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Laundromats and Public Spaces Turn Into Art Hubs at Annual Festival

By Camille Bautista | September 7, 2016 5:21pm
 Community members gather at the 2015 Field Day in Harlem from The Laundromat Project, where local artists engage with residents at public spaces.
Community members gather at the 2015 Field Day in Harlem from The Laundromat Project, where local artists engage with residents at public spaces.
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Ray Llanos/The Laundromat Project

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Your local laundromats could become an art gallery this month.

Community gardens, plazas — and laundries — will transform into gathering grounds for artists throughout the city.

The Laundromat Project, an organization that works with local artists in communities, celebrates its 10 year anniversary and fourth annual Field Day Festival of Neighborhoods starting on Sept. 18, when artists will take over locations in Hunts Point and Longwood, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Harlem, according to organizers.

“We really wanted to have a deeper engagement in these neighborhoods, wanting to delve in and create a foundation,” said Ayesha Williams, director of strategic partnerships for the Laundromat Project.

The art initiative started at area laundromats where a “cross-generation and cross-economic” population of people could gather, Williams added.

“You spend a lot of time there, and it can generate a little bit of everything: Conversation, activity, dialogue, friendships.”

The festivities have expanded from workshops outside local laundromats to businesses and public spaces with creative walking tours, open studios, activities and more.

Free programs are led by community members, local partners and artists. In The Bronx, passersby can check out a mobile installation documenting climate change from Hunts Point and Longwood residents, join a scavenger hunt or make collages.

Participants in Bed-Stuy can visit the Iyapo Repository, a library housing digital and physical artifacts created to showcase the future of people of African descent, create community maps or oral histories of the LGBTQ community, or join a tour of the neighborhood's businesses and homes.

Harlem’s Field Day invites attendees to view stop-motion projects or learn about the area's history, including the Lenox Lounge and Malcolm X Outreach Corner.

“It’s a really deep understanding of all these amazing things that are going on in these neighborhoods,” Williams said.

“People will be learning new things and be encouraged to explore something new.”

The events kick off on Sept. 18 in The Bronx, Sept. 24 in Brooklyn, and Sept. 25 in Manhattan.

For more information, visit the Laundromat Project’s website here.