“Black Box” A Community Impact Project By Michael Coppage Presented By ArtCrawl Harlem Debuts On Governors Island

July 20, 2022

ArtCrawl Harlem presents Michael Coppage “Black Box” an immersive Community Impact and Engagement Project aimed at making black men and women more accessible outside of the workplace and play space.

Ultimately, the goal is demystification, understanding and connection through discourse. One goal is to replace the “learned” with authentic firsthand experience.

Black Box’s goal is to facilitate authentic social and cultural connections with our counterparts from other races. The flat two-dimensional images serve as a proxy for “real” people to establish and promote healthy boundaries. There is no physicality. Just a group of images, videos and warm, therapeutic voices via podcast. The result is a relaxed stress-free experience for both the participants and the viewers. The project was designed to be the juxtaposition of the uncomfortable interpersonal physical experience of being black in non-black spaces many of us share. Simultaneously, making connections to American Enculturation and how/what citizens learn about BLACK as youth and its social impact on adults categorized as BLACK. The project creates natural boundaries that eliminate microaggressions in the participant experience. Black Box participants offer first-hand accounts without interruption, dismissal, contention, minimization and/or comparison. It is a listening tool. Viewers are meant to absorb information. 

SPECIAL Black Box Programing

Saturday, July 23, 2022 1:00PM, Artist Talk with Michael Coppage Facilitated by Jewels Dodson

Saturday, July 23, 2022 3:00PM, Artist Talk with Michael Coppage Facilitated by Jewels Dodson

Saturday, July 30, 2022 1:00PM, Safe Passage III, a Short Film by Heather Williams Q&A will Follow

SAFE PASSAGE III, the 2022 video by multi-platform artist Heather Williams expands into a deeply felt mediation on a five-hundred-year-old question. “Is there safe passage for the black body?” While the question remains poignantly unanswered, Williams cracks spacetime into a path both real and metaphoric. We travel through water – a cleansing path toward freedom – and tall grasses of New Jersey wetlands without the benefit of the long view. The ancestors are there in the form of Witnesses – observers of the past, present and future. We enter a small fenced in space where the past melts into the present time.  Slow, elegant and deliberate this work employs a visual clarity that joins conditions both abstract and represented.  We see as the artist sees: from the life-giving green of macro vision, to the searing white light burning through tiny holes at the fabric’s selvage edge.  This is the mother’s edge: the one that keeps all from unraveling.

Saturday, July 23rd – Sunday, August 21, 2022

ArtCrawl Harlem Boundaries & Connections Artist Residency  House,“ 406b Colonels Row, Governors Island, NYC

Visit Governors Island:  https://www.govisland.com/

ArtCrawl Harlem

ArtCrawl Harlem Inc., (501(c)3) founded in 2008 as Harlem’s first trolley car guided art tour and later incorporated as an educational non-profit art gallery tour in 2016. ArtCrawl Harlem’s mission is to support and promote Harlem’s creative community and historical legacy through dynamic arts, cultural programs, and educational initiatives.

Michael Coppage

Michael Coppage is a conceptual artist using an interdisciplinary, dialectical approach to address social issues surrounding race and language. Originally from Chicago, he has lived and worked in Cincinnati since 2007. Coppage earned a B.F.A in Sculpture from Memphis College of Art and an M.F.A in Studio Art from The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.  Coppage is the recipient of Artswave’s Truth and Reconciliation grant, Ohio Pretrial Justice grant, and Awesome Foundation grants in New York and Philadelphia. He completed a TEDx Talk titled “Everybody’s Racist….and its O.K” and he gained national attention with his recent project “BLACK BOX”: a community impact project aimed at demystifying black men and creating authentic experiences that replaces bias and preconceived notions related to the term “Black” This series was exhibited around the country and in Puerto Rico at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, 21c Museum Hotel and the Ohio Arts Councils Riffe Gallery to name a few. Coppage has gained some attention recently with a body of work entitled “American+” after depicting white Americans as monkeys in his paintings. He has several collaborative pieces set for completion this year and also released a podcast on Spotify appropriately titled Black Box as part of his recent series.

Jewels Dodson

Jewels Dodson is an arts and culture writer and producer. She started career writing and editing for Mass Appeal and Complex magazines. She became a content producer for the digital site The BHOLDR, which featured video content of today’s most relevant contemporary artists. She was a producer on the storied live daily arts & culture program The Leonard Lopate Show, on WNYC. She travels around the country covering contemporary art. Her work can be found in JUXTAPOZ, ART News, Artsy, and the New York Times. Most recently she has been named the editor of lifestyle platform Gallerie 88.  She lives in New York City where she ear hustles and people watches, regularly garnering new perspectives that eventually inform her work.

Heather Williams

Heather Williams was born in St. Croix US Virgin Islands and raised in Brooklyn, NY. She was always interested in becoming an artist but her parents who were first generation from Trinidad and Grenada encouraged her to find a job.  She followed their advice and studied finance in undergrad but ultimately changed careers to become an Art Therapist.  She worked with the domestic violence population for over ten years providing group and individual therapy.  Later, she became a mother and a certified Montessori Primary teacher.  After several years of teaching, she resigned and returned to grad school, this time to fulfill her dream of focusing on her art.

Heather earned a Masters in Fine Art from the School of Visual Arts in 2020 at the height of the pandemic.  She has been awarded the Paula Rhodes memorial award for exceptional achievement in MFA Art Practice. Her short film, Safe Passage was awarded honorable mention at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. She has also been awarded residencies at EILEEN S. KAMINSKY FAMILY FOUNDATION (ESKFF) at Mana Contemporary, ArtCrawl Harlem at Governors Island, NY and a Sustainable Arts Fellowship at Gallery Aferro, NJ. She has exhibited in many group exhibitions including Peel off the Surface, Tribeca Loft, and solo shows Damage and Repair at Akwaaba Gallery and Protective Spirits at The Bridge Art Gallery.  Her sculptures and abstract paintings are in many private collections.

I am a deep thinker. My work is intuitive which gives me a certain amount of freedom of expression. For every piece once completed, I sit and spend time living with it; finding the connections in the colors, texture, and the materiality of the work. As an artist who leans toward the introverted side, my work is my way of pushing myself into the world as an example for others like me. Furthermore, Black women are not always afforded the luxury of having quiet as part of our social identity but quiet is also one of the many parts of who we are in the world.  As such my work is a love letter to the quiet yet powerful woman. All of my work contains a level of spirituality that reaches back to my African ancestral roots.

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