Written by Caroline Chen for The Eye
Nonprofits are making art accessible to one and all
Carlos Martinez, a participant in Create Change, now serves on the board of directors of The Laundromat Project. A resident of Jackson Heights, Martinez credits the Laundromat Project with helping him gain visibility as a local multimedia artist in his community and recognition from local officials. For his residency project, titled “Photo Booth Without Borders,” Martinez built a portable photo booth and set it up in front of several laundromats in his neighborhood, offering portraits to patrons in exchange for a story about their experiences. “They were sharing stories about immigration, how they lived in Jackson Heights, the issues that they faced in the neighboring, from gentrification to homophobia to lack of open spaces,” Martinez says.
Both Martinez and The Laundromat Project treat art as a social medium, one not reserved only for the art world. In Queens and Harlem, the laundromat also functions as an alternative library where both artists-in-residence and Works in Progress participants offer literacy programs that culminate in what Wilson calls a “community graduation.”
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