Grantee Project: House of Kapwa

Artists: Alexx Temeña + Andrea Yarbrough, in care of Black women
Neighborhood: Downtown
Art Type: Sculpture / Gathering Space Structure
Grant Amount: $90,000

House of Kapwa Team

PROJECT SUMMARY
The House of Kapwa will be constructed in a downtown location: with a ceremonial entryway to a free-standing circular structure. It is an interactive and ceremonial installation that represents the relationship between how we care for ourselves, how we care for each other, and how we care for the Earth. It is inspired by a calling to make visible the importance of care in our justice movements, to Rest and contend with our ecological grief, and to wake us up into a deeper relationality with the more-than human. 

The opening at the top of the structure signals our connection with our ancestors and the Divine when we slow down to Rest and care for ourselves. The exterior of the House is a 360 degree participatory, natural loom installation that invites visitors to weave flowers and foliage into the structure itself. This symbolizes how we as humans are entangled with our ecology and the more-than-human world, and demonstrates the need for the collective to protect spaces of care and Rest, especially for those who have endured disproportionate levels of ecological, social, political, and colonial violence. 

During the June 2023 public programming period, there will be an opening gathering that incorporates elements of celebration and grief: music performances will accompany participants as they help weave natural elements into the structure, which will lead into an intergenerational and multicultural grief ritual for the Earth. Other programming will feature interactions with healing practitioners, music meditations, and interactive art experiences. 

After the downtown exhibition period, the House of Kapwa will be reinstalled on a permanent site, serving as a public gathering space in Woodlawn at the First Presbyterian Church of Chicago.

ARTISTS BACKGROUND
Alexx Temeña is a multidisciplinary artist, experiential designer, and somatic minister. Her work focuses on creating spaces of Rest, creative intuition, and embodiment for healing our disconnection from ourselves, each other, our ancestors, the earth, and the Divine. She draws on the mediums of visual poetry, photography, movement arts, installation, and public practice.  Her latest project, School of Embodied Praxis, is a multimedia, participatory project that proposes a future beyond the colonized institution of schooling. It is a vision of Rest-centered, intuition-driven, and community-powered creative self-education. 

For over 10 years, she has been bridging the arts, design, and spirituality to create experiences that center mindfulness, anti-racism and equity, purpose, and belonging for schools, teams, and organizations. She has worked with Nike, Onward, UWC ISAK Japan, and UC Davis, and has presented her work at Mills College, and Massachusetts Museum for Contemporary Art. 

Alexx’s work experiments with the questions: How might we deepen the quality of our Rest?  What rituals, structures, and spaces must we build in order to remember our wholeness and nurture sacred belonging? Alexx earned her BA in Contemplative Psychology and BS in Cognitive Neuroscience at Brown University. She is a student in the Master of Divinity program at Chicago Theological Seminary.  

Andrea Yarbrough is a multi-disciplinary artist, curator and educator based on the South Side of Chicago nurturing sites of care through a blend of urban agriculture, civic engagement, and art praxis. Her praxis is embodied through the collaborative placekeeping initiative in c/o: Black women (in care of Black women), bringing together writers, curators, farmers, mamas, dancers, organizers, teachers, cultural producers, youth, and visual artists, to collectively exhume the (in)visibility of care for Black women. 

Andrea’s process transforms quotidian materials, slated for waste streams, into designed and utilitarian objects that serve as community resources, and incorporates the impact of solidarity and circular economies at the material, individual, and communal scales. By constructing functionally designed objects, cultivating land, archiving and documenting histories of Black women, and curating exhibitions and public programs, her socially-engaged practice exemplifies how communities can reclaim and reconstruct their surroundings while navigating agency and ownership over underutilized space.