Sunday, November 1 at 1 pm
Wholefoods Co-op | 1341 W 26th St
Please join us for this socially-distanced outdoor celebration! In August, Whole Foods Co-op announced a partnership with Erie Arts & Culture Chroma Guild for a mural on the Co-op's east-facing facade exploring the intersection between food access and social justice. A team of artists was selected and they worked together to make this vision a reality. Community feedback was used to develop the design they chose. Painting has just been completed and we are planning to have a dedication ceremony this Sunday, November 1 at 1 pm (rain or shine).
Masks are required.
About Whole Foods Co-op:
The Co-op is an award-winning natural foods grocery and wellness store with a wonderful Cafe and Bakery. The store places an emphasis on stellar customer service and returns more dollars to the local economy than traditional grocery stores through local sourcing of products, higher than average wages for workers, and direct benefits to member-owners. The Co-op is owned by 8,000-plus member-owners who each make a one-time fully-refundable investment of $100. Our member-owners overwhelmingly live in Erie County.
In an effort to engage in food equity work with the community we conducted community engagement sessions prior to designing the mural in an effort to gather input from the Whole Food Co-op owner-members and patrons on what comes to mind when they think of social justice and food access; and what elements of art (such as images, colors, symbols, etc.) they might prefer to see or not see incorporated into the mural and they believe best represents their community. As we sifted through all of the community input we then designed the mural engaging the feedback that repeatedly emerged from the listening process with the community.
The community feedback from the listening sessions included: intergenerational representations, history, racial and heritage diversity and inclusion, social justice, food access, economy, seeds/growth, and earth/world. Overwhelmingly, community members echoed that bright, colorful art imagery is necessary to the mural project. From the top-down of the exposed outdoor brick wall the mural depicts a vine that is extended across the width of the top section. As the eye is guided to move down from the vine it is met with vines that drop downwards towards the windows. The vines are within reach, yet not quite touching the silhouetted figures that are reaching up for the vine as they stand on world-globe spheres that are planted at the bottom of the mural. There are seven world globes in the mural, representing the seven continents. Each silhouetted figure has been painted to represent diverse bodies and identities. We recognize and acknowledge our differences as points of strength in community building, depicting each silhouetted figure in a different hue of color, referencing the LGBTQIA+ flag created by Julia Feliz that centers identities and representations of historical significance by underrepresented people of color. The earth globes represent the diversity of many-cultures and histories in the local community coming together. Each silhouette is standing on the abstracted globes as a pedestal, a deep-rooted connection to their own cultures fit within the larger canvas of the wall. As the narrative wraps around the corner wall that leads into the gallery/cafe space, we are guided to two more silhouetted figures anchored on top of globes and a third silhouette of a child standing on a tree trunk with their fist in the air towards the vine. We ask, what is our collective responsibility towards each other for social justice in our communities?
Dr. Leslie C. Sotomayor
Leslie C. Sotomayor is an artist, curator, and holds a dual PhD in Art Education and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Penn State. She focuses on Gloria Anzaldúa’s theory of conocimiento and autohistoria-teoría, a feminist writing practice of theorizing one’s experiences as transformative acts to guide her teaching methodology and create curriculum for empowerment and transformation in curating art/educational spaces/communities that decolonize White hegemonic canons.
Sotomayor has completed artworks, installations and curated numerous art exhibitions including: Let’s Pretend (2020), Entre Mundos/Traveling In-Between (2018), Hilos Rojos (2017) a solo traveling exhibition in Cuba and Borrandofronteras/Erasingborders (2015) a Cuban and Cuban-American Collaborative Art Exhibition & Cultural Exchange. Sotomayor has numerous publications about her research and work in the United States and Cuba engaging in testimonio, social change, and decolonizing curatorial projects, visual arts studio practice, research and scholarship, including her forthcoming book Teaching In/between (2021). Currently Sotomayor is an educator at Edinboro University and may be contacted at: [email protected]
Ceasar Westbrook is a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania (I.U.P.) where his focus was woodworking and furniture design. He then started doing works for local businesses where he was then recommended to host an exhibit for local district judge and city council events. Ceasar has also done multiple works for world-famous comedians, musicians, and professional athletes and organizations.
Ceasar's work mostly focuses on the detailed nature of art. Aiming to portray the subliminal messages in current world news and tragedies. To date, he’s had 9 successful exhibitions, a few of them housed at state universities and businesses. His work has been referenced in several works for music and film.
Ceasar worked with Antonio on the Manus Sunoco mural which was unveiled last month.
As a formerly imprisoned artist, Antonio creates prison art: that category of art invoked by critics to describe art produced by those of us they don’t acknowledge as “real artists.” In the beginning, he painted his moods. Now, he paints his experiences, so each of his paintings serve as evidence of his whereabouts between the years 1991 and 2018.
"My artistic process involves simply getting out of my own way and leaving the creativity to my sub-conscience and transmitting what it crates instead of translating it. That is to say, what ends up on canvas isn’t always thought out I just paint. And since any message that comes through is more of an interpretation by the observer my art speaks to, I tend to let others name them and keep what they mean to me to myself. Acrylics are my preferred medium because they dry fastest, I prefer synthetic brushes because they retain their shape longer and don’t leave bristles in the paint."
Teaming up with Ceasar, Antonio also created the Manus Sunoco Mural honoring the life and legacy of Luther Manus Jr.
Interested in joining or learning more about the CHROMA Guild?
We ask that all cultural and creative professionals of color residing in Northwestern Pennsylvania who are interested in CHROMA complete the PRO Network census survey, even if they previously enrolled in past registry and communication initiatives implemented by the Erie Arts & Culture.
Please contact Chanel Cook at [email protected] or call 814-452-3427 x 102 if you have any questions.
The CHROMA Guild holds strategic meetings on the 2nd Wednesday of every month. As a result of COVID-19, all meetings are presently being hosted via ZOOM. Meetings start at 6:00 PM and conclude at 7:30 PM. Upcoming meeting dates for 2020 include: