Arts & Social Change
Next May 18 I will be part of a pretty cool panel at Hostos Community college organized by the Bronx Council on the Arts. Get your free tickets here.
Join us as we partner with PEN America's NYC Literary Action Coalition for a moderated panel discussion with Bronx-based artists sharing how they have leveraged their own creative voices to address structural inequities and inspire social change. Award-winning literary artist Alejandro Heredia will engage internationally renowned movement artist Ana "Rokafella" Garcia, and internationally exhibited visual artist Laura Alvarez in a broad discussion about the intersection of arts and social justice.
Alejandro Heredia is a queer Afro Dominican writer and community organizer from The Bronx. He has received fellowships from Lambda Literary, VONA, the Dreamyard Rad(ical) Poetry Consortium, and the Dominican Studies Institute. In 2019, he was selected by Myriam Gurba as the winner of the Gold Line Press Fiction Chapbook Contest. His book of short stories, You’re the Only Friend I Need (2021), explores themes of queer transnationalism, friendship, and (un)belonging in the African Diaspora. Alejandro’s work has been featured in Teen Vogue, Lambda Literary Review, Tasteful Rude Magazine, and elsewhere.
Ana "Rokafella" Garcia is a NYC native who has represented women in Hip-hop dance professionally over the past three decades. She co-founded Full Circle Prod Inc – NYC's only non-profit Break Dance Theater company with her husband, veteran Bboy Kwikstep, generating theater pieces, original poetry, and local dance related events. She performs music based on her experiences growing up in Hip-hop's birthplace and has had her poetry published in a Bronx Poets anthology. In addition to directing the documentary about Bgirls (women who Breakdance) "All the Ladies Say," she is hired internationally to judge Break dance competitions based on her mastery of the classic Hip-hop dance style. Presently an adjunct professor at The New School and a Hip hop dance instructor at Peridance Studios in NYC and NJPAC, she motivates aspiring dancers to understand and to learn the business side of being an independent artist.
Laura Alvarez is an illustrator, author, designer, visual artist, muralist, community activist and educator. In NYC, she juggles her city job, her artist career, and her commitment to her Bronx community. Laura is the Co-Founder, Vice-President and COO of BxArts Factory, a non-profit organization whose mission is to make art accessible to everyone in the Bronx. She is also part of the Board of Directors of Artbridge, a non-profit that empowers local artists to transform prominent urban spaces into gallery-quality exhibitions, focusing on New York City’s 300+ miles of construction fencing and scaffolding. She has received several awards and grants that she has used to promote the arts among Bronx youths and to create work that starts a conversation about ecology, womanhood, racism, tradition, inequality, and immigration.
The Friendly Fridge BX
Last week through a chain of I know someone that knows someone, I got a text message if I knew anyone to paint a community fridge in The Bronx. As I am feeling better and now I can walk almost normal, I immediately volunteered.
Sara and Selma have been providing free food to their community for two months already. They saw what other communities were accomplishing by having a fridge in the street, asking local businesses to donate food at the end of the day, coordinating with community gardens to get fresh produce and checking on the fridge every day a couple of times a day to make sure it is clean and working.
While painting it I was impressed by the number of people that used it, to bring and to get food from it. We don't really know how people are struggling until you offer help.
This is a mutual aid initiative that has been pretty successful in different parts of the city and I see it is being done in other cities.
I will be hopefully painting a few more soon... This one is located at 242 Street and Broadway Ave. In the North Bronx.
We had a couple of technical difficulties to paint the fridge. The first day it was so humid that the paint I brought to paint didn't dry, so I had to come back a second time. All worth!!
Sing for Hope Piano #4 "All Eyes On You"
All eyes on you!
This piano is a reflection of what happens when you perform in front of the public. When you are an artist your work is constantly judged and criticized by the eyes of the viewer. We can't let the fear of being criticized overcome our desire of being artistic and express ourselves. Play, dance, create, sing, like no one is watching because you will give your best!
I created this piano to make sure every school that was promised a piano got one. Unfortunately not all the pianos make it through their time on the streets, but it's important to find the way to still give the gift of music to the kids that deserve it and are thirsty of it.
A few weeks ago we had the ribbon cutting ceremony in P186X school in The Bronx. Such a great time with those energetic and passionate kiddos :)
THANK YOU SING FOR HOPE! You have an amazing organization.
When I submitted my proposal I said "I WANT TO BEAUTIFY THE NEIGHBORHOOD BY CREATING A CROSS-STITCH PATTERN ALONG THE STAIRS REMEMBERING THE OLD TRADITIONS, THE HAND-MADE ARTISANAL DESIGN IN AN ERA OF TECHNOLOGY AND PLASTIC." The idea with this public art piece was to encourage people to use the stairs and to feel good about it.
After a couple of weeks working in the Morris Heights Neighborhood I think we did accomplish this task. Old and young were surprised by the colors and the flow of the piece in the steps. The community helped us through the hard process of painting under the hottest days of the summer. I also had the greatest volunteers that believed in the project and gave everything they had to help bring this idea to life. They came out of their comfort zone, learn new things and created a beautiful piece of art that will live in this community.
The Bronx also deserves beautiful things, and we are here to bring them.
176 street, between Popham St. & Undercliff Ave.
This project was done through Artbridge as an initiative of NYC Department of Transportation & NYC Department of Health.
La Cotorra Puertorriqueña
Loving The Bronx River
A few months ago a friend was looking for artists to participate in a beautification project that will bring a local marker to an underpass of the Bruckner expressway near The Bronx River. I was so excited about it, I created a sketch after I was explained the project and sent it. They loved it so I was in. A week ago I got delivered the 6x4 feet board and I finished over the weekend.
All the 12 boards will be installed soon and the ribbon cutting ceremony will take place April 27. Save the date and I'll keep all of you posted!
East River Compost Yard Murals
Last Friday I had the opportunity to paint two containers at the East River Compost Yard, part of the Lower East Side Ecology Center. NY Cares brought over a hundred volunteers from L'Oreal USA and they did a great job at painting the artwork I previously draw for them.
I am always happy to beautify this city and promote ecology, sustainability and composting!!
Thank you Lia for thinking of me for this project :)
Outer Space Piano
This year I am part of the Sing for Hope Piano artists again. It will be at Owen Dolen and we have some events celebrating Art, Astronomy and Music. I hope to see you there Friday, June 10th and Friday, June 17th from 8 to 10pm.
What’s Up With The StarsUsing a combination of naked eye and telescopic views we will explain what is visible in the night sky, you will learn how to navigate it and will view select objects through a telescope.
Visions of Sound
Using astronomically relevant classical pieces of work, a pianist will play said pieces on the Sing For Hope piano while observers learn about the space.
Sing For Hope Pianos
For two weeks in June, they bring stunningly painted pianos – each a unique piece of art created by a different artist – to New York City’s parks, streets, and public spaces for anyone and everyone to play. The Sing for Hope Pianos inspire community engagement.
Trash-Can Abstract-Art FREE workshop
I would like to invite you to a FREE workshop I will be teaching on
Saturday, April 9th
Saturday April 23rd
From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
at the Bronx Music Heritage Center Laboratory
1303 Louis Nine Boulevard, Bronx, NY, 10459
During this two-day workshop we will learn about Abstract Art and composition. After the theory, we will decorate some big trash cans with what we have learned. The final product will be used during the different street fairs and festivals WHEDco organizes.
This workshop is free, open to community members 18 years old or older!
REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED- SPACES ARE LIMITED!
KHCC Grows mural unveiling
Two trees grow in Kingsbridge Heights.
Next September 14th at 1p.m. we will have the unveiling of the KHCC Grows mural.
This summer we created an amazing mural at the 231st step street and Kingsbridge Terrace, in The Bronx. The kids from the Summer program at the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center (KHCC), some of the staff, some of my friends, and myself worked hard to beautify a long time neglected street in the Bronx.
Neighbors have been witness of the transformation at the step street and have expressed their gratitude numerous times.
It has been a long process, we faced many challenges, but at the end, seeing the final product and the reactions of the people who walk up and down the stairs every day, is priceless. I am so happy that I can better the life of a Bronx community through my art.
Thank you Karen, Lovie, Yazmeen, and Eileen for your awesome help, thanks to everyone that supports me, to Sadie because she believed in my vision more than a year ago when we started talking about it. Derwin, you know how many hours we have invested in this project! Carlos, who sent me the email about this opportunity, and the DOT that finally approved and in part funded the mural. Thanks to Bon Secours, because they made sure we didn't run out of money in the middle of the summer, and a big thanks to all the kids that participated painting during those long hours under the NYC sun.
See you the 14th!
I am a...
Graphic Designer, Illustrator, Educator, Community Activist... ARTIST!
All Images COPYRIGHT © 2008-2021, are property of Laura Alvarez Fernandez. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED