The Most Interesting Healing Art Fundraiser in the World
As we enter into a new year full of hope and optimism, healing is what we are all longing for as people, as communities, as a nation, and as a world. Showfields is hosting an art fundraiser to benefit Young New Yorkers in their mission to use art to engage and empower system-involved young people and bring positive systemic change to the ways that they are arrested, prosecuted, and sentenced in New York’s criminal legal and family court system. We are thrilled to lead the conversation on this timely theme in the current context of the conversation between healing that leads to change.
The following is a conversation between Jenée-Daria Strand Curatorial Assistant for the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum and Tam Gryn Head Curator of Showfields regarding the driving context of this art fundraiser:
How are you feeling these days?
JDS: In the grand scheme of things, I cannot complain. I’m healthy, safe, and supported––I feel blessed.
TG: I am feeling cautiously optimistic. New legislation coming into place, inklings of justice here and there, a kind speech, spring around the corner. I am grateful to work with artists and entrepreneurs who are continuously taking risks. This helps me nurture my sense of optimism and waking up every morning with the mission to create healing change in both a micro and macro level using the power of art. I am simultaneously grateful about my current circumstances and still like to think of the future as better than the present.
What does societal healing mean to you in 2021?
JDS: To me, societal healing means creating enduring change based on the needs of the most marginalized individuals. I’m referring to changes that will decrease the wealth gap, obliterate homelessness, shatter the school to prison pipeline, and more. It’s vital to acknowledge, and dismantle, the various institutional systems that have upheld these inequalities for centuries. Only when that is done, will true societal healing begin.
TG: As I curator, I try to find patterns in generational truths. What I see now is that our whole generation is screaming for healing at the top of their lungs; healing from this pandemic, healing medically, healing holistically with all kinds of contemporary spiritual practices, healing as a society...even politicians are invoking the word “healing” in their speeches to bridge the divide, small business centered around healing are giving consumers what they are asking for, the list is endless.
What do you consider the difference in the current conversation about healing and change?
JDS: Within institutional structures across many fields, conversations are being coupled with new policies and initiatives, which creates all the difference. Terms like “healing” and “change” can feel amorphous and have historically been used to pacify efforts towards a new future.
TG: I'm listening to the conversation in my artistic circles about healing being an “empty” word and a push to drive it towards real change. It is true that we have to heal ourselves before healing others, that is why “self care” seems to have endless momentum. Maybe that's the stage where most of us are at right now. However, it is important to take it one step further and ask ourselves how we create real change in the world and not just keep it within.
How do you feel about the context of Showfields for this art fundraiser for Young New Yorkers?
JDS: I think it’s a great collaboration! My recent research interests, coupled with my own familial ties to the carceral system, have made me deeply invested in its impact on Black and Brown youth––and its effects on Black people, in totality. Also, it’s comforting to know that Showfields created virtual art fundraisers as a purpose-driven way to engage with their audiences. When brands create initiatives that adapt and respond its surrounding culture, rather than a one-time performative gesture, their sincerity becomes evident and that makes such a difference.
TG: Our thriving community of founders, curators and artists are hand picked by their leadership in diversity, mission, championing the causes that our generation cares about in real -time. We support other curators and artists by creating online shows that are always mission driven and have a charity component. We have managed to support our ecosystem of 500+ artists, brands and curators - even during this pandemic- by creating a click- to-buy from a live video technology that invites collectors to the behind the scenes of an exhibition. This is sometimes more meaningful than a show in the physical world because the audience is invited to the conversation with the curator and artists participating, while fundraising for a crucial cause, which is the truest connection and meaning behind collecting.
What is your mission as a curator?
JDS: My mission as a curator is to amplify the voices, efforts, and stories of the people who look like me––while bridging the gap between popular Black culture and art history. My mission is to create access––to show Black and Brown people that they can be artists, museum directors, educators; they can take up spaces that have perpetually excluded them for decades. Simultaneously, I stress that museums cannot create change on behalf of a select body of people, but rather, change must be done in collaboration. At some point, the most authoritative voices in the room must step back, create space, and listen to the future leaders of the field.
TG: I want to see a world in which artists are the most desired people in society, taking industries one by one with their observations. Artists should be hired when designing hospitals to improve the healing and aesthetic experience. Artists should be hired at congress meetings to provide bridging points of view. Artists should be hired at real estate and city planning meetings since they always seem to know the next best neighbourhood to invest in. Artists should be hired at construction sites to improve the utilization of dead space (i.e parking lots in the wake of self-driving cars). I can go on and on and on with each and every industry. Let me be clear, I do not mean just putting paintings on a wall. I mean completely transforming the design, function, value and total experience of each of those industries. In 2021, I think we are readier than ever for a direct attempt with deeper integration between art and other industries. The myth of the starving artist is dead. Artists are no longer outcasts but the most desired people in society. Everyone needs creativity in an economy that requires us to reinvent ourselves faster than you can say Q2. In a planet plagued by economic crises, social movements, technological changes, climate and healthcare catastrophes, we need artists more than ever to give us the out-of-the-box ideas we need to survive.
SHOWFIELDS will launch a fundraising art sale and exhibition with proceeds to benefit Young New Yorkers. Brooklyn Museum curator Jenée-Daria Strand will host the sale. The sale will feature artworks from 20+ New York’s most exciting leading and emerging street artists. The exhibition will be installed at SHOWFIELDS flagship store in New York City at 11 Bond Street where it will be free and open to the public for viewing as well as online in this link.
Through arrest diversion and court-mandated programs, Young New Yorkers assists young people who have been arrested to first, swiftly exit the court system without incurring a lifelong criminal record or other collateral consequences of system involvement and second, transform the criminal legal system through their own creative voices. In most cases, upon successful completion of the Restorative Arts Diversion (RAD) program, a participant’s case is dismissed and sealed. To date, over 1,300 young people who were arrested have been diverted out of the system to make art with Young New Yorkers instead.
Proceeds from this fundraiser will go towards the impactful work of healing New York's youth and allowing them an opportunity to improve their lives as well as their communities. We are giving audiences the direct power of art to transform prosecutorial cultures.
Make a difference, collect art.
Some of the wonderful Participating Artists: Murjoni Merriweather, Justin Sterling, Pedro Troncoso, Demarcus McGaughey, Mark Clennon and many others.
SHOWFIELDS, 11 Bond Street, New York, NY 10012
February 18 - March 4, 2021
Jenée-Daria Strand is the Curatorial Assistant for the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum. There, she supports in the research and organization of numerous exhibitions, including Carrie Mae Weems' "Resist COVID: Take 6" and the upcoming "Lorraine O'Grady: Both/And." Jenée-Daria aims to expand her knowledge of art history, and integrate her interests in performance practices, to examine Black subjectivity within the museum setting. She holds a BFA from Florida State University, and is pursuing an MA at New York University (NYU).
Tam Gryn Tam is the current Head Curator at SHOWFIELDS where she is helping to bridge art with retail. She is the former Head of the Curatorial Department of the Artist Pension Trust as well as Head Curator for RAW POP UP. Tam is the co-founder of Culturadora and currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Kulturspace Foundation in Berlin. Originally from Venezuela, she studied Art History at the Sorbonne University. She then specialized in Diplomacy at the Herzeliya Interdisciplinary Institute in Israel and received her M.A. in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution from Tel Aviv University. Tam has curated multiple art exhibitions as well as charity fundraisers. Cultural projects that Tam and her team produced hosted 300,000+ individuals, curated and 300+ site-specific art installations by global artists and reached 13B+ in online impressions.