The Process of Transformation with the YBCA 10

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How can artists lead us towards a more equitable future? In January 2021, YBCA invited ten multidisciplinary artists to explore new methods of artistic practice as a way of answering this question. The YBCA 10 are: Alex J. Bledsoe, Ayodele Nzinga, Binta Ayofemi, Darryl Ratcliff, Deanna Van Buren, Dorothy R. Santos, Hasain Rasheed, Leticia Hernández-Linares, My-Linh Le, and Nikiko Masumoto.

These artists were gathered for their track record of working in community and dedicated creative practice that centers radical imagination. Artist and poet Darryl Ratcliff explains, “My practice is rooted in the belief that culture can actually be a solution to the problems that our communities have, to help us envision better worlds and structures and how we relate to each other. I’ve kind of been on a mission to figure out how far you can push this idea. How far can an artist go into really solving the problems of the community?”

The YBCA 10 are striving to build a new world by imagining new ways of coexisting in communities and with our planet. “For me, literally, creativity saved my life.” said arts and culture theoretician and practitioner Ayodele Nzinga. “Because if I couldn’t take a pen and create another world, I could not live in the world as it was offered.”

Members of the 10 began their collective relationship during the pandemic, forcing the group to meet online for weekly sessions to ideate on the question: How can pieces of the shared future we envision become creative prototypes? Farmer, memory keeper, and artist Nikiko Masumoto describes these gatherings: “Every time we gather feels to me like a real sacred space, where people are sharing deep yearning for healing, deep offerings of visions, dreams, and energies, and expertise and skills. It feels like we are developing a different language for our future generations to come.”

Over the last nine months, YBCA’s Chief of Program, Meklit Hadero; Director of Artist Engagement & Impact, Angela Carrier; and Senior Manager of Artist Engagement & Impact, Anna Lisa Escobedo have gathered this cohort weekly to amplify their creative power through collaboration. Taking form as group discussions, movement workshops, and community conversations, the YBCA 10 has dreamed of a desired future, and will now begin to actualize their dreams for the public.

To make sure their communities are invited into the process, each member of the 10 identified stakeholders for community conversations. These conversations were designed around the 10’s initial prototype designs and a set of questions: What makes you feel welcome? What are your prayers for us, the planet, tomorrow, 500 years from now? When or have you experienced transformation? What conditions support or catalyze transformation? These conversations ranged widely in format, from dinner parties to online gatherings. “I enjoy sitting with people and asking these questions—‘What does transformation look like for you?’—and hearing what they say,” architect Deanna Van Buren said while in conversation with YBCA Senior Fellows Brett Cook and Liz Lerman. “I consider myself an artist and an architect, but you can’t really shake the architect and architects are responsive to the community. I get inspiration from talking to my community and that’s where I get anchored.”

With the voices of their community in hand, the 10 are now ready to build creative prototypes, defined as artworks in a variety of disciplines that build and imagine solutions to positively impact the health and well-being of the 10’s communities. Meet the 10 at YBCA for interactive studio hours in our galleries on Saturday, October 16 to learn more about their journey with us.