The Art Of The Cirkus
Thursday, Oct. 12, 6-8pm
Honor local artists, youth, family members, and partners who make Cirkus After School’s creative impact powerful in Columbia County.
FREE, RSVP – HERE
Hudson Area Library
51 N. Fifth St.
Hudson, NY 12534
Community members are invited to a special event on Thursday, October 12, 2023, from 6pm – 8pm at the Hudson Area Library “after hours” to honor the creators of Bindlestiff’s exhibit, The Art of the Cirkus. Artists, youth participants, their family members, partners, supporters, and friends of Bindlestiff’s Cirkus After School will gather to pay tribute to the artists involved in the exhibition. To register for the event, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-art-of-the-cirkus-community-celebration-tickets-699703872117?aff=oddtdtcreator
The Art of the Cirkus is special exhibition celebrating the craft, visual, and photographic artists who have collaborated with Bindlestiff’s Cirkus After School over the past decade-and-a-half in Columbia County, New York. Starting on September 28, the exhibition showcases unique artworks tucked into corners of the Hudson Area Library, suspended from the rafters, gracing the walls of the building’s entrance hall, and emanating from video screens. Free to the public, the exhibition will be on view during regular Library hours through October 14, 2023.
The Art of the Cirkus includes photographs by Zach Neven, B. Docktor, David Lee, S. Trianna, Amy Chen, and Eric Ferrer; hand-painted costume artifacts from The Sankofa Birds / Memorial Doves Project by Ifetayo Cobbins, Ntchota Badila, NaQuera Roach, Amy Chen, and Stephanie Monseu. It will also feature wearable art by Cirkus After School junior staff Romello Robinson, Cashmere Whitmore, Serenity McGriff- Phillips, and Jasiah Riley, made during a creative residency with local multimedia artist and fashion designer, Loki Anthony. A slide show documenting the creation of a mural for the Hudson Youth Center in 2019 and 2020 and a series of video interviews with the artists of The Memorial Project will be on view at the Library from Thursday, September 28 through Wednesday, October 14. For a deeper dive into the exhibit, the public can also use QR codes displayed throughout the library for close-up views and process photos of the works.
About Bindlestiff’s Cirkus After School
Since 2008, Bindlestiff’s Cirkus After School has used skills like juggling, stilt walking, tumbling, partner acrobatics, prop manipulation, and physical comedy to help youth to become stronger learners, community members, and leaders. The program encourages them to express themselves creatively, challenge themselves physically, and work inventively with others. The work takes place at the intersection of creative arts and physical discipline, and is grounded in the values of life-long learning, safety, choice, trustworthiness, practice, collaboration, empowerment, compassion, and respect. Activities include weekly after-school classes, a summer Juggling Club, teen workforce development, field trips to professional circus performances, visits from world-class teaching artists in the circus and variety arts field, community performances by youth, and collaboration with numerous cultural and arts organizations.
Since 2009, Bindlestiff’s Cirkus After School has visited the Hudson Youth Center, the Morris Memorial in Chatham, Hudson Hall, the Hudson City School District, and Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood’s out-of-school time sites with professional staff and equipment. Local photographers, including a young artist who was part of the inaugural Cirkus After School program in 2008, have captured gorgeous images of youth taking safe, supported risks as part of their learning and development process. From the first Summer Cirkus Stilt cohort in 2009 to the present day, the images capture youth taking front and center place in Columbia County’s cultural life.
In more recent years, Bindlestiff’s youth program staff have sought to bring additional modes of creativity into the experience. In Winter 2019 and 2020, Cirkus After School Lead Coach NaQuera Roach (now Program Director for Hudson Youth Center), and CAS Program Director Stephanie Monseu held a weekly “Word Power” discussion group for tweens at the Hudson youth center, challenging girls to collect words with which they want to define themselves. Over the course of weeks, the idea for a mural on the Hudson Youth Center building emerged, and the powerful words imagined by the girls turned into a visual project that involved several teens in the design and creation process.
In Spring of 2020, the multiple impacts of COVID, gentrification, and social uprising led to another visual collaboration. Bindlestiff’s “Tiny Parades” was created to bring joy and wonder to a community forcibly separated by COVID-9 restrictions. Four stilt walking artists appeared in various Hudson neighborhoods. Social media was used to inform neighbors to look out their windows for these artists, who wore white-winged costumes, suggestive of angels or peace doves. The silent and dream-like march not only brought people to their windows, but also a sense of relief in a time of uncertainty. A powerful example is when these artists made a surprise visit to the Columbia Memorial emergency room to show support and cheer on nurses who gathered outside.
Later during the summer of 2020, these white-winged costumes were taken home by painters and graphic artists to create The Memorial Project. Each one became an individualized testament to remembrance and resistance, honoring Black and Brown lives lost to police brutality and racism. Each artist imbued their unique creations with hopes for the future and cautions from the past, and the costumes were worn in the Hudson Sankofa Black Arts and Cultural Festival Family Day Parade in August 2021.
In the summer of 2022, Bindlestiff Cirkus After School teen staff had the opportunity to participate in weekly design and creation workshops with Loki Anthony, local fashion designer and multimedia artist at the Lightforms gallery. The teens conceived, patterned, and fabricated their own unique garments and accessories to wear in the annual Operation Unite New York Sankofa Hudson Black Arts and Cultural Festival parade that August.
About Bindlestiff Family Cirkus
Bindlestiff Family Variety Arts, Inc. (BFVA) is a nonprofit performing arts organization whose mission is to bring joy and wonder into the world. Bindlestiff cultivates, develops, and sustains the circus and variety arts by celebrating tradition while maintaining an irreverent spirit that keeps the circus arts current, accessible, and relevant. Bindlestiff produces world-class performances, provides grants to emerging artists and facilitates youth development programs.
Founded in 1995, based in both New York City and Hudson, N.Y., Bindlestiff is dedicated to increasing the knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of the history of circus, sideshow, vaudeville, and related arts. Over the past 27 years, BFVA has entertained hundreds of thousands of people, employed over 4,000 circus artists and performers, and developed dozens of original works. Bindlestiff preserves, contemporizes, and enriches the cultural heritage of the variety arts while embracing New York’s diverse spectrum of communities.
To learn more about The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus’ programs in Columbia County, New York City, and beyond, please visit www.bindlestiff.org and follow @bindlestifffamilycirkus on Facebook and Instagram.
To support our work, please visit http://bindlestiff.org/support/