Our first exhibit PELEA: Visual Responses to Spatial Precarity explored how artists respond to displacement through their work and practice and provided a platform to examine visual strategies among contemporary Latinx artists. The show was curated by our inaugural artist in residence Shellyne Rodriguez with support from the Latinx Project’s curatorial team. The show ran from February 15th through May 11th, 2019 at the King Juan Carlos Center. You can access the exhibition catalog here: PELEA Exhibition Catalog
Participating artists were Groana Melendez, Francisca Benítez, Melissa Calderón, Mi Casa No es Su Casa, Alicia Grullón, Jehdy Vargas, Carlos Jesus Martinez Dominguez, Roy Baizan, and Shellyne Rodriguez. Their bios are below. The exhibition was cosponsored by NYU’s King Juan Carlos Center.
This exhibition gathers work from artists grappling with the violence of hyper speculation and displacement unfolding throughout the city. Working through performance, photography, drawing, painting, and sculpture, these artists engage the lived experience of spatial precarity from a range of perspectives. From an individual experience to a collective resistance, as an observation or as a call to action, the artists in PELEA offer visibility to those communities and their enclaves under threat of erasure. In so doing, they challenge us to take notice of the encroachment of the private onto the public, and of the colonial character of gentrification as it appears in the quotidian experience by evoking at once the realms of home, hallways, domestic spaces, the spiritual, housing policy, courts, labor, bodies, pride, and more. Through their varied takes, the artists in PELEA push us to think about alternative imaginaries of value, and enduring visions of resistance and community. They tell us it may be a struggle, it may be a fight, but no one is bowing out.
Calderón has exhibited her work at El Museo del Barrio, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, The Queens Museum, Socrates Sculpture Park, The Portland Museum of Art, Pioneer Works, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Arsenal de la Puntilla and Galeria 20/20 in Puerto Rico, Art in Odd Places Festival, and Smack Mellon among others. She is a PEPATIAN artist; a South Bronx-based organization dedicated to creating, producing and supporting contemporary multi-disciplinary art by Latino and Bronx-based artists founded by visual artist Pepon Osorio and dance/choreographer Merian Soto. Moreover, she continues to be an advocate and activist for conscious arts revitalization in the South Bronx. She has been included in such books as Frescos, 50 contemporary artists from Puerto Rico, Strange Material: Storytelling through Textile, and EMERGENCY INDEX VOL. 4 ‘s annual performance publication. Melissa was born and bred in the Bronx.
Roy Baizan is a Chicanx documentary photographer and arts educator from the Bronx whose work focuses on community, identity, and family. Shortly after graduating from the International Center of Photography’s free 10 week program at The Point- ICP @THE POINT he became a Teaching Assistant where he helps teach photography to youth in the Bronx and Manhattan. He has since worked for The Bronx Documentary Center, The Point, The Bronx River Art Center, and ICP continuing to pass forward the opportunities that were awarded to him through photography classes. Recently he graduated from the Visual Journalism and Documentary Practice Program at the International Center of Photography with the support of the Wall Street Journal Scholarship and Board of Directors Scholarship. His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Gothamist, America Magazine, and Riverdale Press.
Alicia Grullón moves between performance, video, and photography, channeling her interdisciplinary approach towards critiques on the politics of presence- an argument for the inclusion of disenfranchised communities in political and social spheres. Grullón’s works have been shown in numerous group exhibitions including The 8th Floor, Franklin Furnace Archives, Bronx Museum of the Arts, BRIC House for Arts and Media, School of Visual Arts, El Museo del Barrio, Columbia University, Socrates Sculpture Park, Performa 11, and Art in Odd Places. She has received grants from the Puffin Foundation, Bronx Council on the Arts, the Department of Cultural Affairs of the City of New York, and Franklin Furnace Archives. She has participated in residencies in the United States and Korea among them New York University’s Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics. She has presented for the 2017 Whitney Biennial with Occupy Museums, Creative Time Summit 2015, The Royal College of Art, United States Association for Art Educators, School of Visual Arts, and the American Museum of Natural History. Her work has been written about in the New York Times, Village Voice, Hyperallergic, Creative Time Reports, Art Fag City, ArtNet News, Blouin Artinfo, New York Daily News, The Columbia Spectator and Brooklyn Press.
Groana Melendez is a lens-based artist whose work focuses on the representation of marginalized peoples. She was raised between New York City and Santo Domingo and holds an MFA in Advanced Photographic Studies from the International Center of Photography-Bard Program. Groana graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Photography from Syracuse University. She has participated in group exhibits in China and Guadalupe, as well solo shows in the New York Public Library, CUNY, and ICP-Bard’s studio in Queens. She works and lives in the Bronx in New York City.
CARIBBEAN NEW YORKER, FATHER, ATHEIST ON SOME DAYS, NON THEIST AGNOSTIC ON OTHERS, APOSTATE, LEFTIST, SOCIALIST, AGITATOR, ETHICAL POLYAMORIST, HS DROPOUT, GED HOLDER, AUTODIDACT, EDUCATOR, DEBATER, WHITE PEOPLE FEARING, ALL PEOPLE LOVING, QUEERISH?, MARIJUANA ADVOCATING, HIP HOP, SNEAKER, COMIC AND SCI-FI LOVING NON LATINO/A/X IDENTIFYING DOMINICAN PUERTO RICAN INTERDISCIPLINARY ARTIST BORN ON A MILITARY BASE IN NORTH CAROLINA IN 1976. CARLOS JESUS MARTINEZ DOMINGUEZ A.K.A FEEGZ, FIGARO & FIRO173 HAS EXHIBITED TAUGHT AND SPOKEN IN DOZENS OF INSTITUTIONS NATIONALLY AND INTERNATIONALLY, WASHINGTON HEIGHTS NYC SINCE 84.
Shellyne Rodriguez is a visual artist who works in multiple mediums to depict spaces and subjects engaged in strategies of survival against false hope, a device employed in the service of subjugation. These psychological and emotive inquiries puts the Baroque in contact with a Decoloniality rooted in the traditions of hip hop culture. Her work utilizes text, drawing, painting, found materials, and sculpture to emphasize her ideas. Shellyne graduated with a BFA in Visual & Critical Studies From the School of Visual Arts and an MFA in Fine Art from CUNY Hunter College. She has had her work and projects exhibited at El Museo del Barrio, Queens Museum, New Museum and her work has recently been commissioned by the city of New York for a permanent public sculpture, which will serve as a monument to the people of the Bronx.
Francisca Benítez (b.1974) is an artist born and raised in Chile, living and working in New York since 1998. Her practice delves into the intersections between space, politics and language, working with different mediums including drawing, video, photography, performance and music. Her work has recently been shown at the New Britain Museum of American Art, the XII Havana Biennial in Cuba, the Jeu de Paume in Paris, France, and El Museo del Barrio in New York. She graduated as an architect from the University of Chile (1998) and Master in Fine Arts from Hunter College CUNY (2007).
Jehdy Vargas, a New York based artist, seeks to link the past to the contemporary as she draws on her personal experience. In this process she hopes to engage in a transformative act which purges the present of its deep psychic impact, somewhat akin to a therapeutic experience. A person’s history fuses with their present circumstances on many levels, carrying deep emotional impact. Through reflecting on the past, integrating it into the present, she draws the viewer into this psychic drama, hoping to relieve it of its limiting effects. She utilizes a journalistic approach to her work which involves shooting, printing, pasting, scanning, painting, and repeating this process until the primary mechanic image is obscured, potentially lost. Expanding beyond the use of canvas, she utilizes found objects which help define the image. Through this act she hopes to blur the line between past and present, create a transfigurative process.
Mi Casa No es Su Casa
A political art project by New Yorkers for New Yorkers, based out of the Mayday Space in Bushwick, using art + direct action to build a visible resistance to gentrification and displacement in NYC and beyond. #DecolonizeTheHood