Contact: Johanna de los Santos, Art Start

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The Art Start Family Portrait Project Provides a Platform for the Powerful Voices of NYC Families Experiencing Homelessness

This engaging multimedia platform and exhibition opens to the public on June 29, 2019.

NEW YORK CITY, New York (May 2019) – Following the success of its previous New York City Public Exchange exhibitions, including at the Highline Loft, the Film Society of New York at Lincoln Center’s Furman Gallery, and the Culture District at the South Street Seaport, Art Start presents its 2019 Art Start Family Portrait Project from June 29 to July 13, 2019, at Studio 1019 in the West Chelsea Arts Building. The Art Start Family Portrait Project is a multimedia project and platform for the powerful stories, voices, and images of New York City families experiencing homelessness. Through portraits and story-telling, families invite the world to see them for how they choose to be seen.

The 2019 Art Start Family Portrait Project exhibition will include a special family-focused opening reception on Saturday, June 29th, from 1:00 to 5:00 PM, presented with the Project’s participating families, with art activities and portraits for families to enjoy. In addition to open gallery hours, other scheduled public exchanges will include community partner forums and public discussions on the topics of representation, factors leading to housing instability in New York City, and efforts to change the narrative and public perception about homelessness in New York City.

Art Start’s mission is to use the creative process to nurture the voices, hearts and minds of historically marginalized youth, offering a space for them to imagine, believe, and represent their creative vision for their lives and communities. Through consistent workshops with long-term partners, including youth organizations, schools, alternative sentencing programs, and residences for youth and families experiencing homelessness, art becomes the starting point of a larger life process, and the start of larger conversations about the future of our communities.

Since 2013, Art Start has partnered with world-class photographers to create the Art Start Family Portrait Project, a photographic celebration of the beauty and strength of families facing challenges that are often stigmatized by the public. This year, Art Start again collaborated with families experiencing homelessness to create their family portraits and record their thoughts and feelings about their families. The 2019 Art Start Family Portrait Project is presented by National Endowment for the Arts, with the support of New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Smashbox Studios, and Industrial Color.

“(Our) photo captures natural joy. The photo tells that we still have a lot to accomplish. We are on a mission. We are growing, we are going to do this.”  

- Ms. G, Brooklyn, Art Start Family Portrait Project participant

“When you look at your family in a picture, it feels different and you get a different feeling. It's exciting, like you got your own family, your own memories and your own things that you have to build and it's kind of touching.”

—Ms. P., The Bronx, Art Start Family Portrait Project participant.

“I want this picture to remind my children that they can overcome anything in their life.”

—Ms. K., Brooklyn, Art Start Family Portrait Project participant.

"Through 28 years of providing weekly Art Start workshops with youth experiencing homelessness, we have seen that the way our society sees families experiencing homelessness is not how they see themselves, nor does anyone’s circumstances define them,” explained Hannah Immerman, Art Start’s Co-Executive Director. “As in all of our work, Art Start’s Family Portrait Project aims to create a medium that supports participants in determining how they want to be seen, and provides a platform for them to express it publicly.”

The exhibit will be presented in Manhattan at 526 West 26th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues, in Studio 1019 on the 10th Floor. The Art Start Family Portrait Project is made possible through collaborations with With & About Projects and noted photographers, including Juan Algarin, Natalie Brasington, Kissenia Chara, Vincent D’Oria, Michael Granacki, Heidi Gutman, David Johnson, Hosea Johnson, Itaysha Jordan, David Lang, Jason Leavy, Roy Morrison, Alberto Oviedo, Ken Pao, Brian Pineda, Mauricio Quintero, William Ross,Tyrone Brown-Osborne, Michelle Garcia, Hannah Saleh, Zachary Maxwell Stertz, and Aingeru Zorita. Make-up artists include Yomarky Álvarez, Adriana Andaluz, Madeline Kawalek, Jenny Marin, Delina Median, Emma Strachman, and Kim White.

Over the years, Art Start has earned the loyal support of fashion designers Alexander Wang, Mara Hoffman, and Jeff Staple, artists such as Elizabeth Sutton, and recording artist and producer Maejor Ali. Additional supporters include the Pierre & Tana Matisse Foundation, Lily Auchincloss Foundation Inc., Jim Jacobs Foundation, New York Urban League, Common Sense Fund, Max J. & Winnie S. Rosenshein Foundation, and the New York State Council for the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, among many others.

About Art Start

Since 1991, Art Start has used the creative process to nurture the voices, hearts, and minds of historically marginalized youth, offering a space for them to imagine, believe, and represent their creative vision for their lives and communities.

Art Start’s success has received national media attention, including on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Bravo’s “Stories of Arts for Change,” Fox 5ʹs Good Day Street Talk, MSNBC’s “The Griot,” 107.3 Lite FM, National Public Radio, a mini-documentary by two-time Academy Award-winning director Barbara Kopple, and the 2003 CBS special, “Fulfilling the Dream.” In 2009, The Sundance Channel debuted “The Hip Hop Project,” a feature-length documentary about Art Start’s award-winning music program for teens in crisis. Additional features about Art Start have been published in The New York Times and the New York Daily News.

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