2020 at Storefront for Art and Architecture
Friday March 13, 2020
Storefront for Art and Architecture is temporarily closed and all in-person public programming is on hold pending the phased reopening of New York City. We are closely monitoring city, state, and federal guidance. We are not accessible by phone, but email requests can be sent to email@example.com.
We will post periodic updates about programming, reopening plans, and more below. Thank you for helping us promote the safety of our staff, community, and the city at large.
June 19th, 2020: StorefrontTV Season 3, Episode 1
June 5th, 2020: To Our Members and Supporters Re: Black Lives Matter
May 29th, 2020: On Maintenance at Storefront
March 12th, 2020: Gallery Closing and More
Today, we are writing to you as a member, patron, or friend who has generously supported Storefront for Art and Architecture over the past few years, and in many cases well before. Thank you for your support.
Knowing that this is one of the many emails you’ve received in response to current events, we feel it is necessary to speak up in order to say that Storefront stands in solidarity with the affirmation that Black Lives Matter. We are saddened and outraged at the murders of black people at the hands of power. We join with all who mourn George Floyd, Tony McDade, David McAtee, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, as well as those who were killed before them, including Atatiana Jefferson, Bothem Jean, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, and so many others. We also acknowledge the centuries of oppression and violence, both blatant and subtle, that black people have faced in the United States and around the world, and recognize that the realms of art and architecture have been both complacent and complicit in this oppression. The widespread ignorance to injustices that are so inherently embedded and entangled in our society’s institutions is both inexcusable and exactly the point; it is why people are justifiably on the streets. We support and defend this right to protest — full stop.
Over the past week, Storefront’s staff members have been vacillating between modes of sadness, anger, restlessness, and hope. As a small team of non-black people of color, we have all individually experienced forms of discrimination and systemic racism in our own lives, and this moment, while it is and should be centered on the particular forms of injustice and oppression faced by black people, resonates with us in ways that are both expected and surprising. We’ve been reflecting upon our own relationships to privilege, institutional racism, allyship, and empathy. We recognize the need to claim responsibility and ownership of our biases and those of our respective communities, and to habitually speak out in support of black lives, especially in the spaces where we have agency to effect change.
As a result of these conversations, we believe that silence is unacceptable, and we are heartened by the many expressions of solidarity from organizations and individuals who strive to do better. We also recognize that any institutional statement that asserts that Black Lives Matter is only meaningful insofar as it comes with action, and that any action must in part include a deep interrogation of our policies and methodologies. We commit to developing an action plan that implements changes in the areas of board and staff composition, labor practices, compensation, artist selection, and more. These interrogations are not easy, but they are essential and overdue, and we welcome the challenge of learning, listening, engaging, and self-questioning that they require.
In doing so, we have been reflecting upon Storefront’s history. As a friend of the organization, you may know that Storefront was founded in 1982, in a New York City that was very different in many ways from the one we currently inhabit. Despite a narrative of growth embedded in capitalist optimism and rhetoric, there were devastating manifestations of inequity that are still so painfully visible today. The most vulnerable populations experienced homelessness, police brutality, discrimination based on gender identity, gentrification-led displacement, and more — issues that persist, and that disproportionately impact black, brown, and indigenous communities.
Storefront was born into this context, cultivated by artists, architects, and creatives who sought to infuse the realms of art and architecture with civic engagement and activism, and to address the complexities of our built environment from alternative perspectives. This was done through exhibition making, of course, but also through actions, campaigns, and collective gathering for discussion and debate. The result was the creation of a space that was in the service of publicness, as well a diverse community of artists and architects who explicitly sought to question the status quo, and who did not hesitate to be critical, subversive, or incisive in their words and actions. We seek to uphold the spirit of this history, but in doing so, we know that we must also work in ways that are more self-critical, more aware, and more just.
One small effort to start our collective conversations is that we are putting together a list of resources from our members and friends. So many of you have been sharing important information about organizations seeking donations, solidarity funds, compilations of resources, critical readings, and more. If you’d like to participate, we ask you to send us your suggestions for 1) an action, 2) a fund or way to donate; 3) an organization doing key work, 4) a work of art and/or architecture, and 5) a text (i.e. article, book, poem, etc.) that resonate with you in these times. We will compile these, credit them, and share more broadly. We have begun this with the list below.
With humility and appreciation,
The staff of Storefront for Art and Architecture
José Esparza Chong Cuy
Monetary Support: Directory of Community Bail Funds
Organization: Color of Change and Soul Fire Farm
Artwork: Deconstructed Anthems by Ekene Ijeoma (see artist interview here)
Text: “Non-Black People of Color Perpetuate Anti-Blackness Too” by Sean Dajour Smith; A Litany for Survival by Audre Lorde
Action: Mapping Police Violence
Monetary Support: Queer Detainee Empowerment Project
Organization: Showing Up For Racial Justice and HOUSING
Artwork: rootkits rootwork by Devin Kenny (read more about the exhibition here)
Text: Women, Race, & Class by Angela Y. Davis; The End of Policing by Alex S. Vitale
It’s been a while since we’ve reached out from Storefront, and in the time since you last heard from us, it seems as though the world has become unrecognizable. In the past few months, we’ve been trying to take care of ourselves, and to make sure we can continue to advance our mission for many years to come.
Storefront for Art and Architecture has always been a place of experimentation; a space where the boundaries between private and public are blurred, and an open and inclusive site of exchange where ideas about the built environment flow freely. But what does this look like in a pandemic?
The ongoing crisis has exposed how simultaneously vulnerable and resilient we are. It’s made us reconsider our perspectives on health and safety, and reassess what it means to practice care. We have been thinking a lot about intersections: between bodies and spaces, between emotional well-being and political outrage, between expressions of hope and grief. Rather than rushing to respond, we have sought to reflect.
In times like these, as the systems and values that comprise our societies continue to transform, we are thankful for one constant: our community. In the context of branded dialogue, digital distractions, and overproduction in the cultural sphere, the most valuable resource we have is your attention. We hope that Storefront’s mission of critical experimentation continues to resonate. If you have any thoughts or ideas for us, or if you’d just like to say hello and share what you’re up to, please feel free to drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With appreciation and best wishes,
Storefront for Art and Architecture
José Esparza Chong Cuy, Executive Director and Chief Curator
Jinny Khanduja, Deputy Director
Jessica Kwok, Gallery and Operations Manager
Storefront for Art and Architecture will be temporarily closed beginning tomorrow, March 13th. We are closely monitoring updates regarding COVID-19 from city and state authorities, as well as from the CDC and through conversations with many of our peer organizations and galleries.
In addition, all public programming initiated by Storefront is currently on hold.
We will post any future updates on our website. Thank you for helping us promote the safety of our staff, community, and the city at large.