A joint project of the Ministry in the City HUB and Walls-Ortiz Gallery at City Seminary, the Creative Community Care Virtual Residency brings together socially-engaged Christian creatives from New York City, Indianapolis, Chicago, Los Angeles, Charlotte, and Corsicana (Tx) for peer mentor support, learning, and sharing. From March – December 2021, residents developed local projects in their respective cities, exploring creative practices of care in the context of community. Projects engage the concerns and questions of the pandemic period (mutual aid, care re-imagined for social distance, etc.) at the intersection of the arts, learning, faith, and the city. Learn more about our residency team and artists here.

In 2022, we hosted a second round of the residency in the spring for collaborations and preparation for online public programming in the fall. This fall we will host public online workshops on September 22 (7-8:30 PM EST), October 20 (7-8:30 PM EST), and November 3, 2022. See below for more details.

In 2023, a group exhibition will travel to various cities in North America, starting on the West Coast and ending at the renovated Walls-Ortiz Gallery and Center (Harlem, NYC) in early 2024. More information will be posted about exhibition venues.

“How can a community shift the gaze on their individual and collective narratives by telling their own stories? What new perspectives does this shift offer for members of that community and for outsiders?”

sophia dawson

Project Descriptions

Sophia Dawson (New York, NY) : For Such is the Kingdom

For Such is the Kingdom is a series of portraits and murals featuring children. It stems from my work as a facilitator at Rikers Island and my interactions with the young people that are detained there. I am truly interested in the notion of innocence, especially black innocence. I am also interested in the potential that each child carries. Testify is a photographic and sound based public art project that highlights testimonies from the year 2020.  Phase one of the project features portraits of individuals selected by the NYC Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice’s Youth Council. Each youth council member will conduct audio interviews with each subject in order to capture their testimony. Testify will be installed on the fences of basketball courts, public housing, empty lots, construction sites and other facades and will span across all five boroughs.

d’Angelo dia (Charlotte, NC) : Dichotomy: a poetic response to nurturing community, self awareness, and the pandemic

By photographing sacred spaces and through a contemporary poetic response to the patriarchs of the Old Testament, I examine what it means to redefine which spaces and communities are considered sacred. I work in various communities throughout North Carolina and South Carolina including different faith traditions, skateboarding parks, abandoned mills and warehouses with street art. Through interviews with clergy, skaters, graffiti artists, barbers and stylists, I gain a better understanding of the intersection of these communities.

DeAmon Harges (Indianapolis, IN) : Perception (What’s the Behind the Door) Project

My project participates in my own community of the United Northwest (Indianapolis), which is on the edge of being gentrified. It is a primarily black and brown, low wealth community. It’s also where greatness unseen exists. I build on the relationships with residents to help them see they are needed, their gifts, talents, and contributions will be celebrated. It builds relationships by connecting people with stories, which normally wouldn’t be connected and seen.

Alysia Harris (Corsicana, TX) : East Side Chapel Revival and Stain Glass Stories

The goal of what I’m calling the larger ongoing East Side Chapel Revival Project is simple: Revival, in the spiritual, civic, and cultural sense, of this chapel in Corsicana’s historic East Side neighborhood for present and future generations. My goal is to implement the first stage in the preservation and activation process. This involves a two to three-month community video and oral history project culminating in an interpretive installation inside East Side Chapel. The working title for the oral history and installation is “Stained Glass Stories.” This project involves three different elements of creative practice: storytelling and oral history, video documentary & photography, and art installation & historical interpretation.

Naomi Kuo (New York, NY / Houston, TX) : Crafting Sustainable Community

This project explores the intersection of environmental and relational sustainability through gift giving. Over 6 months in 2021, I made crafts out of the plastic wrappers, old fabrics and other up-cycled materials that accumulated in my home over the height of the pandemic and gave them as gifts to friends and family. My aim was to keep myself grounded with a hands-on creative practice while tending to the relationships around me. I also hope to encourage community care as a mode of self care and to show the generative possibilities of simple acts of generosity.

Olga Lah (Los Angeles, LA) : Constellation

Constellation is a project that began with individual conversations on grief, loss and hope with five friends.  The shared experience informed an artwork that attempted to hold these exchanges in memory.  The project eventually broadened by inviting a wider community into the exchange to share their own stories of loss on a virtual platform.  This widening of the conversation in turn shaped the artwork into a piece that held a greater collective history.  

In its visual form Constellation is a 5×8’ wall piece constructed from aluminum mesh with mixed media applied to the surface.  Names of those who have passed on into death or otherwise are written onto areas of the work.  These include names given from the original five participants that started this project.  And also include names submitted by the public through an online forum.  To present names across the work evokes the influence of those who are memorialized, bringing into focus their lives in the immediate moment.  

As Constellation is presented in different sites across the US, in-person visitors are invited to write names onto the artwork of whom they wish to remember. Accompanying stories were recorded in this project and are displayed to read on-site and an opportunity to leave one’s own story is available. Constellation acts both as a reflective encounter and an object that holds an active and on-going narrative. In engaging with remembrance the encouragement of hope and peace is offered.

Naomi Lawrence (New York, NY) : Chinatown Yarn Circle – STAND SPEAK SHAPE

This project brings together members of the Chinatown community to form Yarn Circles that create art and also discuss issues impacting the Asian American community. Crochet volunteers engage in the shared experience of spending time together over the course of 3-5 months and contribute individual pieces of art towards the creation of a large-scale art piece to beautify their neighborhood with a meaningful civic message.

Julian Reid (Chicago, IL) : Notes of Rest for the Mangers

My initial project was to focus on the manger of Jesus and ask questions of the people in the installation about the “mangers” in their lives, with the hopes of helping them attune their gaze more closely to God’s unexpected activity in their communities. But that initial hope turned into Notes of Rest, a full-blown spiritual retreat that interweaves Scriptural meditations and solo piano music to cultivate rest, contemplation and creativity for communities listening for Jesus’ call. Each retreat session is tailored to the community at hand, be it a local church, a theological education institution, or an affinity group such as lawyers, artists, or food lovers. In all of these settings, my aim is to help sensitize people more so to the ways they are already being formed so that the Church might more imaginatively serve this present age. Now my HUB project is Notes of Rest for the Mangers, meaning I am creating a small Notes of Rest session for people looking to attend to the mangers in their lives.

Notes from Scripture. Notes of music. Notes for community. Notes of Rest.

“What I hope, is to expose more people to the process and practice of listening and witnessing to where God is working miracles through our neighbors. For people to see their neighbors who are labeled in scarcity as people who have gifts and talents. This project has always been relevant because we have haves and have-nots. This will always be relevant until we live out God’s abundance in the world outside the walls of the church.”

Deamon harges

Public Online Programs Fall 2022

Thursday, September 22, 2022 (7-8:30 PM EST) “Nurturing Spaces”

Naomi Kuo and de’Angelo DIA (Houston, TX and Charlotte, NC)

“Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

The goal of our time together is to collectively define nurturing spaces, identify and celebrate current nurturing spaces in our personal and communal lives, and explore what it means to cultivate, protect, and multiply these spaces. Through facilitated conversations, visual and video art, creative writing, and thank you letters, participants will affirm and challenge their understanding of community and how everyday environments contain catalysts for personal and social change. We will put into practice creative ways to sustain these spaces that hold both the tensions and celebrations of life.

Suggested materials: Drawing and/or writing utensils, cardstock or any kind of paper, printed or digital photos of your safe/sacred/nurturing spaces, old magazines or other collage materials, scissors, glue/tape

Image: a combination of images from “devoid” by de’Angelo DIA and a thank you card from “Crafting Community” by Naomi Kuo

Thursday, October 20, 2022 (7-8:30 PM EST) “Collective Testimony”

DeAmon Harges and Alysia Harris (Indianapolis, IN and Corsicana, TX)

Many of our communities are characterized as needy and under-resourced, but in actuality, they testify to deep creativity and extraordinary resourcefulness if we take the time to listen. This workshop recreates the kitchen table as a space to share transformative stories from our lives with one another. Each participant is asked to bring a candle and an everyday object, nothing special or sentimental, but one that can be used to symbolize an important moment of victory or perseverance in their lives. Through processes of curation, storytelling, and creative writing, we will weave our victories together to create poetic narratives and visual memorials we can return to for collective encouragement. 

Separately our stories seem like pebbles, but together they become cornerstones that can bear incredible weight. 

The workshop touches on spiritual principles of witness and blessing and social principles of active listening, asset-based community development, and community history.

Image: a collage of images associated with DeAmon and Alysia’s respective projects

Thursday, November 3, 2022 (7-8:30 PM EST) “Resting in Sound and Image”

Olga Lah and Julian Reid (Los Angeles, CA and Chicago, IL)

“Resting in Sound and Image” is a collaborative workshop led by musical artist, Julian Davis Reid, and visual artist, Olga Lah.  Participants are invited into an arts experience that allows for contemplative reflection and spiritual restfulness. Julian and Olga will lead in their artistic genres, referencing scripture passages to set the focus for their individual presentations.  Participants will be asked to consider the theological implications of rest and how this in turn affects the self and community.  These themes will be engaged through listening, looking and sitting in wait to sense the Holy Spirit.  There will be a time of discussion and exploration of uncovered ideas.  

Image: Julian Reid and Olga Lah’s Constellation