The P.O.W.E.R. Project
The Comfort Station and the Art Leaders of Color Network (ALCN) join forces to present the P.O.W.E.R. Project over the course of the month of June 2018. In lieu our traditional arts programming, the Comfort Station will be transformed into an ‘empowerment hub’ with a series of lectures, discussions, happenings, self-care exercises, and much more led by artists and members from the community. The hope is that through series of engagements, people will be able to not only to lead their own actions but inspire others to take a stand against injustice and intolerance. The only way we can make it through these uncertain times is to do it together.
POWER Project Programmers
darien r wendell is a sensitive, black, gender expansive, queer being & punk living in Chicago, IL from many other places like Arizona & Michigan. A transdisciplinary artist, curator, & educator, ey creates art and work for refuge, repair, and release between the moments of suffering and surviving. Currently, darien is in love with using fabric to tell forgotten stories, cooking food to heal, and supporting youth in their struggles to live freely. d is driven and inspired by the ongoing resistance work and legacies formed by peoples living within and beyond systems deliberately designed to demolish them. Beyond their work as a facilitator at ICAH and educator across Chicagoland, they are company member with For Youth Inquiry, a core member of the Black Trans & Gender Non-Conforming (BTGNC) Collective, a member of For the People’s Artist Collective, and one half of A Tribe Called Cunt, a squad of creatives celebrating trans & queer hip-hop culture.
Bonita Africana (Shanna Collins) is a sexy bisexual queerdo who believes in the power of DIY collectives. In addition to A Tribe Called Cunt, she is also a part of the DIY music collective Or Does It Explode: Black, Brown, and Indigenous Crew and is a former VIBE intern. She also co-directed her first documentary, "Black Witch Coven" in 2017. Currently, she works as a freelance writer for VOYD magazine.
Jose Luis Benavides (b. 1986) is a proud Chicago-native, a writer and video/sound artist. He explores narratives of identity, place and community through an extensive research and archival practice. He received his MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) where he researched and work to excavate and archive the trauma and narrative of queer, LatinX institutionalization in Chicago. Currently compiling and documenting the story of his mother, a Latina migrant and lesbian from Mexico City, his work intersects his own queer narrative and experiences with her institutionalization at Chicago-Read Mental Health Center in the mid 70s. Redressing histories of institutional homophobia, racism and classism are at the root of his practice. Benavides is also an active member of Illinois Deaths in Custody Project a project of graduate students and faculty at UIC which seeks to mourn and publicaly archive the deaths of all people in Illinois prisons. He writes for New City and teaches for Community Arts Partnership in Education (C.A.P.E.). He was a cofounder and music section editor of Gozamos.com and a freelancer for Remezcla.com. He has taught for the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago and Young Chicago Authors. In 2016 he was a Luminarts Finalist and his work has shown most recently at Nitecap and Links Hall in Chicago.
Lakshmi Ramgopal is a musician, writer, and curator. She received her PhD in Classics from the University of Chicago and her writing covers South Asian identity, literature, and the intersection of race and the occult for publications like Jezebel, Broadly, and Catapult. Lakshmi performs ambient electronic music under the moniker Lykanthea and released her debut EP Migration in 2014. The recipient of a Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome in 2014, she has been invited to speak or perform at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art, Leipzig's Wave-Gotik Treffen, and Yale University. She is currently working on her first book and second album.
Mev Luna (b., 1988) is an interdisciplinary artist that uses video installation, lecture-performance, digital media/3-D rendering, and writing to create alternative epistemologies. Drawing from autobiography, critical race theory, and corporate self-betterment training programs, Luna’s work engages history to underscore the fictions that hold power over contemporary experience and dominate speculative futures. Luna's works have been exhibited in group exhibitions at Oficina de Arte, México City, PRIZM Art Fair 2017, Miami, ThreeWalls@Rational Park, Chicago, and Oliver Arts Center at California College of the Arts, Oakland. Luna's time based works have screened at Artists' Television Access, San Francisco and MIX Queer Experimental Film Festival in New York, and their lecture performances have been presented at SFMoMA and Defibrillator Gallery, Chicago. Luna is a 2018-2019 BOLT Resident at Chicago Artists Coalition.
Special Programming Facilitated By:
Mike Strode is a writer, tech enthusiast, urban cyclist and kitchen alchemist who resides in South Chicago. He is founder and Exchange Coordinator of the Kola Nut Collaborative, a Chicago based timebanking initiative. Its core mission is to promote and sustain a robust timebanking infrastructure which supports non-monetary transactions amongst individuals and organizations in Chicago allowing a greater sum of the realized value of work to be retained and shared within local communities. The Collaborative blooms out of 7 years providing technical, operational and strategic support for Black Oaks Center for Sustainable Renewable Living and its distribution subsidiary, Healthy Food Hub. Mike's community engagement work has included ride leadership with the Chicago chapter of Red, Bike & Green; editorial and archival oversight for Fultonia; and co-facilitation of Art Is Bonfire. His current practice draws upon all of these experiences to interrogate the intersection of timebanking, social economy and community resiliency with skill based asset mapping as an essential tool for building social infrastructure within and between neighborhoods. Mike's passion include experimental percussion, social dance, Emergent Strategy, and capturing the relationship between natural, social, and sacred places in poetry and prose. His grounding philosophy is mycelium, collaborative agility, empathic individualization, and all things human glue.