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Assigning Art an Actionable Function with Lumia Nocito
Art, Culture - - Paige Labuda
Assigning Art an Actionable Function with Lumia Nocito

"Yard Sale started out as a teensy idea while I was pacing nervously in my room - an idea that was birthed once the sound of helicopters and cop cars blaring throughout the city became the norm,"  writes Lumia Nocito, the show's organizer and curator. Based in New York, Nocito is a photographer and self-professed first-time curator. Yard Sale comes about at a time where New York, and countless cities throughout the U.S. and the world, are faced with a reckoning against police brutality and the systemic racism that enables it, brought about by the many protesters who have occupied the streets over the past months. She chatted with us over email about how the idea for Yard Sale evolved and The Loveland Foundation, where all funds made are being directed. 


What was the initial idea for Yard Sale, and how did it evolve?

Understanding that my skill set could have a greater function outside of attending protests and sharing information on social media - two methods of taking action that I most commonly, initially, observed - I contacted my friends to see if they had any art lying around that they would be willing to sell for donations. I have many photo prints and small sculptures that had not yet been assigned a function. Putting this work into someone else's hands could allow for the potential significance of the work to be realized.

My intention for this project was never for it to be anything more than a fundraiser. I saw an opportunity to raise money for the Black Lives Matter movement. This idea of selling an art object that the artist hasn’t yet assigned a function or space to operates under a similar framework to objects in a yard sale, hence the name of the show. Selling work on a virtual platform allowed for all the artists to be able to participate in the fundraiser regardless of their location.

This idea of selling artwork in order to raise money for The Loveland Foundation turned into a bigger project: a virtual show. I thought about my close friends who are creative and constantly making things - my homies are many different kinds of people who come from many different backgrounds, so that diversity naturally ended up coming through once I put a roster together.  Alongside the chaos of the world, I feel that it is an extremely important time to push the artists inside and outside of your circle to stay inspired, and remind them that their work and creations have a significant force in the world. 

 

 Gala Prudent, At The Drop of a Head, 2019, Photolithograph on Mohawk superfine

All of the pieces feel very timely. When I first looked at the show, I felt almost an impending sense of doom, an encapsulation of the world at this moment represented in many panels. Were the pieces included chosen by you or the artists? If by the artists, what was the brief you gave them?

The pieces were chosen by me and the artists - I guess you could say I gave them a brief - but I was the one making the final call. This brief was a text message basically asking, “Do you have any artwork lying around? I’m trying to gather people to sell work to raise money for the Black Lives Matter movement, if you’re interested send me a few options of things that you’d sell for $100 max.” It was really casual. The artists would subsequently send me photos of the artwork they had lying around, and I would pick one. Across the board, everyone’s work is super different, so I tried to keep things as cohesive as possible.

Can you tell me about the open submission format?

The purpose of the show never included the idea of operating in some sort of normalized art-world-y manner, if that makes any sense. I didn’t want to ask artists if they had work to sell and then try and sell a painting for five grand because, although it could sell immediately, it also could never sell. The point of Yard Sale is to raise money for The Loveland Foundation, not to sell a five thousand dollar painting. Again, I wanted it to be accessible.

Ben Werther came up with the idea of open submissions, and it fit perfectly within the format of the show. Anyone can submit and sell their work, and it has to be priced under $101. These ideas were created for the sole purpose of raising money for The Loveland Foundation, giving other artists the opportunity to sell their own work that they had lying around, and creating a new channel for people to take part in.

 

Sebastien Samson, Basketball #5, 2020, Acrylic Paint and Red Wine on Canvas

Why did you choose the Loveland foundation? Can you talk about it a bit?

The Loveland Foundation is an organization that offers financial assistance to organizations that offer free therapy to Black women. Therapists are important. They can save and change people’s lives. Black women make up the most oppressed faction of the population, Black trans women in particular, and having access to a therapist in America requires a certain level of privilege. This shouldn’t be the case. These times are trying as fuck. Protests create a perfect context for trauma. The media and social media makes it too easy for Black people to be triggered without warning. Therapy can alleviate some of the stress and exhaustion (and again, save people’s lives) that our times have produced. 

I think it is an absolute joke that people don’t have access to the care they need, and that the lack of access is rooted in systemic fault within America. Furthermore, it is so incredibly fucked that the nature of this system inherently perpetuates this lack of access, amongst other things - that statement is only a subcategory of the entire issue. All of this is another reason why I chose The Loveland Foundation: it allows me to take some sort of action which breaks this dynamic within America’s system. 

 

To submit to STP’s Yard Sale show, fill out this form

The Loveland Foundation was founded in 2018 by Rachel Cargle after the success of Cargle’s birthday fundraiser, Therapy for Black Women and Girls. The organization works to provide financial assistance to Black women and girls seeking mental health care, and also hosts fellowships, residency programs, listening tours, and beyond. Click here to donate directly to The Loveland Foundation.

Text by Paige Labuda.