A Simple Guide to Contacting Your Representatives
Voting and protesting are important, but another effective way to make your voice heard is by contacting your representative. While it sounds easy enough, many are thrown off by wondering just how to do so. Hannah Smothers at VICE has made “The World’s Most Basic Guide to Contacting Your Reps” which explains how to search for and find the best contacts depending on the cause, and then how to find relevant scripts and templates to make the process even simpler—especially for those who lack the confidence to write or call in their own words. Smothers says (and we can attest), “It’s worth mentioning that once you start calling reps, it’s easy to become… obsessed with calling your reps.” Not just now, but always. Read the full guide at VICE.
Shoga Films’ “Queer Harlem Renaissance: A Prospectus” Documentary
Drawing attention to several influential queer figures of the Harlem Renaissance—including Bessie Smith, James Baldwin, Countee Cullen and Ma Rainey—non-profit production company Shoga Films’ short documentary, Queer Harlem Renaissance: A Prospectus, highlights the importance of the Black LGBTQ+ community at the time. The explosive artistic, cultural and intellectual movement led to the emergence of numerous Black voices that would define the early 20th century. While that’s known, many do not know about the extent of the queer contributors within. Watch the 15-minute documentary, narrated by Daveed Diggs, on YouTube to learn more and explore all of Shoga Films’ other Black, queer videos and documentaries on their site.
A Retired New York Department of Sanitation Employee’s Stunning Collection of Treasures
Nelson Molina—a retired New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY) employee—is responsible for one of the NYC’s most eclectic gallery spaces: the top two floors of a 20,000-square-foot active garbage truck garage filled with treasures he found while on the job. Molina collected the discarded objects (posters, toys, vintage electronics, art, memorabilia and more) on his route, which spanned the blocks between 96th and 110th Streets, and First through Fifth Avenue. In this video, shot by VICE and hosted by beloved art critic Jerry Saltz, Molina guides viewers through the vast collection. Molina is a curator, but he doesn’t see it that way. He says, “My mother told me, ‘If somebody can use it, don’t throw it away; put it away.” Saltz says the immense, organized collection is the “found detritus of New York, accumulated as one great design.” Watch the full video on YouTube.
Dr Samantha N Sheppard Selects Films That Explain Why People Riot
In an article for The Atlantic, cinema and media studies scholar, professor, and writer Dr Samantha N Sheppard outlines some of the films that best explain why people riot—as opposed to what many argue to be “morally appropriate forms of protest.” Beginning with Spike Lee’s phenomenal Do The Right Thing (1989), Dr Sheppard traces various significant works including The Hughes brothers’ Menace II Society (1993) and Ivan Dixon’s The Spook Who Sat by the Door (1973), giving them context within history and contrasting them with “representations of white violence in film [that] spectacularize riots and lionize vigilante justice.” The explanation, if one can distill it, is a line from Do The Right Thing‘s protagonist Mookie. When Mookie asks his pizza shop boss for his paycheck, he is denied; the boss explains that Mookie breaking a window kicked off the looting and damaging of the property. Mookie responds: “Motherfuck a window—Radio Raheem is dead.” Read more at The Atlantic.
Post Office Portraits at the USPS in Jamaica, Queens
This week’s edition of The Cut’s The Look Book (an ongoing series that dives into various NYC workplaces) focuses on the Jamaica, Queens Post Office, where USPS employees are “working 10- and 12-hour daily shifts to keep up with demand.” Photographer Kyle Dorosz photographed 19 individuals, while Katy Schneider and Jane Starr Drinkard asked them questions. Their answers range from pragmatic to emotional, but all are tender and thoughtful. A postal service worker for 14 years, Patricia Staley (pictured) says, “I love my customers. I just literally love them. There’s one elderly woman, my heart. I get her a sausage and egg with no cheese on a roll every day. Another woman, she lost her sister to COVID. I left her a flower on her step. We have to encourage one another.” The feature reveals a little about who these USPS employees are, and reminds us just how important their work connecting the community is. See more at The Cut.
The Importance of Depicting Queer Love in Art
Artsy spoke with 14 artists from all over the world about the significance of portraying queer love in their work, and their approach to it. Their thoughtful answers mirror the diversity of their work. South African photographer and filmmaker Zanele Muholi says that portraying queer love simply means “celebrating and acknowledging the presence and existence of all those who have been denied their right to love.” While Shoog McDaniel says it “normalizes it, celebrates it, makes it beautiful.” The publication also shares thoughts from Gisela McDaniel, Sunil Gupta, Jess T Dugan and others. Explore more at Artsy.
Protest Art Populates The White House Perimeter
A new fence erected 600 feet from the usual White House security perimeter has restricted access to public land. The administration claims the fence is a necessary precaution for the President’s security, but many have voiced fears over how long it may be in place. In response, protestors are posting their own artwork and statements of solidarity. From colorful floral messages to painted portraits and Black Lives Matter messages, the fence has become a canvas for thousands to express their anger and passion. “It’s like the whole nation is crying, and this whole fence is crying. And if you were to back up and see it from beginning to end, it’s nothing but posters from all the way down,” Kai Gamanya, an artist who hung a painted piece of his own, tells the DCist. See more there.
The Increased Importance of City Parks
Despite continued limitations on where people can go, due to the pandemic, US parks saw an increase in foot traffic recently. In Dallas, usage climbed to 75% from 35%. In Erie, numbers jumped 165%. More recently, protestors across the country have been using parks as rallying points. All of this highlights “the importance of public space for civil action and engagement and [will] likely add to repair and maintenance costs,” CityLab explains. Those costs come at a time when cities face decreased budgets, and demands to divert funds for PPE for state employees, COVID-19 testing sites and more. But this “convergence of crises could ultimately help convince local leaders and the public to reconsider the importance of public space, and even see parks as part of a broader plan for economic and social recovery.” Akron, Ohio’s Deputy Mayor for Integrated Development, James Hardy says parks are “where people from different backgrounds come together and find themselves on equal footing. They’re essential to the American experiment, and this is a great opportunity to make that argument.” Read more at CityLab.
Advancing Technologies Deliver 3D Scans of Deep Sea Creatures
Marine biologists have struggled to study sea creatures in middle depths due to frigid temperatures, air pressure and visibility, but a new device called DeepPIV will change this. It can perform CT scan-like surveys of animals and transmit data back to computers to be composed into super-detailed 3D images. For the process, a thin beam of laser light runs through each creature, producing a rendering of its structural features and innards. These images will provide some of the first-ever views into the functions of their internal systems, offering further insight into life underwater. Dr Kakani Katija (an engineer at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute) says “the new technique would help unveil how the gooey animals do such things as move, feed, procreate and protect themselves.” Find out more at The New York Times.
Books For Guidance on Developing a More Inclusive Workplace
With the mission of learning everything possible in order to be actively anti-racist, employers will benefit from four books—selected by Fast Company—that yield much insight on everything from unconscious bias in hiring practices to recognition of micro-aggressions. The works hail from authors James Baldwin (The Fire Next Time), Ijeoma Oluo (So You Want To Talk About Race), Bärí A Williams (Diversity in the Workplace), and Ibram Kendi (Stamped from the Beginning)—and included acclaimed titles and more recent entries. Watch the video at Fast Company to learn more about each selection. Quartz also offers additional guidance worth reading.
Sight Unseen’s “Offsite Online” Has a Renewed Mission
Sight Unseen’s virtual exhibition Offsite Online commences this week with a mission to direct funds to the participating parties’ chosen organizations—18 different initiatives that work to benefit Black and indigenous people and to fight white supremacy. The exhibition features work by 100+ designers, brands and students. It’s the virtual version of their beloved Offsite event which usually occurs in-person in NYC. Some pieces exist as 3D renderings while finishing touches are completed; all are available to purchase through the creator, as they’re responsible for the transaction and the corresponding donation. From furniture to light fixtures, objet d’art and more, there’s plenty to peruse—with an added incentive. Shop the collection at 1stdibs.
Museums Gather Protest Signs, Art + Ephemera to Preserve as Historical Artifacts
In an attempt to record the unified movement and emotional temperature of the present day, nine curators from three Smithsonian museums—including the National Museum of African American History and Culture—conversed with protestors and collected their discarded signs beside the art-covered temporary security fence near Lafayette Square. This aligns with a recent initiative from museums, referred to as “rapid response collecting,” aimed at gathering ephemera in real time. Although the fate of these works is unknown, it’s undeniable that we stand at an important precipice that must be documented and preserved. Read more about what the curators sought out and how they plan to proceed with some of their acquisitions at The New York Times.
An Ongoing List of Black-Owned Galleries
In an effort to direct support to Black gallerists and their valuable contributions to the art world, Artsy published a list of spaces across the country “founded or run (in part or entirely) by Black gallerists.” So far, the list incorporates many important institutions, from Oakland’s Thelma Harris Gallery, which opened in 1987, to Terrell Tilford’s five-year-old Band of Vices in LA and Dorsey’s Art Gallery in Brooklyn—the “oldest, continuously run, Black-owned and -operated art gallery in New York City.” As Artsy says, “Black dealers have launched the careers of artists who are now considered canonical and have worked with collectors intent on lifting up the voices of individuals from historically underrepresented communities.” Take a look, and send galleries to be added to the list, at Artsy.
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