YOUNITY: Fine Urban Art in Yonkers

“YOUNITY aims to be a catalyst for the creation of social change” 

Painting by LMNOP

Few of us recognize our proximity to Yonkers as a cool cultural opportunity to take advantage of. Most of us only get as far as the Mobil just past Hill House or the CVS in Bronxville… But honestly, more of us should get to know the town in which we technically reside, and downtown Yonkers is a short trip away (1 stop by bus).

Simply said, Yonkers has that nice hometown charm. Yonkers is also currently going through urban renewal projects to improve the town as a whole, such as making it more pedestrian-friendly. Right next to the Hudson River, the downtown waterfront has become an attractive and pleasant area. The atmosphere is so different, unlike both Bronxville and New York City, and it’s refreshing to experience it knowing it exists a mere 10 minutes away.

Possibly the greatest resource (with a phenomenal view) in downtown Yonkers is the Riverfront Public Library, which also houses an amazing gallery space. This semester is the perfect time to explore Yonkers because of the Riverfront Public Library’s newest gallery opening called “GODDESShood, our land is our jewel,” in conjunction with Sarah Lawrence College. The exhibit was created by the avant garde contemporary female artist collective called YOUNITY. The show is an engaging representation of YOUNITY’s mission, and will be exhibited from now until December 4, 2011, in the gallery space on the fourth floor of the library.

YOUNITY, cofounded in 2007 by Alice Mizrachi and Toofly, supports an international community of women visual artists, designers, photographers and craftswomen, and sustaining their own individual style and self-expression within the collective group. YOUNITY participants carry out the mission of the collective in different forms. Some develop a more down-to-earth manner for their gallery openings (as opposed to the more rigid and traditional gallery exhibitions), others construct student/youth workshops which foster knowledge about urban art history and its evolution, engage awareness with the local youth, host panel discussions that spreads awareness to the audience and inspire positive social change, and create a network of resources to support and promote one another in the art community.

Exhibiting ten women artists “in conversation with the themes mother earth, the hood and sustainable farming,” GODDESShood presents a variety of media, with each artist exploring “the idea of the hood as a metaphor for not only local neighborhoods and urban culture, but also land, nature and the natural environment at large…” The paintings, murals, photography, stencils, video and sculptural objects on display are a powerful gesture towards the global fight for land and agricultural rights, as inspired by La Via Campesina (The International Peasant Movement).

Art by Krista Franklin

Co-curator Diana McClure, says, “With the GODDESShood: Our land is our jewel exhibition we wanted to use the YOUNITY platform as a tool for social change and disseminator of information by bringing visibility to a battle being fought by peasants, small and medium-size farmers, landless people, women farmers, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers from around the world. A battle that seems to get lost in mainstream media’s disregard for the economic politics of green living.”

The artists in the exhibition, including curators McClure and Mizrachi, Lichiban, Swoon, Sofia Maldonado, Krista Franklin, Marthalicia, Faith 47, Imnop, and Lady Alezia, collectively created a dynamically beautiful and interesting show. These vivid portrayals of a strong, instrumental theme, aided by pleasing artistic touches like vibrant colors, strong lines, and fine details are definitely worth seeing in person. All the beauty of this well composed urban art will make for a wonderful day spent at the Yonkers gallery.

A panel discussion featuring the artists will take place on campus on November 12th. This roundtable discussion should not to be missed, and will be all the more fulfilling if you see the exhibit beforehand.

Art by Lichiban

Image credits: Kaitlyn Laurie

Kaitlyn is a senior, studying languages, philosophy and art/architectural theory. Currently making artist books.

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