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A Journey of Love: NBT Celebrates Its 47th Birthday!

Morningside News - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 23:15
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Artist, Mariona Lloreta, was commissioned to create the NBT 2015 Awards

The National Black Theatre celebrated its 47th anniversary and the birthday of its founder, Barbara Ann Teer, with the  Teer Spirit Awards Gala - an elegant and star-studded evening highlighting the the institution’s proud legacy and the accomplishments of several trailblazers in the performing arts.
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After a lovely cocktail reception, the organization’s CFO, Abisola Faison, welcomed guests with a traditional Yoruba blessing. NBT’s Jonathan McCrory reflected on the theater’s history as a “Journey of Love” – a phrase that would also aptly describe the long and glorious ceremony ahead. And, Sade Lythcott, CEO and daughter of the founder, recounted precious and culturally rich moments with her mother. Rain Pryor followed with an opening skit, evocative of her one woman show  (currently playing at NBT through June 28th).
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The love continued with distinguished performers, hosts, and honorees, who were receiving recognition for their extraordinary and pioneering feats in the arts. Among the evening’s hosts were Russell G. Jones, Michelle Wilson and Thelma Golden, with additional performances by Nsangou Njikam and Bert Price. Honorees included Kwame Kwei-Armah, Kamilah Forbes, Carmen de Lavallade, Sydne Mahone, Rosalba Rolo, Roberta Uno, Mary Schmidt Campbell, Dominique Morisseau, and Chief Nike Monica Okundaye. Each of them, awardees and artists alike, could trace symbolic moments with the National Black Theatre throughout their careers and over its near half-century year reign.
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NBT’s 47th was an evening that powerfully celebrated the arts and its champions, this historic institution and, most of all, the lives, visions and legacies of its inextinguishable founding parents: Dr. Barbara Ann Teer, Frederica L. Teer, and Tunde Samuel.
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National Black Theatre, 2031 Fifth Avenue, NYC, 10035
| www.nationalblacktheatre.org

 Salif Cisse)

Photos: NBT’s Sade Lythcott & Jonathan McCrory; Honorees, Carmen de Lavallade & Dominique Morisseau; Guests. Lisa Branch, Alia Jones-Harvey & Stephen Byrd. (Photos: Salif Cisse)

Morningsider was pleased to share this exceptional evening with Salif Cisse, our Summer Assistant, visiting from Paris France. As a performing artist, experiencing his first Harlem Arts & Culture event, Salif shares these personal remarks:
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I usually don’t like awards ceremonies…To be honest, I don’t really know any of the people who received awards that night, or even if they are the best at what they do. But, what I am sure of is that this night was not about individuals as much as it was about celebrating  art: Art, as a means, as a tool to achieve something.

X X This night was the night of allegories. A lot of award speeches talked about “spirit,” and the sacred part of art. “Theater is our sacred ground,” said Kamilah Forbes. “The legacy that we received and the legacy that we will left behind us.” This, all night, was a pretext to talk about how a noble art such as theater is a wonderful way to serve a community.
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This evening was mainly about the Black Theater. As a French actor, the Black Theater is a strange thing to me because the French don’t believe in communalism. They are afraid of it. They believe in complete integration. But this is hypocrisy because foreign people are not accepted as they should be. So why can’t they organize with each other as they want?
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There are clearly not enough black people, or even worse, foreign people in French Theater, because French Theater doesn’t represent reality as it should be. I am not talking about foreigners that just arrived, I am talking about French with foreign origins, born and raised in the country. The particularity of France is that its population is one of the most diverse in the world, in terms of origins. But the social origin is also at stake here. For what kind of audience is a play is written? XX

“A noble art practiced by noble protagonists, for a noble audience.” Certain people think like that. That is why the people don’t go to the theater.
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Communalism can be a part of the solution. The fact that black people in the U.S. organize each other to be able to use this form of art – a form that I love so much – to express their own problems, their own need for change, their own feelings about the world, is something that moved me very deeply. It confirmed to me that art belongs to the people as a whole; that art is not black, white, poor, or rich. But, it is the result of a need for humans to express themselves and to expose their own reality, who ever they are.
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“Theater is our sacred ground.” I could not agree more.

 

Harlem Artist connects with Boys & Girls Club for chashama & Bank of America “Recycle Now” Campaign

Morningside News - Tue, 06/23/2015 - 21:45
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The campaign may have ended, but it still lingers in the hearts and minds of eighteen young people from the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem.
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This spring, in support of Earth Day and beyond, chashama   partnered with Bank of America to present Recycle Now -  a national six week challenge designed to encourage more recycling in the workplace. As part of the challenge, these young people were invited to participate in workshops with Harlem-based interior design and installation artist, Christopher Trujillo – a celebrated chashama artist best known for his paper chandeliers and sustainable design.
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Workshops with the Trujillo  were woven into  Boys & Girls Club after school activities taking place at Frederick Douglass Academy on Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd. & 148th Street. The Boys & Girls Club of Harlem (BGCH), which has its headquarters at 144th & Convent, runs a satellite after school enrichment program there that serves middle and high school students.
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As part of the project, Trujillo was selected from a pool of artistic applicants to create floor and hanging light sculptures made from paper and plastics from the One Bryant Park/Bank of America building’s waste stream. These fixtures were assembled and exhibited in the building’s public space, within a growing and theatrical display aimed at adding an element of engagement, invention and beauty to the notion of recycling. The artist, along with members of his creative team, met with  BGCH youth at FDA twice per week to guide students in the creation of three of those sculptures. – See more at: http://morningsider.com/harlem-artist-connects-with-boys-girls-club-for-chashama-bank-of-america-recycle-now-campaign/#sthash.3vX4CGkO.dpuf

The campaign may have ended, but it still lingers in the hearts and minds of eighteen young people from the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem.
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This spring, in support of Earth Day and beyond, chashama   partnered with Bank of America to present Recycle Now -  a national six week challenge designed to encourage more recycling in the workplace. As part of the challenge, these young people were invited to participate in workshops with Harlem-based interior design and installation artist, Christopher Trujillo – a celebrated chashama artist best known for his paper chandeliers and sustainable design.
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Workshops with the Trujillo  were woven into  Boys & Girls Club (BGCH) after school activities taking place at Frederick Douglass Academy on Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd. & 148th Street. BGCH, which has its headquarters at 144th & Convent, runs a satellite after school enrichment program there that serves middle and high school students.
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As part of the project, Trujillo was selected from a pool of artistic applicants to create floor and hanging light sculptures made from paper and plastics from the One Bryant Park/Bank of America building’s waste stream. These fixtures were assembled and exhibited in the building’s public space, within a growing and theatrical display aimed at adding an element of engagement, invention and beauty to the notion of recycling. The artist, along with members of his creative team, met with  BGCH youth at FDA twice per week to guide them in the creation of three of those sculptures.
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BG2During the program – which launched on Earth Day and ran through early June – students forged a relationship with the Trujillo and learned about his career, engaged in in-depth discussion about environmental responsibility, and went on an insider’s tour of the Bank of America Office Tower at One Bryant Park – the first and one of the most environmentally advanced skyscrapers in the world. Additionally, the program included a field trip to chashama‘s  studios on West 126th Street, where students toured Trujillo’s workspace and interacted with other chashama artists. Throughout the project, they learned many new innovative art-making skills and techniques that resulted in the development of exciting, functional and sustainable art!
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Admittedly, no one could gauge the success of the Recycle Now youth component at the start. It had never been done before and Trujillo knew it would be labor intensive at times, and expected that it wouldn’t always be fun. Furthermore, there was no way to predict how a group of teens and pre-teens would respond to this unconventional call to raise awareness about saving the planet – which involved crushing and stapling plates, and piercing together hundreds of recycled beverage bottles. However, BGCH students wowed at every turn! These new forms of creative and  industrious engagement were met with enthusiasm, which led to commitment. They enjoyed working with the artist and being part of a team and working collectively for a greater cause. And finally, the thrill of seeing one of their finished projects exhibited at  One Bryant Park made the experience that much more rewarding!

X More than twenty chandeliers created through this project were exhibited in the office building lobby through June 5th and are now enjoying new lives in permanent, public locations throughout New York City: Two will remain in the Bank of America Headquarters; Three are at Mid-Bronx Senior and Children’s Services facilities; an organization in The Mink Building holds at least one; one was later exhibited at a VIP interior design reception and is currently traveling the world, and; BGCH was able to keep two of their creations for future installation in their new and long-awaited home on 145th Street.
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Trujillo said one of the best parts of the program, for him, was watching the student’s interest and involvement grow as the project progressed – by the end of it all they were real professionals and earth troopers! The kids, on the other hand, had a harder time agreeing on their favorite moments – between the breathtaking tour of One Bryant Park, the visit with chashama artists, one-on-one  with Christopher, and learning to make cool projects from throw-away materials, Recycle Now was a lasting experience that none of them will soon forget.

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Photos: (Top) Artist, Christopher Trujillo with recycled plastic chandelier; (Middle) BGCH students constructing paper light sculptures; (Bottom) Installation at One Bryan Park/Bank of America with Artist & BGCH youth (photos courtesy of chashama)