Wednesday, July 5, 2017

I Hate Your Work

On May 16 The Field presented "I Hate Your Work," a discussion about biases in the arts sector. Hosted by Gibney Dance, the panel featured Moira Brennan, Executive Director of the MAP Fund; Maura Donohue, dance professor at Hunter College and writer at Culturebot; Kayla Hamilton, artist, mover, and educator; and Nicky Paraiso, Director of Programming at The Club at La MaMa Experimental Theater Company; and was moderated by our Deputy Director, Shawn René Graham.

L-R: Paraiso, Brennan, Graham, Hamilton, and Donohue

"I Hate Your Work" references something that happened at Fieldwork. Fieldwork is our signature program in which artists meet weekly to show works in progress and share objective, non-directorial feedback. At the end of a recent session, one participant commented that they didn't want to, "talk about people whose work I hate." 

While that comment inspired the title of this panel, the topic of such strongly held biases has weighed on our minds for quite some time - both as an organization that serves artists creating work, and as artists ourselves. 

Who are these gatekeepers reading our grant proposals, reviewing our performances, and generally judging us? What prejudices are they bringing to the table? How can we navigate these biases? How can we challenge them? And the bigger question The Field is trying to answer: How do we ensure fair and equal access to resources and opportunities - so there's a place for all of us?

That's why we invited a panel of art makers, educators, and decision-makers to discuss the conscious biases that guide them as they judge people's work - and how to identify and try to correct the more insidious unconscious biases. (Spoiler alert: We could all probably use an equity auditor, Moira Brennan has some good reading recommendations for unpacking racially coded vocabulary, and Nicky Paraiso seems to really like pasta with garlic and oil.)

Click here for the audio recording of the full discussion. After the panel, we got personal as the audience broke into small groups to share the biases they've run against in their own creative work, and then we reconvened for a quick recap and Q&A. 

The goal of "I Hate Your Work" is to leave art-makers feeling understood, affirmed, and empowered; and for  gatekeepers to confront the unconscious biases that lead to inequitable situations. We must keep thinking about and challenging bias if we want to dismantle white supremacy in the arts. There is a lot of work ahead, as much as we may hate it.
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"I Hate Your Work" returns in January 2018 at The Fire This Time festival. 
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Nancy Ahn is a Program Associate in Artist Services at The Field.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Intimate Partner Violence Prevention, Advocacy & Healing Through the Arts

On Monday, June 5 from 8:30AM to 4:30PM our friends at Gibney Dance are hosting an extremely important conference to raise awareness, promote prevention, and support survivors of intimate partner violence - all through the arts.

https://a002-irm.nyc.gov/EventRegistration/RegForm.aspx?eventGuid=21b1cd4f-1b44-45cd-8908-b65d9a225fcc

Attendees can choose from four breakout sessions, designed to welcome participants of all artistic disciplines, skill levels, and physical abilities. From the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence:
1. Movement Workshop
Experience a participatory movement workshop offering activities geared toward empowering survivors of intimate partner violence. No dance background is necessary

2. Creative Healing Workshop
Use art materials that explore how the artistic process is used to express thoughts, feelings and memories with survivors

3. Mural Making Workshop
Create a mural and work on a performance project generated by group responses on the issue of intimate partner violence

4. Creative Writing Workshop
Learn about how writing strategies can be used to express the intricacies of intimate partner violence

Accessibility Notice: Gibney Dance Center is wheelchair accessible from a shared entrance with the NYC Department of Buildings on 280 Broadway, which requires a valid photo ID. If you require this or any other accommodations, such as ASL interpretation, please contact Heba Khalil at hkhalil@ocdv.nyc.gov upon registration and no later than three business days prior to the event date.
This conference is made possible by the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence, Gibney Dance, Hi Arts, Steps to End Family Violence, Sanctuary for Families, and the Department of Cultural Affairs - emphasizing the vital relationship between public policy and creative community, and illustrating the impact of cultural funding and resources for all of New York City.

Register here.

Monday, April 17, 2017

About The Field's Recommendations for NYC Cultural Planning

The Field is proud to join the growing number of local cultural institutions publicly sharing recommendations for New York City cultural planning. This movement was precipitated by the recent survey findings presented by Create NYC: a plan for managing and organizing resources for arts and culture – the first plan of its kind for the city – commissioned  by the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA).

Organized by the Hester Street Collaborative, Create NYC’s initial planning has drawn criticism for failing to address key issues including gentrification and inequity, as well as for its clear lack of outreach to local communities for their planning input.
A map of the organizations behind the Create NYC survey
The DCLA has until June 30, 2017 to submit a final plan to the City Council of New York – which is why smaller arts organizations like The Field are speaking out now.

The cornerstone of our recommendations is ambitious, but now is the time to THINK! We propose establishing a Center for Arts and Culture Equity. Working with the DCLA, this new organization would research, support, and put in motion best practices and policies for equity in the arts.

Architects of The Field's recommendations for NYC Cultural Funding, Wilfredo Hernandez and Jennifer Wright Cook
The issue of equity drives other recommended measures in our plan which may be easier and more immediately implemented – such as anti-racism training for DCLA grantees, improving employee diversity programs currently in place throughout the city, and allocating more resources to startup artists and historically underfunded areas like the Bronx and Staten Island. We also emphasize the importance of fair wages for artists and administrators working under DCLA grantees.

We invite you to read The Field’s full recommendations for NYC cultural planning here, and encourage you to seek out what your other favorite arts organizations and cultural institutions have to say.

With the June 30 deadline looming, the DCLA is inviting more input from the community by hosting Create NYC discussions throughout the city. Find upcoming events in your area at createnyc.org/show-up

Thursday, March 16, 2017

ART SPEAKS - Fieldwork in Therapeutic Settings

By Margaret Willis
Fieldwork Facilitator at The Field Network: Salt Lake City

Introduction
Margaret Willis shares her experiences on using Fieldwork in therapeutic settings. Margaret recently presented on this topic at the Field National Network Conference in Miami, FL in January 2017. 

Fieldwork rocked my world from day one. As someone who went to a private East Coast art school, I was no stranger to large departmental critiques. I learned what I had done “right” and what I had done “wrong”. I learned, too, how much professors love talking about themselves. Sure, this type of critique helped me to build a thick skin and develop my artwork technically speaking, but I always felt that something was missing. Then I was introduced to Fieldwork. Cue face melt. A new world of understanding was opened up right before me, as I learned that my art had emotional and narrative content, and that it affected people on a deeper level than just being “beautiful”. In Salt Lake City, we have a mix of visual and performing artists involved in Fieldwork, and this interdisciplinary infusion of minds exposed me to a smorgasbord of techniques, forms of expression, interpretations, and opinions. I learned that my art actually spoke for itself, and artists who weren’t painters understood its stories. What an amazing concept.

Over the years I became a Fieldwork facilitator and fell madly in love with the non-suggestive peer feedback structure. It is no surprise, then, that when I became the Art Director at Eva Carlston Academy, a Residential Treatment Center* for teenage girls in Salt Lake City, Utah, it was a no-brainer to include it into the curriculum. I have found that it is a great technique for critiques in class, but more importantly, it is a powerful therapeutic tool.

At Eva Carlston “artistic expression—whether painting, dancing, music, or writing—can be a potent therapeutic tool, providing an outlet for emotions and feelings that are too painful to express verbally… It is not unusual for traumatic events that have been buried deep in the subconscious to surface through art, dance, or recreational activities. Once the emotions have been released, a therapist can work more effectively with the student and healing is accelerated.”- From the Eva Carlston website www.evacarlston.com

Family Traits Tree Project

In our “art as therapy” groups, group members create artwork based on a number of prompts including family trees, boundary mandalas, body image, self-esteem, etc., and then go through several sessions of “processing” their work. Often they will explain what their pieces mean, but by using Fieldwork, they no longer get to explain away their art. They must let it speak on its own. Group members learn what their art says about these topics without being able to defend it. If you’ve ever worked with teenagers, you know what a struggle it is to give feedback without a long list of explanations, defensive tactics, and “no one gets me” statements. 

The Fieldwork guidelines for “no disclaimers” is the first step to nipping this defensiveness in the bud and letting viewers have an authentic response to artwork and interpret what is right in front of them, without descriptions from the artist. These young women have to sit (very uncomfortably at times) with the feedback and allow for their peers to form their own opinions and interpretations of their work, whether it is “right” or not.

They also have to learn how to not take these interpretations personally, even though the art projects are directly and intimately personal. They also learn that, whether the viewers “correctly” perceive their intentions, their artwork speaks on its own.

Many of my students have admitted that, while the Fieldwork process was painful, it was enlightening.  They describe how they thought they had been successfully hiding what was really going on for them, but learned that their artwork exposed their inner truths. Their art was speaking volumes about their trauma, suffering, and core issues. It was a scary process, realizing that they were exposing more than they intended. But, in a safe environment, surrounded by peers who were exposed to the same levels of vulnerability, it became a bonding experience - a way to learn about and relate to others. They learned that others actually DID get them. They didn’t feel so alone, knowing that others could see their stories, their pain, and their experiences. And this is a place for healing to begin.

*Residential treatment centers (RTC’s) are live-in health care facilities that provide therapy for youth with serious emotional and/or behavior problems, Youth temporarily live in facilities where they can be supervised and monitored by trained staff.

ABOUT MARGARET WILLIS


A bit of a joyful mad scientist, Margaret Willis loves to experiment with a plethora of materials, from oil-painted portraits, to up-cycled plastic bag crowns, to giant glue and fabric monsters. As an active traveler and explorer, she has been enthusiastically chronicling her world through her art since she was a small child. She studied painting, sculpture, and printmaking at Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia, PA, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in fine arts. Margaret has exhibited her work nationally and internationally, and while she has lived in multiple states across the county, now proudly claims Utah as her home. Among her many jobs that have influenced her art, including fire-fighter, librarian, and café manager, she was also as an artist-in-residence and has worked for several non-profit art organizations, including the Eastern Oregon Regional Arts Council, the Salt Lake City Arts Council, the Sundance Film Festival, the Utah Arts Festival, and served as the Interim Director of the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art. She is currently the Art Director for a small residential treatment center in Salt Lake City, where she teaches her love of art and passion for life with her students.

About The Field Network
The Field Network is a consortium of sites that provide Fieldwork workshops, The Field's signature method of peer to peer feedback, and other Field programs. Initiated in 1993, the Network has locations in cities across the United States and in Europe. Each site tailors its activities to the local community with the mission to support artists. Sites are stewarded by trained Fieldwork facilitators who also are practicing artists themselves.

Current network sites in the U.S. include: New York City, Atlanta (GA), Houston (TX), Bay Area (CA), Boulder (CO), Washington D.C., Miami (FL), Milwaukee (WI), Portland (OR), Salt Lake City (UT), Seattle (WA). The Field also has an international network site in Vienna. 

For more information, click here.

About Fieldwork in New York City
The Field NYC hosts three Fieldwork sessions per year (Spring, Summer & Fall).

Our Spring 2017 cohort of Fieldwork artists will be sharing their artistry at the Work in Progress showing at Theaterlab (357 W. 36th Street, 3rd floor) on Thursday, April 20th. Registration is open for individuals interested in attending – reserve your seat by clicking here!

Our upcoming Summer 2017 session features a more intensive 6-week structure for advanced artists and an extensive partnership with studio spaces across all five boroughs of New York City that affords our Fieldwork artists access to free studio space during the course of the program. This session will also culminate in a Works in Progress showing. More information will be available on this session in the coming weeks.

For question on Fieldwork in NYC, contact The Field’s Program Manager, Wilfredo Hernandez, at wilfredo@thefield.org



Friday, February 24, 2017

ACTIVATING ART POWER by Rachel Y. DeGuzman


INTRODUCTION
The Field recently hosted ACTIVATE EQUITY, a day-long event focused on exploring how we can create a more equitable arts sector in New York City. The event on January 28, 2017 featured a workshop called ART POWER, created and facilitated by FLF Manager Fellow & CEO/President of 21st Century Arts Rachel DeGuzman. Here are Rachel's thoughts about the workshop, as well as links to resources developed that day. 

MUSING
When I consider the negative impacts of D.W. Griffith’s 1915 film The Birth of a Nation as a contemporary woman living in the 21st century, I do have to use my imagination but it is not a completely abstract exercise. I can visualize my great-grandfather, John E. Eubanks Sr., a “colored” detective on the police force during the 1917 East St. Louis Massacre when he defied orders and led hundreds, if not thousands of black people to the safety of the Free Bridge.

Did those white mobs, including some police officers and national guardsmen, consider The Birth of a Nation justification or even motivation when they murdered countless black men and women, setting some on fire as they fled in terror down the bloody streets of East St. Louis?

I can imagine the post-traumatic anxiety that my great-grandmother Belle must have suffered. The despair that came from knowing the middle-class life she and her husband led, a sepia version of the 20th century American dream, could not protect them from homegrown terrorism fueled by racial animus. She divorced her husband when he refused to join her and follow Marcus Garvey to Liberia. Their split-up was an ongoing source of family division and great pain for my grandmother all her 95 years of life.

Whatever its artistic merits, D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation had great power, art power- way beyond its impact on my grandmother’s family.



President Woodrow Wilson screened it at the White House and then endorsed the film. It was an artistic piece of fictional propaganda that masqueraded as fact, which was possible because as Frederick Douglass once said, “We have an aristocracy of skin (which bestows) the high privilege of insulting a colored man with the most perfect impunity.”

D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation had a devastating effect on racism and race relations in the 20th century and, if we are honest, it still does over 100 years since it premiered on February 8, 1915 at Clune’s Auditorium in Los Angeles, California.

THE WORKSHOP
The Art Power: Owning our Capacity to Disrupt Racism workshop’s goal was to activate participants power as culture workers to disrupt racism.  We utilized The Birth of a Nation as a springboard to connect with our individual and collective powers to contribute to a more equitable cultural landscape in New York City and beyond.

After considering the powerful impact of The Birth of a Nation via an excerpt of Ava DuVernay’s 13th,  I asked the more than 20 workshop participants to consider other art and cultural archetypes that have supported racism and structures of white oppression. They were asked to write as many responses as time allowed and post those responses on the negative impact wall. There were more than 40 responses that ranged from instances of cultural appropriation, racial pornography, stereotypes, whitewashing to Disney. (For a complete list of responses, please see the “Racist Art Link” pdf in our shared Google Drive)

In sharing the myriad of negative art and cultural archetypes the participants validated as a group that they exist and are harmful. This is helpful in a system of white oppression where we’re often told that are perceptions are not accurate or that we are overreacting. Playing the race card. It’s just a cartoon character, right?

The next step on the path to connecting to art power was identifying art and cultural archetypes that contributed to equity and positive expressions of difference in what is still a most (as opposed to post) racial society. It was empowering for participants to note that there were many more positive posts than negative. The responses ranged from contemporary art by Kara Walker, Camille A. Brown and Dada Masilo to communication vehicles like the Codeswitch podcast and Facebook Live to the legacies of social justice giants like Frederick Douglass and James Baldwin. (For a complete list of responses, please see the “Affirming Arts and Archetypes” pdf in our shared Google Drive)

The final task during the hour-long workshop was for participants to focus on their work in art/culture and commit to doing something through their work to disrupt racism. Understanding that change can come from the collective impact of many individual actions, attendees committed to an Activate Equity Manifesto. (For a complete list of responses, please see the “Activate Equity Manifesto Posts” pdf in our shared Google Drive)

One of the best fortunes I ever received on a Facebook App said that your plans won’t work unless you do. There is also a saying about the best-laid plans. So, our final step was to set up workshop buddies who are to check in with each other in March or April for further inspiration and accountability.

I’ll present this workshop again because participants told me it was meaningful to them and because it was such a positive experience for me to go through this exercise with the group, I would classify it as self-care.

For access to the aforementioned documents, please click below:

Rachel Y. DeGuzman is president & CEO of 21st Century Arts, a Rochester, NY based arts consultancy. She is the founder and executive producer of A Call to Action symposiums and the recently launched A Street Light Festival. DeGuzman is an active member at VisitRochester and Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Tourism/Arts Work Group. Rachel is a program partner of Janklow Arts Leadership Program at Syracuse University. She serves as an ongoing pro-bono advisor to several local arts and cultural organizations. Rachel writes a community arts blog at democratandchronicle.com and is the host of a weekly radio show, Up Close and Cultural, on WAYO 104.3 FM where she also serves on its leadership team..  Ms. DeGuzman was 1 of 14 national arts professionals selected by Association of Performing Arts Presenters for 2012/2013 Leadership Development Institute - where she spent a year in collective inquiry focused on the theme of Knowing and Connecting Art with Community. Her past positions include director of advancement/external relations at Rochester City Ballet and marketing and publicity manager of Nazareth College Arts Center. She was director of development/communications at The Commission Project and director of development at Garth Fagan Dance.  Rachel served on Mayor Warren's Neighborhood: Quality of Life transition focus group; was a grant panelist for Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester and NYSCA/REDC. She was a member of the Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester’s Cultural Diversity Initiative Committee.  DeGuzman was a past member of William Warfield Scholarship Fund board. http://www.21stcenturyarts.net