Memory Opus I
There is nuance in retelling. Sighs, word whiskers, smiles…What will be supplemented in memory? What will be taken away? In remembering, the speaker adds just as much as is lost. Memory Opus welds the frayed edges of trauma, empowerment, independence and creativity in a soundscape series derived from Covid-Diaries POC—an ongoing archival project designed by The West Harlem Art Fund. Capturing the voices of people of color in quarantine, Memory Opus offers a poignant immersive experience touching on current events surrounding the Coronavirus Pandemic, identity, human rights, and global calls for social justice. Interviewees share fragile memories that capture the narrative arcs of our lives. Outdoor gardens ground the exhibits as audio retellings embody the past, present and future. In listening, we create space for wholeness, growth and momentum. The adjustments one must make to adapt and survive are akin to the transformations required to live and thrive. Abstractions of human life are captured in Memory Opus; however, aesthetic beauty is given by the audience who will shape and make meaning as they take in our collective stories.
Curated by Savona Bailey McClain
Soundscape Design by Nadia DeLane
Landscape Artistry by Austin Arrington
Sculpture by Conrad Levenson
Music by Caliegh Drane
Interviews by Julius Michel
SAVONA BAILEY-MCCLAIN is Executive Director/Chief Curator of the West Harlem Art Fund, which has organized high-profile public arts exhibits throughout New York City for the past 20 years, including Times Square, DUMBO, Soho, Governors Island and Harlem. Her public art installations encompass sculpture, drawings, performance, sound, and mixed media, and have been covered extensively by the New York Times, Art Daily, Artnet, Los Angeles Times and Huffington Post, among many others. She is host/ producer of “State of the Arts NYC,” a weekly radio program on iTunes, Radio Public, Youtube, Mixcloud and other audio platforms. She is a member of ArtTable, Governors Island Advisory Council and the NYC Sacred Places Advisory Board.
Nadia DeLane is a multimedia designer and visual storyteller working in installation, film, digital and fine art. DeLane has produced creative content for organizations and institutions including the School of Visual Arts, Parsons School of Design, Stone Lantern Films, and Turnstone Productions. Currently, she serves as co-director of the storytelling residency, VISUAL MUZE with the West Harlem Art Fund. Her work has been featured in online publications such as AI-AP’s Design Arts Daily (DART). DeLane’s film HOME (2018) focused on the homegrown stories of first and second-generation Caribbean and Latin American immigrants has screened for nonprofit groups and institutions including The New School. Coif City Vol. 1, her artist book on women’s hair culture, is currently available at Printed Matter and Bluestockings in NYC, as well as Gosh! London. DeLane’s stop-motion films Spilt Milk and Utica were featured in film festivals and immersive art experiences including the Twisted Oyster International Film Festival in Chicago. DeLane was the 2017 Artist-in-Residence at the Arte Studio Ginstrelle in Assisi, Italy, where she created a series of poems and illustrations on motherhoods. DeLane is a proud Digital Media Mentor with the NYC-based organization Girls Write Now. Her work can be found on permanent display in Penn State University’s Africana Research Center and the Heart and Kidney Transplant Center at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Jersey. She holds an MFA in Visual Narrative from the School of Visual Arts, an MA in English Literature from Penn State, and a BA in English from Rutgers University.
Austin Arrington is a sustainability consultant based in NYC. As Co-Founder of Plant Group, Austin has helped to design and build urban farms and green spaces across the Northeast. He holds a MS in Environmental Science from SUNY-ESF and a MA in Bioethics from NYU.
Conrad Levenson salvages scrap materials and obsolete objects. He recomposes and repurposes them as as works. Levenson often combine previously unrelated elements, in new and unexpected ways, and incorporate geometric and anthropomorphic forms, often in balance and motion.
The sculptures evoke the former times, places, lives, unique character and embedded energy of their sources materials. I tell their stories, as I explore and mediate the essential relationship between their form and content.
His sculptures range in size from the intimate to large-scale installations. They vary in height from several inches to fifteen feet and weigh a few ounces up to thousands of pounds. Displayed, indoors and out, often in spaces and settings of my own design, my sculptures connect people, visually and emotionally, to the natural and built environments.
Conrad Levenson’s home and studio are located in a rural community in New York’s Hudson Valley. It is a place that provides both inspiration and access to discarded and decaying artifacts, weathered and rusted, ripe for transformation. The property includes a two-acre garden with structures and landscape that are populated with my sculptures, unusual artifacts and found objects.
His sculptures and commissioned works are included in private collections, galleries and outdoor public art venues. I have exhibited, throughout the region. with the Sculptors Guild on Governors Island; the Sculpture Expos in Red Hook, New York; the Studio 80 Sculpture Grounds, Old Lyme, Connecticut; the Red Devon, Bangall, New York; the Ice House on the Hudson, Poughkeepsie, New York; the McDaris Gallery, Hudson, New York; the Highland Falls Sculpture Walk, Highland Falls, New York; and the Meredith Sculpture Walk, Meredith, New Hampshire.
Caleigh Drane has recorded on Sony Classical and has performed, recorded and collaborated with nearly 100 artists spanning all genres. As a chamber and orchestral musician, she has performed in some of the world’s most prestigious venues including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Disney Hall and Auditorio Nacional of Mexico. She maintains an active schedule as a soloist, chamber musician, recording artist and music educator.
As a member of the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas, Ms. Drane performed at the Bicentennial celebration of Mexico’s Independence. POA’s performance at the Columna a la Independencia (El Angel) in Mexico City. The performance was attended by hundreds of thousands of people and broadcast to an estimated 100 million households worldwide. POA also released “Mi Alma Mexicana” on Sony Classical, which ranked among the top 10 on the US billboard classical chart when it was released. The album went platinum in Mexico in it’s first two months of release.
She has performed with several notable artists of the classical music world including Mark O’Connor, Sarah Chang, Sir James Galway, Lynn Harrell, Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, and has worked under the baton of Gerard Schwarz, Conductor Laureate of the Seattle Symphony. Ms. Drane regularly performs in several New York City based orchestras in the city’s most notable venues.
A passionate advocate of new music, Caleigh has performed with numerous new music ensembles including The Wordless Music Orchestra, Hotel Elefant and Nouveau Classical Project, and has performed over two dozen NY and world premieres. Venues include The Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Guggenheim Museum, Le Poisson Rouge, The Stone and Spectrum.
Along with her classical training and career, Caleigh has built a successful career performing with some of today’s leading pop and rock stars. Notable artists include Imogen Heap, John Cale, The Jonas Brothers, and Ra Ra Riot. Venues include Webster Hall, Radio City Music Hall, MTV studios in Times Square, and El Rey in Los Angeles. She has recorded on over a dozen pop, folk and rock albums.
Caleigh received her B.M. from Indiana University, where she studied with Emilio Colon. She has also studied with Eric Kim, Eleanor Schoenfeld, Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, and Janos Starker.
Youth Intern/ Media Assistant
Hi, my name is Julius Michel and I’m currently 16 years old. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, but my family is from Trinidad and Haiti. I’m in the 11th grade and I attend school at New Explorations into Science, Technology, and Math in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. My interests and aspirations are in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and in sports as I wish to be a mechanical engineer or a sports analyst in the near future.
COVID Diaries POC
The West Harlem Art Fund launched COVID Diaries POC —a poignant audio series documenting the impact of the corona virus through interview and memoir. COVID Diaries POC collaboratively captures the reactions of People of Color living at the effect of this global pandemic. I
Teen students from Exalt Youth have generated. discussion questions that family members, neighbors and other participants will respond to using a recording feature on their phones.
Those interviews will be archived and woven into an outdoor botanical installation and soundscape performance piece on Governors Island in the historic district of Nolan Park, designed by artists Nadia DeLane and Austin Arrington. The organization will present a sculpture work by artist Conrad Levenson that will about the garden in the adjoining field.
According to Savona Bailey McClain, Executive Director and Chief Curator for the West Harlem Art Fund, “It is vital that Black and Brown people share their thoughts and experiences firsthand. Too often others interpret the feelings of our communities for us without ever talking to us. COVID Diaries POC offers an opportunity for our communities to heal and process in real-time.”
Posterity will include the voices of African, Latino and Caribbean Americans as historical actors and not as victims.
Exalt demonstrates the power of effective educational engagement as a viable alternative to criminal justice involvement for today’s young people.
Our summer intern is Julius Michel.
Partial funding for COVID Diaries POC and Memory Opus I was provided by The Desai Sethi Foundation. Fiscal sponsors for COVID Diaries POC is Ankhlave Arts Alliance Inc.