Casita Maria is proud to present IN YOUR ABSENCE YOU EXIST by Bronx artist BLANKA AMEZKUA opening March 1 through May 17, 2017 and curated by Christine Licata. Throughout her practice, Amezkua transforms the ways in which society and cultural histories interact. She utilizes traditional and domestic Mexican techniques and customs in her work to address community-based social issues such as equity, race, gender and identity. For her solo show at Casita Maria Gallery, Amezkua has “woven” a large-scale, site-specific work throughout the space of geometric shapes incorporating painted silhouettes of bodies, string, yarn, pipe cleaners and every-day found materials as a testament to the physicality of loss as well as a visual definition of the physical and psychological void that is left behind when a loved one is absent or disappears from a person’s life.
As an integral part of Amezkua’s practice, and utilizing the same materials and methodologies, Amezkua collaborated with Casita Maria Middle School students to create their own site-specific interpretations of “In your absence you exist” in Casita’s Youth & Community Gallery. Also participating in the exhibition are students from the Bronx Studio School for Writers & Artists (BSSWA) as part of Casita’s first “Teen Curation Program” that teaches youth curatorial skills such as art writing and public programming.
Throughout Amezkua’s work she combines traditional and contemporary art practices and techniques as well as sociocultural-based mythologies and philosophies to create alternative, yet accessible, and inclusive dialogues around the challenges and controversies we experience in society. With “In your absence you exist” she incorporates intricate designs inspired by the centuries-old geometric patterns within Islamic art. Also evident is the yarn wrapping art and symbolic shapes of the Huichol, an indigenous people in Mexico.
There are various ancient myths and beliefs that incorporate string as a connecting force between people’s minds and bodies, as well as their relationship to each other and the world. For the Huichol, the strands and geometric forms are “lines of communication” with the universal life-energy forces. Geometries are also used throughout Western art history and science as templates for understanding our bodies and the environment. Such as natural geometries (fractals, hexagons and spirals) that are the basis for many mathematical studies or in quantum science, “string theory” that essentially holds a similar premise, connecting all energy particles into two-dimensional strings that vibrationally interconnect all matter.
“In your absence you exist” reverberates and echoes those bodies that were once present in our lives and now no longer exist among us due to unknown reasons. Amezkua explores the question, “What do the vibrations provoked by these absences “look like” and how do they resonate back and forth between the bodies that await their safe return and the missing?” For these inquiries, Amezkua looks into ancient Mayan cosmology and physics in which nothing was considered “empty.” Whether in or between people and places, all spaces are “filled” with a palpable energy directly connected to our collective experiences through interactions and thought. Her research also incorporates psychological studies showing the measurable effects that absence and abandonment have on child development. It is this tangible presence within loss or disappearance that her work seeks to discuss.
An extension of Amezkua’s on-going body of work around disappearance and loss that began with “43 for them/ 43 Para ellos ”, a visual tribute for the 43 young, male students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers' College of Ayotzinapa, “In your absence you exist” is both a memorial to honor lost individuals and a call-to-action to continue to search for, and the return of, all the young women and men that go missing each year in the Bronx and throughout the world. Each year thousands of youth and adults are registered as missing with local police, many are found, but a vast number of disappearances still remain unsolved cases. For the artist, it is important that those left behind have the ability to actively engage in alternative methods of recovery through increased community and family collaborations, as well as working with local authorities and support organizations to deal with the loss.
In addition to disappearances, many Casita youth have “absent” parents or families. Over 4,000 Bronx children are in the foster care system, many of which have never met their biological parents or extended families. These voids often leave an “embodied” emptiness within their lives. Using the same techniques and materials found in her work, Amezkua collaborated with students to “weave” their experiences into site-specific artworks directly onto Casita Youth & Community Gallery’s walls. Her process of interactive art making offered opportunities for students to visually and verbally articulate their emotions and thoughts. Learning to express themselves, finding ways of community-building and interpersonal support as well as the ability to seek alternative solutions in dealing with loss and life challenges are all part of Amezkua’s collaborative practice.
As part of the public programming, Amezkua’s Artist Talk will be in conversation with writer Virginia Grise on Wednesday, May 17, from 6 – 9 PM. Together with the youth from Casita’s Afterschool and Teen Curation programs, they will discuss their respective work, experiences, the theories behind their ideas and community-based, social justice artistic processes. All programs are free and open to the public.
BLANKA AMEZKUA is a Mexican-born, Bronx based contemporary artist. She studied in Florence, Italy and received her B.A. from California State University Fresno. She is a recipient of the BRIO award from the Bronx Council on the Arts. Her work has been included in exhibitions nationally including: MoMA-PS1, Exit Art, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, El Museo del Barrio, Taller Boricua and the Queens Museum (New York); Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (San Francisco) and Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana (San Jose) among others. She is the Founder of the Bronx Blue Bedroom Project (BBBP) , an alternative, artist-run gallery in The Bronx as well as Fo Kia Nou 24/7 , in Athens, Greece. Her most recent artistic collaborative venture, AAA3A, Alexander Avenue Apartment 3A, is housed in the former home of BBBP . Mentions of her work and projects are included in The New York Times , TimeOut , ARTnews as well as other national and international publications.
The SmART Leaders program is a year long after school program for high-school aged young people who identify as young women of color. Casita Maria is dedicated to building positive self-esteem and sisterhood among all young women who participate in the program. We specifically focus on sisterhood, rediscovering our identities, and social justice education; the best part is that we do all of this through art-centered classes and workshops!
Whether you are interested in painting, photography, dancing, making music, or other art-based activities we will provide you with the space to discuss topics that you are interested in learning about through artistic conversations and activities. Ultimately we are dedicated to supporting young women as they build sisterhood, find their power, and discover their activism. Our application is currently open on a rolling admission. We encourage community members, who meet the program criteria, to apply today and join us as we work to empower the young women of The Bronx!
¡Si Se Puede! / Yes You Can!
An Exhibition Honoring Women of Color Leaders, Mentors and Agents of Change
Warrior Women: Mujeres Guerreras
Casita Maria Youth Exhibition
Opening in the Casita Maria Galleries on January 24, 2018
Children at the Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education are bowing, stomping and vocalizing…and some are even pressing. All that is music talk for playing the violin, dancing, singing and piano playing. Casita Maria is music, arts and so much more. We are building tomorrow’s leaders. When a child enters Casita’s doors they are coached, nurtured and supported. They are taught self-reliance and responsibility, all while learning the joy of music.
This is what you make possible every time you donate to our programs. Today, on #Giving Tuesday, share your joy of music with the children of the South Bronx and East Harlem and watch us create the leaders of the future.
Entering its sixth year, #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. Since its inaugural year in 2012, #GivingTuesday has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy.
Grandmaster Caz (Curtis Brown)
A Bronx-born, award-winning MC and DJ who has been an acknowledged leader in both forms since the 1970s when he formed the Mighty Force and later joined The Cold Crush Brothers. Caz was inducted into the Technics DJ Hall of Fame and the Bronx Walk of Fame, a street plaque bearing his name is now on permanent display on the Grand Concourse. Caz currently serves as a Board member of the Bronx Music Heritage Center, Windows of Hip Hop and The Universal Federation for the Preservation of Hip Hop Culture.
Casita Maria (The Little House of Mary) was founded in 1934 to help Puerto Ricans in East Harlem. It is the first and oldest Latino charity. That mission continues today as we stand in support of Puerto Ricans following Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and as we extend our hands and hearts to our sister islands in the Caribbean and to Mexico following the earthquake.
Please give generously to relief efforts established via national and community organizations that can get the relief to the people who need it the most.
Locally, supplies needed for the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico can be dropped off at Mothers on the Move, 928 Intervale Avenue, at one of eleven centers at Urban Health Plan or Hispanic Federation .
Casita Maria will be convening with partner organizations for a coordinated and sustained effort moving forward as Puerto Rico will require long-term assistance to address the devastation ahead.
Water, power, fuel, food and life-saving supplies must reach them fast. We stand in solidarity with elected officials who are advocating swiftly and strongly in this matter. We ask for your help.
We will continue to keep you posted about how, as a community, we can help moving forward and we thank you in advance for your generosity.
Casita María (La Pequeña Casa de María) fue fundada en 1934 para ayudar a los puertorriqueños en El Barrio. Es la primera y más antigua organización en benéfica de los latinos. Esa misión continúa hoy cuando apoyamos a los puertorriqueños después de los huracanes Irma y María, y extendemos nuestras manos y corazones a nuestras hermanas islas en el Caribe y a México después del terremoto.
Por favor dé generosamente a los esfuerzos de ayuda
establecidos a través de las organizaciones nacionales y comunitarias
que pueden obtener el alivio a las personas que más lo necesitan.
Localmente, los suministros necesarios para la crisis humanitaria en Puerto Rico, pueden ser dejados en Mothers on the Move, 928 Avenida Intervale, en uno de los once centros del Urban Health Plan o la Federación Hispana.
Casita María se reunirá con las organizaciones asociadas para un esfuerzo coordinado y sostenido, ya que Puerto Rico requerirá asistencia a largo plazo para enfrentar la devastación que se avecina.
Los suministros de agua, electricidad, combustible, alimentos y salud deben alcanzarlos rápidamente. Estamos en solidaridad con los funcionarios electos que están abogando con rapidez y firmeza en este asunto. Pedimos su ayuda.
Continuaremos manteniéndole informado sobre cómo, en comunidad, podemos ayudar a avanzar y le agradecemos de antemano por su generosidad.
A student of the flute, piccolo, alto, tenor, and soprano saxophone. Achievements include: 2015 International Women in Jazz Youth in Action award, 2016 J. Marjory Jackson Scholarship, the solo award in the Jazz at Lincoln Center Essentially Ellington Regional Festival, the Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation Tuition Assistance Award, and the A.F.J Leonard Silver Award. She has performed with music greats Arturo Sandoval, Candido Camero, Phoenix Rivera, Bobby Sanabria, Kermit Ruffins, Bertha Hope, among others. Garo is a graduate of LaGuardia High School and is now studying at The New School for Jazz & Contemporary Music in New York City. facebook.com/gabrielle.garo.9
A composer and improviser specializing in the relationship between acoustic objects and musical form. His instrumentarium includes glass objects, electronics, laptop, and constructions of his own design. Frasconi’s unique glass instruments are struck, blown, stroked, smashed and otherwise coaxed into vibration. As a composer, his works include chamber music, operas, film and dance scores. Frasconi has worked closely with composers John Cage, Jon Hassell, James Tenney, and Morton Subotnick. He is a founding member of The Glass Orchestra, featuring all glass instruments and the San Francisco sound-sculpture band Möbius Operandi. He is presently a member of Ne(x)works. frasconimusic.com
Is a Composer, Arranger, Trumpeter, Keyboardist, Pianist and Vocalist from Santiago de Cuba and currently living in Havana. Lescay graduated in 1998 from the National School of Art (ENA), City of Havana, Cuba. He is one of the pioneers of the Nu-Jazz and directs the Iris Jazz Club of Santiago de Cuba in Cuba. As a composer, he fuses different musical genres and manifestations of art like dance, Video, and visual art with Jazz. Some of his work has been included on soundtracks of various documentaries. He has performed in numerous concerts in venues in Cuba, Mexico, and France.