Activist Print is a collaboration between The Andy Warhol Museum, BOOM Concepts (a creative hub for artists to incubate ideas), and the North Side printmaking studio Artists Image Resource (AIR). Activist Print is inspired by the long history of artists using silkscreen and print-based media to raise awareness of contemporary issues and inspire change. The intent of Activist Print is to present perspectives on important societal issues that are often ignored and to create a forum for action on timely community concerns.
Three Pittsburgh artists, Bekezela Mguni, Paradise Gray, and Alisha B. Wormsley, have been invited to create socially and politically inspired print work in this yearlong project. The Activist Print series will be exhibited on the windows of the Rosa Villa, a building across the street from The Warhol. The museum was given the Rosa Villa property and has used the façade of the building for public artworks while working on a plan to rehabilitate the site. Project leader and artist D.S. Kinsel launched the project with the installation of What They Say, What They Said on the Rosa Villa façade.
This project follows a history of exhibitions at the museum, which fostered dialogue around challenging issues: Without Sanctuary, Inconvenient Evidence, and Deadly Medicine. In December 2015, 201 people pledged $20,257 to the Activist Print campaign on Kickstarter, a popular crowd-funding website, in order to successfully fund and bring this project to life. The Warhol and AIR would like to extend their sincerest gratitude and thanks to all of the Activist Print Kickstarter backers, who make this project possible.
What They Say, What They Said
What They Say, What They Said is an introductory iteration of prints created by one of theActivist Print partners and project leaders D.S. Kinsel. His work invites open dialogue by providing insight into community and police interactions. The background text represents collected responses to the prompt, “What do the police say when they see you?” The respondents were African American men between the ages of 15 and 45, living in Pittsburgh’s East End. The foreground displays police silhouettes with excerpts from President Obama’s “Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing” displayed within each silhouette. This layering of text offers a conversation within the mural and strives to broaden understanding.
D.S. Kinsel’s work focuses on themes of escapism, space keeping, urban tradition, pop culture, hip-hop, informalism, and cultural appropriation. Kinsel’s primary practice is painting, but he works in a variety of additional media, including window display, installation, action-painting, non-traditional performance, and social media. Kinsel is the co-founder of Boom Concepts, and he works with youth, community artists, and community partners in order to identify ways for youth to express issues of social justice through drama, dance, music, visual art, and technology.
The Disappearing Black Culture in Pittsburgh Series
In this photographic series, Paradise Gray observes the erasure of visible black culture and history in shared public spaces throughout Pittsburgh. One pair of images reveals the transformation of an outdoor facility adjacent to a North Side public school—a cracked overgrown basketball court gives way to a manicured green baseball field. In the second diptych, before and after images show the removal of a Negro League tribute from Pittsburgh's baseball stadium—statues of players from the Homestead Grays and the Pittsburgh Crawfords are replaced by banners and trash receptacles.
Paradise Gray is a community organizer, author, artist, producer, hip-hop artist, historian, and chief curator of The Universal Hip Hop Museum, New York. He was manager and promoter for the hip-hop club “The Latin Quarter” in New York City, a teacher of the 1Hood Media Academy, professor of hip-hop at Monroe College, New York, and a founding member of 1Hood, the Coalition Against Violence, and the Alliance for Police Accountability.
Alisha B. Wormsley’s four-part panel for Activist Print is inspired by John Carpenter’s 1988 science fiction film They Live, in which a race of aliens disguised as humans take over the planet. Using mass media and normalization tactics, the aliens manipulate, dominate, and police the human race. An underground resistance creates glasses that enable humans to see who the aliens are, ultimately leading to the destruction of their system of mind control. In We Live, Wormsley re-imagines this fictional story for our current political moment: “In this world the glasses are used to promote fear and control. The children can see beyond this—they can use other forms of connection and centered thinking to change course. Resistance grows through a change in perception. A shift is happening.” Wormsley believes that there is something innate in the human spirit that drives us to protect this planet and its inhabitants.
Alisha B. Wormsley is a collaborative and community-oriented interdisciplinary artist and cultural producer. Wormsley has been honored with a number of awards and grants to support her programs: afronaut(a) experimental film series; Homewood Artist Residency (recently received the mayor’s public art award); art: the Children of NAN video art series; There Are Black People in the Future body of work; and her collaborative works with performance artist Lisa Harris. Her work has been shown in the 2014 Carnegie International and the HTMLLES festival in Montreal as a part of the Montreal Biennial 2014. Wormsley currently teaches electronic media at Carnegie Mellon University.
To be announced
Bekezela Mguni is a librarian, activist, artist, and abundant bodied femme. She collaborates with various artists, educators, healers, and activists seeking to create new worlds, believing that the collective sharing of knowledge, beauty, and inspiration is a part of life’s purpose. She holds a master’s degree in library and information science and participated in the first Librarians and Archivists with Palestine delegation in June 2013. She was a 2015 Penn Ave Creative fellow with the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater and examines the relationship between literacy and liberation by engaging libraries as sites of possibility. She works to create spaces that center and honor the cultural contributions and storytelling of black women through the Black Unicorn Project, a black, queer, feminist library and archive.