Not Gone Tomorrow: Fellows Freeman Word and Rick Lowe on Sustainable Community Spaces

Victoria Square Project

Community event at 2017 ABOG Fellow Rick Lowe’s Victoria Square Project, part of documenta 14 in Athens, Greece, June 2017. Photo: Deborah Fisher

UPDATE: We are currently at capacity for this event. If you’d like to be added to the waitlist, please let us know by emailing If you’re unable to join us, tune in to our Instagram livestream (@abladeofgrassnyc)!
Rick Lowe and Freeman Word, 2017 ABOG Fellows, will engage in a discussion about strategies for sustainability in their projects. Rick Lowe has a history of creating long-term, community-embedded projects that embrace a range of people and creative expressions over time, most notably in Project Row Houses and most recently in the Victoria Square Project that was part of Documenta 14 in Athens. Freeman Word is building a community-based education initiative in St. Louis called the Zakatu Madrasa. Based in part on the Freedom School model, it works as a subscription-based bookstore housing crucial but hard-to-find literature and related youth-focused programming.
Both rely on self-created, innovative models of community engagement to ensure their projects’ longevity. The panel will be moderated by Rashida Bumbray, Senior Program Manager of the Arts Exchange at Open Society Foundations.
This program is free and open to the public, but space is limited! Please RSVP to:
Rick Lowe
Rick Lowe is a Houston-based artist who has exhibited and worked with communities nationally and internationally. His work has appeared in: Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; Museum of Contemporary Arts, Los Angeles; Neuberger Museum, Purchase, New York; Phoenix Art Museum; Kwangju Biennale, Kwangju, Korea; the Kumamoto State Museum, Kumamoto, Japan; the Venice Architecture Biennale; and Documenta 14, Kassel, Germany and Athens, Greece. He is best known for his Project Row Houses community-based art project that he started in Houston in 1993. Additional community projects include the Watts House Project in Los Angeles, the Borough Project in Charleston, SC (with Suzanne Lacy and Mary Jane Jacobs), the Delray Beach Cultural Loop in Florida, and the Anyang Public Art Program 2010 in Anyang, Korea. Among Rick’s honors are the Rudy Bruner Awards in Urban Excellence, the AIA Keystone Award, the Heinz Award in the arts and humanities, the Skowhegan Governor’s Award, the Skandalaris Award for Art/Architecture, and a U.S. Artists Booth Fellowship. He has served as a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University, a Mel King Fellow at MIT, an Auburn University Breedan Scholar, and a Stanford University Haas Center Distinguished Visitor. President Barack Obama appointed Rick to the National Council on the Arts in 2013; in 2014 he was named a MacArthur Fellow.
Freeman Word
Freeman Word is a teacher, mentor and people’s poet in the tradition of shamans, griots, and disenfranchised urban artists of before-now. His poetry covers topics of government, life, freedom, divinity, and untold history, and happens in jails, schools, community centers, street corners and college campuses internationally. He was the 2012 WU-SLam Grand Slam Champion and later part of the 2015 UrbSlam Grand Slam Championship, being on the 6th place national team representing St. Louis. Freeman is a humble recipient of the Langston Hughes Award for Artistic Accomplishments in the Black Community, the Helen Davis Humanitarian Award, and a 2016 Regional Arts Commission CAT Fellow.

Bumbray_headshotRashida Bumbray is the Senior Program Manager at the Open Society Foundations for the Arts Exchange, its global arts for social justice initiative. She began her curatorial career in 2001 and has coordinated major exhibitions at The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Kitchen, andCreative Time. Bumbray has served as a consultant to the Surdna and Creative Capital foundations, and Director of Artistic Affairs at Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C. She was nominated for the ICI (Independent Curators International) Curatorial Vision Award in 2016. Bumbray is an accomplished choreographer whose practice draws from traditional African American vernacular and folk forms. In 2014 she was nominated for the prestigious Bessie Award (New York Dance & Performance Awards) for Outstanding Emerging Choreographer. Bumbray received an MA in Africana Studies from New York University and continues to publish writing on contemporary art, cultural studies and comparative literature.

We’re grateful that this program is supported by The American Chai Trust, and, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
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By Rick Lowe
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