In the South Bronx district of New York City, there is a nonprofit organization called the Bronx River Art Center (BRAC). BRAC, which was founded in 1987, aims to offer the community affordable cultural programming and arts education. The facility has developed over time into a focal point for artistic expression, hosting exhibitions, workshops, and activities that encourage collaboration and diversity.
BRAC, which is housed in a former industrial structure on the banks of the Bronx River, is a dynamic and lively environment that promotes experimentation and innovation. Drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, and photography are just a few of the many classes and workshops the center offers. All ages and skill levels, from novices to experts, are welcome to enroll in the courses.
The emphasis on social justice and community engagement in BRAC’s programming is one of its distinctive features. The center collaborates with neighborhood schools, community centers, and social service agencies to offer underserved populations arts education. BRAC also works with artists and activists to develop public art installations that tackle important social issues like immigration, gentrification, and police brutality.
BRAC offers a range of educational programs in addition to hosting exhibitions all year long. These exhibitions showcase the work of local and international emerging and established artists. Additionally, the center has a residency program that offers artists a place to work and assistance as they develop new works. The residency program encourages artists to experiment with new concepts and methods while emphasizing interdisciplinary collaboration and community engagement.
Prelude to a Memory, a solo exhibition by artist Lady K Fever, was one of the most notable exhibits at BRAC in recent years. A number of large-scale murals and mixed-media pieces that explored the artist’s personal history and cultural identity were on display during the summer of 2019 exhibition. Lady K Fever, who was born and raised in the South Bronx, was inspired by the thriving street art and graffiti scene that developed there in the 1980s and 1990s. Through her work, she highlighted the region’s social and economic problems while also highlighting the community’s diversity and resiliency.
“Sowing Place,” a group show organized by artist Laura Nova in the fall of 2019, was another noteworthy exhibition at BRAC. The exhibition featured the creations of eight artists who looked at home, displacement, and migration as themes. The artists created installations that examined the nuanced connections between people and places using a range of media, including painting, photography, video, and sculpture. A number of free public events, such as artist talks, workshops, and panel discussions, were held in conjunction with the exhibition to engage viewers in thoughtful discussion about its themes.
The dedication of BRAC to social justice and community involvement is also seen in its public art initiatives. The center and the artist Swoon worked together to paint a sizable mural on the side of a building in the South Bronx in 2017. The “Sambhavna” mural, which featured a number of women from the neighborhood, was motivated by the artist’s trips to India. The mural, which was made with the assistance of neighborhood volunteers, turned a run-down urban area into a vibrant and colorful work of art that honored the fortitude and resiliency of the neighborhood.
The local community is significantly impacted by BRAC. Over the years, the center has offered cultural activities and arts education to thousands of locals, contributing to the development of a thriving arts community in the South Bronx. The center’s dedication to social justice and participation in the community has also aided in bringing attention to some of the region’s most important problems, including the lack of affordable housing, environmental justice, and economic inequality.