What We're Reading: A Fellowship for LA Artists Balances Art and Abolition

"At the end of last year, the Crenshaw Dairy Mart (CDM), a nonprofit cultural space rooted at the intersection of art and activism, announced its upcoming Fellowship for Abolition and the Advancement of the Creative Economy (CDM-FAACE). The first three artists selected as fellows are Autumn Breon, juice wood, and Oto-Abasi Attah; they will each receive a $100,000 stipend and healthcare," said Matt Stromberg for Hyperallergic. "The theme of the inaugural fellowship is 'Inglewood and Prototyping the Abolitionist Imagination,' stressing the importance of CDM’s location in Inglewood, a historically Black city from the 1960s through the ’90s (though Latinos are now the majority), bordered by South Central LA to the East, the 405 freeway to the West, and the 105 freeway to the South. All three fellows have roots in Inglewood, and they spoke about the impact that restrictive housing covenants (known as redlining) and freeway construction have had on communities of color in South LA."

"Each fellow not only has previous connections to Inglewood, but to the Dairy Mart itself. Breon curated the first exhibition there, Attah painted a mural of the late rapper Nipsey Hussle on its exterior, and wood asked the Mart to house a community fridge they helped organize in 2020. These links between the CDM and the surrounding community are key to another aspect of the fellowship called CDM Projects, for which the fellows are tasked with proposing programming, events, workshops, or other strategies to engage with their neighbors."

"Even before they opened in 2019, the CDM was prioritizing outreach. 'They just said, ‘Hey come break bread with us. We want you to see the Dairy Mart and tell you about what we’re working on.’ says Breon. 'As a result, there were all of these points of connection between creatives in the community. It feels like the fellowship is just adding infrastructure to what was already happening organically.'”

"The second important part of the inaugural fellowship’s theme is 'abolition' and all three fellows were invited to apply based on their demonstrated commitment to art and abolition. 'We sought out individuals who were already practicing at that intersection,' Blakeney says."

“'As a team, we often talk about abolitionism as having two arms: one is abolishing traumatic systems for communities of color such as policing and carceral systems,” explained dorriz. “The other end of abolition is being tasked with recreating systems, repairing, transforming. We exist at that latter end where imagination is met with healing.'"

Read the full piece here.