The Community Pie Social is a time for fellowship and dialogue about issues that impact our daily lives, from race relations and education to affordable housing and healthcare. Free and open to the public, everyone is asked to bring a sweet or savory pie to share with others and engage in a guided discussion. The Community Pie social is designed to center community voices and marginalized perspectives, with food serving to create a shared experience and mitigate challenging conversations. Inspired by the work of artist Michael Pribich and the organization Peace Through Pie, this ongoing and nomadic public program originated in 2015 at Carver Bank, a creative placemaking project by Theaster Gates and Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts.
A public program of the exhibition The World is a Mirror of My Freedom, Shaun Leonardo’s public-participatory workshop and performance I Can’t Breathe takes the form of a self-defense class. Over the course of a half hour, participants learn a range of self-defense techniques, from purely pacifist, self-protective maneuvers—including how one may relieve the pressure of a chokehold—to more overt, defensive strategies. Participants do not learn offensive strikes or moves. I Can't Breathe was created in memory of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Akai Gurley, Ramarley Graham, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, and countless others. The workshop was followed by a conversation between Leonardo and Mike Campagna, Captain and Training Director at the Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Department.
Created to deepen arts engagement with college students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, this curated evening featured live sets by the band Blame the Youth; a hip-hop dance class with dancer and choreographer Dina Badawy; paper-flower making with artist Julio Gonzalez; a food demonstration by the Culinary Arts students of Central Piedmont Community College; a screen printing workshop with artist Carmen Papalia and UNCC students; and intercollegiate speed dating. Organized in partnership with Central Piedmont Community College.
James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket is a biographical film about the American author and civil rights activist James Baldwin. First released in 1989, the film is now considered a classic. Organized for Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in partnership with Film Streams and The Union for Contemporary Art, a screening of the digitally remastered film was followed by a discussion with the directors Karen Thorsen and Douglas K. Dempsy. In addition to the full house evening event, more than 150 youth from Omaha public schools saw the film as part of Film Streams' Daytime Education Program. This program was presented as part of the celebration for Native Omaha Days, a bi-annual event celebrating North Omaha’s historical and cultural legacies.
Self-Preservation Saturdays was a drop-in series of mindful movement classes created to promote community health and well-being in the Near Northside, a historically African American neighborhood in Omaha, Nebraska. Adult residents were invited to participate in yoga, Tai Chi, or massage at no cost. Held at Carver Bank — a creative placemaking site designed by Theaster Gates in collaboration with Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts — classes were led by independent practitioners or instructors affiliated with The Omaha Yoga and Body Work Center. Childcare was provided by The Union for Contemporary Art, where children and youth could participate in Saturday Art Club, a concurrent arts and cultural enrichment program for ages 6-13.
The Fruity Pop Workshop is a pop-up educational experience that takes place at farmers’ markets, community centers, and other public spaces in low-resource neighborhoods. Free to the public, the project is geared toward children aged 4–11 and aims to help them form healthier relationships to food through visual art and creative practices. Working collaboratively, a teaching artist and food educator show children how to make a “Fruity Pop”—a low-cost and healthier alternative to sugary sodas and fruit juices—and how to turn the leftover fruit scraps into art-making tools or works of art. This program is based on the work of artist Tattfoo Tan.
Organized in collaboration with CUE Art Foundation, the Art21 Book Club invited avid readers to participate in semi-intimate conversations about fiction and nonfiction books relevant to themes of the Art21 Magazine or ideas tackled by its contributing writers. The Art21 Book Club created an offline space for dialogue that encouraged laughter, discussion, and debate over beer, snacks, and a good book. The program moderators included artists Heather Hart, Naomi Reis, and Kalup Linzy.