While our artist residency with the Black Arts Collective was designed to think about the relationship between brown and black folk, the east and west coast, the Caribbean and Mexican diaspora, we didn’t imagine the amount of travel that would unfold after. JT and Huewayne took their visions and memories of South El Monte/El Monte in their hearts, on their bodies, and in the small recess of their cameras. Eventually, photographs were uploaded to laptops, posted on FB, Tumblr, and printed on archival paper at a small mom-and-pop printing studio in Buffalo, NY. Armed with two dozen 8 by 10 prints and three 20 by 30 prints (taken by JT and Huewayne, but also by youth in Philadelphia and South El Monte High School), JT and Huewayne delivered a lecture at Columbia University’s conference History in Action: Historical Thinking in Public Life. Their talk/exhibit, titled the “Black Arts Collective of Philadelphia in the Land of Joaquin Murrieta”, discussed their work with youth in South El Monte and Philly, focusing on the intersection of community building, history, art, and pedagogy. The photographs then traveled back to Philadelphia, where JT and Huewayne curated an exhibit in their home for youth, friends, and family.
And now the photographs are with us, on our small black desk directly adjacent to Aura’s play area. On Tuesday, we’ll be going back to South El Monte High School to show the students that we worked with all of the amazing photographs. Together we are going to select a few images to exhibit/donate for Last Minute Art Collective’s benefit show for Algarabía. This is in many ways fitting. Algarabía is “a traveling transdisciplinary program whose aim is to create spaces and platforms that support the empowerment of youth through art, literary, oral and writing development using critical consciousness and oral history as teaching methods. Algarabía serves youth living within historically marginalized communities and socially excluding conditions in Latin America, the Caribbean and their diaspora in the world.” The Last Minute Art Collective in an arts organization based in Baldwin Park. The exhibit will take place in Inglewood, a traditionally black neighborhood that is increasingly becoming more brown.