February 1, 2017

A Note from Executive Director Eyenga Bokamba

Last week I walked into Intermedia Arts shaking snow from my coat, tears sitting on the inner lining of my eyelids, threatening to shed as my grief about the state of our imperfect union grew into anger and worry. As I unlocked the door early Monday morning, I was greeted by nervous giggles and a few smiles from a group of teenagers awaiting their turn to be on camera.

That's right, I thought, mood shifting upward: this week is the Media Active film shoot. Immigrant youth from all over the globe, living here with their families, finding home in Minnesota, were all on site as part of Green Card Voices' Youth Voices Project, for which Intermedia Arts' own youth-led in-house film crew, Media Active, serves as the main film crew of the project, utilizing storytelling via film to explode myths and conquer stereotypes of immigrants. All week Intermedia Arts was filled with film equipment, makeup artists, light designers, story boarders, with young people in front of and behind the camera. It felt so right and just to be at Intermedia Arts last week, witnessing these interactions - the respect everyone had for one another, the feeling of safety, of welcome ... the spaciousness of the moment: the telling of stories, the claiming of identity, the power of capturing it all on film: truly affirming of our shared humanity.

Photos of Green Card Voices' Youth Voices project by Tea Rozman Clark, Green Card Voices' Executive Director

Our stories will ground us as we resist the politics of exclusion. Consider the story of Sophia Cruz, the 5-year old who gave the pope a letter because she didn't want her parents deported, and her incredible, bilingual speech in front of 500,000 supporters in Washington, DC at the Women's March. The stories we tell ourselves about who we are will ground us. Consider this speech by Martin Luther King, Jr., about identity in the face of obstacles large and small.

We are connected to communities around the world. Come see these incredible films about the impact of soccer, and make sure to stop by before the close of Dimensions of Indigenous & Cultural Identity Politics, the multi-faceted exhibition curated by Artists Gordon Coons and Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra, who explore dimensions of Indigenity and cultural identity politics through the modern expression of color and paper cuttings. Come back to the gallery to see Foor Folx, an exploration of the experiences of FOrmerly PoOR Folx that is an interactive multimedia art exhibition designed to spark thought and conversation around wealth, privilege, and living in-between classes. 

Our choices matter right now. I was reminded of this as I stood in solidarity with my colleagues from Patrick's Cabaret and 20% Theatre Company Twin Cities on the night before the inauguration as part of the national Ghostlight Project, affirming our institutional commitment to resist intolerance at all levels. We vowed to create brave spaces that will serve as lights in the coming years. We pledged to activate a network of people across the country working to support vulnerable communities. Standing in that circle of light mattered. 

All of our choices right now matter. We are stronger together, and the beauty of our stories will guide us into the heart of our shared future. 


Wishing you strength, solidarity, and hope,

Eyenga Bokamba

Executive Director, Intermedia Arts