THE NEUTRAL CORNER
ARTIST IN RESIDENCE
CHICAGO CULTURAL CENTER
As a BOXER, I use the ring as a space to fight for respect and at the same time it brings me extremely close to my sparring partners and too my opponents. When we are in the ring, somehow we are safe, there is an agreement that we are there to fight, to battle, to spar, but that there is a respect as we know what it takes to get in the ring. We also know that while we agree to fight, there are rules, and we respect these rules out of respect for the will to step in, knowing the importance of the fight and the worth of each other.
Through this research as a boxer, I decided to transform the space at the Chicago Cultural Center into a boxing ring / performance space. I used leftover wall vinyl from a previous exhibition at the center to cover the floors, which completely transformed the space. Next we used risers to build a boxing ting and stadium seating. The youth on the JUST YELL team helped from day one, we built the space together. Using the money from the residency, I commissioned two youth to produce a mural in the space which would become a flag for JUST YELL.
Together, the JUST YELL team generated a series of public programs. Every Wednesday night we hosted an open mic night which brought in 70-120 youth that listened and performed, every other week we screened short films made by Chicago youth or documentaries produced by Chicago artists responding to gun violence in Chicago. Following each screening we had community share outs and discussions. We also hosted TOWN HALL ROUNDS, which consisted of 10 Chicago citizens all different ages and neighborhoods, invited to a round table positioned in the center of the ring to discuss current issues, their thoughts and experiences. The first topic was PROTECTION. At the conclusion of this discussion, participants would suggest a next guest to be invited to the table as well as the subject. The ring itself was called THE NEUTRAL CORNER. This designed space will next be installed in the athletic center at KENYON COLLEGE. Collaborating with youth on campus, I will produce a one day symposium hosted in the ring discussing issues of sexual assault and consent, equality and athletics, and psychology of the athlete. Included with this symposium will be a year long installation of championship banners installed in the athletic center merging the aesthetics of contemporary art and athletics and instigating urgent conversations on most important issues.