A joint project of the Ministry and 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 will host a second round of the residency in the spring for collaborations and preparation for online public programming in the fall. Dates for fall programs will be posted later in the year.

“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

Working 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 will examine what it means to redefine which spaces and communities are considered sacred. I will be working 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 will gain a better understanding of the intersection of these communities.

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

My project will participate 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 will build on the relationships with residents to help them see they are needed, their gifts, talents, and contributions will be celebrated. It will build 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 will involve 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) : Eco-Gifts for Friends

This project is a collection of gatherings, gifts-making and artworks involving skill sharing, creative reuse and environmentally sustainable practices while encouraging re-connection of fragmented relationships and community building. The questions I am asking are: how do we (or can we) maintain friendships through difficult times and particularly through the pandemic and political strife?

Olga Lah (Los Angeles, LA) : The Near and Bright Expanse

I will create a new iteration of a site-specific installation, Constellation, informed by conversations on loss and grief with a small group of artists.  The work will then be exhibited at a public space to engage with a larger community within the Los Angeles area. My hope is that each artist would be positively influenced by speaking on private pain and that these exchanges would inform the construction of Constellation and the larger conversation it introduces to the public.

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

We are bringing together members of the Chinatown community to form Yarn Circles that create art and also discuss issues impacting the Asian American community. Crochet volunteers will 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 this Christmas season.

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

Following the virtual residency in 2021, artwork created during this season will be displayed an interactive outdoor exhibition at the Fresh Oils Community Garden (Harlem, NY) and virtual programming in 2022. In 2023, a group exhibition will be hosted at the renovated Walls-Ortiz Gallery and Center (Harlem, NYC). The exhibition will then travel to various cities in North America in late 2023.