Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning (JCAL) is pleased to launch the fifth iteration of Jamaica Flux: Workspaces and Windows, and to announce the names of the 15 NYC-based artists and artist groups that have been selected for the year-long endeavor. Jamaica Flux 2021 will explore the interconnection of Jamaica’s history, economic development, cultural heritage, and diversity to conceptualize topical, socially engaging projects. The exhibition will bring together artists, curators, scholars, local residents, community leaders, developers, and politicians to build on the cultural legacy of Southeast Queens and to catalyze the transformative power of the visual arts, generating creative responses to the anxieties and tensions of our present moment. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, JCAL will keep with the spirit of “flux” to create work that is shaped by both the limitations and the demands of the times.
Independent curator-writer Danni Shen serves as Project Director of Jamaica Flux 2021. Heng-Gil Han (ACC 2017), who founded Jamaica Flux and was a prior Project Director, serves as Project Advisor. The curatorial team, along with a committee of New York art professionals and local community leaders, selected 15 projects from a pool of proposals that artists submitted following an open call. Preference was given to emerging or under-recognized artists with strong artistic merit, and to artists who reflect local demographics or have substantial ties to Southeast Queens. Of the 15 selected artists and artist groups, 8 are Queens-based and a majority are artists of color. For the next year, the artists will conduct research and build collaborative community relationships (virtually and in person) as they create their projects. The showcase of site-specific work and public programs will run in the summer of 2021.
JAMAICA FLUX 2021 ARTISTS
Damali Abrams the Glitter Priestess is a New York City based artist, Reiki practitioner, and educator at York College in Jamaica, Queens. Her work pursues a futurism largely sourced from the Guyanese diaspora, Afro-Caribbean folklore and religious practice, while combining found materials from popular culture. For Jamaica Flux 2021, the artist will research the oral histories of culture-makers in Jamaica to create a series of collage portraits based on recorded interviews with local artists and business owners, supported by additional materials from the Queens Central Library. Abrams is a current Creative-In-Residence at Brooklyn Public Library, and has previously participated in residencies at Fresh Milk in Barbados, Groundation Grenada, The Center for Book Arts, Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning (JCAL), and LMCC on Governors Island. She has been a fellow at Culture Push, the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop, A.I.R. Gallery, and apexart in Seoul, South Korea. She is a recipient of the Queens Council on the Arts New Works Grant.
Heejung Cho is a sculptor and printmaking artist born in Seoul, Korea. For Jamaica Flux 2021, the artist will create a large-scale, perspectival urban landscape print depicting Jamaica’s diverse ecosystem, collaged from multicolored woodblock prints. As a Korean immigrant, the integration and friction between boundaries, places, people and cultures are the essence of what Cho aims to capture in her practice, which further explores notions of identity, memory and home. Cho has participated in residency programs at the Museum of Arts and Design, Newark Museum, AIM program of the Bronx Museum of Arts, the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts and IAP program at the New York Foundation for the Arts. Her prints have been developed over the last five years through participating in the Keyholder program of Lower East Side Printshop, SIP fellowship of Robert Blackburn Printmaking and she will participate in the residency program at the Women's Studio Workshop in 2021.
Indranil Choudhury is a media artist from Kolkata, India. He works with video and sound to consider how urban communities respond to technological and economic change. Choudhury’s practice reflects on the idiosyncrasies of late capitalism, such as large diasporas, obsession with speculative technologies, and the stress of urban life. For Jamaica Flux 2021, the artist will collaborate with small businesses in Jamaica that cater specifically to immigrant communities, and create an experimental sound work. Cody + Julian is a collaboration between New York City based artists Cody Ann Herrmann and Julian Louis Phillips. The two have been working collaboratively since 2017, when they met attending Social Practice Queens at CUNY Queens College. The artists’ practices are rooted in performance and participation, and prioritizes engagement and representation of communities vulnerable to economic and ecological displacement. Their project, The Peoples Communication Commission (PCC), will create media and installations that repurpose the tactics of advertising campaigns to empower the general public to speak to those in power. The resulting work will include guerilla advertising, interventions and design workshops based on collaborations with residents, businesses, civic organizations and commuters. Cody + Julian have presented work as part of Open Engagement, and have individually been recipients of the Jerome Foundation Artist in Residence Fellowship at Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, and the More Art Engaging Artists Fellowship.
Sherese Francis is a Queens-based poet, interdisciplinary artist, workshop facilitator, and literary curator of the mobile library project, J. Expressions. Francis excavates various etymologies, histories and myths in the search for community stories that have been buried due to misinformation, stereotypes, cultural amnesia and social oppressions. The Southeast Queens-based poet and artist recycles found materials to create a unique, sacred and collective text. For Jamaica Flux 2021, her project Art/I/Fact will research collective memory in Jamaica by hosting a series of participatory public workshops to create 2-D and 3-D time capsule-like assemblages. Francis has published work in journals and anthologies including Furious Flower, Obsidian Lit, The Operating System, Cosmonauts Avenue, No Dear, Apex Magazine, La Pluma Y La Tinta’s New Voices Anthology, The Pierian Literary Review, Bone Bouquet, African Voices, Newtown Literary, and Free Verse. Additionally, she has published two chapbooks, Lucy’s Bone Scrolls and Variations on Sett/ling Seed/ling. Sherese has also had artwork featured in exhibitions from The Lit Exhibit, NY Live Arts, Queens Public Library and Baxter St Camera Club.
Linda Ganjian is a Queens-based artist whose main pursuit has involved making large “table-top” sculptures comprised of hundreds of miniature forms, that are a reinterpretation of Middle Eastern and American craft traditions (carpets, quilts, calligraphy). For Jamaica Flux 2021, Ganjian will engage local architectural history as experienced through its residents. Her project, Postcards from Jamaica, will combine quotes and personal histories with drawings of significant neighborhood sites, as well as quotidian architecture that is vulnerable to redevelopment in an era of massive rezoning and change. Through community interviews that discuss memories of favorite buildings and sites, the artist will create a series of free, publicly-available postcards.Her work has been exhibited at Art in Buildings, NYC; Islip Art Museum, NY; Depo, Istanbul; Auxiliary Projects, Brooklyn; Artspace, New Haven, CT; National Academy of Design; Socrates Sculpture Park; Queens Museum; Storefront for Art and Architecture; Brooklyn Museum; and Stedelijk museum de Lakenhal, Holland. Grants/fellowships include Queens Council on the Arts (2017, 2011); Pollack-Krasner Foundation (2005); Artslink (2001); MacDowell Colony (2006); and Millay Colony (2004). Public art commissions include NYC School Construction Authority in 2014 and the NYC MTA in 2016. In 2019, she was a QCA ArtPort resident at LaGuardia Airport.
Hayoon Jay Lee is an interdisciplinary artist who frequently combines installations, performances, sculptures, videos and paintings. Her work pushes the boundaries of “otherness” through public performance and video. For Jamaica Flux 2021, Lee will host an intercultural dinner, with conversation on topics regarding local food culture, socio-economic factors in relation to habits of consumption and food security. Research conducted at community organizations, such as women’s centers and soup kitchens, will further inform Lee’s Rice Lab installation, which traces the global history of rice.Lee has participated in numerous residency programs both nationally and internationally. She has exhibited widely, including at the Chinese American Art Council / Gallery 456 (NYC), Gwangju Museum of Art (Korea), 99 Museum (Beijing), The United Nations Gallery (NYC), The Clock Tower, No Longer Empty (NYC), and ArtWalk NY: Coalition for the Homeless (NYC). She currently lives and works in New York City.
Le’Andra LeSeur is an artist working primarily with video, installation, photography, painting, and performance. Her work celebrates blackness, contemplates the experience of invisibility, and seeks to dismantle and reclaim stereotypes surrounding black female identity, among other subject matters. The artist further explores healing within absence and gestural language created through repetitive actions. As a Black queer woman, visual and sonic fragments become transcending elements that connect identities affected by systems of oppression. For Jamaica Flux 2021, LeSeur’s project, There is Only Language Between Us, will host a community spoken-word and stream-of-consciousness writing workshop to compose a final sound installation. LeSeur recently appeared in conversation with Marilyn Minter at the Brooklyn Museum, presented by the Tory Burch Foundation and has lectured at RISD Museum of Art, Providence, RI, and SCAD Atlanta, among others. Her work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions at A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; Assembly Room, New York, NY; Microscope Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; Anacostia Art Center, Washington, DC; SITELAB, Grand Rapids, MI; Arnika Dawkins, Atlanta, GA; and others. Residences include NARS Foundation, Marble House Project, and Mass MoCA. LeSeur is represented by Microscope Gallery. Awards include Leslie-Lohman Museum Artists Fellowship (2019), the Time-Based Medium Prize as well as the Juried Grand Prize at Artprize 10 (2018).
Reuben Lorch-Miller interconnects his art practice and teaching experience as an educator working in District 29 public schools. Taking on the role of artist-as-facilitator, Lorch-Miller will collaborate with elementary school teachers and students, and community elders, to create and select a series of neighborhood flag designs for Jamaica, Queens as part of Jamaica Flux 2021. The selected designs will be produced as full-scale flags to be flown along the pedestrian plaza of the 165th Street Mall. Lorch-Miller is a multidisciplinary artist whose work has been exhibited at Frye Art Museum (Seattle, WA), MoMA/PS1 (New York, NY) and The Tacoma Art Museum (Tacoma, WA). He has been an artist-in-residence at Land and Sea (Oakland, CA), Rocksbox (Portland, OR), SIM (Reykjavik, Iceland), The Shandaken Project (Shandken, NY), Headlands Center for the Arts (Sausalito, CA) and Bauernmark 9 (Vienna, Austria). Lorch-Miller has been a visiting artist and lecturer at Illinois State University (Normal, IL), Rhode Island School of Design, Stanford University, San Francisco Art Institute and Pratt Institute. He has trained at the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, and has provided volunteer spiritual care services at The Brooklyn Hospital Center. He has also worked as an Arts Educator with The Guggenheim Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Eckford Street Studio, Usdan Summer Camp for the Art, Studio in a School and Center for Arts Education.
Firoz Mahmud (ACC 2010) is a Bangladeshi conceptual artist known for his large scale and long running art projects which reflect on refugee and immigrant histories, and narratives of colonial Bengal. For Jamaica Flux 2021, Mahmud will delve into the histories of “Ship Jumpers” or “Tarzan Visa migrants”: refugees from Bengal and South Asia who traverse high-risk geopolitical borders, most of whom settled as immigrants throughout Queens, including Jamaica. As part of the Queens-based artist’s long-term practice focused on migrants, refugees and displaced people, Migrational Influx: Promised Land will research and collaborate with immigrant community members to create a series of multimedia works celebrating Bengali legacies, traditions and subcultures. Mahmaud was the first Bangladeshi fellow artist at Rijksakademie Van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam. He has exhibited at Bangkok Art Biennale, Lahore Biennial, Dhaka Art Summit, Aichi Triennial, Sharjah Biennale, Office of Contemporary Art, Oslo, MAXXI Museum of 21st Century Arts Rome, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan Contemporary Art at Asia House London, Hiroshima Museum of Contemporary Art, Mori Art Museum Tokyo; Metropolitan Mostings Hus Copenhagen, Sovereign Art Foundation, Exhibit320 in Delhi, National Museum and Bengal Gallery in Dhaka. Recently, he has exhibited at Asia Art Initiative, Twelve Gates Arts Philadelphia and Hunter College East Harlem Gallery in New York. In 2011, he was a recipient of Asian Cultural Council (ACC) Fellowship in New York and in 2009, he received Art project Ideas prize from Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art Japan. [Photo by Efaj Efti Haque] Nadia Misir is an artist born and raised in South Ozone Park, Queens. Her practice reflects on relationships between diaspora, gentrification, grief, Guyanese identity and the way that histories of oppression reveal themselves in unexpected and mundane moments. For Jamaica Flux 2021, the Queens-based artist will host public programming and collaborate with local residents to create a ’zine that radically retells the history of Jamaica as a neighborhood, as well as a photographic chapbook of lyric essays that speak directly to urban planning documents, such as the Jamaica Now Action Plan. Misir’s writing has been published in Poetry, Kweli Journal, Papercuts, Open City Magazine, No, Dear Mag, and QC Voices.
Sari Nordman, a native of Finland, is an interdisciplinary artist working with dance, video and installation. For Jamaica Flux 2021, Nordman will develop Torni-Tower, a collaboratively engineered structure that reflects on the importance of understanding different cultural experiences and immigration when fighting climate change. Nordman will record and translate multilingual interviews to appear in videos projected on the installation. As a dance teaching artist for NYC public schools, Nordman will look for school partnerships to conduct climate-change workshops and gather calls for action from students, which will further become a part of the project’s virtual and physical archives. Nordman has recently received support for her multidisciplinary work from the Catwalk Institute and NYU, The Amsterdam Collective and Tohmajärvi Residency. The artist is also working towards exhibitions at The Immigrant Artist Biennial 2020.
Jessica Segall is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work uses bureaucracy as a sculpting material, unpacking ideas of environmental conservation and belonging through her interspecies and site-specific practice. Alongside educational programming, the artist will discuss housing, urban and ecological health by co-creating platforms for osprey birds in Jamaica Bay, whose original habitat was clear-cut for housing development. In collaboration with local organizations, Segall will install a remote camera to produce a publicly-viewable live video feed of osprey nests built on the platform for Jamaica Flux 2021. Segall’s work has been exhibited internationally, including at the Fries Museum, The Havana Bienal, The Queens Museum of Art, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, The National Museum of Jewish American History, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Vojvodina, The National Gallery of Indonesia, The Mongolian National Modern Art Gallery and The National Symposium for Electronic Art. Segall has received grants from The Pollock Krasner Foundation, The Rema Hort Mann Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, The Harpo Foundation and Art Matters and attended residencies at The Van Eyck Academie, The MacDowell Colony and Skowhegan. Her work has been featured in Cabinet Magazine, The New York Times, Sculpture Magazine, Mousse Magazine and Art in America.
Misra Walker is a born, raised, and Bronx-based interdisciplinary artist, educator, and community organizer. She/they are interested in using her/their art as a political education tool for their community and utilize local materials that reflect the material conditions to address struggle, solidarity, and liberation among black and brown working-class communities. She/they work addresses themes of spirituality, colonizations, and hood politics. Misra Walker graduated from Cooper Union in 2015.
Anne Wu makes sculptures that draw from architectural elements and geometric patterning commonly found in historical and contemporary Chinese immigrant neighborhoods. Examining these vernacular landscapes, she creates objects and installations that reflect on personal history, communal identity, and collective longing for home. Using ornamental motifs and culturally-specific building materials, her work points to a diasporic community’s shared aspiration for socio-cultural preservation and class ascension. For Jamaica Flux 2021, Wu’s project will take the 165th Street Pedestrian Mall as a site of departure—the Flushing-based artist will enter each store between Jamaica Avenue and 89th Avenue and conduct interviews with store owners and employees. With collective input, Wu will select one item in every location to cast, resulting in a sculptural archive of cast objects and a photographic and narrative inventory of the Mall’s economic microcosm.Wu was an Artist in Residence at Bruce High Quality Foundation University in 2015 and will be an Artist in Residence at the NARS Satellite Residency on Governors Island in Fall 2020. Her work has been exhibited in New York at Shaker Museum | Mount Lebanon, The New York Public Library, BHQFU, 67 Ludlow, and Public Address, among others.