Echoes: A Collaborative Abolitionist Curriculum Chapter Two: Invitation
"Echoes: A Collaborative Abolitionist Curriculum in Four Chapters" was a collaboration from 2021 to 2022 between the Studio Museum in Harlem’s Department of Learning and Engagement and the Fortune Society’s Creative Arts program. The Fortune Society is an organization that assists New Yorkers who have been formerly incarcerated through a range of reentry support services.
Echoes Participants About
"Echoes" grew directly out of group conversations with Fortune community members and highlights their voices as well as the voices of formerly incarcerated individuals beyond Harlem. In a series of workshops held on Zoom and in person in Harlem over the course of six months, Studio Museum Artist Educator Jeannette Rodríguez Píneda led a multisensory curriculum that included art making, writing, and somatic practices.
Each workshop responded to artworks in the Studio Museum’s permanent collection, as well as literature, music, and archival materials, including the Thomas J Price: Witness exhibition in Marcus Garvey Park (October 2, 2021–October 1, 2022). Workshops concluded by collecting audio describing the produced work and the experience of production. The audio became the basis of musician Kwami Coleman’s soundscape.
These chapters are structured according to the workshop curriculum’s four chapters: Haunting, Invitation, Wisdom, and Embodiment.
An invitation, to listen, read, think, and engage beyond ourselves, is extended in sharing the participant’s artwork about their experiences.
Echoes: A Collaborative Abolitionist Curriculum Chapter Two: Invitation writings
Erobos Abzu Lamashtu Presents: “The Hammer” 5/11/22
Dark thing scratching, clawing at my febrile Soul, the essence of my essential self leaks, then bleeds into yawning vistas of the uncaring Universe, my purpose is only what I give myself, allotment to which I am owned and entitled, The Universe cares not, in Life there’s a flash in the pan, a modicum of happiness, memories that fade into a black hole, The assholes of The Universe, Eternally sucking, sitting on Thrones Of Pain, the unworthy crawl over each other in their attempt to make it to through to the unworthy, all that their frivolous, vain lives have taught them was how much more special and deserving they are, it matters not as they are slop that writhe in their irrelevance and mire in muck of their vacuous hollowness, a killer incarnate will peel your flesh like a grape and hang you in the abattoir of the knacker’s yard, trouble in paradise, fresh nightmares await the hopeful, the bit chafes, then chomps upon the wild exuberances of Life’s folly. When the two hands join at the palms to put Life in chokehold, it will only find another way to do Its breaths, I am exhausted not from the pain that I’ve been through, but from the fresh hot horrors that are still barreling down the pipe of the world’s womb. Mass starvation and Death and in the wealthiest country in the history of the world where its people will die like starving rats in the street. America’s Great Leap Forward will ensure cannibalism, the consumption of human flesh makes the body wild, ravenous, and powerful. It’s no less ethical than eating defenseless animals that are caged, penned, drugged, and chemically plumped and fattened for eating with the excess tossed into dump, mass grave pits, scorching hot with our insatiable hunger and appetites for destruction.
Dark thing reaches and snaps at my Soul like alligator jaws to squirming duck, spin cycle as the bones crunch, cries for assistance are not met with holy intervention, only the promise of excruciating brilliance of pain and guarantee of the abyss of slow digestion and ravenous stomach parasites, a merciful, quick Death is not part of the bargain. You asked for this thing called Life, what you got instead was the futility of survival. Life is like butterfly wings set on fire; if you look close enough you will see something failing to outrun itself, like circumcising myself with dull, rusty scissors, then plunging them akimbo into my eyeballs, in blind fury I rip and peel strips of flesh like bacon just to perpetuate sensation, heightening freaks for pain, destroying the body that didn’t ask for it, so I destroy the bodies of others that did. There will be no mercy this day, there will only be contact.
Erobos Abzu Lamashtu Presents: “2 close” 5/18/22—5/25/22
Banging, bashing, thudding, slamming, humans are conditioned as a core fear response to be afraid of a loud sound.
When the car hit the cheap, grinding metal of the other one, the sudden burst of violent sound catchers even onlooker by surprise, the expectation of chaos, we hope for the best yet somehow want to see the blood, mangled bodies, half limp screams answering that blunt force trauma prevents full throated shrieks, body deciding on whether to lend energy to live or die, no flight or fight response in an accident you can only lay there like a victim because it is out of your control when the body is trying to decide how to divvy up resources to restore vital functions, the pressure of shock shuts off pain like an adrenaline spike instant shot that we can’t feel, don’t feel, because it’s too intense and it’ll overwhelm the mind.
In an arrival to sense and senselessness, we gasp in the tragedy “Does anyone need help?” “Call the ambulance,” “What’s your insurance?” “How bad is it?”, “How long it will take for them to get here?” It’s a matter of how far away they are from us right now, we rubberneck in anticipation of death, perhaps, better them than me, family or not, I don’t want the inconvenience of almost dying when I’ve things to do, like streaming service and chill, cozying up to my favorite pint of frozen cow mucus, I don’t want Death fucking with me just as I start season 2 of “6 Million Wayz To Die.” I pick shattered glass from my clothing and hair like rice from a wedding, bystanders stand by like bridesmaids of the victims cry into their palms the tears of their disappointment, they’re glad they weren’t in the crash, but they feel bad they have survived it. It’s an odd expression to your mouth when you see a tragedy. The mouth is a part that definitely needed to call for help and such. You would think it would be a more natural response for people to cover their eyes so they wouldn’t have to see the horrible, offending thing. But no.
I wish everything bad to happen to someone else, and yet bad finds me regardless, splashing, dashing restlessly, reckless like the twisted metal and freshly flaked paint. Violence finds us no matter who we are. It’s like we’re supposed to be a part of it somehow. Broken glass everywhere, people standing on the corner like they just don’t care. But they do. In their own way. What is a whirlwind that is also a tornado which is also a hurricane? Violence. Violence gets offended when it’s treated like a spectator sport. It does not play with itself, it needs you to play with it. The sound of one hand clapping is the sound a tree makes when it falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it. Violence desires participants and it will always find playmates. It’s a maelstrom that gets its energy through the media of Nature. All in all this is pretty bad…I think I smell gas….
Hilton, “Rough and Scarred”
Echoes participant bios
Ronette “Pink” Cordett
Ronette “Pink” Cordett was born in the Bronx, New York. She is twenty-eight and now lives in Manhattan. She is a very colorful person and uses colors to express how she feels about herself. Ronnette's favorite colors are purple, pink, lime green, and so many more. She believes bright colors attract positive energy. Her advice: “If you ever feel sad, put something colorful and different on, go out in the world, stand out and be happy! You will receive positive energy. Be bright, be colorful, and be bold.”
Raffy Somerville is a Pope of All Trades, rockstar, actress, illustrator, photographer, videographer, digital artist, poet, and author of fiction, but her greatest aspiration in life is to be a T-Rex. You can check her out at @laffy_raffy.art.
Chontay “Shy” Smith
Chontay “Shy” Smith is an aspiring musician and keyboardist. He also studies American Sign Language (ASL). Chon shares: I'm working to become a better me. Enduring life's journey and enjoying learning. Life is a process.
Nestor “Panama” Eversley
Nestor “Panama” Eversley is a poet and proud Fortune Society community member.
Erobos Abzu Lamashtu OKA “E”
Erobos Abzu Lamashtu OKA “E” is an extraterrestrial, extradimensional being imprisoned in human form for reasons that remain unclear. "Middle aged" according to the lifespan of earthlings, formerly imprisoned in several penal colonies throughout the State of New York: "Excelsior!" For the majority of his existence, he was referred to as an "illegal alien." The consensus has currently settled on "undocumented immigrant." An unwanted stranger by any other name is still .... He resides at the behest and upon the auspices of the Fortune Society.
Becky Jane Dunham
Becky Jane Dunham is a lifelong student of Mother Earth and is now learning how to grow with words.
Helen Taylor is a poet and proud Fortune Society community member. Love is love.
Hilton N. Webb Jr.
Hilton N. Webb Jr. is a formerly incarcerated cisgendered man who loves the speed and danger of Harley Davidson motorcycles, the smell of fragrant blossoms, and the laughter of small happy children. He is also a writer who believes poems are the sharpest arrows in literature and that love is the strongest force in the universe.
Lionel “Doc" Limage
Lionel “Doc" Limage enjoys learning and teaching through the arts. Self-taught while incarcerated, he plays keyboard, writes songs and poetry, and records and produces his own music. He is a proud member of the Fortune Society Creative Arts program.
Ryan “Blustone” Bennett
Ryan “Blustone” Bennett is a poet and photographer. He loves exploring nature and spirituality.
Kwami Coleman is a musician, composer, producer, and musicologist specializing in improvised music. His research and published work is focused on experimental music history, jazz history, Black music and the African Diaspora, the political economy of music, music technology, aesthetics, and cultural studies. Kwami's first recording as a bandleader, Local Music, was released in 2017. It features ten original pieces, some of which are molded around field recordings taken around his childhood home in Harlem. His nearly completed book, Change: Modern Jazz and the “New Thing”, is a short history of the jazz avant-garde of the 1960s. He is an assistant professor of music at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University.