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Aya Arts Project

whatsyourelephant.org / Aya Arts Project

Aya Arts Project to Bring Art and Community Engagement to Sailboat Bend Building II

Sailboat Bend II. Photo courtesy Scott Strawbridge

FORT LAUDERDALE, Aug. 11, 2020—Artist and social practitioner, Niki Lopez has been tapped by Tam English, CEO the Housing Authority of the City of Fort Lauderdale (HACFL), to create a call to artists and curate artwork that will be selected as a permanent installation for the Sailboat Bend II building.

The structure is a nine-story affordable housing project for seniors, currently being built by the HACFL and Atlantic Pacific Companies. Conveniently located in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale, the apartments are being constructed thanks to a $26.6 million-dollar Bank of America construction loan. “Our goal is to create affordable housing that is good enough for everyone’s mother,” says English.

Scott Strawbridge and Niki Lopez

The community arts engagement and acquisition initiative, which Lopez named the “Aya Arts Project,” began in April and is expected to be completed by October. The artwork will be installed at the end of construction which is projected to be December 2020.

Lopez, who is the creator of What’s Your Elephant®, says she’s “honored and excited to play such a significant role in engaging the community and working with local artists to put meaningful work in this building meant for our elders while creating a space to talk about some of the forgotten legacy of Broward.”

What’s Your Elephant® is a movement that uses the arts to create a safe space to address the unspoken.

The Aya Arts Project invites local artists to submit artwork for consideration, in hopes of being part of the permanent installation. “We’re focussing on marginalized communities and honoring indigenous lands—challenging the artists and community to acknowledge our past, our triumphs, lessons and paint a connected future,” Lopez says. 

Additionally, Lopez will program artist-led artmaking workshops, as well as host a series of virtual community dialogues that bring together artists, historians, and community partners. 

Lopez recently moderated “The Aya Arts Project Presents: Black Legacy of Broward,” a Zoom to Facebook Live chat featuring panelists Emmanuel George of C.R.E.A.T.E., Derrick Davis of Kuumba Davis Arts, artist Chire Regans aka Vantablack, artist Khaulah Naima Nuruddin, curator of Spady Museum.

Another exciting aspect of the Aya Arts Project will be a documentary-type video of the project from conception to completion, by award-winning filmmaker Cathleen Dean of Black Cat Media. Dean is the producer/director of short films, Being and Wade in the Water, as well as the producer of the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale 48 Hour Film Project.

Aya Arts Project presents: Indigenous Legacy of Broward, recorded LIVE, December 2, 2020
Aya Arts Project Video Short for Produced by Cathleen Dean of Black Cat Media Group LLC

Aya Arts Project presents: Black Legacy of Broward (2 of 5 virtual chat series)

According to Lopez, the Aya Arts Project is “more than just a call for art, it’s community engagement, working and collaborating with local artists, educating, storytelling, representation, building legacy, and beautifying a building for our elders in the community.”

About Aya Arts Project
The Aya Arts Project is a Sailboat Bend II Community Arts Engagement & Acquisition Project curated by Niki Lopez. It is meant to engage the community in artmaking, placemaking, conversation and art acquisition from local artists for a permanent installation that shares some of the rich history, nature and culture of Broward county. There are also several collaborations and commissioned art works by local artists specific to this project.

Contributed Artists:

Listed artists works have been acquired or commissioned by the HACFL as a permanent collection at Sailboat Bend II

  • Allison Kotzig
  • Cathleen Dean
  • Cheryl Brown
  • Chire Regans – VantaBlack
  • David I Muir
  • Ivory Mizell (courtesy of his daughter Lorraine Mizell)
  • Khaulah Naima Nuruddin
  • Krystle Sabdul
  • Magda Love
  • Marcia Brito
  • Niki Lopez Nikki
  • Detourbutterfly
  • Richard Dubose
  • Sheila Alexander
  • Stephanie McMillan
  • Teepop
  • Tina Marie
  • Osceola
  • Victoria Ravelo
  • Zipporah Michel
Introduction: The Aya Arts Project with Scott Strawbridge and Niki Lopez
(1 of 5 community chats)

The name “Aya” is an Adinkra symbol which was originally created by the Bono people of Gyaman, an Akan people of Ghana and Ivory Coast. The name and symbol were chosen to connect and pay homage to our past and current culture and resilience. “Aya” also represents endurance and resourcefulness. The symbol is a perfect representation, given the current state of the world.

About Niki Lopez
Niki Lopez is an interdisciplinary visual artist, activist, cultural programmer and award-winning graphic designer. Lopez is best known for her vibrant color palette, masks and a collection of works dealing with some of her trauma and healing through the arts which inspired her to create What’s Your Elephant®.

For more information on how you can submit your art, attend one of the virtual community chats, workshops and follow the Aya Arts Project, visit https://whatsyourelephant.org

Link to images for press: https://bit.ly/ayaartspress 

What’s coming up:

Aya Arts Project Presents: Virtual Community Talks

  • Introducing the Aya Arts Project – July 15, 2020
  • Aya Arts Project presents: Black Legacy of Broward – July 29, 2020 
  • Aya Arts Project presents: Indigenous Legacy of Broward – December 2, 2020
  • Aya Arts Project presents: Artists Talk  (PART 1)
  • Aya Arts Project presents: Artists Talk (PART 2  – TBA

Community art-making workshop

The Circle:

(Some of the artists and partners will be interviewed on this weekly Facebook/Youtube Podcast)

The Circle: LIVE with Niki Lopez is a weekly series sharing stories of our creative community, activists & social entrepreneurs. Tuesday 8:30-9 PM EST on: http://facebook.com/nikilopezcreative or YOUTUBE at https://www.youtube.com/c/Nikilopez19 

Social Media Campaign – follow us and stay tuned to our social media profiles as we share details about the project, artists and community partners.

Thank you to the Community Partners & Contributors:

  • Black Broward
  • Black Cat Media Group LLC
  • C.R.E.A.T.E.
  • Ciatta Thompson
  • CSHEC – Center for Sustainable Healthy Equitable Communities
  • Derek Davis
  • Emmanual George
  • Jestina Singletary
  • Kr8tive Uprising
  • Kuumba Davis Arts
  • Lorraine Mizell
  • Masai Muir
  • Niki Lopez Creative #NikiLopezPresents
  • Rev. Houston R. Cypress
  • Scott Strawbridge
  • Sister Robin Haines Merrill
  • Spady Cultural Heritage Museum
  • Thou Art Woman
  • What’s Your Elephant?™

Let’s Get Social:

#nikilopezpresents #ayaartsproject

If you would like to join the eList for Niki Lopez to get updates on upcoming Aya Arts Programing and other creative happenings: http://eepurl.com/eqUc

The Circle:

The Circle: LIVE with Niki Lopez is a series sharing stories of our creative community, activists & social entrepreneurs. The 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month 8:30 PM EST on: facebook.com/nikilopezcreative or youtube.com/c/Nikilopez19 or linkedin.com/in/nikilopezcreative. Click on some of the interviews below to learn more about the artists: