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From the Ground UP

A project led by
Jean-Marc Superville Sovak
Ann Street Gallery Artist Researcher in Residence

From the Ground UP is a convergence of local community stakeholders and artists led by Ann Street Gallery Artist Researcher in Residence (ARiR) Jean-Marc Superville Sovak. The project brings Superville Sovak’s creative research and practice together with community members dedicated to imagining, rendering, and presenting collaboratively-designed visions for remembering and honoring African- Americans buried in, and disinterred from, Newburgh’s “Colored Burial Ground” through conversation and the arts.

From the Ground UP is hosted by Ann Street Gallery and consists of three fluid project phases. The first phase launched in October 2023 with a series of community gatherings, presentations, and events that will continue through February 2024. The second phase of the project transforms the Gallery space into a lab, workshop, and exhibition space for Superville Sovak’s research, his socially engaged art practice, his creative output, and the display and performance of commissioned works from other interdisciplinary artists and cultural producers. The third and final phase of the project includes creating digital and analog archives of the project to record the public’s interactions, the artist’s research and process, and the developments of the project in the form of a website and printed materials. The project archives aim to serve as a model for collective forms of memorialization, a resource, and symbolic form of restorative justice for the City of Newburgh.

Superville Sovak’s project seeks to engage histories that have been erased from dominant historical narratives, specifically Black lives during the period shortly after the gradual abolition of slavery in New York State (1827) and the Civil War, a period that coincides with the Newburgh “colored” cemetery’s usage.

The project asks: How can collectively inspired memorials truthfully function? How should the dead, once desecrated, now be honored? What were the lived experiences that intersected with the segregated cemetery? What is the reparative capacity of a monument and how can memorializing gestures, space, or objects serve that capacity to its fullest potential? How can the arts and spaces designed for the exhibition of art facilitate community conversation, healing, imagining, and creativity? From the Ground UP is conceived as an open-source feedback loop to display a diversity of ideas and creative forms of what publicly-inspired and collaboratively-designed memorials could look like, including stories, offerings, speculative proposals, performances, readings, discussions, and more.

OPEN GALLERY HOURS

Community members are invited to visit Ann Street Gallery and engage with the project throughout December, January, and February as the project transitions continuously from an evidentiary display, research lab, and participatory project to an exhibition and performance space. The Gallery will be open on Saturdays and Sundays beginning December 9, from 12:00-4:00pm (with the exception of December 23, 24, 30, and 31). The Gallery is located at 104 Ann Street, Newburgh, NY.

The public is invited to contribute and engage with the project in the following ways:

  • Coat Collection: As a participatory and durational form of memorialization, the gallery requests donations of gently used winter coats to distribute in the vicinity.
  • Conjuring Bundles: Visitors to the exhibition are invited contribute to Superville Sovak’s sprawling burial shroud-inspired web of woven reclaimed fabric in a contemporary interpretation of what archaeologists refer to as “conjuring bundles”, or offerings left at burial sites by mourners. While these “bundles” have historically included such items as the last used or favorite objects of the deceased (pottery, pipes, lamps, buttons, coins, seashells), visitors are invited to contribute their own message or devotional object to the deceased in anticipation of the eventual reburial of those disinterred from the burial site in 2008 during the construction of the Newburgh City Courthouse in 2008.
  • Visioning Ceremonies: Superville Sovak is using the gallery as a space of reflection and invites artists, musicians, performers, healers, writers, poets, and other creative individuals to collaboratively discuss, imagine, and literally or metaphorically sketch with him visions and propositions for remembering and honoring those buried in and disinterred from the Burial Ground.

ARTIST TALKS & EVENTS

During Superville Sovak’s residency, the gallery will continue to host public presentations, discussions, and events. On December 9 from 2:00-4:00pm historian Dr. Christina Ziegler-McPherson will introduce visitors to the historical context of the project during the post Emancipation (1827) and antebellum years (1861-65) that coincide with the Newburgh “colored” cemetery’s usage, followed by a Q&A hosted by Superville-Sovak and community organizer Gabrielle Burton-Hill.

On December 16 2:00-4:00pm Superville Sovak will present his art practice and creative research leading up to his residency project, discuss his approach and process for the project, and answer questions about his research and goals related to From the Ground UP. Superville Sovak will conclude the event with a discussion and reflection with attendees.

Community gatherings, performances, and events will continue on Saturday afternoons in January and February. Individual event details will be posted on Ann Street Gallery’s website and Instagram and the project Instagram accounts weekly. To find more information about Ann Street Gallery and From the Ground UP, visit https://annstreetgallery.org.

All From the Ground UP community gatherings and events are free and open the public.

OPEN READING ROOM

Throughout the project, ASG’s Open Reading Room & Media Space (ORRMS) will be open and accessible to the public, offering Curated Reading Lists by Terence Trouillot, Jonette O’Kelley Miller, Kite, and the Ann Street Gallery’s 2023 Emerging Artist Fellows. Curated Reading Lists include five to eleven books selected by each creative researcher, along with an introduction to their list and annotations on the texts. Superville Sovak is developing a reading list and resources for the ORRMS during his residency.

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Jean-Marc Superville Sovak is a multidisciplinary artist and teaching professional whose work represents silent histories of multi-racial identities that make up the DNA of this country as well his own. His “a- Historical Landscapes” involve altering original 19th-century landscape engravings to include images from Anti-Slavery publications. His public artwork includes organizing a “Burial for White Supremacy”, retracing steps on the Underground Railroad at Hudson Valley historic sites, monuments to Afro-Dutch pioneers in Rockland County, and a memorial to the earliest Africans to arrive in Rhode Island. A graduate of Bard College (M.F.A. Film/Video), Jean-Marc is the 2023 recipient of Art Mid-Hudson’s Empowering Artist Award and an Individual Artist Commission. Jean-Marc’s art has been exhibited at RecessArt, Brooklyn, the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Arts Westchester, Socrates Sculpture Park, and the Katonah Museum of Art. Jean-Marc has been a guest curator at the Dorsky Museum and has been Visiting Artist at Bard College, SUNY New Paltz, Columbia University and Vassar College.

To learn more about Jean-Marc Superville Sovak’s practice and research, visit http://www.supervillesovak.com and follow @supersovak and @FTGU2024.

From the Ground UP is sponsored by a Humanities New York Vision Grant and a Humanities New York Action Grant, and made possible with funds from the Orange County Arts Council. Ann Street Gallery programming is made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, The M&T Charitable Foundation, and the Dominican Sisters of Hope Ministry Fund.

From the Ground UP is sponsored by a Humanities New York Vision Grant and a Humanities New York Action Grant, and made possible with funds from the Orange County Arts Council. Ann Street Gallery programming is made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, The M&T Charitable Foundation, and the Dominican Sisters of Hope Ministry Fund.

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