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Preview: The Sanctuary for Independent Media - Press Room

The Sanctuary for Independent Media - Press Room


Breathing Lights: Sanctuary, Troy Hub

Tue, 05 Apr 2016 17:37:14 +0000

The Sanctuary for Independent Media is the "Hub" for the Breathing Lights project. Our hope to use participatory arts practice to educate and empower people to make a change in their communities. Our organization is dedicated to giving voice to those least represented in the media – so creating stories of people living amongst abandoned buildings, and using art to network diverse organizations striving to improve the health and welfare of our communities, fits directly within our mission. We will host several events related to the theme of vacant buildings and community revitalization during 2016. Projects include: Workforce Development Institute Affinity Project: Vacant Buildings, Vanished Dreams   ABOUT BREATHING LIGHTS Conceived by lead artist and University of Albany art professor Adam Frelin and lead architect Barbara Nelson, AIA, of TAP, Inc., Breathing Lights has brought together more than 25 community and private sector partners. The project will culminate in spring 2017 with a regional summit on vacant homes and neighborhood revitalization that will engage local residents, prospective buyers and investors, and policy makers. Breathing Lights was selected in June 2015 as one of four temporary public art projects from across the United States to receive a grant award from the first-ever Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge. Other winning cities are Gary, IN, Spartanburg, SC, and Los Angeles, CA. Full information on all projects can be found at  Breathing Lights, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies through its Public Art Challenge initiative, will illuminate hundreds of vacant buildings in Albany, Schenectady and Troy nightly in October and November 2016. This unprecedented installation will be supported by eight months of programming and events across three cities. Breathing Lights will transform public streets into an evocative experience with the goal of sparking community conversation around the issues of vacancy and community revitalization. The public is invited to visit the newly-redesigned and/or follow the conversation at #BreathingLights for full information on projects and opportunities including: •    City Weekends and Opening Parties: Each partner city will “host” a weekend during the installation this fall featuring a range of events that invite the public to experience Breathing Lights and meet community partners. Save the dates for:      o    Albany – November 4-5; hosted by the Breathing Lights Albany hub, the Albany Barn.      o    Schenectady – November 18-19; hosted by the Breathing Lights Schenectady hub, the Boys & Girls Club of Schenectady and project partner Proctors.      o    Troy – September 30- October 1; hosted by the Breathing Lights Troy hub, the Sanctuary for Independent     Media and project partner the Arts Center for the Capital Region. •    Community Arts Projects: A competition for Community Arts projects will support small grants for individual artists related to the Breathing Lights theme. Curated by the Breathing Lights neighborhood hubs and the project’s core team, these projects are an opportunity for up to 15 local artists to develop and display arts projects that will enhance the local connection.      o    Artworks can in be proposed in any medium or genre, including, but not limited to: public art installations, visual arts, theater, music, film, electronic media and web art, etc. Although not required, projects are encouraged to be able to be installed and/ or presented in public spaces surrounding Breathing Lights installations in fall 2016. SUBMISSION PROCESS AND LINK TO APPLY TO COME.•    Affinity Projects: Local arts and cultural organizations and policy and community development organizations will reimagine programs to design "affinity proj[...]

Zombies of North Troy

Sat, 21 Sep 2013 00:21:01 +0000

Freedom Square honors the Zombies of North Troy!

Photographs by Brenda Ann Kenneally







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"Found Art" Summer Season 2013!

Tue, 25 Jun 2013 10:49:10 +0000

A spectacular summer 2013 season at The Sanctuary for Independent Media begins on July 9, 2013 and runs through August 9, 2013 featuring a new outdoor stage at Freedom Square with music, films, workshops, food, and more (see schedule below). An astonishing transformation has taken place at Freedom Square, the mystical corner in North Troy where 101st Street meets 5th and 6th Avenues. Artists, construction crews and community volunteers have toiled for weeks to create a landmark setting for outdoor screenings and performances! The new Alfred Z. Solomon stage at Freedom Square (named for the philanthropist whose charitable trust provided funding along with the family of Robert Greger, the National Endowment for the Arts, the NYS Council on the Arts, the City of Troy and numerous other contributors) will provide an outdoor platform for the free expression of ideas neglected in the corporate media and art world. Join us this summer in the shadow of the mural birthed by Philadelphia Magic Gardens creator Isaiah Zagar and his team, for some of the most exciting arts activities and events in the region. SUMMER 2013 SCHEDULE at The Sanctuary for Independent Media and around the block FREE HEALTHY LUNCHES Tuesday-Friday from 7/9 through 8/9 at noon!"Nutritious Food on a Budget," organized by community volunteers and coordinated by KitchenSanctuary. FREE SUMMER EVENTS outdoors in Freedom Squareat 101st St. where 5th and 6th Avenues meet in North TroyBring lawn blankets and chairs!Rain location: The Sanctuary for Independent Media, 3361 6th Avenue Friday • 7/12 • 9pm SCREENING OF "Night of the Living Dead" with live music by the Andrew Alden Ensemble George A. Romero’s classic 1968 black and white horror film with original musical accompaniment by the Andrew Alden Ensemble. Friday • 7/19 • 6:30pm MUSIC BY THE Krar Collective Mind-blowing Ethiopian grooves, with dazzling krar, kebero drums and stunning vocals. Rooted in tradition—soaked with attitude! Friday • 7/26 • 9pm SCREENING OF “Soul Power” A documentary by Jeffrey Levy-Hinte celebrating the legendary 1974 music festival in Kinshasa, Zaire that accompanied “The Rumble in the Jungle” between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. Saturday • 8/3 • 5:30pm Bend the Bars with Beats HIP HOP FOR PRISONER JUSTICE featuring Rebel Diaz, Baam Bada, SKATE, and DJ Trumastr with DJ Cold Cut.  Co-sponsored by the NYS Prisoner Justice Network Friday • 8/95pm: "Dancing with Dreams"NY STATE HIP HOP DANCE COMPETITIONco-sponsored by the Troy Boys & Girls Club7pm: Bike Parade8:30pm: Community Film Festival FOUND ART WORKSHOPSJuly 9 - August 9 Tuesday - Friday, 10am - 4pm (unless noted)a collaboration between The Sanctuary for Independent Media, Missing LinkStreet Ministry, Troy Bike Rescue and Collard City Growerson one block of 6th Ave. between Glen Ave. and 101st St. in North TroyTuesdays 10am to 2pm: “Found Art Trails” with Troy Bike RescueTuesdays 3pm to 6pm: “Bike Art” with Troy Bike RescueFridays 10 to 12pm: "Found Art Gardening” with Collard City GrowersTues-Fri 7/10 - 7/12: “Guerrilla Gallery” with Brenda Ann KenneallyTues-Fri 7/17 - 7/19: “Urban Infrastructure for Non-Humans” with Natalie JeremijenkoTues-Fri 7/23 - 7/26: Mural painting with Marcus Kwame Anderson and Troy Alley ActionTues-Fri 7/30 - 8/2 “Community Mapping with Slime Mold” with Blaine O’NeillTues-Fri 8/6- 8/9: Mural painting with Troy Alley Action plus other community arts workshopsGET INVOLVED!For more information, to participate, or to or call (518) 272-2390. [...]

"African ‘blues’ artist coming to Troy"

Thu, 24 Jun 2010 19:14:20 +0000

Date published:  03/18/2010 Publication:  Troy Record By Don Wilcock Two days before he plays Carnegie Hall and a week after doing severaldates with renowned banjo player Bela Fleck’s Africa Project, Africanartist Bassekou Kouyate and his band Ngoni Ba will play Troy’sSanctuary for Independent Media next Wednesday, March 24. Bassekou plays an ngoni, a small stringed instrument that is anancestor of the banjo. The ngoni was the instrument of choice for thegriots (teachers) of Malli since ancient times and was threatened withextinction until Bassekou stood up, put a strap on it and beganplaying it with the same abandon as an American rocker. His innovative updating of this instrument can be heard on his SpeakFula CD just released by SubPop, the label that introduced Nirvana,Soundgarden and Mudhoney to the world. Bassekou is a world music darling who has jammed with Bono from U2,Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal. This unusual date at the intimateSanctuary in Troy is part of a 47-date North American tour runningthrough April. The following question and answer session was done by e-mail andtranslated by Violet Diallo. Q. If Africans had come to the United States as free people, do youthink African- American blues today would sound more like your music? “Actually, I think African-American blues today sounds exactly likeour music from Segu. Maybe if the original Malians who came to theUnited States had been free, they would have come to find us in Africamuch earlier, but all that sounds like a film. We just don’t know!” Q. What was your motivation to modernize your playing of the ngoni —to reach a broader audience, to satisfy your creative muse, to savethe ngoni from becoming an archival music, or all of the above? “That’s right, all of these reasons, but basically to show how alivethe ngoni is and how it communicates with people.” Q. Were you shocked at how easy it was for you to jam with Taj Mahaleven though you’d never heard blues before? “I wasn’t shocked because what I heard Taj play was my own Bamanamusic: I think he was the one that was shocked once he realized I hadnever been exposed to the blues before and was the living proof of thereal roots of the blues in Africa, and in Mali.” Q. What was the crowd reaction the first time you put a strap on yourngoni and stepped to the front of the stage? Did it take a while forfans in your country to accept your new style? “It was a sensation, but a small sensation because it was just onevenue (the Buffet Hotel de la Gare in Bamako with a maximum of 100people present). But apart from making musical sense, it gave peoplesomething to talk about – a bit of gossip. And that’s what we all lovein Mali.” Q. Did you get the idea for your double picking technique from artistslike Merle Travis? Have you listened to blues slide players likeElmore James and Son House for inspiration? “I was old enough when I started to play in public to be reallywell-grounded in Bamana music, and although I can play with artistsfrom other styles, I get enough ideas for myself without needing topick other people’s ideas. That way I can just sit and enjoy listeningto all these great American blues players.” Q. How important do you think the basically oral tradition of the“griot” was in preserving the thread of African culture in theoppressive environment of slavery in the United Sates that preventedslaves from communicating in groups, prevented them from learning toread, prevented them from having instruments? “It’s not just the griots who have a hold on oral tradition in Africa:one of the jobs of all grandmothers, for instance, is to tell hergrandchildren stories, the same stories she heard from her owngrandmother. So it seems quite normal to me that the Africans who werebrought to the United St[...]

"History comes alive in Troy story"

Thu, 24 Jun 2010 19:08:05 +0000

Date published:  02/25/2010 Publication:  Troy Record By Phil Drew Affixed to the exterior of a building on State Street in downtown  Troy, within sight of the YWCA building on First Street, is a simple  bronze plaque paying tribute to an event in local history that, this  being Black History Month, deserves to be better recognized. A big dose of exposure comes this week with a pair of public events  marking publication of a new book, and the opening of an exhibition of  paintings, chronicling the rescue 150 years ago of Charles Nalle by a  riotous mob preventing the forcible return of a fugitive slave on the  eve of the Civil War. "There is a lot of history under our feet here in Troy," says Scott  Christianson, historian, author and Sand Lake resident. "This is a  part of history in Troy and Watervliet that really bears notice. . It  was an act of civil disobedience to stand up and act in violation of  the law, although I do believe in this instance it was the law that  was illegal." The notorious Fugitive Slave Act, passed in 1850, made it a Federal  offense to harbor an escaped slave, requiring instead return to their  owners if captured. On an April day in 1860 Nalle, bound for return by  Federal marshals to his former master from Virginia, was liberated  twice by local citizens, goaded into action by abolitionist and former  slave Harriet Tubman – the confrontation beginning at the spot marked  by that plaque. On Saturday, just about a block away at Hart-Cluett Mansion, home of  the Rensselaer County Historical Society, Christianson will be on hand  for the opening of a gallery exhibit of paintings depicting that  dramatic day by Mark Priest, a University of Louisville faculty  member. The exhibit is scheduled to remain in place until mid-June.  Christianson will sign copies of his new book, "Freeing Charles," just  published by University of Illinois Press. On Tuesday, at the  Sanctuary for Independent Media in North Troy, Christianson and Priest  will join again for a talk on the Nalle incident. Troy was a key stopping point along the "railroad" -- a major  industrial town with a growing black population in the 1850’s, and a  prominent "vigilance committee", the local spearhead of the  abolitionist movement. Says Christianson, "In Troy, the office of the  Underground Railroad was located in the building on the present site  of the women’s Y." When the fugitive Nalle reached Troy, locally-prominent abolitionist  Stephen Myers offered him the choice of continuing on to Canada or  blending in with the local community and working, in the hope of  eventually rejoining his family. He chose the latter and Myers secured  for him a residence in Sand Lake and employment. "We’re essentially schooled to think of America before the war as  North-South, the North against slavery, the South for it," says  Christianson. "It wasn’t that way. There were plenty of slavery  opponents in Virginia, some who had helped Nalle escape. There were a  lot of people in the North who were indifferent to slavery, and some  even in favor of it, and there was quite a bit of Southern influence  in an industrial town like Troy and rural towns like Sand Lake." The  newcomer Nalle eventually attracted attention from Horatio Averill –  for whom Averill Park is named – and the marshals were tipped off.  Headed for a downtown bakery on that fateful day, Nalle was arrested  and hauled into court to be turned over to Blucher Hansborough. Tubman, an Auburn resident en route to an abolitionist convention in  Boston[...]

"Nonconformist Blues to chase the devil away"

Thu, 24 Jun 2010 18:25:24 +0000

Date published:  06/10/2010 Publication:  Troy Record By Don Wilcock Joe Abbey is a white, self-proclaimed agnostic who also happens to be the lead guitarist in an otherwise all African American regional gospel group, The Heavenly Echoes. Far from being the infidel in a field of holy men, Abbey fits right in with his band of proselytizers who struggle like all of us to keep their act together in a world gone mad. Joe also is a middle-aged RPI graduate who loves the Rolling Stones and fronts a blues band called JV and The Cutters. It is Joe’s blues band that will share the stage with Thomasina Winslow and Mother Judge on Friday as part of Troy’s Sanctuary for Independent Media’s Live From Lock One concert series. One of the reasons Joe never rose to the top in the music business is his own attitude. "If everybody else is a great cook, at least let me bring the plates," he says, explaining that he lacks the technical expertise — and the patience — to learn other people’s songs to perform in a jam situation. Instead, while others would try to trace the Allman Brothers’ guitar prints through "Whipping Post" endlessly week after week, Joe kept coming up with originals. "It was easier for me to make something up than it was to copy or learn something," he says. When I remind Joe that Bono of U2 wrote original songs at first because he felt he lacked the skill to copy others’ music, he thanked me for mentioning him in the same breath but insists "there’s worlds of technique that separate me from any number of guys that play guitar around here." Perhaps, but there are also worlds of difference between those copycats and someone who creates their own music the way Joe does. Plus no one has ever become a pop hit covering Clapton covering Robert Johnson on "Crossroads." Not only does Joe write music that strikes a common chord in all people, but he does it with simple lyrics that share a certain starkness that Hemmingway had as a fiction writer and Kerouac had as a chronicle of a generation of "nonconformists and contrarians" which is how Joe  characterizes himself. At the Sanctuary which Joe defines as "an alternative form of media and media presentation," he should find a discerning and appreciative audience. Talk about nonconformists, Thomasina Winslow has booked a gig later this year to play blues in  Bach’s hometown in Germany. She’s a 15-year teaching veteran whose final recital at SUNY had her playing a Bach cello suite transcribed for guitar. She obviously enjoys the irony of blues for Bach, recalling a recent confrontation with a Brit who told her, "You players from the states don’t realize we have a classical background. So, you’re asking us to play with just the thumb, index and middle finger, and we have a classical background." She looked him straight in the eye and said, "Well, my degree is in classical music performance which I didn’t tell you before." Zing! The daughter of Tom Winslow of Clearwater Folk Festival fame, Thomasina has just released First Things First, an album of mostly classic folk blues songs by such early 20th century blues progenitors as Charlie Patton, Willie Brown and Tampa Red. Her partner on the album is Nick Katzman, one of her childhood finger picking heroes. She tracked him down on her second tour of Germany and has become his business partner in the release of the CD on their won Blue Lizard Records. She calls the relationship surreal. Thomasina is the ying to Joe Abbey’s yang. She’s an African American with a highly polished sense of style who interprets traditional blues songs with finesse, but nevertheless gets deep meaning from the lyrics. For instance, she sings about "some low down scoundrels fishin’ in my pond" [...]

"Director speaks about dark comedy 'My Suicide'"

Sat, 19 Jun 2010 19:03:56 +0000

Date published:  04/29/2010 Publication:  Albany Times Union By Elizabeth Floyd Mair In the feature film "My Suicide: A Self-Inflicted Comedy," a teenage boy announces in media class that he plans to kill himself on camera as his final project. Some classmates cheer him on and encourage him to end it all, while others try to talk him out of it, and still others seek him out as a kindred spirit. His parents send him to one counselor after another, but most of the advice he receives from adults feels like cliched catchphrases and has little impact.  Despite the heaviness of the subject matter, the film finds its comedy -- dark comedy, to be sure -- in the story of the boy's inner journey as he grapples with the kinds of existential questions teenagers deal with as part of growing up. Director David Lee Miller said recently by phone from his studio in California that the film isn't really about suicide. "Hitchcock always talked about the McGuffin. It's not necessarily the subject of the picture; it's what the picture revolves around. I do not consider our movie to be a suicide movie. Our film's a narrative story about the teen condition." At the same time, Miller was very much inspired, he says, to make the film after learning that "suicide is skewing younger now; the fastest-rising demographic for it today is 10- to 14-year-olds." Suicide, he said, was a touchstone, a way to look at some of the toughest issues kids grapple with today -- drinking, sex, loneliness -- all at once. "My Suicide" has been winning awards at film festivals around the world (19 so far). Miller even traveled to Rome in November -- at the Pope's invitation -- to attend a "Meeting of the Artists with the Holy Father in the Sistine Chapel." The movie is expected to be in theaters this fall. Miller will be in Troy today for a screening of the film followed by a Q&A at the Sanctuary for Independent Media. One of the film's greatest strengths is the nuanced acting of Gabriel Sunday as high-schooler Archie Williams. (The rest of the cast is also excellent, but Sunday has far and away the most screen time.) Sunday happens to be a spot-on impersonator, too, and Archie often slips into other voices from famous film scenes, like Christopher Walken playing Russian roulette in "The Deer Hunter" or Marlon Brando in "Apocalypse Now." In these moments, the scenery morphs around Sunday, through animation and computer graphics, to look like those scenes (a rowdy crowd of Vietnamese appears in the background to cheer him on); the effect is dreamlike and amusing. In one memorable scene, Archie sits quietly in the office of his psychiatrist (Joe Mantegna), revealing nothing of his real thoughts, while an animated version of himself leaps off the couch and goes at the shrink with a large kitchen knife while red cartoon blood soaks the screen. The other "star" of "My Suicide" is its mind-bending array of cinematic techniques like rotoscoping, hand-held cameras, home video and filmstrips from the '50s and '60s (often with new and funny narration). Miller wanted the movie to look like something a kid could make. "All the techniques we used were done with off-the-shelf software that a young person would have access to in this day and age: Flash, Adobe After Effects, Photoshop, maybe a little bit of Maya, but really focusing on off-the-shelf technologies." The film's densely layered, in-your-face approach reflects the chaotic energy of a young brain and forces viewers to think about the blessing and curse of being a young person in the digital age (as Miller puts it, "overconnected and sometimes disconnected"). The director conceived the idea for "My Suicide" together with his son Jordan, who was then still a te[...]

"Sanctuary mixes genres, but not message"

Tue, 03 Nov 2009 19:24:14 +0000

Date published:  11/03/2009 Publication:  Troy Record By Bob Goepfert The Sanctuary for Independent Media has a curious name that makes the organization sound a bit spiritual and at the same time a bit rebellious. That is appropriate as the not-for-profit is located in an old church at 3361 Sixth Ave. in Troy. Too, the films, performances in the field of music and dance, poetry readings and exhibits of visual artists presented at the Sanctuary are usually outside the mainstream and tend to have political points of view. The Sanctuary defines itself as "a telecommunication production facility dedicated to community media arts." To support this aspect of its mission, they offers facilities and classes that help people understand the techniques of cutting edge media technology. If you really want to know what the Sanctuary for Independent Media is about — stop by on Saturday between 2 and 11 p.m. During the afternoon there is an Indymedia Film Festival titled "Where Do We Go From Here?" and at 9 p.m. there will be a performance by Persian singer Haale. Between the films and the music there will be a pot luck dinner starting about 6 p.m. The 2 p.m. film is "This Is What Democracy Looks Like." It is a documentary about what has been referred to as The Battle of Seattle. It covers the huge 1999 protest that tried to stop the WTO meetings held in the city. Indeed, this day-long event is timed to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the protest. If you are not familiar with the details of the Seattle protest, Piece says you are not alone. Besides running the Sanctuary, he teaches an ethics course in the Engineering Department of RPI and says that whenever he raises the topic of the Battle of Seattle in class, few of his students are aware of the event and hardly any grasp the scope of the protest. "Many refuse to accept it ever happened," he says. "The fact that over 50,000 people took to the street for days to protest this event went virtually unnoticed by traditional media outlets. Many people who were there insist the mainstream media reporting was distorted," he says. He explains that at the time there was already a number of "active grassroots journalists" and many of them covered the protest which resulted in over 300 hours of video footage of the event. That video is the source of material for "This Is What Democracy Looks Like." The film is narrated by Susan Sarandon and is scored by Rage Against the Machine. Pierce says that just as important as the event and the documentation of the protest is the unity it brought to grassroots journalists. "For a long time people realized commercial media could not be objective when reporting about topics that were about the people who owned the media outlet. Can you imagine an in-depth negative story on G.E.’s interests running on a television station owned by G.E.? Of course not." Pierce believes the coverage of the Battle of Seattle dramatized the flaws in the commercial world of media and jump-started what Pierce refers to as "a media movement away from news as a commodity to news as a cultural format." He says, almost wryly, "I prefer to get reports from people who say I was there and this is what I saw and experienced. Certainly there is a bias in the reporting, but the concept of objectivity is a myth anyway. Uncensored points of view are extremely valuable." Also on the film festival’s schedule is a documentary on the life of Bradley Roland Will, an anarchist, filmmaker and journalist with Indymedia in New York City, who in 2006 was shot and killed in Mexico during a teachers strike. Other organizations similar in scope to Sanctuary for Independent Media will attend the celebration on Satu[...]

"Black Panther Robert Hillary King tells his story"

Fri, 10 Apr 2009 03:15:01 +0000

Date published:  04/09/2009 Publication:  Albany Times Union By Tom Keyser Robert Hillary King spent nearly three decades in solitary confinement at the notorious Angola state prison in Louisiana. As a member of the Black Panther Party, he and two party members became nationally known as the Angola 3 — political prisoners who spent decades in solitary confinement for, they contend, organizing prisoners to improve conditions. King, 66, will speak Friday at The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy in support of his book, "From the Bottom of the Heap: The Autobiography of Black Panther Robert Hillary King" (PM Press, 224 pages, $24.95). After becoming a Black Panther in prison and organizing inmates, according to the book's dust jacket, "prison authorities beat him, starved him and gave him life without parole after framing him for a second crime. He was thrown into solitary confinement, where he remained in a 6-by-9-foot cell for 29 years as one of the Angola 3. In 2001, the state grudgingly acknowledged his innocence and set him free." Born poor in Louisiana and abandoned by both parents, King was stealing and fighting on the street by the time he was 11 and serving time in reform school at 15. In and out of local and state prison, he ended up at Angola in 1971 for a robbery he claims he did not commit. There, he says, he was framed for the stabbing death of another inmate. "Solitary confinement is terrifying, especially if you are innocent of the charges that put you there," King writes. "My soul still cries from all that I witnessed and endured. ... So let's call prisons exactly what they are: an extension of slavery." King recently spoke to the Times Union by phone from his home in Austin. Q: You write that while in solitary you were allowed out of your cell one hour per day to shower and, sometimes, to go outside into the yard. How did you maintain your sanity? A: When people ask me that, I tell them, laughing: 'I didn't tell you I wasn't crazy.' It's kind of hard to get dipped in waste and not come up stinking. But I go on to say that I was in prison; prison wasn't in me. I kind of insulated myself against prison. My political awareness shielded me. Becoming politically aware in the early '70s, I saw America as being one big prison. All they'd done was take me from minimum custody and put me in maximum security. But there is some luxury to going insane. I can understand that. Very few things I'm afraid of, but I was scared to go crazy, because I was scared of what they would do to me. I saw them do horrible things to people who, quote, lose their mind or regress into insanity. They were given medications, hosed down with 40-pound, 50-pound pressure hoses. ... And it wasn't just the administration. Inmates took part in the victimization of their own fellow prisoners. You see a lot of things. I couldn't describe all the things. Q: Who are the Angola 3? A: Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox and myself became collectively known as the Angola 3 after spending decades in solitary confinement. Herman and Albert, both members of the Black Panther Party, were placed there for a crime they allegedly committed, participating in the death of a correction officer back in 1972. It's since come out that Herman and Albert were framed. When our story got out in the public, I was subsequently released in 2001 when the courts overturned my conviction of participating in the death of an inmate. Herman and Albert are still in prison. (After 36 years in solitary, reportedly the longest of any inmates ever in the U.S., they were transferred last year to maximum security. When the correction officer was killed, Wallace and Wo[...]

"Iraqi Children make art from war"

Sun, 22 Mar 2009 02:39:45 +0000

Date published:  03/20/2009 Publication:  Albany Times Union By Danielle Furfaro The three Iraqi teenage girls show up at the library wearing red and black. The red, they explain, symbolizes the blood of dead Iraqis. The black represents the tears and sadness of their country. Shahad Jassim, 18, Wead Jassim, 16, and Tethkar Ahmad, 15, are refugees. They fled their war-torn country with their families within the past two years. They fled the scourge of dead bodies in the streets and bombed-out buildings. They fled what they felt would be their own certain deaths. Now living in Albany, they aim to use art to educate the world about atrocities happening in Iraq and to express their hopes for peace. When they speak about their homeland, they can't help but cry. Their art gives them a voice, and it seems to help. At least a little. The girls are participating in the Iraqi Children's Art Exchange, an international program based in Northampton, Mass. A collection of murals, created one day last fall by refugee children ranging from preschoolers to teens, will be on exhibit at the Albany Public Library through March 27. A reception for the young artists will be 5 p.m. Monday. The 14 Iraqi children who now live in the Capital Region completed four painted canvas murals in one day. There is a painting of a peaceful house before the war, a painting of a mosque, one of an Iraqi flag and a mural featuring the Statue of Liberty. The Iraqi artists are big on symbolism. The black tears in one mural represent sadness, roses represent the souls of martyrs. A bird represents freedom and peace in one mural, and the complaints of the Iraqi people heading back to be heard by God in another. In October, artist and teacher Claudia Lefko, a preschool teacher and the creator of the Iraqi Children's Art Exchange, visited the Sanctuary for Independent Media to lead the one-day workshop. On that day, she coaxed the murals out of the children by discussing their stories of life in wartime, leaving their home country and resettling in foreign lands. Now comes step two of the program. Next week, the Sanctuary will host a workshop where Lefko will guide 16 refugees and 16 American-born children to create murals that explain their different experiences and how they can work toward greater understanding and appreciation of each other. Lefko often travels to the Middle East and throughout the United States to work with youth who have been displaced because of the Iraqi conflict. She takes the artwork from country to country to inspire the children and to let them know they aren't alone. "The goal is to use creativity and art to help make a better world," said Branda Miller, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute professor and co-director of the Sanctuary for Independent Media. Miller helped arrange the art exchange. "Then these murals will go on tour, and other kids will see them and make murals there. It creates a dialogue." At the library earlier this week, the teenagers smile dutifully for a photographer, but start sobbing as soon as they sit down to talk with a reporter. For an hour, they recount the horrors that came with the U.S. invasion of their homeland. Unlike some of the younger refugee artists, Shahad, Wead and Tethkar are old enough to remember the days before the bombs and the killing started, when they played in the streets and went to school without fear. They remember when the death began and suddenly found old friends becoming enemies as the country sank into violence and fear. They have had uncles, aunts, brothers and cousins who were killed, kidnapped or raped. "People didn't have to die," said Tethkar, a[...]

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