Executive Director and Founder of Recess, a Brooklyn-based contemporary arts nonprofit.
In 2017, Alloy donated and helped construct storefront space at the future Alloy Block site to Recess, for its Assembly initiative, an artist-lead diversion program for court-involved youth.
What role did Recess play in the Alloy Block development process?
Alloy generously donated storefront space and project support to a new initiative at Recess. Beginning in January 2017, Recess launched Assembly at 370 Schermerhorn. Assembly is an artist-led alternative to incarceration program that offers long-term, paid support and training to system-involved youth. Recess has been researching and planning this initiative, but Alloy was a catalyst in providing the necessary space and funding to roll it out at scale. Five years later, the program is a cornerstone of the organization and informs our guiding values. Youth who went through the program now serve as its educators and are members of the Recess staff.
How did your organization use the temporary space?
We divided the space in two. The rear served as a classroom where our artists offered diversion workshops. The front of the space was a public-facing gallery where artwork created by our artists and youth was on view. Toward the end of 2018, one artist created a participatory silkscreen printmaking shop in the gallery. The print shop was so popular among our youth, it is now a permanent fixture in our Clinton Hill home.
What makes this such a great area to live and work?
The vibrancy of the community living and working around 370 Schermerhorn was our favorite aspect of the space. We loved being next to Khalil Gibran International Academy and forming relationships with the teachers and students. Folks of all backgrounds would come in to admire the art and learn from our artists and young people. The site is at the nexus of Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, Park Slope and Downtown Brooklyn, so we met tourists, residents, commuters, and more.
What impact do you think the project will have on the area as it recovers from the pandemic? What makes it most compelling for you?
I hope the site can continue to be a meeting place for a vibrant community, offering spaces of learning and culture. I think Alloy will continue to double down on its commitment to equity, and will thus ensure that the neighborhood remains welcoming and inclusive as it evolves.