Happy 2016 from Codify Art (and happy belated MLK day, at this point)! In the spirit of #NewYearNewMe, we're rolling out our #NewBlog with some highlights from our past year. After all, you can't have the "new" without the "old."
YELLOW PERIL BLACK POWER
YELLOW PERIL BLACK POWER was a series of firsts—the first visual art show produced by Codify, the first public viewing of Bau Haus (a live/work studio cum community arts venue comprised of/run by Codify members Jarrett Key and Kat JK Lee), and the first presentation of Jarrett Key's "I AM AIN'T I" painting series.
As the title may suggest, YELLOW PERIL BLACK POWER was an unapologetic reclamation of racial identity, colored by the ways Jarrett and Kat, by virtue of their existence as black and Asian artists [people], threaten and are threatened by their frictive relationship to White America.
About Face was Codify's second art show with Bau Haus, this time with the inclusion of team member Jonathan Key. In addition to featuring new work by the Bau Haus cohort, About Face showcased Jonathan's 12, a series of 12 collages created over 12 days.
The theme of About Face was two-fold, the first literally being "about face," as many of the pieces were portraits. However, the personal history and narratives explored in the work spoke to "about face" as in "turn around," or even as in "losing face"—a look back at the forces that shaped us and a 360-degree exploration of the visages encountered through multiple layers of performance.
WE ARE BULLET PROOF
We Are Bullet Proof is a manifesto as much as a project, offering a narrative of strength amidst the struggle and vulnerability of the Black Lives Matter movement. Jonathan Key headed this initiative in collaboration with Codify to create a series of posters and hoodies. In them is a message of empowerment and solidarity, and with all proceeds going to support Black Lives Matter organizations, We Are Bullet Proof is a call to action couched in a long history of protest design. For more information, read Jon's feature on ADC Global and visit the WE ARE BULLET PROOF website.
In addition to our work as a collective, we want to highlight some individual projects undertaken by our team in 2015 as part of our mission to foreground work by creators of color.
Jonathan Key's Personal Narrative and Heritage Portraits books were included in Yale University's Odds and Ends Art Book Fair. Of Personal Narrative, Jon says, "I want to investigate the ways people and myself carry the remnants of our pasts, cultures, and identity and how these ideas perpetuate through the way we talk, move, and think about ourselves." Heritage Portraits is a collection of individual and unique stories about the influence of family, home, race, and orientation, and an investigation of how we perform these aspects of identity in our daily lives.
Jon was also invited to teach at two different workshops with graphic designer Wael Morcos. The first was a Type Workshop at the Children's Museum of the Arts during its annual Spring Benefit: a fun-filled day of collaborative art-making between children and art professionals. The children—aged three to nine—were asked to interpret the work of Henri Matisse and Franz Kline using paint or letter cutouts. The results were then collected and digitized into two working typefaces: one for Matisse and another for Kline. These fonts were then gifted to the museum for use by participating children and CMA's marketing materials.
Jon and Wael then traveled to Beirut to hold a 3 day Graphic Design Workshop at the Lebanese American University. Working with LAU's Graphic Design Senior Class, the two helped students develop the visual storytelling for their thesis design projects. Topics ranged from the Syrian Refugee crisis to identities focusing on wellness and spirituality.
Leandro Zaneti worked as a producer for The Broken Record, a play written by Jonathan Louis Dent and directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian for the 2015 New York International Fringe Festival. Set in present day New York City, The Broken Record grapples with the relationship between police and young black men, and as a well-reviewed piece, offers a point-of-entry into conversations around police brutality.
Leandro also returned to produce for Studio 42's Unproducible Smackdown for the second time. For the Smackdown, the authors are given a list of "ingredients" to work into each script, and after 1-2 rehearsals, all plays go up in a night of boozy fun where a winner is crowned! Leandro's piece was titled STAR TRIPS! by Adam Szymkowicz and directed by Pirronne Yousefzadeh.
FIND YOUR BAE CABARET was a night of love songs produced by Chantel Whittle in the intimate space above La Luz in Brooklyn. In Chantel's own words, the goal "was to explore the joys and complications of love, particularly infidelity, all while singing some of my favorite love songs." Chantel performed as lead female vocalist alongside Ben Freeman (male vocalist + pianist), Annie Kocher (supportive vocalist), Danielle Deluty (bassist), Daniel Friedman (guitarist), and Natan Last (drummer).
Beyond the two Codify-produced Bau Haus shows, Jarrett Key has presented his "I AM AIN'T I" series at the Artists Against Police Violence show at the EMW Bookstore in Cambridge, MA and at MATTERING: An Arts Forum at NYU. Artists Against Police Violence was the first exhibition put up by the organization of the same name; it was curated through a national open call for artists to rise up against anti-Black police violence, in urgent response to the numerous protests erupting in Ferguson and across America. MATTERING was presented by the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue (IACD) and their Founding Director Anna Deavere Smith. The two-day forum explored what effect the Black Lives matter and All Lives matter movements had on artistic imaginations and highlighted developing works that considered race relations in America.
Jarrett also performed in two plays: Delilah (What is Love? Baby Don't Hurt Me), presented as part of the 2015 HOT! Festival at Dixon Place, and FOXTROT FOXTROT WHISKEY, a new algorithmic performance at CPR-Center for Performance Research.
Kat JK Lee was featured in November's issue of Playbill as part of an interview with Hamilton star Leslie Odom, Jr. Earlier in the year, Kat had donated portraits of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, as portrayed by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odom, Jr., to the Public Theater to present to the actors as closing night gifts before Hamilton's move to Broadway. Their illustration is now hanging in Odom, Jr.'s Broadway dressing room.