JUNE: BODY TALK
Art as Wellness
In June, we came together for a night of queer feminist storytelling on “art as wellness” at The Corners in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. We heard from activists and artists of all kinds, as part of our third installment of our BODY TALK series.
We were so lucky to have nine amazing speakers, as well as an incredibly hilarious MC! Shout out to @colonialmanface otherwise known as Lorena Russi, New York-based Latinx stand-up comic,and writer/director/actor, who also happens to have been a professional soccer player. (We see you @WorldCup fans – be sure to check out her parody commercial).
After a Russi kicked it off with some rad jokes, we heard from Cathleen Meredith on “dance as wellness.” Cathleen is a writer, Influencer, Public Speaker, and founder of Fat Girls Dance (“A Worldwide Movement Bent on Trashing Body Image Stereotypes throughout the Universal Language of Dance”).
After Cathleen, we heard from Caroline Reedy, a digital artist inspired by pop-art portraiture, mental health advocacy, and internet culture. Her art can be found up and around New York on Link NYC kiosks in collaboration with Overheard New York, Hello Tittie, Glowing Up Podcast and upcoming in Roxanne Gay’s magazine Gay Magazine. Caroline talked about how making funny doodles about serious themes (“taking something scary and putting a little hat on it”) has helped her support her mental health. Our next speaker, Jin, also found healing through art. Jin is a Gender-Non Conforming Korean-American Multidisciplinary Visual Artist, Organizer, and Performer and Trans Rights Activist, who spoke about their experience with needlework. Check out Jin’s NYC-based punk collective No Flowers or work at Disclaimer, a non-commercial gallery and arts organization.
We heard from two fabulous comedians on why wellness makes great comedy. Ali Weiss, Actress, Writer, Comedian and On-Air Host, shared her perspective on “Health as Hell,” how we’re all struggling to survive, and why laughing about the things we do to “stay well” can make it easier. Atlanta-born Brooklyn-based comedian Shalewa Sharpe shared some hilarious jokes on her brand of “wellness,” and had us all in tears. Sharpe has been on HBO’s “2 Dope Queens” and Comedy Central’s “The New Negroes” and her own show: “Don’t Reach in The Bag.”
Our next speaker, Avalon Knight is a queer-rights activist and performance/visual artist. They spoke about the healing qualities of their work performing as drag queen Diane Rott, and hosting monthly queer parties. Next up we heard from Mary Harmer who asked the important question of where does disability fit into the wellness conversation? Mary is a Brooklyn-Based Australian Artist and Activist, who fights for advocacy & equality for people with disabilities, who are often at an increased risk for marginalization.
After Mary, we heard from Zoë Linterzis, an artist and art therapist, who discussed visual art as wellness. In addition to being an arts and wellness practitioner, Zoë is the Creator of the HeartBroke Project, and a Minimalist Artist. Zoë utilizes photography and canvas as her platforms for visual storytelling. Our final storyteller was Dominique Wynne, @chillerthanthou, an Art Director from Queens working to create safe spaces of connection and community. Out of experiences of alienation, Dominique creates community through storytelling and photography for people of color and the queer community. Dominique talked about the healing power of storytelling, and how it’s helped her process past experiences and create change. Her photo essay Black, Brown, Other has exhibited through Brooklyn and Manhattan and been featured by Nylon Magazine.
Thank you to all who came out and created community and opened dialogue through art and wellness (with a little humor sprinkled in) with us! To all those who couldn’t make it or don’t live locally, thank you for being a part of this community – we couldn’t do it without you! We hope to see your beautiful faces soon. Stay tuned for more events! Keep dancing, drawing, laughing, advocating, & creating or just chilling – whatever ‘wellness’ means or looks like for you!