BRIC Gallery: An Inclusive Space for a Diverse Organization
Earlier this month, Ithaka S+R published a study on the Brooklyn-based arts and media organization, BRIC. We were excited to explore how some of BRIC’s community partnerships have influenced the atmosphere of its space, contributing to the organization’s presence as a leader on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in New York City’s cultural sector. BRIC’s gallery is a prominent feature of the organization’s new home, BRIC House. It doubles as both a performance space and a contemporary art gallery.
With exhibitions rotating every six weeks, BRIC aims to blend cultural relevance with its aesthetic vision. The past exhibition, Whisper or Shout: Artists in the Social Sphere, featured artists whose work addresses social and political issues such as police violence and gentrification.
As BRIC’s vice president of contemporary art Elizabeth Ferrer described, BRIC seeks to activate each art exhibition through related performances. For Whisper or Shout, the artist Shaun Leonardo expanded on his drawings, which portray victims of police brutality, through a performance of “The Eulogy.” Modeled after a previous performance in San Francisco, Leonardo adapted a famous passage from Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, in which the protagonist offers the crowd an improvised and devastating eulogy for Brother Clifton, a murdered political activist. The original passage uses the repetition of Clifton’s name to build momentum as the speech sinks further and further into despair. In his performance, Leonardo, dressed in a tuxedo and standing high on a podium in front of the audience, recited the eulogy, replacing Clifton’s name with the name of recent black victims of police violence. Against the backdrop of the Berean Community Drumline of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Leonardo mirrored the protagonist’s resigned insistence that there’s nothing left to do but drown these truths out. As Leonardo puts it, “There was no shortage of names.”
While performances specific to the current exhibitions are standard fare at BRIC House, the organization is deeply engaged with the community to enrich the use of the space. The public gallery is a hub of activity, used also as an interdisciplinary space for poetry slams, musical performances, and other kinds of programs. Its design and programming reflects the organization as whole: collaboration and inclusivity yield a rich experience for the public.
We describe BRIC’s relationship to the community it serves in more detail in “Diversity and Inclusion in New York City’s Cultural Sector: BRIC.”