The Wind Is At Our Back
Sam Liebert, Mary Tremonte, Willa Goettling, Kevin Caplicki, Molly Gore, Koren Martin, Brad Trent, Fletcher Street Stables in Philadelphia, Anthony Van Dunk and NYC Federation of Black Cowboys, the Center for Artistic Activism, Unstoppable Voters, Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative, Desiree Aspiras of Printmakers Against Racism, Lilah Friedland at Invisible Hand Press, Draft Animal Power Network, NYFC Greater Catskills Chapter and Bushel Collective
President’s Day, February 15th – April 4, 2021
On view day and night at Bushel: Response Space
106 Main Street, Delhi NY
[view/download full press release]
Slideshow photos: Torkil Stavdal
In an October, 2020 op ed for The Progressive, Jacques Servin reminds us that progressive legislation such as Social Security, the New Deal, and the 1965 Voting Rights Act all happened thanks to pressure from mass movements shortly after presidential elections. It follows that now is the time—to use Martin Luther King’s words— to “get this president some power.”
Bushel’s ResponseSpace window installation, THE WIND IS AT OUR BACK, is both a celebration of recent voter-turnout efforts and a call to action to compel this country’s new centrist regime to fulfill the dreams fueling those efforts.
Organized by Sam Liebert of Eureka House! (Kingston, NY) along with Mary Tremonte, Willa Goettling, Kevin Caplicki, and Molly Gore, and in collaboration with Koren Martin and Brad Trent, Fletcher Street Stables in Philadelphia, Anthony Van Dunk and NYC Federation of Black Cowboys, the Center for Artistic Activism, Unstoppable Voters, Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative, Desiree Aspiras of Printmakers Against Racism, Lilah Friedland at Invisible Hand Press, Draft Animal Power Network, NYFC Greater Catskills Chapter and Bushel Collective, this show marks the beginning of a series of actions and programs designed to promote the work of evolving justice movements in our rural political landscape.
Black Cowboys and land access
In 2020, from Philadelphia to Houston to Los Angeles, groups with names like Compton Cowboys and Nonstop Riders joined in their cities’ protests against police brutality and devoted themselves to voter turnout. Their presence embodies a suppressed historical fact—that in contrast to the image long presented by the media, textbooks and Hollywood, the country’s first cowboys were Black.
Bushel’s east window documents these groups’ recent actions while also turning a lens toward their future: Gentrification threatens the cowboys’ stables and resources, risking yet another forced erasure of the black rural experience—even when that experience takes place on concrete.
The National Young Farmers’ Coalition recently issued an appeal to call on congress to repair the disproportionate rates of land loss by farmers of color and indigenous famers by “significantly increas[ing] support for programs that help historically underserved farmers and ranchers gain access to land and government services.”
Bushel’s west window is devoted to this cause, setting an intention for a future where BIPOC communities’ agricultural pursuits are finally resourced upstate and down, all along the rural/urban continuum. Bushel’s west window is devoted to this cause, setting an intention for a future where BIPOC communities’ agricultural pursuits are finally resourced upstate and down, all along the rural/urban continuum. This is a working vision of the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust (NEFOC) and is represented by a neon sign illuminating the connection between reparations and regenerative agriculture.
Funding the vision
A grant supporting this show was used to donate directly to the Fletcher Street Riding Club, NYC Federation of Black Cowboys, the NEFOC, and Sylvanaqua. In addition, prints from the show will be sold online as a fundraiser for the Fletcher Street Stables in Philadelphia, the NYC Federation of Black Cowboys, and NEFOC. And, in an act of solidarity from local fellow workhorse folk, the NY contingent of the Draft Animal Power Network will be making and donating hay with the cowboys later this summer.
Organizers and actions represented
The Center for Artistic Activism helps people use their creativity and culture to effect power. They train and advise organizations, artists and activists to help them increase the efficacy and affecacy of their artistic activism. They also conduct innovative research to figure out how, exactly, creativity and culture can improve impact. Work produced in partnership with Mary Tremonte, Willa Goettling and Eureka! House, are represented here.
Unstoppable Voters was a campaign started in October to 2020 to combat voter suppression in the U.S. Center for Artistic Activism worked with over a dozen artists to create experimental actions in 15 states. The actions ranged from circus performances to lighten up the voting line experience, to black equestrians riding down highways to draw attention to voter suppression problems. These materials are a sampling of the dozens of flags, bandanas, posters, flyers, stickers and other materials that were distributed throughout the U.S.
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Unstoppable Voters Project
Printmakers Against Racism
Fletcher Street Riding Club
NYC Federation of Black Cowboys
Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust
Young Farmers on racial inequity
Young Farmers on policy change
Draft Animal Power