Press Release

Brooklyn Public Library Announces Kameelah Janan Rasheed as the Katowitz Radin Artist in Residence for 2019

Event Date: 
11 January 2019
Brooklyn, NY
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Rasheed’s Participatory Public Art Project Scoring the Stacks January 11 – April 7, 2019 

Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) is proud to announce Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist Kameelah Janan Rasheed as the Library’s Katowitz Radin Artist in Residence for 2019. Instituted in 2014, the residency supports emerging and established artists to meaningfully engage with BPL’s collections, programs, and services as a way to expand their art making practice.  

Kicking off BPL’s 2019 exhibition season, Rasheed has created Scoring the Stacks, a participatory public art exhibition based at Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Branch, with an artist-led workshop series and a newly commissioned 120-foot, site-specific photomural. Scoring the Stacks invites guided wandering and play throughout the Central Library as a form of experiential learning using scores, or language-based artworks. The artist’s four-month engagement at BPL will encourage participants to rediscover the library and to collectively create from individual scores pieces of dance, music, and creative writing.  

Rasheed’s exhibition and group programs, which draw on her practice as an artist and faculty member at the School of Visual Arts and a social studies curriculum developer for New York City public schools, extend BPL’s mission to provide access to educational, economic, and cultural enrichment opportunities of the highest quality to the 2.6 million individuals who make Brooklyn home, providing nearly 65,000 free programs a year and resources that support personal advancement, build civic engagement, and strengthen the fabric of community. 

“We are thrilled to recognize Kameelah Janan Rasheed as BPL’s 2019 Katowitz Radin Artist-in-Residence,” said László Jakab Orsós, Vice President of Arts and Culture of Brooklyn Public Library. “Scoring the Stacks is an ambitious and innovative work that will allow countless visitors the opportunity to engage in new ways with our collections, the art it inspires, and with one another, creating a truly unique experience for the people of Brooklyn.” 

At the heart of Scoring the Stacks are a series of language-based artworks, or scores, drawing on the traditions of musical notation, conceptual art, and constrained writing techniques. Rasheed’s scores invite participants to personally interpret a set of instructions as they roam the library space. Located in the middle of the Grand Lobby, the scores, crafted for each of the library’s separate collections, appear on brightly-colored cards with simple instructions that use non-linear pathways through the library’s stacks, collections, and books.  Participants leave behind carbon copies of their notations and bind the cards in a folio to take away and keep. 

A series of public programs hosted by Rasheed and guest artists will welcome public participants to further develop language from completed scores into a pop song, a dance, or a piece of hybrid text. Each of these happenings draws and expands upon the various interpretive possibilities of a score in music and art, in an atmosphere of collaborative authorship. Guest artists include Morgan Bassichis, brASS Burlesque, and Anaïs Duplan. The full calendar of public programs follows below.  

Scoring the Stacks draws inspiration from Rasheed’s intuitive art-making process and the idea of “primitive hypertext.” The term, coined by science-fiction writer Octavia Butler, describes a state of mind at once attentive and meandering, non-linear and associative, and full of possibility. To engage in “primitive hypertext” is to seek out the generative relationships between wide ranging ideas, words, objects, and experiences, and to develop an ecosystem of ideas. 

Scoring the Stacks is curated by Cora Fisher, BPL Curator Visual Art Programming. 

Kameelah Janan Rasheed: Scoring the Stacks is made possible by the Katowitz Radin Endowment, women.nyc and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. 

About Kameelah Janan Rasheed

Kameelah Janan Rasheed (b. 1985, East Palo Alto, CA and based in Brooklyn, NY) is the 2019 Katowitz Radin Artist in Residence at Brooklyn Public Library. Rasheed is an artist and learner seeking to make her thinking visible through an ecosystem of iterative projects such as “architecturally-scaled collages,” (Frieze Magazine, Winter 2018), poems/poetic gestures/words in the proximity of poems, long-form essays, publications, large-scale public works, digital archives, teaching, curriculum development, lecture performances, stand-up comedy, and other forms yet to be determined. Her past work has been presented at the 2017 Venice Biennale, Contemporary Art Gallery of Vancouver, New Museum of Contemporary Art, Brooklyn Museum, The Kitchen, Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, Institute of Contemporary Art - Philadelphia, Printed Matter, Jack Shainman Gallery, Studio Museum in Harlem, Brooklyn Museum, Bronx Museum, Queens Museum, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and elsewhere. Rasheed is on the faculty of the MFA Fine Arts program at the School of Visual Arts and also works full-time as a social studies curriculum developer for New York public schools. She holds a BA in Public Policy and Africana Studies from Pomona College (2006) and an M.A. in Secondary Social Studies Education from Stanford University (2008). 

SCORING THE STACKS PROGRAMS: 

Opening Reception: Scoring the Stacks with Kameelah Janan Rasheed

Saturday, January 12, 2-4 p.m., Grand Lobby and various locations, Central Library 

Engage with the artist before and after you score the stacks. Brief remarks by BPL Curator of Visual Art Programming Cora Fisher at 2:15 p.m. 

From Score to Speculative Lit with Artist Kameelah Janan Rasheed and Writer Anaïs Duplan

Tuesday, February 12, 6-7:30 p.m. , Dr. S. Stevan Dweck Auditorium, Central Library 

RSVP required: Bklynlibrary.org/scorethestacks  

Write poetry, prose and flash fiction from found text. 

This creative writing workshop, led by artist-in-residence Kameelah Janan Rasheed and writer/Afrofuturist Anaïs Duplan, begins with fragments of text from scores, or language-based artworks, made by public participants from the BPL exhibition Scoring the Stacks. From these fragments participants will endeavor to collaboratively write prose, poetry, and flash fiction. With a nod to Octavia Butler, whose notion of ‘primitive hypertext’ is central to Rasheed’s work, this literary workshop takes chance and uncertainty as generative forces towards experimental writing. Using a science fiction and Afrofuturism lens, and Duplan’s interest in somatic techniques—incorporating breath and body awareness—the program will end with a live reading of the texts created in the workshop. Anaïs Duplan is the author of a full-length poetry collection, Take This Stallion (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2016) and a chapbook, Mount Carmel and the Blood of Parnassus (Monster House Press, 2017). His poems and essays have been published by Hyperallergic, PBS News Hour, the Academy of American Poets, Poetry Society of America, Bettering American Poetry, and Ploughshares. His music criticism has appeared in Complex Magazine and THUMP. Duplan is a curator and the founder of the Center for Afrofuturist Studies, an artist residency program for artists of color.  

Score goes Pop! with Artist Kameelah Janan Rasheed & Morgan Bassichis 

Thursday, February 28, 6-7:30 p.m., Dr. S. Stevan Dweck Auditorium, Central Library 

RSVP required: Bklynlibrary.org/scorethestacks 

This workshop, led by Kameelah Janan Rasheed and guest artist Morgan Bassichis, interprets found text from the exhibition Scoring the Stacks into song lyrics arranged and performed at the end of the session with Bassichis on piano.  

Morgan Bassichis is a performance artist who draws on stand-up comedy, music, and historical archives to explore questions about power and freedom. Recent shows include Damned If You Duet at the Kitchen (November 2018); More Protest Songs! at Danspace Project (April 2018); and The Faggots & Their Friends Between Revolutions: The Musical at the New Museum (Fall 2017), a collaborative adaptation of the 1977 underground queer fairytale-manifesto written by Larry Mitchell and Ned Asta, as part of the exhibition Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon. Morgan has performed at Artists Space, the Hirshhorn Museum, Poetry Project, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, the Whitney Museum, and MoMA PS1 as part of Greater New York 2015. Morgan's essays on queer politics and prison abolition have been featured in the Radical History Review, Captive Genders, and other anthologies.  

From Score to Choreography with Artist Kameelah Janan Rasheed & brASS Burlesque

Wednesday March 13, 6-7:30 p.m., Dr. S. Stevan Dweck Auditorium, Central Library 

RSVP required: Bklynlibrary.org/scorethestacks 

This text to dance workshop, led by artist-in-residence Kameelah Janan Rasheed and guest members of brASS burlesque, interprets found language from the exhibition Scoring the Stacks into a series of movements that add up to a dance. All body types and differently abled bodies welcome. We perform the dance we create for ourselves as the workshop finale.  

brASS: Brown RadicalAss Burlesque is a multidisciplinary performance troupe from NYC, recently featured in The New York Times. Composed of powerhouse queer femmes of color, they are actively stripping away the cis-hetero-patriarchy with their art/bodies and joyfully creating the world we want to see.  

Artist Walk with Kameelah Janan Rasheed

Saturday, March 23, 2-3:30 p.m. (Rain date March 30, 2019) 

Starting location: Front Steps of Brooklyn Museum’s Plaza on Eastern Parkway   

The Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Public Library will host a community walk with artist and educator Kameelah Janan Rasheed. The walking group will visit the Museum and the Library to forage for texts and images in both places as a departure point for learning activities and conversations among participants.  As participants move between the institutions, which both currently house Rasheed’s public artworks, they will consider movement among space and language to draw on Rasheed’s concept of “an ecosystem of ideas.” This joint program coincides with Brooklyn Museum’s yearlong public art activation, Something to Say, featuring Brooklyn Hi-Art! Machine, Deborah Kass, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, and Hank Willis Thomas (October 3, 2018 – June 30, 2019) and Brooklyn Public Library’s exhibition, Kameelah Janan Rasheed: Scoring the Stacks (January 11 - April 7, 2019). 

Please note that participants will be required to walk approximately half a mile during this program. 

Kameelah Janan Rasheed: ‘This is Not an Artist Talk’/ Reflections on Scoring the Stacks

Thursday, April 4, 6:30-8 p.m., Dr. S. Stevan Dweck Auditorium, Central Library 

RSVP required/Reception to follow  

For the culminating event to the participatory exhibition and public program Scoring the Stacks, artist-in-residence Kameelah Janan Rasheed reflects on what the project has produced and on how radical pedagogy, play, and learning are an integral part of her artistic practice. Rasheed discusses how the process of the project is cumulative and iterative and poses the question of how the design of an exhibition can be responsive and agile when audience interaction is its guiding force.  

The second portion of the program is a conversation between Rasheed and Cora Fisher, BPL’s Curator of Visual Art Programming.  

About the Katowitz Radin Artist in Residence Program at Brooklyn Public Library 

Through the Katowitz Radin Artist in Residence program, Brooklyn Public Library supports emerging and established artists to meaningfully engage with BPL’s collections, programs, and services as a way to expand their art making practices. The program began in 2014 with renowned jazz vocalist Cilla Owens. Since then children’s illustrator Pat Cummings, painter Steve Keene, and visual artist Molly Crabapple have each been awarded the residency, which includes performances or exhibitions and adjacent public programs such as talks and artist-led-workshops. 

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Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Scoring the Stacks installation image, 2019. Photo by Gregg Richards. Image courtesy of Brooklyn Public Library.

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