South Queens Women’s March (SQWM) will hold the opening night of its inaugural art exhibition “Made in Queens” on Saturday, May 15, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the King Manor Museum in Jamaica.
The exhibition will be open to the public from May 16 through Sept. 15 at the museum, which is located at 150-03 Jamaica Ave., the former home of Rufus King, a framer and signer of the United States Constitution.
Made in Queens is SQWM’s attempt to decolonize the art that people consume. The organization is also hosting its own exhibit highlighting local BIPOC artists “representing the REAL Queens, New York.”
According to SQWM, for a long time, those with access, means and money have determined what is valuable in society, especially when it comes to art. The least represented groups in the art world are BIPOC, and more specifically, are women of color and gender expansive people.
“South Queens Women’s March was founded to celebrate the resilience of women, girls and gender-fluid people in our community in spite of the struggles we continue to experience,” said Aminta Kilawan-Narine, founder and director of SQWM. “We exist to connect women, girls and gender-fluid people with the tools they need to thrive. This includes access to the arts.”
For too long, Kilawan-Narine said, access has been cost-prohibitive and not reflective of their actual communities.
“We’ve made it to a point to use art as a catalyst for social and political change, and as part of healing in our work to curb gender-based violence,” Kilawan-Narine said. “Our team has worked tirelessly to bring this offering to our beloved Queens.”
The exhibit will feature works by Veli V, Kerry Cox, Amy Simon, Seema Shakti, Amelia Inderjeit, Farhana Akther, Movina Seepersaud, Kim David, Juliet James, Angela Miskis, Maria Liebana, Shristi Sookram, Sherese Francis and Giancarlo Vargas. The exhibit is curated by SQWM board member Fatima Shabbir.
For Shabbir, art has the ability to heal, provoke, tell stories and build communities.
“Through the selection and design process, I was constantly thinking about art accessibility and community representation. This is an exhibit I wanted to see growing up in Queens, and one I’ve always wanted to participate in,” Shabbir said. “I’m ecstatic that we were able to offer local artists this beautiful platform to share their talent and their stories with the Queens community. We hope to make Queens proud!”
Kelsey Brow, executive director of King Manor Museum, said they’re thrilled to continue their partnership with SQWM by hosting the beautiful exhibit. According to Brow, they started working together during the height of the pandemic when SQWM hosted a PPE and period supplies giveaway outside the museum, and expanded their partnership through a large food pantry event more recently.
“We are so honored to offer space to this organization that does such meaningful community work. We know that arts and culture are essential and this exhibit is our first activation of what we’re calling the Cornelia King Community Room,” Brow said.
The room was Rufus and Mary King’s bedroom that had been a cluttered storage space for decades, according to Brow.
“We look forward to welcoming more artists and other community members into the space. The contrast of contemporary art with the nearly 250-year-old architecture brings such vibrancy to the museum and fits perfectly with our vision of using lessons from the past to shine a light on contemporary issues,” Brow said. “It’s even more meaningful that all the art comes from Queens, the World’s Borough!”
To view the exhibit, members of the public must book a reservation for a tour of the exhibit through the King Manor Museum website at kingmanor.org/reservations.