The only thing cooler than Camila Rosa’s woke af illustrations is the artist herself. Rosa has been working on her illustrations for seven years now, but since coming to America last year, her artwork has taken on a new meaning and several movements.
You might have noticed that since the election, stories of hate crimes and swastika sightings have been everywhere. But the increase isn’t simply due to a greater public interest in issues like police brutality and racially-motivated violence– hate crimes themselves have actually been on the rise. And quantifiably so: in the first 10 days after Trump’s victory, the Southern Poverty Law Center documented 867 “bias-related incidents” across the country. (And yet, the government itself has no reliable way of tracking hate crime. “That’s because reporting of hate crimes is voluntary, not mandatory,” CNN reported yesterday.)
As New Yorkers, we live in one of the most progressive and diverse cities in the nation, so we might think that hate crimes only happen in rural America, and are therefore not our problem. Unfortunately, that’s just patently false. Back in November, Governor Cuomo said that the “ugly political discourse” of the campaign trail has only gotten worse, having transformed into an all-out “social crisis” of hate crime and intolerance. “This fear and this anger, misdirected, seeks an enemy,” he said. “It seeks a target and that target has become people who we see as different than ourselves.” Recently, Cuomo launched a Statewide hotline for reporting “incidents of bias and discrimination.” According to the NYPD, hate crimes have been on the rise in the last year right here in New York City– as of November 13, 328 had been reported since the start of 2016. (As Gothamist noted, that’s a 31.5 percent increase since 2015.)
Ok, that’s a little overwhelming. So how can we even begin to respond to awful garbage like this?
Walking in to Smack Mellon last Friday, I was immediately overtaken by a sense of urgency. Respond is the current exhibition taking place at the non-profit space in Dumbo. It’s brought together over 200 artists– working in a variety of mediums, from painting and sculpture to photography, mixed media, and film– whose contributions are all united by their concerns with police brutality and institutionalized racism in America.
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Next month, the East Village will host the 6th Annual H.P. Lovecraft Festival. The event, at the Kraine Theatre, will involve no less than 10 performances of some of the most famous tales by the acclaimed master of the weird, including the seminal “Dagon,” “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” (which I also saw brought to life in a remarkable performance earlier this year by the Wildclaw Theatre in Chicago), and perhaps the granddaddy of them all, “The Call of Cthulhu.” The fest also seems poised to perform ancillary works known to have influenced Lovecraft, such as Abraham Merritt’s The Moon Pool.
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