Alumna Curates Publication Series Documenting Regional Black Leaders

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Alumna Curates Publication Series Documenting Regional Black Leaders

VSW MFA alumna Amanda Chestnut has curated In This Moment: Revolution, Reckoning, Reparation, a series of ten chapbook profiles of Black leaders in Rochester by Black writers and photographers.

Rochester, NY: In This Moment, a project for ten teams of Black writers and photographers to profile ten Black leaders from across the city of Rochester, will be published by Visual Studies Workshop Press. The project was created by curator Amanda Chestnut and coordinator Jeanne Strazzabosco in order to demonstrate the breadth and scope of revolutionary work happening in the area. The leaders profiled in the series of ten chapbook publications are:

● Samra Brouk, New York State Senator for District #55

● Luticha Doucette, Owner of Catalyst Consulting

● Shawn Dunwoody, Artist

● The Gatekeeper Adrian Elim

● Dorothy Simmons Hall & Dorian Hall, Grass Roots Community Builders

● Debora McDell-Hernandez, Senior Director of Public & Community Affairs Planned Parenthood of Central & Western New York

● Dr. Celia McIntosh, DNP, RN, FNP-C, PMHNP-BC, SCRN, CEN, CCRN, CNRN, President of the Rochester Regional Coalition Against Human Trafficking

● Dr. Kathryn Mariner, Wilmot Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Visual and Cultural Studies

● Danielle Ponder, Musician and Attorney

● Herbert Smith, 3rd Trumpet Rochester Philharmonic Director of Jazz Bands RIT Composer, Recording Artist, Conductor

Essayists profiling the leaders are Chris Thompson, Taurus Savant, Quajay Donnell, Lu Highsmith, Irene Kannyo, Luticha Doucette, Jevon Cooper, Lisa Maria Rickman Agnello, Erica Bryant, and Vanessa Cheeks. They are photographed by Arturo Hoyt, Jackie McGriff, Andre Walker, Ralph Thompson, Erica Jae, Quajay Donnell, Coco Rae David, Rashaad Parker, Christopher Cardwell, and Olivia Bacot.

The theme, In This Moment, is a challenge to a euphemism often used in lieu of talking about Revolution, Reckoning, and Reparation. This project looks to take the euphemism and ask it back to those most likely to use it: What is this moment? Rochester has received national recognition as the tenth worst place to live in the country as an African American while simultaneously being highly ranked for the quality of life, innovation, strategic technological investment, and a vibrant community for the arts. There is an obvious gap in the experiences of our regional citizens and Rochester represents a rather extreme case of the divisions faced by many areas of the country. With recent regional and national media reporting on protests and destabilization in the area following the video release of Daniel Prude's death in police custody, we think it is important to document and support the wide range of Black leadership in areas of art and culture, health, housing support, and other activities happening in Rochester.

The curator of In This Moment, Amanda Chestnut, is an artist, curator, educator, and writer from Rochester. Her artwork focuses on the meeting places between historic and contemporary narratives about Black lives. She is a 2015 graduate of SUNY Brockport's MFA in Visual Studies at Visual Studies Workshop. This project is coordinated by Jeanne Strazzabosco, educator, advocate, and activist from Rochester. Her collaborations focus on elevating and supporting the voices, vision, and beauty of under-represented community members.

One thousand copies of each of the ten books are being published when enough funds are raised to complete one of the publications. Distribution of the publications will begin in mid-December 2020 and likely run through May 2021. The free publications are being distributed at eleven Monroe County Public Library branches in the Greater Rochester area as well as through New City Cafe in Beechwood and the VSW Bookstore at 31 Prince St., Rochester.

What: Ten publications

When: December 15, 2020, through May 2021

Where: Distributed throughout Greater Rochester at eleven Monroe County Public Library branches: Arnett, Central, Fairport, Gates, Hamlin, Henrietta, Lincoln, Maplewood, Pittsford, Rush, and Winton; the New City Cafe in Beechwood, Rochester, NY; and the VSW Bookstore, 31 Prince Street, Rochester, NY 14607

Cost: Free


Curator, Amanda Chestnut

Coordinator, Jeanne Strazzabosco

Printing by Panther Graphics Inc.;; (585) 546-7163

Design by DSC Designs LLC;;; (585) 201-1277

Sponsors: VSW Press publications are made possible in part with support from Joy of Giving Something; the Andrea Frank artist project fund at VSW; and SUNY Brockport. This project is directly supported by SUNY Brockport; Visual Studies Workshop; Jeanne Strazzabosco; Rome Celli; Chris Caretta; Glenn Jackson; Nahoko Kawakyu; Richard A. Glaser; RocGrowth; The Drs. Dawn and Jacques Lipson Enhancing Life Fund; and dozens of other individual donors, for a complete listing of supporters see the website above.

Image Credits: by Michael Darcy, courtesy VSW Press



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