Yonkers Arts Launches Artists in Residence Program in Partnership with MHACY
(Yonkers, NY 2021) - Yonkers Arts is excited to announce the launch of its Artists in Residence Program, which grants the opportunity to provide local artists with access to their own studio in the Carpet Mills Arts District; YOHO Studios. The program was created through the partnership between Yonkers Arts and the Municipal Housing Authority for the City of Yonkers (MHACY).
The artist in residence program offers a unique opportunity for local artists and creatives in MHACY properties to elevate their craft in the confines of their very own studio environment. Providing the artist with the space, opportunity, and resources to develop new work. The Yonkers Arts and MHACY initiative allows the creative to become part of the YOHO community of artists, artisans, craftspeople, small businesses, and creative professionals located in the historic Alexander Smith Carpet Mills.
Ray Wilcox, Executive Director of Yonkers Arts says, “For Yonkers Arts to provide our local community of artists with the opportunity to be in YOHO studios is monumental. It’s no secret that many of our local creatives never have the opportunity to take advantage of the benefits of immersing themselves in their own studio environment. Whatever their situation may be, Yonkers Arts will continue to work with community partners to engage and develop our community of artists.
The first artist in residence is Shanequa Benitez. She is a Yonkers Native, Black LGBTQ artist, activist, and entrepreneur whose artwork often incorporates bold colors and text with social justice themes and imagery. Shanequa, who was recently featured on NBC for her participation in NYC’s ‘Art on the Ave’ street/retail exhibition will focus on the issue of Red Lining. “To be the first artist in residence for Yonkers Arts and MHACY is so much bigger than me. The exhibition revolves around redlining here in this city is a huge responsibility, so for me this project will represent the community.” says Shanequa.
Shanequa’s work developed during her residency will be showcased at one or more of the MHACY properties and potentially either the Yonkers Arts Project Space or one of the Yonkers galleries. Shanequa exclaims, “For me to be the first artist in residence for Yonkers Arts and MHACY means everything! The whole city was our playground. However, something that always stuck out to me was the history of Yonkers.”
The term “Redlining” refers to the process of the federal government and lenders literally drawing a red line on a map around the neighborhoods they would not invest in based on demographics alone. Particularly aimed at minority communities.
“MHACY’s residents are extremely diverse and appreciate creative messages of diversity and inclusion,” Wilson Kimball, President and CEO of MHACY said. “Supporting artists who make our affordable housing more beautiful and more like a home is part of our holistic approach to serving our tenant-clients. Shenequa’s work accomplishes our aesthetic and ethical goals.”
“The fabric that makes Yonkers is worn by the people. I take pride in knowing that those people take pride in me. When I say this residency is bigger than me I mean this residency represents us, meaning YONKERS!” exclaims Shanequa.
Yonkers Arts believes in the important role that exposure to art plays in our communities and is constantly working to develop programs and opportunities that engage and inspire creatives of all ages. The Yonkers Arts and MHACY Project has already activated art installations in four properties and will continue to develop in phases throughout 2022.
Yonkers Arts was founded in 2007 by a collection of community leaders who perceived the need for an all encompassing arts organization for a city the size of Yonkers. The founding board was comprised of community leaders from across Yonkers. The mission of Yonkers Arts is to develop a strong, effective, and cooperative network of artists, cultural organizations, and members of the community to promote and encourage the arts in the City of Yonkers. For more information, contact Ray Wilcox or please visit: www.yonkersarts.org