Opened April 7

Reception for Artists: April 6, 5:30 – 8 pm  RSVP here

“Natural disasters have a way of clarifying things. They sweep away once-sturdy delusions, to reveal old treasures and scars.” Molly Crabapple, “Puerto Rico’s DIY Disaster Relief,” New York Review of Books, 2017
“It appears that the act of extension, in whatever sector it takes place, means that those carrying it out need to go to “another part of the world” to “normalize it,” according to their way of viewing reality: to make it resemble their world. Thus, in its “field of association” the term extension has a significant relation to transmission, handing over, giving, messianism, mechanical transfer, cultural invasion, manipulation, etc. All these terms imply actions which transform people into “things” and negate their existence as beings who transform the world.” –Paolo Freire from “Extension or Communication,” 1974

This phase of the Extension or Communication project will further highlight emancipatory projects that have emerged in Puerto Rico and Philadelphia in the aftermath of hurricane Maria.

As the crisis lurches forward into its fifth month, some citizen brigades have congealed into civic groups looking past the immediate relief efforts; some are beginning to create joint strategies for the long-term transformation of vital sectors of Puerto Rican society. Among these groups, those concerned with food sovereignty have been most articulate in their polemics about the need for a radical transformation in the Puerto Rican community, advocating a critical intersection of literacy, technology, and civics as necessary to the viability and long-term sustainability of any political project.

Today, these groups have a more significant political resonance in that they echo similar needs and desires in the US. As imperial power becomes more concentrated in the era of Trump, Puerto Rico has become the crystallized symbol of a debased citizenry. During a recent visit to the island, Ricky Yanas, Grimaldi Baez, and Sheldon Abba collected images, texts, and interviews looking for critical contexts and generative possibilities in the wake of the storm.

From April 7th to May 5th, Yanas, Baez, and Abba will treat the Taller’s gallery as an active studio/lab, parsing and organizing the selections from the institution’s archives, working with the Youth Artist Program, and hosting discussions and workshops around the question of exchange with Puerto Rico. What can we give? What do we need? This open form will yield not only artworks, but strategies for collaboration. Working with contributors including community organizers Charíto Morales and Tania-María Ríos, and Poet Laureate Raquel Salas Rivera, the core group will offer a series of presentations highlighting pertinent ideas, necessary resources, and next steps (dates to follow). This exhibition continues and builds on their work from Extension or Communication’s first iteration at Tiger Strikes Asteroid Philadelphia which ran from January 11 to February 17, 2018.

Extension or Communication is multi-disciplinary collaborative project guided by artist/ organizers Sheldon Abba, Grimaldi Baez, Jessi Koch, José Ortiz-Pagán and Ricky Yanas. Working within pragmatic and critical pedagogical traditions the group seeks to engage artists and communities through inquiry and exchange producing artworks, research, new spaces, and other satellite efforts. Operating as an open form, E or C is ever changing, privileging process over product, investigation over data. With a growing list of contributors, the project focuses on the critical intersection of literacy, technology, aesthetics and civics bringing to light emancipatory forms being developed by engaged citizens. 
Sheldon Abba is a media artist based in Philadelphia, PA. His projects are often collaborations between artists, institutions and communities focused on documentation and collective storytelling. Current projects include Cross City Communication, Philadelphia Assembled and Chinatown Bus Stories.   
Grimaldi Baez is a Puerto Rico born and bound, multidisciplinary artist, educator, organizer with formal studies in printmaking, drawing, and sculpture currently living in Philadelphia, PA. He received his MA from Tyler College of Art, 2015. In his work, he deploys a variety of collaborative, relational, and pedagogical strategies in order to explore relationships between the body, tools and the systems of power they produce.
Jessi Ray Koch has a personal and professional dedication to building a more equitable and beautiful world through innovative community planning and engagement. She recently returned to her hometown of Philadelphia where she works as a private consultant. Jessi served as a State and Local Policy Senior Specialist for Grounded Solutions Network, and prior to that was a Senior Planner with the City of Austin’s Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Office where she focused on affordable housing policy and development in support of a more affordable Austin for all residents. Jessi attended the University of Texas in Austin where she received her MS in Community and Regional Planning and MS in Urban Design.
José Ortiz-Pagán’s was born and raised on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. In 2009 he received a BFA at the University of Puerto Rico, and his MFA from Temple University Tyler School of Art in 2011. His work establishes a conversation regarding post-industrial & post-colonial systems in the tropics and how this has affected the way we approach and trade time. There is a common thread within higher economical systems and displacement. Migration being one of the most important phenomena inherent to this co-relation.

Ricky Yanas is a Texas-born artist, curator, and educator based in Philadelphia, PA. He received his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Texas at Austin in 2011. In his work, he utilizes photography, painting, sculpture, and installation to highlight and link activist traditions and struggles by weaving a multitude of aesthetic, philosophical, and political histories. In 2016, he founded Ulises books with Nerissa Cooney, Lauren Downing, Joel Evey, Kayla Romberger and Gee Wesley.                                

Tania-María Ríos Marrero is a community organizer for a North Philadelphia public library, interested in the complex issues associated with access, information and creation. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she embraces Latinx communities of the diaspora and of her ancestral home Puerto Rico.

Charíto Morales is a registered nurse and social justice activist based in Philadelphia. Her work focuses on advocating for the victims of Philadelphia’s opioid crisis and the displaced families of Puerto Rico. She is a descendant of the Taino chieftain Cacique Mabodamaca. She is a warrior and surfer leading numerous groups including the Pirates Surf Club and Hurracain Real Life Guajataca Downhill PR.

Raquel Salas Rivera is the 2018-19 Poet Laureate of Philadelphia. They are the author of Caneca de anhelos turbios (Editora Educación Emergente), oropel/tinsel (Lark Books), and tierra intermitente (Ediciones Alayubia). Their book lo terciario/the tertiary is forthcoming in 2018 from Timeless, Infinite Light. Currently, they are Co-Editor of The Wanderer, and Co-Editor of Puerto Rico en mi corazón, a collection of bilingual broadsides of contemporary Puerto Rican poets.

Extension or Communication artwork