Exhibition Dates: October 3-December 18, 2009
The Philadelphia-based foundation, that supports women and transgender artists who create social change, has announced the inaugural exhibition in its year-old offices at 1315 Walnut Street in Center City. Yo Misma Fui Mi Ruta (I Was My Own Route) which is an exhibition of works by 4 artists—all of whom are previous recipients of Leeway grant programs—which includes photographs, paintings, prints, video, and installation pieces.
The exhibition opens October 3, 2009 in conjunction with the annual Philadelphia Open Studio Tours (POST) and Leeway's 4th annual Changemakers Cabaret celebration (scheduled for October 6). Featuring Betsy Z. Casañas (LTA ’08), Deborah Caiola (ACG ’08, WOO ’04, WOO ’01), Michelle Angela Ortiz (LTA ’08, ACG ‘05), and Ruth Naomi Floyd (LTA ’06), it will remain on view through December 18, 2009.
Titled after a poem of the same name by Puerto-Rican artist and activist Julia de Burgos (1917-1953), Yo Misma Fui Mi Ruta is embodied by work that manifests an intention to tell stories often left unheard and reveal the personal journeys and creative processes of the featured artists. Capturing the spirit of the exhibition, the poem evokes the power of pressing on social boundaries and forging one’s own path.
“The work of art and change requires a commitment not only to the work, but to the exploration of self in the context of the work. Letting go of what we reject and the way we embrace what's truth in our visions. These artists are, very definitely, their 'own routes’,” says the exhibition’s curator, Denise M. Brown, also executive director of the foundation.
As part of POST visitors can meet the artists in person October 3-4, 2009 from 12:00pm-6:00pm.
Artist talks are scheduled for:
Sunday November 8, 2009 – 2:00pm to 4:00pm
Betsy Casañas & Deborah Caiola
Friday November 13, 2009 – 5:30pm to 7:30pm
Michelle Angela Ortiz & Ruth Naomi Floyd
Exhibit Closing Reception & Winter Solstice Celebration
Thursday December 17, 2009 – 4:00pm-8:00pm
Leeway’s offices are located at 1315 Walnut Street, Suite 832 between 13th and Juniper Streets. Viewings are by appointment only. To schedule a viewing call (215) 545-4078.
Betsy Z. Casañas
My work uses portraits and entries gathered from journal text, songs, conversations and memories to show multiple perspectives with different interpretations.
Betsy is a mother, artist and educator who received her B.F.A. at Moore College of Art and Design. She has assisted and designed over 35 public murals and mosaics nationally and internationally. Presently she is a muralist for Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and a teacher at the Charter High School for Architecture and Design. Alongside visual artist Pedro Ospina, she founded The Semilla Arts Initiative in 2007, a grassroots organization that uses art as a catalyst for social change. Betsy continues to live in the North Philadelphia neighborhood where she grew up, with her children Archangel and Kristianni.
I arrange my portraits and “bird paintings” intuitively, aiming to communicate ideas about personal and social concerns so that they resonate intrinsically rather than intellectually.
Deborah Caiola was raised in Washington, DC and received a B.A. in anthropology from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame. She had an early career as a social worker and then earned a certificate in painting from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. She has been an adjunct faculty member at Villanova University for seven years where she continues to teach painting and drawing. She has been exhibiting her work in Philadelphia since 1998 and more recently in New York. Deborah lives in Philadelphia with her partner and her six-year-old daughter.
Michelle Angela Ortiz
I absorb stories, I see myself in others, I search for their truth, I make connections, I document and create what I know, what moves me and what inspires me in all of these encounters.
Through painting and printmaking, Michelle captures lost legacies, personal stories and silenced voices in her work. She is influenced by her Latin and Caribbean roots, and explores these common threads among her family and community. For over ten years, Michelle has worked with various non-profit organizations in developing and facilitating community arts programs for young people and adults. Her work as a highly skilled muralist is prominent throughout the City of Philadelphia and is seen in settings from Fiji to Costa Rica to Mexico. Michelle is also a founder and active member of Las Gallas, a Philadelphia-based multi-disciplinary arts collective. She holds a B.F.A. from Moore College of Art and Design and a M.S. in Arts and Cultural Management from Rosemont College.
NOTE: Michelle will be participating in a U.S. Embassy-sponsored residency in Chihuahua, Mexico from September 28 to October 12. As a result she will not be present during POST. She will be present for her Artist Talk scheduled for Friday November 13.
Ruth Naomi Floyd
My photographs reveal images that are already deeply etched in my mind and soul. In the language of silence and stillness we are led to places where we may discover the stirring of mystery and the calm of peace.
Ruth was born and raised in Philadelphia and received an A.A. in Photography from the Art Institute of Philadelphia. She specializes in black and white portrait images and is fascinated by the human face. Finding joy in creating portraits that are etched into her mind and soul, she uses silver-based films with 35mm- and 4x5-inch view cameras and traditional wet darkroom technology as well as digital printing on archival papers to produce her images. She has completed and exhibited two photographic series, “Passage Through the Soul” and "Reflection: Woman and the Veil." Ruth lectures and conducts workshops and seminars exploring faith and the arts. She has received awards, prizes and grants for her photographic images and her work is included in several permanent and private collections.