Words by Lorie Caval/Photos by Juanita Lara (additional by Lorie)
Wednesday, October 19th was unseasonably warm – 80-degrees! Lucky for us at QCS since the events we had planned for that day were all outdoors.
Carina, Zahida and Juanita set off in the early afternoon to find folks around the park to participate in our Video Collaboration: A Day in Flushing Meadows Park (FMCP). In the meantime I started setting up tables outside of our studio trailer with lots of art supplies for the PoeTREE project (paints, pastels, markers, colored pencils and crayons). Queens-based writer/educator Nancy Agabian joined me in preparation for the event, along with Sami, to offer people assistance with their poetry and art-making.
The purpose of PoeTREE, was to tie into the overarching theme of our QCS residency project, “FMCP: What it’s Worth” regarding ideas around worth, value and access, especially as it pertains to FMCP. Park-goers were invited to choose a tree that had some significance to them, and to create their own poem or drawing/painting about it – while contemplating questions such as, “Why is this tree valuable to me?” Participants weren’t given too many guidelines, but rather were free to express their own ideas and feelings creatively. (The images and poems made during PoeTREE will be used during our QCS residency closing and What it’s Worth zine presentation on 11/13.)
Next, Contra Mestre Omi and some (my fellow) members of the capoeira group Ilê De Palmares (IDP) started showing up in preparation for their demonstration (in the meantime, I wrangled a few of them in to make poems and art too!). They set up a roda (circle) right in front of the Queens Museum and began to play instruments and jogo (play capoeira). Folks started to gather and watch the games and seemed to be intrigued. At one point Omi stopped the demonstration to address the crowd, some of whom had questions about the origins of capoeira. Omi took some time to explain how capoeira was created by enslaved Africans in Brazil as a means of resistance, resilience and freedom – and how it lives on today as an art-form practiced by an international community. The IDP roda resumed and kept going until after dark.