The team amplified local creative power by identifying local artists and bringing them together to collaborate.
Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh is a conceptual artist and writer from Accra, Ghana. When Kwasi arrived in our neighborhood, he was struck by the number of community members with unique artistic and creative practices, from step dance to sewing, photography to songwriting.
Kwasi fostered a team of young neighborhood artists — entertainer Jaquan Fields (Quany the Clown), videographer Aaron Sawyer, visual artist Tiyanna Scott and singer Tamia Garcia. Together they originated three “relational strategies” designed to spark inspiration and connection between local creatives.
Monthly Open Mic in Ile Ife Park (last Thursday of the month).
Open to artists citywide, the event showcased local talent and fostered new creative connections.
Open Studio/interactive creative space.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, neighbors could come create with Kwasi, Quan and Aaron, and bring any creative practice or piece of art for remixing and connection.
Kwasi invites local artists to discuss their practice at a series of conversations and performances hosted at his residency.
Their culminating interactive exhibition melded artwork with the moments created and shared during the residency for the audience to experience, play with, and create with.
Kwasi’s artist statement
My process-oriented project at The Village explores methods of building social interactions through relational procedures grouped into two categories — open mic and 2512 sessions. ‘2512 sessions’ is a monthly series of discursive meetings which brings together creative minds in the spirit of exchanging ideas and sharing experiences. Invited participants — artists, entertainers, designers, etc — give talks, presentations or demonstrations on or about their practice at my residence in North Central Philadelphia. The open mic series is a monthly event created with the ethos of fostering communality through music, comedy, dance and poetry while exploring the potentials for collaboration amongst its diverse participants mainly from the Fairhill Hartranft community in North Central Philadelphia.
Moments from these events are documented through video, sound and photography and are then set up in the studio which functions as a postproduction site — where a collective comprising of myself and four other local artists (Aaron, Tiyanna, Quan, and Tamia) manipulate the materials accumulated from the live events through the aforementioned mediums. In this way, the studio becomes the space which maps out the implicit connections (literal and conceptual) between the ideas, processes and locations which are or have been relevant to the project. It also becomes a temporary “exhibition” and collaboration site where members of the community may come in and intervene in our process either by taking down a photograph from the walls in the studio, or by actively working with us in their own capacity to develop ideas through video, photography, graphic design, etc.
Relational Strategy #2: “2512 Sessions” or, Artist Talks
An artist talk doesn’t have to be stuffy. It can happen in a living room, while you eat the best spaghetti you’ve ever tasted. An artist talk doesn’t have to be given by a famous artist at a podium. Instead, it can be the person you’ve known your whole life, describing what makes them passionate in depth.