Editor’s Note: This week’s contribution is by Malesha Taylor who furthers the discussion on how artists are leading the way in creating new narratives and models of creative practice. The original conversation was first presented at the Arts In A Changing America REMAP: Bay Area’s Future Conversations panel “Artists Changing the Course of the River.”
I am honored and thankful to be apart of this conversation: how we can remap and change the course of the river. Maps and rivers involve lines, sometimes to divide and sometimes to nourish and draw in. They also define flow, movement and the rhythm of communities. In my art practice, I am seeking opportunities to bring the arts to people directly without the barriers and invisible lines we find between audiences and performers. I am aligning my work with my values which are centered in social justice and bringing more power back to the people who make up our communities.
I am the founder of museSalon Collaborative, a social enterprise bridging the gap between artists and the community through interdisciplinary dialogue, collaborative productions and creative consultancies. We seek to expand the narrative in all parts of society and use the arts as a vehicle, by telling new and different stories from multiple perspectives. Using a membership model, our goal is to empower artists, activists and cultural producers of color to make their projects a reality by pooling our resources and building networks in multiple cities to keep us mobile and able to do our work.
I first came in contact with Roberta Uno through an article I published on HowlRound where I share my experience working in new audience development. I talk about how I believe audiences should reflect the community, and building relationships in the community is the first step to building an audience. I realized as a performing artist from a classical tradition, I would have to be a pioneer in making my art form more accessible and inclusive. I wanted to do a project that addressed elitism and race and truly expressed my authentic self. Guerrilla Opera was the project that started me on this journey. It was eventually included in the BRIC exhibition, “Cultural Fluency: Engagements with Contemporary Brooklyn.” Now, I am working on, “Girl Sings Opera,” which is a recital and conversation piece that addresses race, class and classical music. I believe these conversations are essential in developing our core values and best practices in the American arts ecosystem.
I asked Hye-Yun, one of the other panelists in this conversation, about one of her videos where she discusses the rolling class: people of color who work for wealthy white people and are often found pushing objects with wheels in NYC. I asked her if she