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‘I Still Believe in Our City’: A Public Art Series Takes On Racism – The New York Times

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On Tuesday, New Yorkers commuting through the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center subway station will find it transformed with vibrant portraits of Black, Asian and Pacific Islander people along with anti-discriminatory messages like “I did not make you sick” and “I am not your scapegoat.”

The series is the work of the neuroscientist turned artist Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya (pronounced PING-bodee-bak-ee-ah). In August, Ms. Phingbodhipakkiya was named a New York City Public Artist in Residence through a program that has partnered artists with city agencies since 2015. She is one of two artists currently embedded with the city’s Commission on Human Rights.

Ms. Phingbodhipakkiya’s “I Believe in Our City” series was created as a response to a grim statistic. From February to September, the Commission received more than 566 reports of discrimination, harassment and bias related to Covid-19 — 184 of which were anti-Asian in nature. It’s a troubling spike not just appearing in New York, but in Asian-American communities across the country.

“My goal with this art series was to turn these hurts into something beautiful and powerful,” Ms. Phingbodhipakkiya said in a phone interview. She added, “I really wanted to find a way to say, despite everything we have faced as Asian-Americans and New Yorkers, that I still believe in New York.”

From Nov. 3 to Dec. 2, the series of 45 pieces will be displayed in the Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, a central hub that serves a diverse group of commuting New Yorkers. Ms. Phingbodhipakkiya said that it was also the site of a reported, Covid-related bias incident in March, when a 26-year-old Asian-American man reported he was spat on.

A description of that incident has been included in one of the pieces, alongside portraits of Asians and flowers that Ms. Phingbodhipakkiya said have symbolic meanings in Chinese and East Asian cultures. Other panels offer information and historical context about the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and statistics about Asian-owned businesses.

A piece from the “I Still Believe in Our City” series includes text about a reported bias incident that occurred in the Atlantic Avenue subway station.
Credit…Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya

The series also features portraits of Black people as a sign of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and as a larger call to end institutional racism.

“As you traverse the terminal and look upon Asian and Black faces, full of defiance and strength, and learn about the injustices that we’ve faced,” Ms. Phingbodhipakkiya said, “you can’t help but see us and you can’t help but feel that we are reclaiming space.”

For Ms. Phingbodhipakkiya, whose parents are Thai and Indonesian, the series is personal. Growing up in Georgia before moving to New York 14 years ago, she said she and her family experienced anti-Asian bias firsthand. Through this series, she wanted to amplify those experiences, and those of others in her community, which oftentimes go unnoticed.

“My art has always been about making the invisible visible,” she said. “I’ve explored everything from microscopic universes to outer space and things that just can’t be seen with the naked eye. And I think struggles of communities of color are often invisible.”

After a monthlong display in Atlantic Terminal, art from the series will appear around various points of the city in bus shelters, LinkNYC kiosks and Department of Transportation display cases. There are also plans for a hand-painted mural to appear in the city, with the exact location yet to be announced.

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Japanese art show seeks submissions from young local artists – Sooke News Mirror

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Young local artists have a chance to present their work in Japan.

The Hamada Children’s Museum of Art in Japan seeks visual arts submissions from artists 5 to 15-years-old living between Sooke and Port Renfrew. There is no cost to enter.

The student art will be featured in the 2021 Independents Show in Hamada.

The museum will choose only a select number of pieces from Canada. If successful, original art will be on display and remain permanent at the Hamada Children’s Museum in Japan.

The winning artists will also receive a certificate of participation and their work featured online during the 24th Annual Independents Global Exhibition on Jan. 16.

The deadline for submissions is Dec. 10. For more information, please contact Diane Moran by email at moraninthemoon@gmail.com.

ALSO READ: Sooke Fine Art Show moves online due to COVID-19 pandemic



editor@sookenewsmirror.com

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Language and art: new semiannual online program launches at the Ellen Art Gallery – Concordia University News

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The Ellen Art Gallery recently launched a new semi-annual, online program. Each instalment of Terms will investigate the manifold meanings of a given word. The program is tripartite, featuring three components.

For the first component, the selected term will be explored in a short essay by a researcher working outside of the visual arts. He or she will examine the term through a particular lens, reflecting on the nuances, ambiguities, and plural meanings of the term.

For the second component, Gallery curator of research and program leader Julia Eilers Smith will pair the term with an existing artwork.

In the final component, a writer from the cultural sector will produce another short essay. Using the artwork as a point of departure, and drawing on the first essay, the writer will further explore various dimensions of the term and its significances.

Each term will be twice presented in this tripartite form — twice in the given year — before another term is selected for the following year.

Terms investigates how various, polysemic meanings are sedimented in words, how terms are disseminated, and how they alter public discourse.

Vulnerability

The first edition of Terms explores the term Vulnerability.

Writer, researcher, community organizer, and activist Mostafa Henaway explores the term ‘vulnerability’ in relation to his work with migrants.

“If there is a term,” he writes, “that evokes a spirit of our moment, it is ‘vulnerability.’”

Henaway depicts our ambivalent notions of vulnerability. The term can sometimes evoke empathy for migrants that are struggling. But ‘vulnerability’ is sometimes considered in terms of the apparent ‘natural’ limits of a person or organism. We see vulnerability as a person’s natural susceptibility to inevitable assaults from the outside.

Henaway makes a case for other conceptions of vulnerability that allow it to be understood as something largely created through our own constructed political, economic, and social world.

He uses this notion of created “structural vulnerability,” exploring how various policies create adverse and exploitive conditions for migrant workers.

Henaway’s essay is followed in the program by a short 1960s film by Canadian artist Joyce Wieland, Hand Tinting.

Arts writer Yaniya Lee develops the exploration of vulnerability through a reflection on the film.

Forming a continuity with the theme of labour, the film is comprised of leftover footage produced by Wieland when she worked at a youth employment training center. The center aimed to teach employable skills to disadvantaged youth.

“Wieland’s task,” explains Lee, “was to film cutaways of the participants during downtime, allowing the recruitment documentary to show the centre’s atmosphere.”

When the company rejected Wieland’s documentary, she made her own film using some of the footage. The film is hand-tinted and perforated in places with a sewing needle.

In her own account of the experience, Lee writes, Wieland was moved by the somewhat pitiful circumstances of the young, mostly black women, while also inspired by their courage and willingness to invest in themselves.

Lee uses the film to reflect on the use of vulnerable subjects as the ‘content’ of film and works of art.

“Wieland ‘got’ the footage to make this film from a paid job; the girls she filmed were at a training centre seeking new opportunities,” Lee points out. “What does it mean to use other people’s bodies as matter” for a work of art?

Lee expresses her mix of admiration and distrust for Wieland’s work, wondering whether Wieland has advocated for vulnerable women or whether she has exploited them.

Lee concludes with a reflection on the relation between subject and work, this time questioning her own vulnerability as the writer making a subject of Wieland’s art.

The second posting of Terms will be launched in late January, 2021, examining vulnerability from another viewpoint.


Find out more about the Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery at Concordia.

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After languishing for decades, an important piece of Acadian art gets a new lease on life – CBC.ca

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For more than 40 years, an important piece of Acadian art languished in the basement of Louis-J-Robichaud High School in Shediac.

The theatre curtain, measuring three metres by 5½ metres, depicts a scene from the deportation of the Acadians in the mid-18th century.

Commissioned in 1931, the canvas was painted by Acadian artist Edouard Gautreau.

The curtain hung in the Shemogue parish theatre hall until the 1960s, when the hall fell into disrepair, but the work of art was spared.

Over the years, the canvas became increasingly damaged until it was rescued by the late Father Maurice Léger in 1979 and put in the care of the Société Historique de la Mer Rouge.

It sat in the high school basement for decades, before ownership was transferred to the Nation Prospère Acadie charity in May 2020, with the promise of restoration.

Daniel LeBlanc says as more dirt and mould is removed, the true colours and details of the painting are being revealed. (Kate Letterick/CBC News)

“When we first unveiled it here when it was brought here a lot of us thought “Oh my goodness, this is so damaged, what can we do with this?” said Daniel LeBlanc, the organization’s executive director.

“But the work began and suddenly we started to see colours appear, very beautiful colours, and I think we got the sense that this could be restored to a very high-quality painting.”

A grant of $7,500 from the Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation helped get the restoration work started.

Over the summer, the canvas got its first treatment, which removed dirt and consolidated some of the missing sections.  It had been ripped in half in the 1970s.

It was also put on display, at the Musée de Kent in Bouctouche, for the first time in a half a century.

Pictures show the condition of a corner of the canvas before the restoration work began, and after some special cleaning was done. (Kate Letterick/CBC CNews)

“Throughout the painting we see sections which were lost unfortunately with deterioration over time,” LeBlanc said. “There was a lot of filth and mould over it and so the work of the restoration expert was to prepare it so that it could be saved for future restoration work and also to expose it so that the public could see.”  

It will soon be taken down and rested on a flat surface for the winter, stabilizing it so it doesn’t have any stress on the threads of the painting. Then it will be ready for the next stage of restoration.

After languishing in a high school basement for more than 40 years, a piece of Acadian art is brought back to life. 3:03

“Painstakingly all the sections of the painting which have more filth on it, even mould, need to be cleaned thoroughly and the sections finally need to be patched in with paint,” LeBlanc said.

A specialist will match colours and repaint some of the damaged sections so it can finally be completed. A canvas will be needed underneath to keep everything supported.

Some of the pieces of the canvas are missing, after years of deterioration. (Kate Letterick/CBC News )

The final stage will be to frame the piece and have it permanently displayed.

LeBlanc said this was one of artist Edouard Gautreau’s largest works of art.

Born in Saint-Paul-de-Kent in 1906, Gautreau started painting at a young age, and he painted many large pieces in New Brunswick churches. LeBlanc said that unfortunately, many of those pieces were lost in fires.

LeBlanc said this canvas is special.

“Gautreau was very skilled in copying paintings but also bringing his own intuition and colours on paintings, so this is quite a much improved version of the small picture that you find in the Evangeline book,” he said.

LeBlanc said the first phase of restoration cost about $15,000, but the next phase will be more costly, at more than $75,000.

The large theatre curtain canvas was displayed this summer at the Musée de Kent in Bouctouche, for the first time in a half a century. (Kate Letterick/CBC News)

LeBlanc is still working on raising the funds, but hopes the restoration work can begin again next summer. He’d like to see it completed by late 2021 or in 2022.

LeBlanc said the canvas has had a long journey, one he’ll be happy to see completed.

“We went from discouragement to hope that we can actually complete this project and it can be a beautiful project for Acadia.” 

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