My name is Emily Mello, I’m associate director of education and co-curator with Johanna Burton of the annual summer Art and Social Justice Residency and Exhibition. Each summer artists in residence create installations and engage with multiple audiences and collaborators for a full schedule of public and private programs for youth and adults.
This summer’s exhibition The Black School x Kameelah Janan Rasheed focuses on education itself as both a right and means to social change as it has been fought for and continues to be fought for within conditions of racism. The artists, who are also educators, draw from histories with legacies that remain presently active of black families, organizers, teachers, and students, finding ways to address and create alternatives to meet educational needs when systems exclude, neglect, or are designed to fail them. These critical, multiple, and often marginalized narratives generate possibilities and practices of sharing and further activating rich knowledges and imaginations in the service of change.
This summer on the 5th floor, there are two residencies uniquely approaching black critical pedagogies. In the gallery space, The Black School, a typically mobile school taught by Shani Peters and Joseph Cuillier, imagines what it would be like to have a classroom for arts-activism that draws from the radical histories that inspire them. They encourage students to think about their experiences and respond to their communities collectively in the present. They will be working with teens for six weeks this summer in addition to public workshops.
In the Resource Room, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, an artist who often works with text and archives, creates Ecosystems, a hybrid installation and library with materials on the history of black self-publishing and independent schools. Rasheed’s system of coding materials is far from rigid, incorporating a poetic card catalogue to support chance discovery and connections in learning. While the materials in the library can be photocopied and shared, there’ll be opportunities throughout the summer for visitors to meet with Rasheed and see the original materials in her growing collection.