See “Our Voices” Exhibit 50 Years of N BK Activism

May 20–July 31 at two venues and bilingual: El Museo & Greenpoint Library

The Exhibit will be shown at two venues: El Museo de Los Sures (120 S. 1st Street) beginning May 20 and the Greenpoint Library (107 Norman Avenue) beginning May 26. Each venue will have different memorabilia showcasing activism in both Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

The community of Williamsburg and Greenpoint has a proud history of activism, and the time is now to showcase it.  The exhibit, Our Voices Seen and Heard: 50 Years of Protest, opens tonight in one of its two venues: El Museo de Los Sures (120 S. 1st Street), from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.  (see below for full exhibit schedule).  On May 26, the Greenpoint Library (107 Norman Avenue) will open their part of this exhibit by holding a reception from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (registration is required, see below for full exhibit schedule)

The exhibit is designed to be a firsthand account of North Brooklyn’s fight for social and environmental justice from the 70s to the present. It will focus on community efforts to protect the environment and community from hazards such as radioactive waste, garbage incinerators, etc. Another focus of Our Voices will be the long-term and ongoing struggle to keep rents affordable.  In addition, the show also marks the 50th anniversary of Southside United HDFC-Los Sures. They formed in June 1972, and began rebuilding the southside of Williamsburg due to depredations suffered from landlord abandonment, withdrawal of city services, and illegal evictions by landlords.

The curators of Our Voices (l to r) Denise Arroyo, Chris Sroka, and Katie Naplatarski.

The reason for the two locations is the organizers felt that community activism has been part of both Greenpoint and Williamsburg; therefore, both neighborhoods should have a touchstone participation in the exhibit.  Each location will display memorabilia and artifacts from both communities, also having different types of venues allows for different types of exhibits. El Museo de Los Sures’s display will feature larger wall art and the Greenpoint Library’s cabinets can display smaller items like t-shirts buttons, postcards, awards, and other 3-d objects. Both venues will show: flyers, photos, and press clippings.

“The show was brought about by the idea of building more awareness of two separate neighborhoods with issues all their own, and yet fighting together to help build better places for the future. We also want to bring awareness of the decades of fighting to the youth of today to unite as one to build a better tomorrow for all and describe it through art or visual means,” said one of the curators, Denise Arroyo.

“Williamsburg and Greenpoint are different communities, but both have been damaged, exploited and fought back,” said Katie Naplatarski, another of the curators. “Many newer people to the neighborhood have no idea that what they see around them, every scrap of green and affordable housing is here because residents fought very hard for it. So, this exhibit seeks to bring that fact to life by using artifacts to educate and inspire a newer generation to dream.”

“Many of the buildings that served low-income tenants have either been sold or taken over by management companies who serve their pockets rather than the people,” said Chris Sroka, the final of the three curators.  Sroka holds nothing against the more affluent residents who have moved in as these communities became desired addresses, but she hopes the exhibition will show that the fight for affordable housing is ongoing and the history of activism will educate and inspire youth to join the fight.

This exhibition consists of culturally significant artifacts collected from community groups, individual activists, and artists who have worked long and hard to bring lasting social and environmental justice to our community.  Groups represented are:  Development Watchdog Project, El Puente, Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park, No NBk Pipeline, Greenpoint Williamsburg Waterfront Task Force, Southside United HDFC-Los Sures, Newtown Creek Alliance, North Brooklyn Neighbors, North Brooklyn Parks Alliance, St. Nicks Alliance, Williamsburg Warriors, Workers Justice Project, and artists Jose L. Medin, Mike Rex, and Nick Yulman, among others.

The Our Voices Seen and Heard: 50 Years of Protest exhibit will be on view from May 20–July 31 at two venues.
Venue 1: El Museo de Los Sures (120 S. 1st Street), Opening reception: May 20, 5 p.m.–8 p.m.  Exhibit is open here Thurs, Fri, and Sat from 4 p.m.– 8 p.m. starting May 21 through July 31.

Venue 2: The Greenpoint Library (107 Norman Avenue), Opening reception: May 26, 6 p.m.–7:30 p.m. Exhibit hours here on May 27–July 31 are: Mon, Wed, Fri. from 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; Tue from 1 p.m.–8 p.m.; Thurs from 10 a.m.–8 p.m.; Sat. from 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

Author: Lori Ann Doyon

Managing editor, head writer, and lead photographer of Greenline | North Brooklyn News since October 2014. Resident of Williamsburg, Brooklyn since 1990.

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