Invisible Intersections

Austin’s African American Cultural Heritage District
March 31 - April 22, 2016

A collaboration between Betelhem Makonnen and Jasmine Johnson commissioned by Six Square African American Cultural Heritage District as part of the multimedia exhibition Invisible Intersection.  On view at The George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center.

Twenty artists were assigned to six intersections in East Austin. Each artist chose subjects that represent the culture of a specific intersection. Their works will be shown in various media including photography, painting, film, video, and live performance. In collaboration with the Austin African American Cultural Heritage District, Austin History Center, The Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce, local artists, and businesses, the Six Square Project will commission artists from various media including photography, painting, film, video, and sculpture to create “portraits” of local citizens that live within the Six Square District. These multi-media portraits will expand the public’s understanding of the importance of Black Culture in Austin and solidify the history embedded in the stories of the people who live in this district. This multi-exhibition will take place in 3 historical locations for a duration of 4 weeks. Highlighting 6 of the most influential intersections within the six square miles of the African American Cultural Heritage District

Participating artists are: Ashé Arts, Arielle Austin, Chucky Black, Cindy Elizabeth, Fum Fum KO, Ashton Guy, Montsho Hughes, Jasmine Johnson, Betelhem Makonnen, Zell Miller, DaShade Moonbeam, Chaka Mpeanaji, Jonathan Maurel, Jason Phelps, Chris Rogers, Roy Rutngamlug, Zai Sadler, Ty West, and Lakeem Wilson. The soundscape was produced by Miriam Conner and Lisa Byrd.

The kaleidoscope is an optical toy traditionally consisting of mirrors and loose pieces of multicolored beads, glass and/or paper enclosed in a tube with a viewing hole at one end. When in motion, the kaleidoscope abstracts the reflections of the contained objects creating unexpectedly shifting images and patterns. The viewer sees a whole that is broken down and segmented continually transforming not only outside of but also within itself. Interrelationship and plurality are a given. Trying to return to a previous formation is futile, for the flux is consistent and the movement non-linear.
A kaleidoscope can function as a perceptive auxiliary lens to better conceptualize processes of change and transformation. This open-ended version substitutes the usual input of inert objects with people and place. The hope is that the kaleidoscopic arrangements will reveal invisible intersections in the present environment that can provoke new discussions and actions in relation to the dynamics currently affecting the population, landscape and history of East Austin.

in(to)visible intersections
Betelhem Makonnen
single channel video w/sound
05:00 mins

Reflections of two women who endure and help others endure the aggressive changes that their community is going through.

“…see, it makes a difference if I have been here 5, 10, 20 years. It makes a difference. All this has memories and people struggled here … you want everything new and this and that and the other, but this has memories for people.” Ms Ada F. Bolden, 66 year old retired State worker and native East Austinite who volunteers at the Goodwill Job Center located in the Rosewood Courts Public Housing Complex

“…you can clearly see the changes (are) not friendly. I mean it’s not friendly as far as those who’ve been here before and their rights and how fast it’s moving.” Elly Hughes, volunteer at the Nubian Queen Lola’s on the corner of Chicon and Rosewood cooking and delivering food that provides free meals for hundreds of hungry and most often homeless Austinites.

To Do Austin
Austin Monthly

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