OCT 19
Fall 2019 Assembly

Artist, filmmaker, and activist Tourmaline. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Artist, filmmaker, and activist Tourmaline. Photo courtesy of the artist.

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A Blade of Grass Assembly is a biannual day-long learning exchange and magazine launch for creative changemakers to investigate the methods, ethics, challenges, and joys of practicing art that advances social justice.

Rooted in the themes of Issue #3 of A Blade of Grass Magazine, the Fall 2019 Assembly will be co-presented by the Museum of the Moving Image and explore how socially engaged artists are challenging the way we see others and conduct our lives in ways that exclude the lived experience and creative potential of those who do not fit into the social norms and physical expectations of capitalist society. How can art turn the disabling gaze of normative society toward the liberatory possibilities of those at the so-called “margins”? Can art that centers non-normative experiences expand our collective creativity and wisdom? Can it provide strategies for making our world more just and inclusive?

After short film screenings and featured keynote by trans activist and filmmaker Tourmaline, attendees will choose from six intimate and interactive workshops led by the below artists and organizations:


Full Day Ticket: $35

Includes the full day program of morning keynote and your chosen afternoon workshop. This ticket also includes breakfast, a closing reception, and a copy of A Blade of Grass Magazine Issue #3. Attendees select their afternoon workshop when buying their ticket.

Half Day Ticket: $20

Can’t spend the whole day with us? Half day admission includes breakfast and entry to our morning portion featuring film screenings and keynote by Tourmaline. Attendees at this ticket level do not attend an afternoon workshop and this ticket level does not include a copy of Issue 3 of A Blade of Grass Magazine Issue #3, though we will have on-site copies available for an additional donation.


A Blade of Grass is committed to creating accessible programming. If you have specific accessibility needs send us an email to info@abladeofgrass.org and we’ll do our best to accommodate. Please also email us if you would like to attend Assembly but are unable to purchase a ticket at cost.

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10:00AM-10:30AM Registration & light breakfast at MoMI Cafe
10:30-11:00 Welcoming remarks
11:00-12:00PM Keynote presentation and screenings by Tourmaline
12:00-12:15 Logistics for Lunch/Afternoon Experience
12:15-1:15 Lunch on your own
1:15-4:15 Off-site visits and small group workshops at MoMI
4:30-5:00 Return to MoMI for sharebacks and closing remarks
5:00-6:00 Closing reception with continued conversation, drinks, and snacks




Disability Artistry: In Process, Toward Justice
With Kevin Gotkin, Dominic Bradley, Pelenakeke Brown, and Yo-Yo Lin
Join artists Kevin Gotkin, Dominic Bradley, Pelenakeke Brown, and Yo-Yo Lin in a workshop that considers the current state of disability arts in New York City. The afternoon will begin with a fishbowl conversation centering queer and trans disabled artists of color. Dominic and Yo-Yo will share their work and demonstrate the ways that disability informs their practice, while inviting others to bear witness, ask questions, and reflect. Attention will be placed on collectively authoring the space to orient us to accessibility. In an exercise to apply this informed and collaborative perspective, Kevin will lead a conversation on disability-centered nightlife as a space where we can build community and action. This workshop is meant to honor many forms of knowledge and expertise about disability artistry as we name what is necessary to build a disability arts and justice movement in NYC.

Learn more about the facilitators here
Alternative Mental Health Practices: Deep Space Mind / Moving Image Playback Theatre
Two-Part Workshop with Ras Cutlass and members of Citiview Connections Clubhouse
In this experience featuring two workshops, we will utilize science fiction and moving images to navigate our mental health landscapes. By taking control of our mindspaces and enacting our stories, we explore non-medicalized, creative practices to communicating our experiences.

Space has often been used as a metaphor for uncharted, yet-to-be colonized territory. Similarly the mindspaces of marginalized persons are at risk of being infiltrated, surveilled, and used by colonizing forces. In the first workshop, Artist Ras Cutlass will lead us through Deep Space Mind where we use a DIY sci-fi lens to explore and reclaim our mindspaces while developing strategies for psychological survival in our age of warfare.

For the second workshop, members and staff at Citiview Connections Clubhouse, a center for adults with a mental health diagnosis, will lead us through Moving Image Playback Theatre, an experiential methodology incorporating improvisational theatre and moving images. We will hear from Clubhouse members how playback can create a safe and ritual space where any story can be told, heard, and immediately performed on the spot.

Learn more about the facilitators here
Fighting Immigrant Stereotypes with the Moving Image
Two-Part Workshop with Shireen Soliman and Emerald Isle Immigration Center with Third World Newsreel
Challenging the resurgence of xenophobia and scapegoating of marginalized communities, we will experience two projects that center immigrant voices and take back authorship on representation.

In the first workshop, From Agrabah to Astoria: Stories & Stereotypes about Arabs and Muslims, local artist and Astoria native, Shireen Soliman, will lead an interactive workshop through her work and open a discussion about the local history and representation of Muslims and Arabs in Queens through art.

In the second workshop, Participatory Video with Emerging Immigrant Women Activists, we will also learn about a collaboration between Emerald Isle Immigration Center, a non-profit providing immigration and social services, and local filmmakers of Third World Newsreel through a participatory video program led by community organizer Liz Baber and filmmaker J.T. Takagi. The emerging activist participants, who identify as migrant women, will reflect on the process of creating original documentary shorts about issues important to them. We will have the opportunity to try participatory video making exercises.

Learn more about the facilitators here
With Maya Ciarrocchi and Kris Grey
Learn how systems of power control and affect our bodies through Gender/Power, a collaborative working methodology led by artists Maya Ciarrocchi and Kris Grey. Informed by the trans and queer experience and based in storytelling and movement, Gender/Power reveals the myriad of ways that authority reinforces gender injustice. Maya and Kris will introduce the framework of the methodology and share performance compositions and scripts developed from previous iterations of the workshop before leading us through the experiential workshop. Drawing from personal stories centered around experiences of privilege or discrimination based on people’s perceptions of our bodies, we will map recurring themes to translate into gestures and a composition of movement. Rather than producing a fixed narrative, we will explore how gender presentation affects everyone regardless of their identity.

Learn more about the facilitators here
Strategies for Collaborating With Immigrant Communities
With Sol Aramendi
From her 16 years of experience building collaborative projects around resistance and solidarity with new immigrant communities, artist and Project Luz founder Sol Aramendi will walk us through strategies for engaging and developing deep and meaningful partnerships with communities that are often marginalized due to immigration status, gender, and language. Sol, her collaborators, and members of local immigrant worker cooperatives will demonstrate how through identifying and building a collective art project around a social justice issue, they were able to build lasting models for self-organizing and cooperative labor. Through an interactive mapping exercise, we will discover ways of incorporating collective and interdependent frameworks and values into our daily lives and art practices.

Learn more about the facilitators here
The Blue Bus Mobile Media Lab at Jacob Riis Settlement House
With The Blue Bus Project and Queensbridge residents
Discover how unique collaborations between Museum of the Moving Image, The Jacob Riis Settlement House, The Blue Bus Project, and artists Tiffany Joy Butler and Hera Singh have promoted intergenerational creative expression and dialogue. Aboard The Blue Bus Project at Jacob Riis Settlement House, we will join local artists and cultural workers based at the settlement house for a presentation and discussion of screenings, sound works, and other artworks made with residents to build community amongst themselves and to better communicate with their neighbors. To locate ourselves within the neighborhood, Hera Singh will lead a walking tour from the museum to the settlement house for a showcase and workshop with Tiffany Joy Butler.

*Please note this workshop is not wheelchair accessible as there are stairs to enter the bus

Learn more about the facilitators here
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