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Laundromat Art Festival Celebrates Neighborhood Culture Across the Boroughs

By Camille Bautista | September 1, 2015 10:10am
 The Laundromat Project hosts its third annual Field Day with arts and activities in Bed-Stuy, Hunts Point, and Harlem.
The Laundromat Project hosts its third annual Field Day with arts and activities in Bed-Stuy, Hunts Point, and Harlem.
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Melisa Salas

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A celebration showcasing neighborhood art and culture returns to Brooklyn, The Bronx and Manhattan this month, inviting residents to learn about community history.  

The Laundromat Project, which transforms local laundromats into interactive "creative community hubs," hosts its third annual Field Day across the three boroughs.

The September events are based in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Harlem, and Hunts Point — “anchor neighborhoods” where the nonprofit has been working for years with community groups and artists-in-residence.

“The idea was for us to really be embedded in these neighborhoods,” said program associate Yvette Ramirez.

“We’re hoping to engage residents in a way for them to be aware of what’s going on in the area and see what amazing things are happening.”

Field Day offers family-friendly art workshops at public spaces, as well as creative walks with artists living in the neighborhood who can provide a unique perspective on the locales, Ramirez said.

In Bed-Stuy, artist-in-residence Rasu Jilani presents “Griots in ‘The Stuy’: A Neighborhood as a Living Archive,” which chronicles personal stories and photographs along Tompkins Avenue.

Attendees can listen to audio excerpts of interviews by local residents or contribute their own memories.

At Marmy Laundromat on Malcolm X Boulevard, participants can create their own personal stamps and stationery. Other program locations include 462 Halsey Community Garden, Restoration Plaza and the Luminal Theater.

Artist Chloe Bass will also lead a “cat walk,” taking visitors on her journeys following local cats to see where they find safety and tranquility.

The Bronx’s programming in Hunts Point includes an oral history archive of the Kelly Street community, along with printmaking, map-making and wall art weaving.

Harlem’s Field Day features a celebration of the Senegalese community and its links to the neighborhood’s African-American population. An interactive mobile sound sculpture will be on display at The Laundry Room on West 116th Street.

Laundromats serve as gathering places for a cross-section of communities, as well as a place for downtime, founder Risë Wilson said in video detailing the organization’s mission.

“It was also a space where, if you inserted art, it was just absurd enough to get people’s attention but also a safe enough and familiar enough space for people to feel ownership about asking, ‘What is that about?’” Wilson said.

The arts festival will take place on Sept. 19 in Harlem, Sept. 20 in Bed-Stuy, and Sept. 26 in Hunts Point.

For more information on locations and activities, visit the Field Day website here.