wendy testu

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san francisco, CA

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Installation Artist, Arts administrator, Filmmaker

I work on long term art projects, collaborating with other artists and youth in a community to explore social and environmental justice issues. Documenting the projects is an integral part of the process and project for me. The current project can be seen at the link above. A Documentary Film about the Welcome to The NeighborHOOD project is in the works...

The Welcome To The NeighborHOOD Project:
A collaboration between youth aged 10-18 years from Literacy for Environmental Justice (LEJ) and 5 partnering artists. Together, we are exploring the history, focusing on the environment, celebrating the community, and addressing the future of this rapidly changing neighborhood. A year of art making that began in May 2008 will culminate in a public exhibit opening this November 12th 2009 at the African American Arts And Culture Complex Sargent Johnson Gallery and in 2010 at Zeum: San Francisco's Children Museum and a new landmark facility, The EcoCenter in Heron’s Head Park, San Francisco's first %100 off-the-grid public building.

The Community Partner:
Literacy for Environmental Justice (LEJ), a 501(c) non-profit organization, is a nationally recognized leader in urban environmental education and youth empowerment. LEJ was created specifically to address the unique ecological and social concerns of the communities of southeast San Francisco. Their mission is to foster an understanding of the principles of environmental justice and urban sustainability in young people to promote the long-term health of their communities. LEJ offers free environmental education programs for K-12 students and paid internship programs in natural ecology, community development, and food security. Welcome To The NeighborHOOD represents the first time LEJ has sponsored an innovative and in-depth collaborative arts program for the youth to explore the environmental issues facing their community. The LEJ youth, who are trained in environmental justice and community development, are working with the artists to translate these concerns into powerful new forms of expression.

Project History:
Welcome To The NeighborHOOD began as a research project about the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard by the artist Wendy Testu. The Shipyard is a Superfund site (Superfund sites are designated by the Environmental Protection Agency as the worst toxic waste sites in the country). Wendy researched the environmental history of Bayview Hunters Point for over a year, attended community gatherings, met with neighborhood activists, a doctor from the community and youth interns and staff from Literacy for Environmental Justice. After getting to know LEJ, she was inspired to create The Welcome To The NeighborHOOD Project. (The title references the newcomers who will be moving into the neighborhood, with 10,000 new housing units currently in construction on top of the redeveloped Shipyard site.) Wendy then invited artists who she felt were creating strong and important work around social and environmental issues and were ready for the challenges of this project.

During their meetings, the youth and artists have been exploring their neighborhood through walking investigations and in-depth discussions about the past, present and potential future of the Bayview. Their conversations have lead them to create work about gentrification & displacement, the opposing forces of man vs. nature, art as activism, and the positive people and influences in their community. As paid interns while they are working with the artists, the LEJ youth are partners in the entire artistic process from conception, creation, to installation and maintenance of the artwork.

The Installation:
The youth and artists will construct a Fort installation with the artwork inside the Sargent Johnson Gallery, each video clip you see here will be shown next to the artists work in the gallery.
The sculptural structure will reference the history of Hunters Point as a former military site, and how children everywhere build forts as a collaborative effort and a vision to create a safe haven. The use of reclaimed, found and scavenged material from Bayview Hunters Point in the art and creation of the Fort structure references the environmental and social history that is naturally embedded in the materials.

The presentation of the work through public art events will lay out a place-based and culturally relevant body of community-generated artwork that speaks to the past, present, and future of an area of SF in the midst of transformation and redevelopment-driven dislocation.

This project has been made possible with the generous support from:
The San Francisco Arts Commission
The LEF Foundation
The Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation
The San Francisco Foundations-Koshland Program
Literacy For Environmental Justice
The African American Arts And Culture Complex; Sargent Johnson Gallery
The EcoCenter
T-Mobile
Motorola

For more information, please visit:
The Project: welcometotheneighborhood.us
Literacy For Environmental Justice: lejyouth.org

External Links

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