‘The Landfill Fashionista’ – Environmental Justice Art Exhibit Opens in Snug Harbor

STATEN ISLAND, NY – The Young Women’s Leadership Group (YWL Group) at Staten Island Urban Center has chosen art as a vehicle to raise awareness of Staten Island’s environmental challenges.

YWL Group describes “The Landfill Fashionista: Image, Environment, and Culture Through the Lens of Girls of Color” as “a multimedia art exhibition that highlights the need for environmental justice in the context of the great hope that exists for communities. from the north coast of Staten Island. “

Through media, including photography, videography, visual arts and poetry, the creators of “The Landfill Fashionista” seek to “change the narrative of what may once have been considered garbage, ugly or tainted transformed. in what is now alive, beautiful and hopeful. -filled, ”according to YWL Group.

Visual art, part of “The Landfill Fashionista” exhibit, is on display on opening day, January 16, 2021. (Courtesy Staten Island Urban Center)

For approximately six months, members of the YWL Group researched and learned about the environment and environmental justice on Staten Island, with a particular interest in the North Shore.

The group then recycled donated fabrics and other materials to make fashion pieces and other visual arts.

Kelly Vilar, CEO of the Staten Island Urban Center, explained the meaning of the exhibition title. “The idea of ​​’Landfill Fashionista’: Landfill, because that’s what Staten Island was known for for many years, is this dump; and the fashionista side is you can turn it into something beautiful, ”Vilar said.

In this portrait, Jazmyn Padilla wears an original fabric dress donated as part of “The Landfill Fashionista” exhibit on opening day, January 16, 2021. (Courtesy Staten Island Urban Center)

The outdoor exhibit, on display at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center, consists of a wall of portraits as well as a QR code that viewers can scan on their phones to watch a video exploring the concept of environmental justice on Staten Island .

The group changed the structure of the exhibition due to the pandemic. “We put everything on video so that we could share it with the public safely,” Vilar said.

In their video, the creators of The Landfill Fashionista discuss various landmarks on the North Coast – some of which are environmental hazards, such as the Jersey Street sanitation garage, while others are ‘hotspots’. hope, ”such as the Staten Island Therapeutic Garden on Richmond Terrace. .

Vilar pointed out that Staten Island has room for growth. “We think Staten Island has a lot of work to do when it comes to environmental issues,” she said. “But, there is also a lot of hope, so we wanted to balance that.”

Sarah Blas, Founder and Executive Director of Staten Island Therapeutic Garden and mother of Kristy Anderson, one of the artists, spoke about the collaboration behind the exhibit and the ongoing work on environmental justice on Staten Island.

“It was really wonderful that Kelly incorporated not only my nonprofit but also many other nonprofits across Staten Island who are really leading this work by discussing how they are building the environment and how they are building the environment. how environmental concerns play a very serious role in our health outcomes, ”said Blas.

An entry sheet featured in the visual arts as part of “The Landfill Fashionista” exhibition on opening day, January 16, 2021. (Courtesy Snug Harbor Cultural Center)

In addition to hosting “The Landfill Fashionista”, Snug Harbor has also provided space, through its education department, for the YWL Group to create some of the artwork in the exhibition.

“This is the future of Staten Island, so Snug Harbor is very proud to be able to provide resources to the youth of Staten Island,” said Melissa West, vice president of visual and performing arts conservation at Snug Harbor .

“Being a large-scale public art exhibition, it’s a really exciting thing, I think, for young women to see their work in such a visible place,” West added.

From left to right, Kristy Anderson, Tatiana Torres and Shani Mitchell dance in front of a portrait wall, as part of “The Landfill Fashionista” exhibition on opening day, January 16, 2021. (Courtesy of the Staten Island Urban Center)

Vicky Fossella, mother of artist Karlie Fossella, spoke about the importance of the exhibit both to the community and to the young women who created it. “It was truly an amazing experience to see young women coming together as leaders and building with each other, and forming friendships, and integrating them into the community in different ways,” said Fossella.

Through collaboration, community, and art in their exhibit, YWL Group highlights places of hope in the Staten Island environment and invites viewers to think critically about what environmental justice means for rounding.

The exhibition “The Landfill Fashionista” will be on view at Shinbone Alley at Snug Harbor Cultural Center until June 2021.

About James Almanza

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