West Harlem Art Fund began the Visual Muze Storytelling Residency & Retreat in response to the Covid pandemic and these challenging times.

Our organization embraced the lessons taught by the pandemic and in the spirit of collaboration and community we created an arts residency. Faith guided our start and a belief that sharing our stories is particularly important today.

Visual Muze began with the COVID Diaries POC project. Before arriving on the island, we captured the voices of People of Color during the pandemic. Co-director and artist Nadia DeLane created three soundscapes from those interviews and we presented the pieces outdoors on Governors Island. We are still collecting audio diaries and are in talks with a NYC museum for potential partnership.

Then, we looked at ways to help artists strengthen and expand their artistic practice. We now have a photo studio, sound room, and crafting studio in our exhibition space on Governors Island. Artists are learning new skills, sharing ideas, and broadening their experiences.

The West Harlem Art Fund is most grateful to the Trust for Governors Island for allowing us to be an art tenant. We are among 18 organizations with multi-year permits serving local NYC artists and providing programming to the general public.

For 2021, we hope to offer art exhibitions again, public programming with social distancing and a combination of residencies for artists. Please continue to support us!


Our collective’s residency on Governors Island has been a truly reflective and rewarding experience. Our creative work has been progressing through deep exploration and discourse, all informed by the Island’s unique natural environments, histories, and inhabitants. We will continue to integrate these findings as we move forward with this performance project.

– Hilary Brown-Istrefi/HB² PROJECTS

“I am very grateful to Savona and Nadia for providing this opportunity for us as artists. Savona has spared no expense to provide interdisciplinary resources for us to use, including a 3D printer, natural dyes and dying workshops, A sound room for sound art, a photo studio and even musical instruments. Many of these have pushed me to consider work beyond my painting, sculpture and installation background. It is a pleasure to be an Artist in Resident here, and am excited to present a fireplace installation project that I’d been working on, next year.”

– Dario Mohr, Visual Artist