“Heal the man to heal the land.”


Tuesday night was The Laundromat Project’s SOAPBOX gala, a great celebration of their innovative approach to organizing with art. The LP’s teaching artists do amazing projects, and I’m truly honored to be included in their ranks.

The setting was so beautiful. It makes an enormous difference to have artists setting up celebration spaces. Marjeth Cummings of La Vie en Rose created amazing table settings as well as leafy canopies hanging from the ceiling. Art installations abounded. The party afterwards featured DJ Reborn in collaboration with Bayeté Ross Smith, and included art stations in each corner of the dance space where attendees could make things to take home with them. Each year, The LP commissions a featured print – this year’s was entitled Queen, by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh.

In my acceptance speech, I talked about the gravesite of Carmen England, a Caribbean cultural worker and Communist who is buried near Karl Marx’s grave in Highgate Cemetery in London. Her epitaph says, “She caused her people to realise their Beauty.” I love the double meaning of “realise” here. It means to understand, to be able to see our beauty, but also to live in to the full potential of our beauty. To make more beauty (or to fight for it), we have to be able to see what's already there.

My co-honorees, Tattfoo Tan and Elia Alba were total gems. Tattfoo makes art designed for ecological sustenance. “Heal the man to heal the land,” he said, which I though was the best line of the night.

The arts matter to communities, and organizations like The Laundromat Project make art to make community. I urge us all to support artists and arts institutions, especially those that are local, community-owned and helping everyone realize their beauty. Join me in giving to The Laundromat Project, or find that space in your own community and give it some money and time.