alisha b. wormsley
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"The events were led by artists and practitioners who had past, personal and professional experience in Homewood and who were deeply invested in the community and its residents. Although most of the events were open to the public, they were created primarily to uplift and celebrate the community’s people and places, and provide spaces of critical reflection on the neighborhood’s past, present, and future. In addition, the programs were sensitively embedded within the neighborhood, accessibly sited in open spaces within walking distance of one another, and connected to community anchor points such as the House of Manna, an African-American centered and multi-ethnic faith community.  Although the commission was initially intended as a platform for Ms. Wormsley’s voice as an artist, she brilliantly amplified and extended this platform by using it as a foundation for the voices of her collaborators, many of whom have provided essential services to Homewood residents through their art and practice for years."  

Divya Rao Heffley, Phd, Senior Program Manager, Hillman Photography Initiative, Carnegie Museum of Art

 

 

 

***This programming was intended for the community.  However, one way to participate and experience the project is through social media.  

instagram #thepeoplearethelight

the people are the light - series of photographs imagining the past present and future of homewood...

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Art can knit together the lived experience of neighborhood identity with long term and sometimes abstract principles of community development. The Pittsburgh community of Larimer has been cultivating a local culture of sustainability through ecodistrict planning and has used art and creative placemaking to build capacity around neighborhood stormwater issues, urban agriculture and economic development. Alongside major investments in new housing, parks and infrastructure, grassroots community action is benefitting residents’ pursuit of economic stability and social equity. The community is demonstrating a distinctive type of resiliency, which is essential to its cultural identity.

evolveEA is excited to be part of River Roots, an art project led by the Larimer community, and in collaboration with artist Alisha B. Wormsley, a team of stormwater experts, the Kingsley Association, and the Urban Redevelopment Authority. The collaboration is supported by a grant from ArtPlace America and grew out of a previous community engagement, Living Waters of Larimer (LWOL), in which evolveEA collaborated with the Kingsley Association, members of the Larimer Green Team, artists and stormwater experts. To support the River Roots project, evolveEA urban designer Ashley Cox attended the Artplace 2017 Annual Summit in Seattle, Washington. “Social justice as a collaborative art form was an exciting theme at this conference and connects to our River Roots project,” Ashley reflected.  - Taken from EvolvEA website for more information http://www.evolveea.com/work/art-place-roots-community-identity

Click fullscreen below to see our Art Commission proposal.  Liberty Green Park and River Roots Project breaks ground Summer 2018!!! To be open to the public Summer 2019!

 

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For the past month The Last Billboard has been exhibiting Alisha Wormsley’s text “There are Black People in the Future.“ Alisha is a celebrated Pittsburgh-based artist and cultural producer (winner of the 2016 City of Pittsburgh Mayor’s Award for Public Art) whose work explores collective memory and the synchronicity of time, specifically through the stories of women of color. Alisha’s text for the billboard comes from her ongoing art practice, particularly her interest in Afrofuturism.

Last week, The Last Billboard’s landlord, We Do Property, forced Alisha’s text to be taken down over objections to the content (through a never-before evoked clause in the lease that gives the landlord the right to approve text). 

I believe in the power, poetry, and relevance of Alisha’s text and see absolutely no reason it should have been taken down. I find it tragically ironic, given East Liberty’s history and recent gentrification, that a text by an African American artist affirming a place in the future for black people is seen as unacceptable in the present.

The artist will be part of a public panel discussion about the text and its removal hosted by the Kelly Strayhorn Theater in the next few weeks. More information to come.

- Jon Rubin, Founder and Curator of The Last Billboard

Response From ARtist

It started out as a black nerd sci-fi joke. A response to the absence of non-white faces in science fiction films and TV. Very much a response to many Afrofuturist writings, like Florence Oyeke’s: “After all, to quote musician Gabriel Teodros: “If we don’t write ourselves into the future, we get written out of tomorrow as well.”  — Afrofuturism dares to suggest that not only will black people exist in the future, but that we will be makers and shapers of it, too.”

This phrase became my mantra.

The work has become an archive of information, histories and myths that continue the diaspora’s apocalyptic narrative. I choose the term “apocalyptic” consciously, as it is informed by the slow demise of Black American neighborhoods. (And Still We Thrive). This body of work has already taken many forms: video, installation, street art, performance and now the billboard.

I knew what it could mean in that East Liberty the moment Jon asked. It’s what it could mean in this city, country, world. What conversations could arise, what PTSD could be addressed, and just seeing something so obvious stated in this social climate is reassuring to some–to me. It becomes magical, as fantastic as a prophecy.  

I am deeply saddened by it’s removal. And yet I am comforted by how my Pittsburgh has stood up! I think we all know what it is to have discomfort. Let’s begin to work on methods to constructively investigate that discomfort without using power over anyone or anything else.  It is not my calling to lead people in any given direction. An artist who inspires me told me, “Your job is to promote thought, not to tell people how to think. To provoke feeling, not to tell people how to feel.” However you might feel, whatever you might think, THERE ARE BLACK PEOPLE IN THE FUTURE.      

Finally, this text is a sentence I do not own, it is for anyone who wants to use it. Please. Take it.

 

 

There Are Black People In The Future

While in residence in the Homewood Artist Residency, supported by the Andy Warhol Museum, I developed a series of montage driven short films titled, Children of NAN. From this series came the title of the current project, "There Are Black People In The Future." Working in Homewood, I started connecting my work with the community by investigating the joys, triumphs, and LEGACY of this region. I also began to uncover and directly connect the developments in my studio with the challenges, fabricated perceptions, stereotypical prophecies, mental madness, localized mythology, and institutional obstacles readily occurring outside my window. With a collaborative spirit, I began collecting discarded and found objects, some, donated by students and elders in the community. The ritualistic actions of casting and printing on these objects that ensued was directly entwined with Homewood’s existence and survival. And mine...  

SEE VIDEO BELOW Images

 

 

There Are Black People In The Future - Sound Objects

Video - Alisha B. Wormsley

Sound - Field Recording and Composition - Sonarcheology Studios 

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Activist Print:

Alisha B. Wormsley: We Live

January 1–June 18, 2017

In Carpenter’s film, a race of aliens disguised as humans take over the planet. Using mass media and normalization tactics, the aliens manipulate, dominate, and police the human race. An underground resistance creates glasses that enable humans to see who the aliens are, ultimately leading to the destruction of their system of mind control. In We Live, Wormsley re-imagines this fictional story for our current political moment: “In this world the glasses are used to promote fear and control. The children can see beyond this—they can use other forms of connection and centered thinking to change course. Resistance grows through a change in perception. A shift is happening.” Wormsley believes that there is something innate in the human spirit that drives us to protect this planet and its inhabitants.  See short documentary about We Live. 

Activist Print

 is a collaboration between The Warhol, BOOM Concepts (a creative hub for artists to incubate ideas), and the North Side printmaking studio Artists Image Resource (AIR). Activist Print is inspired by the history of artists using silkscreen and print-based media to raise awareness of contemporary issues and inspire change.

The series started in 2016 with three Pittsburgh artists, Bekezela Mguni, Paradise Gray, and Alisha B. Wormsley, invited to create socially and politically inspired print work to be exhibited on the windows of the Rosa Villa, a building across the street from The Warhol. The museum was given the Rosa Villa property and has used the facade of the building for public artworks while working on a plan to rehabilitate the site. Project leader and artist D.S. Kinsel launched the project with the installation What They Say, What They Said on the Rosa Villa facade.

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