PRINT September 2020


Where we're at

IN EARLY JUNE, as heat turned up around the uprisings in defense of Black lives, I saw an Instagram story by the wildly talented artist and musician DonChristian Jones. He had been entrusted with a disused facility in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, which he was transforming into an inclusive DIY community center foregrounding the creativity of BIPOC. Things needed to be done, and it was all hands on deck.

Soon I was spotting brilliant banners at demonstrations around the city—at the Brooklyn Liberation Action for Black Trans Lives, the Queer Liberation March for Black Lives, and the Times Square Black Sex Worker Liberation March and Vigil. I found that the signs I was noticing most were those made by Jones and friends like graffiti artist Hugo Gyrl and Mercy Kelly at the space, which now had a name—Public Assistants—and a website and mission statement: “Necessity is the mother of invention, and Public Assistants is its daughter.” The whole thing gave me hope.

I don’t take hope for granted today. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed how many of us physically engage with art; at the same time, global uprisings are reshaping what matters in art. I wondered if other people in other places were seeing local projects and initiatives like Public Assistants that gave them hope, too.

With that in mind, we asked an international group of artists, writers, and curators to respond to a simple question: “What art activity on the ground is giving you energy right now?”

These are some of their answers.

David Velasco