24 drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures. Earlier this week, they worked to install the pieces.

Among them, is an untitled painting by artist Mohammed Hossain that shows a man emerging from a pyramid and reaching for an apple. It’s one of teen curator Kwadwo Asamoah’s favorites.

“The apple symbolizes truth but the the man is being held back by his foundation. That’s what I see,” said Asamoah, 17, of Concourse. “I think this picture is so important because I feel that a lot of people today aspire to become things that they want to be, but they’re being held back.”

Another piece, “Not Everyone Can See It” by Yrma Batista, is an intricate drawing with the words “Everything has beauty but not everyone can see it” hidden within the swirling pattern of lines.

“We felt like this picture summarizes alter ego, that everyone has a beautiful side but it’s not always brought to the surface,” said curator Eric Avila, 17, of Harlem.

Putting together the art show proved quite the learning experience.

“It definitely broadened my view of art,” Avila said. “I’m a photorealist artist. But with this gallery show, I tried to look for the deeper meaning in the pieces.”

The experience brought life lessons as well.

“We learned to work together,” said Asamoah. “Sometimes it was very difficult to get your voice heard but we got past that. And that’s how we were successful.”

“The Other I” will be on exhibit until July 8 at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, 1040 Grand Concourse. For more information, visit

[email protected]

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This Side of a Postmodern Paradise: No Longer Empty in the Andrew Freedman Home


The two-month run of This Side of Paradise, the much celebrated exhibit by No Longer Empty, is quickly coming to a close. Last minute viewers have until June 5th to see the works of 34 artists occupying the Andrew Freedman Home (1125 Grand Concourse) before it closes this Tuesday.

Since the opening on April 4th, the exhibit has received over 2500 visitors and significant press attention, making it by far the most successful show for the nascent arts organization No Longer Empty. Founded in the heart of the recession by the prominent curator Manon Slome, No Longer Empty transforms the vacant storefronts littering NYC into temporary art exhibits. Slome, former curator of the Guggenheim, stresses that No Longer Empty’s unique vision does not produce ‘pop-up’ shows; their mission is rather to dissolve the barriers between public and private art through curated, site-specific exhibits which are truly inspired by the empty spaces they occupy. In this way the group also revitalizes forlorn streetscapes; a key part of No Longer Empty’s mission is to provide neighborhood benefits by fostering activity in and around their show spaces.

This Side of Paradise, however, differs from most of No Longer Empty’s previous exhibits as it utilizes a historic site rather than a commercial space. Looming over the 167th street B / D stop, the Andrew Freedmen Home opened in 1924 as a retirement home for former millionaires to live their last days in the manner in which they had become accustomed. Freedman, who died in 1915, used his eponymous project as an extension of his interests in life. He was known as a great connector and developer critical in the growth of New York around the turn of the 20th century. Freedman was a member of the controversial Tammany Hall development machine and a key financier of the original IRT subway line. His substantial wealth funded the Home’s operations until the endowment dwindled in the early 1980s, making the living conditions for later residents considerably less luxurious than Freedman originally intended.

Justen Ladda, German-born artist featured in This Side of Paradise, first noticed the Andrew Freedman Home in this period of decline. Ladda began exploring the South Bronx in 1970s for spaces for his installation pieces. “Coming from Europe,” Ladda said, “I can only compare the state of the South Bronx in the 1970s to Pompeii. Whole streets were abandoned and vacant, like some European cities after World War II. I noticed the Andrew Freedman home then- it was already derelict. The place was dimly lit, and you could tell that the residents were heavily sedated. I was able to enter the grounds and building and look around with no questions asked.” Ladda’s piece, “like money like water” (2012) acknowledges the tension between wealth, death and relationships. “My piece is about pissing money,” said Ladda, “how dead these people are who are constantly buying stuff to fill the content of their lives. It does things on a personal level, and also on a wider societal level, this influences our interpersonal relationships.”


Ladda’s piece transforms depending on the stance of the viewer. Similarly, the Andrew Freedman Home transforms depending upon the time and space in which the Home is seen. Naomi Hersson-Ringskog, the Executive Director of No Longer Empty, describes her first engagement with the Andrew Freedman Home much differently than Ladda: “My first impression of the home is the amazement that you don’t recognize it exists. It occupies an entire block and you don’t really notice it. The fence around the grounds still gives off its original air of exclusion; it remains a gated space.” Artist Frederico Uribe’s installation “The Fence” (2012) installed on the exterior gate, softens the Home’s disconnection from the Grand Concourse promenade. Similarly, show’s opening drew over 2,400 people thanks in part to the large blue flag flying in the front lawn with a simple word and message: “free.” According to Hersson-Ringskog, the show receives around 60 visitors each day, a record breaking average for a No Longer Empty show.

While the Mid-Bronx Senior Citizens Council currently owns the property, it is no longer used as a retirement community. The Home is in a period of transition; the Council is renovating separate sections of the large building into a bed and breakfast and community arts and education center. This Side of Paradise acts as a bridge between the old and new uses for the space- the exhibit explores the Home’s captivating past and burgeoning future. Hersson-Ringskog describes the show as a celebration of “human ingenuity, the strength of the human spirit and the resilience needed to fashion beauty, hope and rejoicing.”


According to Hersson-Ringskog, Slome conducted over 60 studio visits to Bronx-based artists to ensure the show featured a cadre of local artists. Their pieces explore the different facets of the Home’s past, present and future. For example, Elizabeth Hamby and Hatuey Ramos-Fermin’s piece “IRT” (2012) indirectly alludes to Freedman’s impact on NYC’s subways while explicitly illustrating how Livery cabs fill in public transit service gaps in the Bronx. Bronx-based couple Hamby and Ramos-Fermin also collaborated with many existing community groups in the neighborhood to create Boogie Down Rides, a temporary bike shop near the Home. The shop was open throughout May and served the area with bike rentals and repairs. Boogie Down Rides also served as an outpost for residents to learn about the development of bike paths and greenways in the Bronx, as well as the new city-wide bike share. Hamby describes the couple’s work as a means of “bringing about meaningful change in the world. As citizens, neighbors and resident of this area, a better network of active transportation is something that {Ramos-Fermin and I} really want to see. It’s something that our neighbors value as well. Something that has a life beyond just a gallery.”

Boogie Down Rides is an extension of No Longer Empty’s Urban Initiative. An urban planner by training, Hersson-Ringskog described the Initiative as following the same site-specific model inspiring the exhibits: “We noticed that transportation was the issue in the Bronx, and so we formed our partnerships around this issue.” She continued to describe how “ No Longer Empty thrives on hybridity. We like the mixing of things- urban planning with professional art. We wanted to put the Andrew Freedman Home on people’s radars and foster visitors for its future programming.”

This Side of Paradise is open until June 5th.
1125 Grand Concourse
Thursday – Sunday
1 – 7 PM

The Serrano Report, Vol. IX, #11

In the Bronx

Unveiling Pro-Immigrant Art Made from Anti-Immigrant Bricks

Jose Serrano’s Newsletter reports

Last Saturday, Congressman Serrano joined Hostos Community College President Dr. Félix Matos Rodríguez, community leaders, and artist Hatuey Ramos-Fermín to unveil a the first part of a newly installed art feature at the Hostos Memorial Plaza. The Conversing Bricks installation, which is in the form of a “wall of hope”, is made from bricks that were sent to Members of Congress several years ago in an effort to convince them to build a wall on the U.S. – Mexico border. The bricks were collected and brought to the Bronx for use in a pro-immigrant art installation—turning their message of intolerance and division into one of hope and reconciliation. Soon, a “table of dialogue” art installation, made from the same bricks, will join the “Wall of Hope” in the plaza.

“I was so pleased to be invited to speak at this important community event, where we reaffirmed our commitment to immigrants’ rights, diversity, and community solidarity,” said Congressman Serrano. “This art installation takes the worst anti-immigrant messages, and turns them into the message of unity and dialogue; the best message that the immigrant-friendly Bronx has to offer. Here in the Bronx we celebrate immigrants, we defend them, we uplift them, and we welcome them. Our example—a community of immigrants and long-time citizens living together in peace and harmony—should be emulated around the nation. This ‘wall of hope’ and ‘table of dialogue’ will be a constant reminder to the Bronx and the nation as a whole that we are a country of diverse origins, and must be a place of tolerance through dialogue. I commend Hostos Community College, Bill Aguado, and artist Hatuey Ramos-Fermín for their work on this project and their dedication to the message that it contains.”

“A round table has no head or foot, no person who sits at it can claim a more important position than the other; thus making everyone equal, the table becomes a symbol of equality for all citizens regardless of their immigration status,”  said Hatuey Ramos-Fermín, the artist who carried out the installation.

The Conversing Bricks project emerged from a campaign waged by anti-immigrant groups that sent bricks to members of Congress who opposed the construction of a border wall between Mexico and the United States. The bricks were sent with messages like “Build a Wall,” “No to Illegals,” and “Secure our Borders.”  Of the thousands of bricks sent to Capitol Hill, 273 were donated for this project. For the past three years, community leaders worked to conceive the concept for Around the Table: Conversing Bricks, now shortened to simply, Conversing Bricks. The bricks are meant to become a public art installation in the form of a wall and a round table with the intention of transforming messages of intolerance into a site for dialogue on issues of citizenship, immigration, and human rights.

The Hostos Community College Memorial Plaza, a public gathering place for students and community members recalls and honors the passengers that died on November 12, 2001 en route to the Dominican Republic in American Airlines Flight 587. The Memorial Plaza includes a water-wall of polished granite inscribed with the names of all that perished.  Since its founding days Hostos Community College has welcomed students of all backgrounds. Community leaders felt that the Hostos Community College Memorial Plaza was the best site for the Conversing Bricks art installation.

Ramos-Fermín was awarded a grant from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Community Arts Development Fund for the public art project Conversing Bricks.

“Wall of Hope” artwork at Hostos Community College

By TANYANIKA SAMUELS for the New York Daily News

Hundreds of bricks once used as anti-immigrant messages are finding a new artistic purpose in one of the borough’s most diverse communities.

Artist Hatuey Ramos-Fermín is creating a two-part art installation piece called “Conversing Bricks” at Hostos Community College in Mott Haven.

The installation uses bricks that anti-immigrant groups sent to Capitol Hill in 2006 as Congress debated building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to deter illegal immmigrants.

“I hope this project becomes a symbolic place for gathering, for conversations and a place for reflection,” said Ramos-Fermín, 33, of Mott Haven. “I want people to be able to reflect on how important immigrants are in this country, and in the Bronx.”

Thousands of bricks with slogans like “No to illegals” and “Secure our border” were sent to members of Congress who opposed the wall.

Congressman José E. Serrano collected 273 bricks and brought them back to the Bronx where they sat outside a local church.

“These bricks had nasty comments on them,” Serrano recalled. “So I came up with the idea to say ‘Why don’t I take these bricks and do just the opposite, and make them a tribute to all immigrants.’”

He partnered with Bill Aguado , now artistic director of the Bronx Heritage Music Center, who spearheaded the effort to create an art piece and find an artist.

“It’s a very genuine and respectful project,” Aguado said. “It speaks to our heritage, whether you’re from the islands or the South, it doesn’t matter. We are all immigrants and we need to learn to respect each other.”

Since the bricks were kept outside, the weather stripped away most of the messages. Only 30 of them remain in tact.

Ramos-Fermín held a series of workshops last month and asked local immigrants to include their own messages on the bricks.

“I saw it as a way to connect the history of the bricks,” Ramos-Fermín said. “You can see the past and the present side by side.”

Last Saturday, Ramos-Fermín, Serrano and Aguado joined others to dedicate the first phase of “Conversing Bricks,” a 4-foot tall wall in Hostos’ Memorial Plaza.

“Now we have a wall of hope rather than a wall of division,” Serrano said.

The second phase, to be dedicated this summer, will feature a roundtable using the remaining bricks.

“With a roundtable, there’s no head or foot. No one can claim more importance than another person,” Ramos-Fermín said. “So no matter your immigration status, you are all the same.”

[email protected]


Immigration Opponents’ Bricks Repurposed For A Respectful Bronx Artwork


By: Natasha Ghoneim for NY1

Immigration reform inspires passionate views, and hundreds of bricks sent to members of Congress to oppose amnesty have now formed a pro-immigrant artistic installation at Hostos Community College in the Bronx. NY1’s Natasha Ghoneim filed the following report.

During the heat of the immigration reform debate several years ago, people sent bricks to members of Congress, symbolizing support for building a wall along the Mexican border.

Scrawled on the bricks were messages such as “No Amnesty,” and a few bore the verbal equivalent of hurling a brick through a window.

Bronx Congressman Jose Serrano became angry and collected 273 bricks, which were transformed into an art installation at Hostos Community College in Mott Haven, Bronx.

“I was able to tell them, ‘You sent these to me in anger and I’m returning them to you in peace,'” says Serrano.

The artist, Hatuey Ramon-Fermin, who is also a teacher and an immigrant, wanted to transform the hate on the bricks into a more respectful dialogue through his artwork, entitled, “Conversing Bricks.”

“There were different kinds of messages that were really hateful,” says Ramon-Fermin.

Immigrants were involved in every step of the creative process, from transporting the bricks to the Bronx to writing messages of their own on the bricks.

“I wish that people reflect and go deeper into the conversation. We’re all a part of this country,” says Ramon-Fermin.

Alvaro Ceballos, a 19-year-old Dominican immigrant, says the message he painted on his brick, “We Are The World,” sums up the issue simply.

“Who immigrants are, we are the world because we’re here. So we are the world,” says Ceballos.

Now the bricks are part of another wall intended to celebrate immigrants, legal or not.

Conversing Bricks

Printable Version


Hostos Community College

Bronx Lebanon Hospital


Bill Aguado

Invite You to the Unveiling of

Conversing Bricks

A special art installation by artist Hatuey Ramos-Fermín

Keynote Speaker

Congressman José E. Serrano

Immediately followed by the Bronx debut of the leading Batz’i Rock band from Chiapas, Mexico


Saturday, May 12, 2012 / 12:00pm

Hostos Community College Memorial Plaza
500 Grand Concourse at 149 Street ● The Bronx


The Bricks
The Conversing Bricks project emerged from a campaign waged by anti-immigrant groups that sent bricks to members of Congress who opposed the construction of a border wall between Mexico and the United States. The bricks contained messages like, “Build a Wall,” “No to Illegals,” and “Secure our Borders.”  Of the thousands of bricks sent to Capitol Hill, 273 were collected for this project.

For the past three years, the bricks were collected and the concept for the Conversing Bricks project was conceived.

The Bricks are meant to become a public art installation in the form of a round table with the intention of transforming messages of hate into a site for dialogue around issues of citizenship, immigration, and human rights. The goal of Conversing Bricks is to create a site for dialogue, conversation, and thought.

The Site
The Hostos Community College Memorial Plaza, a public gathering place for students and community members recalls and honors the passengers that died on November 12, 2001 en route to the Dominican Republic in American Airlines Flight 587. The Memorial Plaza was designed by Goshow Architects and includes a water-wall of polished granite inscribed with the names of all that perished.

Since its founding days Hostos Community College has welcomed students of all backgrounds.

Nearly 45 years later, Hostos still welcomes older and younger generations of immigrant families to the campus. Today, they represent over 70% of the Hostos community.

Community leaders felt that the Hostos Community College Memorial Plaza was the best site for the public artwork.

The Artist
Hatuey Ramos-Fermín was born in the Dominican Republic and grew up in Puerto Rico. He is an educator and multimedia artist. He’s studied at the San Juan Art League and received his B.A. in Fine Arts from the University of Puerto Rico in 2002.

Ramos-Fermín studied theater as an exchange student at Hunter College / CUNY from 1998-1999. He was later awarded a scholarship from the Prestigious Dutch Education Ministry HSP Huygens Programme for Excellent Students From All Around the World (2006) to complete an M.F.A. in Photography at St. Joost Art and Design Academy in Breda, The Netherlands, (2007). In 2008 Mr. Ramos-Fermín was a core participant of the Night School project by Anton Vidokle at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City. Hatuey is also an alumnus of the Immigrant Artist Project at New York Foundation for Arts. In 2010 he won first prize in the “other media category” from the “Show Your Impact” contest by the non-for profit organization Tech Soup, for the project “I Heart East New York,” a book created in collaboration with the Center for Urban Pedagogy and high school students from Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Hatuey Ramos-Fermín was awarded a grant from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Community Arts Development Fund Award for the public art projectConversing Bricks to be unveiled on Saturday, May 12, 2012 at the Hostos Community College Memorial Plaza.

Sak Tzevul
SAK TZEVUL celebrates the Conversing Bricks art installation and unveiling ceremony as part of their “Time for Healing” grassroots New York City tour, produced by HABANA/HARLEM®.

Damián Guadalupe Martínez, founder of SAK TZEVUL, and the independent arts concern, HABANA/HARLEM® are committed to honoring the shared spiritual and cultural values which genuinely connect the multicultural Bronx communities of Mexican, Caribbean and African Diaspora heritage, among others. With lyrics in Spanish and various Indigenous languages, SAK TZEVUL advocates for unity and harmony while highlighting social justice themes such as public safety, cultural equity, environmental justice and human rights. SAK TZEVUL transforms centuries-old Indigenous rhythms with Rock music along with Classical and Native American inflections to create their distinctive signature sound. Audiences will enjoy selections from their latest body of work, Selva Soñadora.  Sak Tzevul’s debut in New York City is made possible through the generous in-kind support of AeroMexico Airlines. For additional information about Sak Tzevul’s “Time for Healing” community programs, visit: or email: [email protected].

This program is made possible thanks to the generous contributions of
AeroMexico Airlines, Bill Aguado, Benfica Transportation Inc.,  Bronx Council on the Arts, Bronx Lebanon Hospital, Bronx Museum of the Arts Education Department Bronx Museum, CASA Redi-Mix, HABANA/HARLEM®, Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture, Hostos Community College student organizations: Hip-Hop Club and Mexican Student Association and Modern Languages Club. LIUNA/Laborer’s International Union of North America, The Mexican Cultural Institute of New York, NYC Dept. of Cultural Affairs (DCA), Steve Delgado, Associate Dean for Campus Planning and Operations Hostos Community College, St. Jerome’s Church and WHEDCO.

Press Contact:
For Hostos & Artist Hatuey Ramos-Fermín
Soldanela Rivera (Sol) Cell: 917-627-9097[email protected][email protected]

For Congressman Serrano
Philip Schmidt [email protected]/ (202) 225-4361

This Side of Paradise: A Bronx Art and Culture Hub

by Christine Licata for Artlog

Through June 1, the once insular and exclusive Andrew Freedman Home in the Bronx has been transformed by site-specific exhibition facilitatorsNo Longer Empty into This Side of Paradise, a progressive arts and culture tour de force of thirty-two emerging and established artists, local cultural institutions, and community collaborations. Offering a rare historical and contemporary overview of the Bronx and its eclectic neighborhoods, the project expands the traditional notion of a site-specific exhibition space into an inclusive borough-wide experience.

In 1924 investor Andrew Freedman bequeathed much of his fortune to build and sustain a retirement home for the less fortunate—relatively speaking. These needy were defined as aging, wealthy individuals who had lost their capital worth. Known as the “poor house for rich people,” the Andrew Freedman Home was a free-of-charge, elite sanctuary where the once well-to-do could live out their lives without sacrificing their opulent quality of life. Located on the Bronx Grand Concourse and occupying a full city block complete with gardens, ballrooms, library, dining hall, industrial kitchen, and three floors of accommodations, the home maintained the illusion of wealth and status for its residents.

This sequestered reprieve came to an end in the early ‘80s when the Freedman Foundation depleted its funds. The Mid Bronx Senior Citizen’s Council then bought the building and currently uses parts of the space for Head Start youth programming and party rentals. The rest of the real estate has fallen into disuse, and despite the visible signs of dilapidation, its former affluence is still apparent.

Now, through the initiative of the art nonprofit No Longer Empty, the Andrew Freedman Home once again offers a wealth of opportunity, this time revitalized as public place for local and international contemporary art, as well as a participatory cultural hub for Bronx neighborhood projects, awareness, and education. For No Longer Empty’s President and Chief Curator Manon Slome and Executive Director Naomi Hersson-Ringskog, This Side of Paradise is an impressive testament to the organization’s mission to utilize “the history of spaces to unite communities and act as a springboard for artists.”

What remains of the Andrew Freedman Home embodies the paradoxical nature inherent within the concept of any “ruin.” Within the abandoned site, the crumbling failures of the past confront the aspirational possibilities of the future. As such, this fragmented, complex place echoes nostalgia while whispering the potential of becoming and renewal. The participating artists inThis Side of Paradise not only engage in this dialogue but also extend the discussion beyond the specific location to encompass the Bronx’s diversity, politics, and socio-economic issues.

Some of the artists focus on the phenomenology of architecture, combining the Andrew Freedman Home with experiences of its long-gone tenants, investigating their circumstances and environment with both poignant insight and ironic humor. Federico Uribe’s hypnoticPersian Carpet, on closer examination, reveals that the interwoven patterns of the 22 × 12’ floor rug are made from quotidian materials including hairpins, dominos, golf balls, cutlery, and crutches. These remnants of the independent life the seniors once had are seamlessly merged with tokens of their interdependent existence in the retirement home.

In contrast stands Linda Cunningham’s haunting, ten-foot-long installation of deteriorated drywall, peeling canvas, and broken windowpanes in Paradise Lost/Regained? Utopia to Survival that incorporates photo transfers of excavated ephemera and personal documents that were left behind by the residents. The work powerfully manifests the sentimentality and loss embedded in the Andrew Freedman Home while alluding to the overall perseverance and tenacity of the Bronx.

Other artists employ The Andrew Freedman Home and its founder as a reference point in investigating the present day Bronx and interacting with local Bronxites. Freedman’s pivotal role in developing The Interborough Rapid Transit, NYC’s first subway and the Bronx’s main line, is alluded to in IRT, a collaboration between Elizabeth Hamby and Hatuey Ramos-Fermín. A complex psychogeographic project that ingeniously explores alternative modes of transportation, IRT contains a documentary of local Dominican livery cab drivers discussing their professional challenges accompanied by an installation of the roof of an authentic taxi cab that broadcasts real-time local dispatch radio transmissions. The other component is Boogie Down Rides, an interactive map with video interviews that survey neighborhood cycling experiences, as well as an offsite temporary bike shop for the community with rentals, tours, and educational workshops.

Influenced by the Andrew Freedman Home’s custom of appointing coordinators for leisure activities, Laura Napier and Carmen Julia Hernández have formed the congenially educationalActivity Committee. Throughout the duration of the show, all are welcome to discover the Bronx with organized social clubs like the Bird, Plant & Fish Committee and the Eating Committee, or even to start new clubs.

Artists also activate the Freedman Home by creating archetypical spaces that exist in their own spatio-temporal reality, somewhere between the past, present, and future. These works unite viewers in the experience of universal states of humanity. Gian Maria Tosatti’s Spazio #05contemplates the ephemeral nature of memory, the fleeting physicality of life, and the stark loneliness often experienced in communal spaces and crowded city dwellings. Erased by sunlight and the passage of time, the room is bare except for sterile metal furnishings and broken glass covering the entire floor.

This Side of Paradise presents an appreciation of the Bronx that challenges pervasive negative stereotypes and preconceived notions of violence and urban blight. For its size, the borough contains a greater percentage of parks and historical landmarks than any other urban area in the country and is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse counties in the nation. The Bronx has also long been an incubator for revolutionary, vibrant art and music scenes that are supported by historically important alternative and institutional organizations, many of which are collaborating with No Longer Empty, including the Bronx Documentary Center, Casita Maria, Lehman College Art Gallery, Longwood Art Gallery, The Bronx Children’s Museum, The Bronx Council of the Arts, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, The Bronx River Art Center, and The Point.

The exhibition opens the doors to all who wish to experience a broad cross section of the eclectic arts in the Bronx, either for the first time or perhaps to rediscover it anew. That sentiment, underscored by Nicky Enright’s vivid blue and green The Free Flag on the main lawn of the residence, declares the site a territory for all “global citizens” without borders. The Andrew Freedman Home now has a future enriched through artists and art education, cooperation, and outreach, once again demonstrating that cultural currency is the most enduring sign of prosperity.

Cyclists Plan a Month-Long Celebration of Bronx Biking for May

by Patrick Wall for DNAinfo


GRAND CONCOURSE — Waves of helmeted cyclists could come rolling down the Grand Concourse next month as part of a project meant to draw attention to the Bronx’s fleet of riders, while also highlighting the work that remains to make The Bronx a true bikers’ borough.

A pair of Mott Haven-based artists enlisted some of the borough’s most committed cyclists to help power the project, called “Boogie Down Rides,” that will include a series of free bike tours, workshops and town hall meetings throughout May, which is national bike month.

“There’s tons of people who ride in The Bronx,” said artist Elizabeth Hamby, who hatched the cycling series idea with her creative partner, Hatuey Ramos-Fermín, as an extension of their transportation-themed installation in the Bronx art show, “This Side of Paradise.”

Boogie Down Rides, added Hamby, is designed “to take what’s already happening and ramp it up a few notches.”

The series is set to kick off May 6 with a pedal-powered “history ride” past landmarks along the Grand Concourse.

Other events include a free fix-a-flat-tire training, a Mother’s Day ride to the New York Botanical Garden and a brainstorming session about the Sheridan Expressway, a stretch of South Bronx freeway that one community group would like to close to automobile traffic on summer weekends.

Meetings are also planned to discuss reviving car-free Sundays along the Grand Concourse, the Bronx version of Manhattan’s Summer Streets, an annual event in the early 1990s that reserved several miles of the avenue for walkers and cyclists on summer Sundays. The event was discontinued in 1996, then reinstated on a trial basis a few years ago, but has since fizzled out.

Mel Rodriguez, a Bronx cyclist who in 2010 formed an advocacy group called Bike the Bronx, said he joined the Boogie Down Rides planning committee because he believes the month-long series could lead to longer-lasting changes.

“They’re bringing together leaders not only to discuss the event,” Rodriguez said, “but also how the event can be a catalyst for bigger things.”

Rodriguez and other Bronx bikers say cycling conditions in the borough have improved in recent years, but that more quality bike lanes are needed to make local riding safe and convenient.

Since 2006, the city has added 56.5 miles of new bike lanes in The Bronx — far fewer than the 102.8 miles added in Brooklyn, but more than the amount established in Manhattan or Staten Island during that period, according to the Transportation Department.

Several major Bronx roadways, including the Grand Concourse, Park Avenue and Lafayette Avenue, now feature dedicated bike lanes — though most of the so-called protected bike lanes, which are physically separated from vehicular traffic, are located in the north and east Bronx.

The Bronx also boasts 6.75 miles of Bronx River greenways, which are paved trails running through riverside parks such as Concrete Plant Park and Soundview Park.

But large gaps divide much of the greenway into a patchwork of disconnected trails, and plans for a similar greenway along the Bronx-bank of the Harlem River are still in their infancy, said Maggie Greenfield, spokeswoman for the Bronx River Alliance.

“The current infrastructure in The Bronx is not very bike-friendly,” said Greenfield. “There’s not as much connectivity as you might want.”

joint study by several city agencies of bike accident data from 1996 to 2005 found that Hunts Point was one of three locations citywide where a cluster of fatal bike crashes had occurred in close proximity, while the Central Bronx made the list of top three areas with a concentration of cyclist injuries.

(Since the study was published in 2006, the city has added hundreds of miles of bike lanes in an effort to improve cyclist safety.)

Though biking conditions may not be ideal in the Bronx, advocates say, many residents choose to pedal to school or work, as well as ride for fun and fitness.

Karen Rojas began cycling in college when she realized it was cheaper and faster to bike the few miles north from her home on 167th Street near the Grand Concourse to Lehman College than it was to take a train or bus.

Just a few years later, Rojas now interns with the bicycling nonprofit Velo-City, attends Bike the Bronx events, changes her own tires and leads long weekend rides with her family on her vintage cruiser, which she calls “The Transporter.”

“Before, you could count [Bronx cyclists] on one hand,” said Rojas, 23. “Now, you see them everywhere: families, ladies, people commuting to work in the morning.”

Still, some advocates say that the borough’s many bikers have set to form a cohesive community, which means that, for now, they are often overlooked by citywide cycling groups.

“A lot of people in The Bronx bike, but I feel like the mainstream biking culture doesn’t see them as part of their culture,” said Samelys Lopez, co-founder of Velo-City, which uses bike tours to teach students about urban planning.

Lopez said The Bronx teems with “biking subgenres,” micro-cyclist communities such as professionals who commute to jobs in Manhattan by bike, families who leisurely cruise together or young people who roll around skate parks on BMX bikes.

Boogie Down Rides presents an opportunity to unite the borough’s riders, which is a necessary first step, Lopez said, before they can push for more cycling resources, such as bike share stations, which the city is in the process of locating based on local demand.

“The people want it to happen,” Lopez said of the bike share and other Bronx cycling programs. “It’s just a matter of galvanizing the forces.”

ArtistS of the Week: Elizabeth Hamby and Hatuey Ramos-Fermin

By Cathleen Cueto for Swings and Arrows

My dear friends Elizabeth Hamby and Hatuey Ramos-Fermin, two Bronx-based multimedia artists, are gearing up for a couple of fantastic projects this month. First, they’re going to be a part of a group exhibition at the Andrew Freeman Home, a former retirement home for the formerly well-to-do ladies and gentlemen of old New York. This Side of Paradise will consist of site-specific work that will reference the space, sometimes using objects that were left behind by residents of yore. It is produced by No Longer Empty, an organization that uses vacant spaces around the city for exhibitions, it opens TONIGHT!, and I can’t wait to poke around and see what everyone’s done with the place. Liz and Hatuey will be presenting IRT, a multi-model installation that explores transportation issues in the Bronx, including a video installation about livery cabs, maps, and interviews. You can read more about it here and here, but if you’re in the NYC area, you should definitely come check it out in person at 1125 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY. The opening is from 6pm to 8pm, with regular exhibition hours Thursday to Sunday, 1pm to 7pm, until June 5th.

In conjunction with their piece at the Andrew Freeman House, Liz and Hatuey will also soon be launching Boogie Down Rides, a temporary bike shop and public education hub on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx. It will be open throughout the month of May hosting educational events, something they call “community visioning sessions,” and group rides, as well as providing information on ongoing cycling projects in the Bronx that include the development of greenways, bike paths, and bike shares. for more details.

It’s more than just art—these two crazy kids are deeply involved and in love with their community, working hard to reach out and make a difference in people’s lives by teaching them that there is more to their neighborhood and history than they might realize; more out there that connects us all. I really admire them as artists and people and friends! And I can’t wait to see what they do to the world next.

– Cathleen

CEC Artslink One Big City

CEC ArtsLink’s pioneering project One Big City, the first city-wide effort of its kind, will engage New York City’s diaspora communities through the collaborative projects of local artists and their colleagues from the countries whose émigré populations contribute to New York’s unique makeup.  One Big City will provide a platform for artists to explore cultural and artistic identities and will heighten awareness of diverse cultural communities throughout New York It will also enable CEC ArtsLink to bring the cross-cultural discourse and the international network we have fostered for nearly fifty years directly to the communities in the five boroughs.

Over the course of two years beginning in spring 2012, local artists in visual, media and performing arts will be paired with artists from countries with substantial immigrant communities in New York. Each overseas participant will travel to New York for a three-week residency to produce a collaborative work with a local artist. The results of the collaborations will be presented in a series of public programs throughout the city.

Four dynamic New York cultural organizations have enthusiastically committed to serving as venues and outreach partners for the program: BRIC Arts/ Media/Brooklyn, The Kitchen in Manhattan, the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens and THE POINT Community Development Corporation in the Bronx.

CEC ArtsLink is proud that One Big City was selected for a Rockefeller Foundation NYC Cultural Innovation Fund grant and an award from the Trust for Mutual Understanding.

For a list of the participating artists click here.

Share, Where? at Newtown Creek

Check out congresswoman Nydia Velázquez and EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck touring Newtown Creek with CUP’s latest youth education project “Share, Where?” The booklet takes a look at NYC’s Fair Share legislation two decades after its passage.

For more info visit: CUP collaborations and The Center for Urban Pedagogy

NYFA Immigrant Artist Project Newsletter

Issue 28, September 19, 2011

Mentoring Alumni Corner


Hatuey Ramos-Fermin (2008 Mentee, Dominican Republic/Puerto Rico)

“Transmit – Transit is a multimedia installation at “The (S) Files 2011.” One aspect of the piece is a video of interviews with Dominican cab drivers and dispatchers in the Bronx that is a short documentary about the difficulties of the trade. The video is shown in a monitor next to the main piece, which is a cut out roof of a real cab with speakers mounted on top of it. Through the speakers, the installation incorporates live radio transmissions from dispatch offices near the museum. Everything that you hear is actually happening right there at that very moment somewhere in the street outside the walls of the institution. Originally, the piece was exhibited in the Bronx so the frequencies were from dispatch offices there. For “The (S) Files,” I programmed the radio to catch the frequencies of the dispatch offices of taxi drivers near El Museo del Barrio”. – Hatuey Ramos-Fermin

Ramos-Fermin and his mentor, Ricardo Miranda Zúñiga, met several times in the duration of NYFA’s 2008 Mentoring Program for Immigrant Artists. Zúñiga helped Ramos-Fermin build his web portfolio, taught him basic website production skills, and edited Ramos-Fermin’s artist statement. The two of them attended lectures and art openings together. In 2010, Ramos-Fermin had his first solo show at Longwood Art Gallery Project Space in the Bronx. He invited Zúñiga to be the curator for that exhibition. Zúñiga was very involved and contributed an essay to be part of the exhibition catalog.

Here are Ramos-Fermin’s reflections on NYFA’s Mentoring Program for Immigrant Artists:

“Ricardo taught me to get my portfolio organized, to create clear goals and to make my work more accessible for others to see. I really worked on my website, my artistic statement and updated everything (and keep doing it). That helped me to have an online presence to facilitate interaction with other people about my work. It also helped me to get invited to do different projects. Thanks to Ricardo’s guidance, my show in the Bronx was then selected to be part of “The (S) Files.”

“Since I just moved to New York City when I participated, it became instrumental to know other artists and creative people that already knew the city (Mentors) and also to share experiences with people in the same situation as me (Mentees). I established friendships with some mentees of my year and we have collaborated on projects after the program ended. The Mentoring Program helped me navigate the city and make meaningful, long term connections, collaborations and friendships.”