Thursday, October 20, 2011



U.S. Artists to Engage Underserved Youth Through Community-based Arts Projects, Will Strengthen People-to-People Diplomacy

BRONX, NY, October 18 – The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Bronx Museum of the Arts launched smARTpower, a new initiative that sends 15 American artists and collaborative artist teams to 15 countries worldwide to engage in people-to-people diplomacy through the visual arts. This new initiative builds on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of “smart power diplomacy,” which embraces the use of a full range of diplomatic tools – in this case the visual arts – to bring people together and foster greater understanding.

For up to 45 days during the next year, the following American artists will travel to all corners of the globe where they will partner with local arts organizations to engage with underserved youth and create community-based projects.  The first smARTpower artist, Kabir Carter of Brooklyn, New York will travel on October 24 to Istanbul, Turkey.  Other artists will follow throughout 2012 with travel to China, Ecuador, Egypt, Ghana, India, Kenya, Kosovo, Lebanon, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Venezuela.

The artists participating in smARTpower, the countries to which they will travel, and their in-country partner arts organization are:

•    Duke Riley of Brooklyn, New York – Shanghai, China
Partner Organization: Arthub Asia

•    Chris “Daze” Ellis of New York, New York – Quito, Ecuador
Partner Organization: Cero Inspiración

•    Arturo Lindsay of Atlanta, Georgia – Cairo, Egypt
Partner Organization: Medrar/Nagla Samir

•    Rochelle Feinstein of New York, New York – Accra, Ghana
Partner Organization: Foundation for Contemporary Art

•    Caroline Woolard of Brooklyn, New York – New Delhi, India
Partner Organization: KHOJ

•    Miguel Luciano of Brooklyn, New York – Nairobi and Dadaab Province, Kenya
Partner Organization: Kuona Trust

•    Samuel Gould of Minneapolis, Minnesota – Pristina, Kosovo
Partner Organization: Stacion Center for Contemporary Art

•    Think Tank (comprised of Christopher Robbins, John Ewing, and Maria del Carmen Montoya) of Little Neck, New York; Roxbury, Massachusetts; and Corvallis, Oregon – Beirut, Lebanon
Partner Organization: Arab Image Foundation

•    Pepón Osorio of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Kathmandu, Nepal
Partner Organization: Kathmandu Contemporary Arts Centre

•    Brett Cook of Berkeley, California – Lagos, Nigeria
Partner Organization: Wy Art Foundation

•    Art Jones of Bronx, New York – Karachi, Pakistan
Partner Organization: Vasl

•    Mary Mattingly of New York, New York – Manila, The Philippines
Partner Organization: Green Papaya Art Projects

•    Xaviera Simmons of Brooklyn, New York – Columbo, Sri Lanka
Partner Organization: Theertha International Artists Collective.

•    Kabir Carter of Brooklyn, New York – Istanbul, Turkey
Partner Organization: PiSt///Interdisciplinary Project Space

•    Seth Augustine and Rachel Shachar of Los Angeles, California – Caracas, Venezuela
Partner Organization: Centro Cultural Chacao

“For generations, the visual arts have opened the doors to dialogue.  This international exchange initiative harnesses the power of the visual arts,” said Assistant Secretary of State Ann Stock. “smARTpower engages people, especially youth, through visual art to address key issues of the day important to all communities.”

“The selection of the artists for smARTpower is a particularly exciting moment as it launches a program that is a natural extension of our mission to foster artists and connect people of different backgrounds and cultures through arts programming,” said Holly Block, Director of The Bronx Museum of the Arts. “We believe that artists have a unique ability to express and explore the ideas, issues and experiences of importance in our daily lives. By creating relationships between people around the world, these artists will help build cross-cultural understanding and exchange.”

Kabir Carter, the first smARTpower artist to travel overseas, will begin his project in Istanbul on October 24, 2011. A performance and installation artist who works with sound, Carter has exhibited at a number of institutions nationally and internationally and has taught audio production at CSI CUNY. For his smARTpower project, he will lead a series of workshops with members of the local community to gather and preserve their oral histories. Carter will teach workshop participants skills for collecting oral histories, and will share techniques and strategies for recording, compiling, and editing their stories. He will focus on the use of simple sound and electroacoustic technology to produce sound installations and foster on-going interest in documenting short-term and long-term histories that affect daily life. The Turkish partner organization for the project is PiST/// Interdisciplinary Project Space, a non-profit, independent art space in Istanbul.

The second artist to travel abroad will be Arturo Lindsay, who will depart for the first of two trips to Egypt in early January, 2012. Lindsay, born in Colon, Panama, immigrated to New York at age 12 and later became a U.S. citizen. He has an extensive and distinguished exhibition and teaching career, and currently lives in Atlanta where he is a professor of Art and Art History at Spelman College. Lindsay has a long-held belief that artists and educators can be cultural ambassadors and build bridges of understanding between people. During his career he has collaborated on projects with members of street gangs, day laborers, intellectuals, artists, poets, architects, academics and government officials from various national and cultural backgrounds. For his smARTpower project, Lindsay will establish a contemporary art theory and practice workshop that will provide participants with skills to create collaborative and interactive installation and performance works of art based on the concept of “bearing witness.” Inspired by the youth of the Middle East who turned cell phones and social media into community building tools, the project will document extraordinary experiences in the lives of ordinary people. Upon his return, Lindsay plans to create a creative exchange between the Egyptian youth and students and emerging artists in Atlanta. The Egyptian partner organization for this project is Medrar for Contemporary Art, which works with and supports young emerging artists in Egypt and encourages cross-cultural dialogue.
More than 900 individuals from nearly all 50 states and U.S. territories applied to the program. Those chosen include both emerging and established artists who work in a variety of media, from site-specific happenings to portable art installations. Selection criteria included the strength of the artists’ work, and their experienced commitment to community-based art making.

smARTpower is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State in partnership with the Bronx Museum of the Arts.  Click here to learn more about the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and click here to learn more about The Bronx Museum of the Arts.


Talley Sergent
U.S. Department of State

Elizabeth Chapman
Resnicow Schroeder Associates

Abby Margulies
Resnicow Schroeder Associates

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