Not a Monolith

Not a Monolith is a forthcoming public art and professional development initiative presented in partnership with Facebook Open Arts (@facebookopenarts) and We The Culture (@wetheculture).

the Program

Not a Monolith aims to amplify a diversity of Black voices and perspectives by providing local, emerging Black artists with outdoor canvases in prominent public spaces across the five boroughs, as well as mentorship from Black professionals in the art world. The title of the project refers to our goal to showcase a multitude of Black identities that are more complex, nuanced and abundant than th media’s traditional representations. This program offers an opportunity for the artists and communities of New York City to directly and meaningfully engage with Black Lives Matter and other social, racial and gender justice movements. 

The artists were selected through an open-call process determined by a five-person advisory committee consisting of Black professionals with various expertise in the art world ecosystem: curator and cultural critic Larry Ossei-Mensah, artist and curator Kendal Henry, multimedia art and cultural producer Natasha Logan, interdisciplinary artist Rashaad Newsome and artist Tatyana Fazlizadeh. The advisors also provided one-on-one guidance to the selected artists throughout the course of the initiative.

Each artist is creating two public artworks for a total of ten projects across all five boroughs of New York City. The artists will also be provided with a $12,000 stipend, one-on-one guidance from the advisory committee, free studio space courtesy of ChaShaMa, $2,000 in art materials from Winsor & Newton, and all installation and production costs covered.

Not a Monolith is a robust collaboration that also includes partnerships with local cultural organizations throughout the five boroughs, culminating in community events and/or mutual-aid efforts surrounding the final artworks. Artists will develop their artworks spring 2021 and execute their visions in public spaces in summer/fall 2021. 

For information about upcoming artist-hosted workshops, virtual events and opportunities to engage with this project, please click here to subscribe for Not a Monolith updates.

The Selected Artists

Helina Metaferia (she/her) is a Harlem- and Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist who uses collage, assemblage, video and performance to interrogate complex histories of institutionalized oppression. 

Metaferia will create wheat-pasted murals based as part of her By Way of Revolution series. This interdisciplinary series creates space for robust dialogue and communion among Black women who have historically been overlooked yet vital within care politics and activist labor. Her Brooklyn mural is currently on view at 48 Lafayette Ave and her Bronx mural is anticipated for a late June/early July install.

Glori J. Tuitt (she/her) is a Brooklyn-based painter and illustrator whose work focuses on the intersections of race, religion and pop culture concerning the cultivation of identity. Dedicated to centering Black trans bodies in the arts, she has collaborated with many social justice organizations in order to return ownership of trans form to trans artists. 

Tuitt will create murals that will shed light on both the historical and contemporary contributions of Black trans people in social justice and artistic movements in New York City. Her work will add a nuanced complexity to how the public is allowed to see Black trans people while creating spaces for Black trans people to see themselves. Her murals are anticipated to appear in Manhattan and Queens in July.

Jeff Kasper (he/him) is a Queens-based interdisciplinary artist, writer, and educator, with a background in arts organizing and community engagement design. His creative work focuses on visual art and graphic design as social practice. 

He will take inspiration from the colorful style of the self-help and mutual aid graphic guides that gained popularity on social media over the last year to develop a series of bold text-based and playful experiential infographics in the style of COVID-19–era safety signage. He will create his work through a trauma-informed lens to touch on queer and disability justice and survivorhood. Kasper’s public artworks are anticipated to appear in Staten Island and Queens in August.

Dana Robinson (she/her, they/them) is a Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary artist who addresses youth, Black female identity, ownership and nostalgia through combining, reproducing and destroying vintage Black media.

Robinson wants to form a rolling tropical landscape inspired by their Jamaican grandfather’s backyard in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they spent time as a child. By creating this larger-than-life fantastical landscape, she hopes to create a calm, yet communal place where Black people, and especially Black queer people, can gather to eat, rest and play. Her murals are anticipated to appear in Brooklyn and the Bronx in September.

Paul Deo (he/him) is a Harlem-based multimedia scenic painter and muralist whose Black Indian Indigenous cultural lens informs his mural dreamscapes, which merge history, spirit and technology to create sacred art spaces for communal dialogue. He engages and inspires communities through his work, bridging familiar subjects with the world of possibilities and inspiration.

Deo will create AR-enhanced murals portraying untold stories of his Black Indian Indigenous history in NYC, including the rich history of Native American and African American families mixing and forming a united front against slavery and colonialism. His murals are anticipated to appear in Manhattan and Staten Island in October.

About ArtBridge

ArtBridge empowers emerging artists to transform public spaces. New York City currently has 310 miles of street-level construction scaffolding. Since 2008, ArtBridge has transformed these otherwise underutilized spaces into a canvas for local emerging artists. ArtBridge is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Chelsea. Learn more at art-bridge.org and find us on Instagram at @artbridge.

About Facebook Open Arts

Facebook Open Arts builds community through creativity. As a company dedicated to bringing people closer together, Facebook recognizes that creativity is essential to our collective wellbeing. Within our walls and around the globe, Facebook Open Arts cultivates creative engagements that offer new ways of thinking about ourselves, our communities, and the world at large. Learn more at fb.com/facebookopenarts and find us on Instagram at @FacebookOpenArts.

About We The Culture

We The Culture was birthed out of Facebook’s $25 million investment in support of media and content partnerships with Black public figures and creators in film, television, fitness, sports, broadcasting, publishing and more. Aligned with Facebook’s mission to give people the power to build community, We The Culture is a creative community fueled by Black creators and dedicated to championing Black culture. We The Culture is a brand, a family of holistic high-touch content and partner programs and social channels. Through We The Culture, we’re continuing to take critical steps to turn the corner and show up for the Black community by elevating their stories in tangible ways. Follow us on socials at Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Giphy.

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