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Making Black Lives Matter: Conjuring and Creative Place-Making in an Age of Austerity

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Abstract

In Houston’s Third Ward and Chicago’s Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood, Black artists and activists and their allies combine conjuring and creative place-making in projects that fuse economic development with deepened social cohesion. Like the Black Lives Matter movement, Project Row Houses in Houston and the Rebuild Foundation’s Stony Island Arts Bank in Chicago respond to the urgent needs of aggrieved communities in an era of austerity. They engage in practices, processes, and productions that hone and refine individual and collective capacities for finding value in undervalued places and, by extension, in undervalued people. They promote deliberative talk and face-to-face decision-making about the problems that Black people face. They set in motion dynamics that teach people to find something left to love in themselves and others in a society that can often make everyone feel unlovable. They envision and enact plans for reconstituting society and social relations from the bottom up on the basis of values directly antithetical to the dominant logics of racialized capitalism.

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... Artists such as Rick Lowe, who founded Project Row House in Houston, and Theaster Gates, founder of the Rebuild Foundation in Chicago, use socially engaged art to celebrate Black culture and offer exciting pathways pairing art with community-embedded adaptive reuse. 40 Candy Chang has inspired public engagement in a range of vacant spaces. FIG. ...
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