In Conversation- Joanne Oplustil, President & CEO, CAMBA

Joanne Oplustil, President & CEO, CAMBA

Joanne Oplustil, President & CEO, CAMBA

As you may know, I’m currently preparing for another show at Chelsea’s Amsterdam Whitney gallery. I’m particularly looking forward to the possibility of supporting the work of CAMBA by donating 10% of sales from my work. I’ve been a supporter of the charity for a couple of years now and would like to see this organisation achieve its objectives to help many of New Yorkers who are facing a variety of hardships.

Joanne Oplustil, President & CEO, CAMBA / CAMBA Housing Ventures was kind enough to provide answers to some questions I posed to her regarding the agency, it’s mission and future.

Q- Can you provide a summary of the organisations origins and it’s vision?

CAMBA was founded in 1977 as a merchant association in Flatbush to reduce crime and beautify the community. CAMBA’s leadership quickly recognized that commercial revitalization was impossible without creating paths to opportunity for residents, particularly the burgeoning population of immigrants and refugees. CAMBA grew in direct response to community needs, and today we reach 45,000 New Yorkers annually with 160 programs delivered from 70 locations throughout the five boroughs.

Today, CAMBA:

  • Provides for Basic Needs: This year, CAMBA provided shelter to more than 4,500 people, permanent supportive housing for more than 1,110 individuals and families with special needs, and 45,000 pantry bags to hungry Brooklynites.
  • Develops Human Capital: Annually, 9,000 youth attend CAMBA educational and enrichment programs, and 2,000 adults engage in job training, English or adult literacy classes.
  • Prevents Harm: CAMBA’s services are designed to help families and individuals avoid an array of societal ills, from preventable hospitalizations, to family violence, to eviction or deportation. Last year, we prevented more than 3,186 families from being evicted.
  • Remediates: CAMBA helps stabilize New Yorkers with drug addiction or mental illness, reconnect youth who have left school, and settle refugees who have suffered trauma in their home countries.

What sets us apart from peer organizations is CAMBA’s holistic approach to transforming lives. We know that children succeed only as part of families and communities, so we invest in parenting, education, job training and health in addition to providing safe, sustainable and affordable housing. CAMBA provides essential services to improve client outcomes and help residents attain self-sufficiency. By providing holistic support to help individuals and families gain stability, we fortify the neighborhoods we serve, having community-level and City-wide impact and driving local economic growth.

Q- According to published figures, you’ve helped over 45,000 people in the city. In which areas and issues have you been most effective and why?

We help 45,000 New Yorkers every year! Each of our programs has distinct outcomes we are trying to achieve, but we have an excellent track record of accomplishing what we set out to do. I am particularly proud of our development of more than 1,500 units of permanent affordable housing, in just the first 10 years of developing housing.

We view affordable housing as a platform for individual and family stability and economic success, as well as a cornerstone for community revitalization. Through dedication to design excellence through contextual buildings, attractive façades and durable finishes, CAMBA Housing Ventures’ buildings demonstrate that affordable and supportive housing is a community asset and provides dignity for tenants. Our dedication to design excellence and proactive property management oversight have shifted expectations about what affordable housing looks like, removing the stigma associated with affordable housing and elevating design standards. CAMBA’s developments bring over a half-billion dollars in public/private investment into some of New York City’s most impoverished neighborhoods, bringing much–needed affordable housing, jobs and social services.

CAMBA provides permanent housing and onsite support services to more than 1,100 formerly homeless families and adults, including those struggling with mental illness or HIV/AIDS, at 18 residences throughout New York City. Through financial literacy, healthcare, access to employment, education/job training, independent living skills, and support groups, we help people who have been in and out of hospitals, jail and homeless shelters become stable and make meaningful contributions to their communities.

Q- Growing on the last 35 years of successfully helping communities, where do you see the organisation in the next 30 years?

CAMBA has been growing and responding to change for 38 years. And I believe that’s what we will continue to do – expanding our role in community based health care, creating and preserving safe and affordable housing for New Yorkers in needs, and helping the next generation of young people break the cycle of poverty and gain the skills they need to succeed in education, careers and families. We will continue lift up communities where the needs are more dire by taking a holistic approach to individuals, families and neighborhoods. And I hope I am around to see it!

For further information on CAMBA please visit http://www.camba.org

CAMBA

CAMBA

Puerto Rico’s Financial Troubles Weigh Heavily on a Vibrant Art Scene

Courtesy of ‘Repeating Islands’ this article by James Tarmy appeared in BloombergBusiness. A very interesting read I felt to share. Wishing you all a great weekend!

Puerto Rico’s Financial Troubles Weigh Heavily on a Vibrant Art Scene.

 

‘Outsider Art’ Under One Roof at Katonah Museum of Art

Over the last week or so I’ve met a number of self taught artists who are building reputations as commercially successful painters. Then I came across this article, featured online in the New York Times. Please follow the link for what is an interesting read.

In the almost 70 years since the term was first coined, “outsider art” — a somewhat dismissive designation for the work of self-taught artists — has been steadily finding its way inside the mainstream art world. These days, it is no longer unusual to see pieces by artists with no formal training displayed in even the most prestigious venues; just the past two years have seen such works included in exhibitions mounted by the Venice Biennale, the Museum of Modern Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum, among others.

Full New York Times article by Sarah Gold, Aug 13 2015

New York Charity Fundraising Exhibition August 28th- Oct 6th

August 8, 2015 4 comments

ART4CAMB flyer

 

I’m looking forward to another exciting period working on exhibitions and broader community related projects. Moreover, I’m both happy and privileged to be working with some talented, dedicated and inspiring people. One of the things I’m looking forward to is another exhibition at the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery in Manhattan’s Chelsea district which is always buzzing with some truly amazing art exhibitions and talks. This year I will be donating 10% of any artwork sold to CAMBA, a non-profit agency that connects people with opportunities to enhance their quality of life.

CAMBA offers more than 150 integrated services and programs in economic development, education and youth development, family support, health, housing and legal services. CAMBA Housing Ventures builds sustainable and affordable apartments for low-income New Yorkers.

CAMBA serves more than 45,000 individuals and families, including 9,000 youth, each year. They help people with low incomes; those moving from welfare to work; people who are homeless, at risk of homelessness or transitioning out of homelessness; individuals living with or at risk of HIV/AIDS; immigrants and refugees; children and young adults; entrepreneurs and other groups working to become self-sufficient. The majority of CAMBA’s clients live, work and/or attend school in Brooklyn.

The exhibition runs from August 28th to October 6th For further information please contact the Gallery For further information on CAMBA please visit http://www.camba.org/

Further details to come!

Wishing you all a great weekend!

Out to Get Further Inspiration! – BP Portrait Award 2015

This month I’ve been fairly quiet admittedly, spending time enjoying the weather, catching up with friends and preparing work for my next show. This week I spent time in central London visiting a number of galleries for some inspiration. At the top of the list was the National Portrait Gallery’s Portrait Award show. This is a must for anyone who needs to see the brilliance that resides in some people. The work is excellent.

Selected from a record-breaking 2,748 entries by artists from 92 countries around the world, the BP Portrait Award 2015 represents the very best in contemporary portrait painting.From parents to poseurs, figurative nudes to famous faces and expressive sketches to piercing photo-realism, the variety and vitality in the exhibition continues to make it an unmissable highlight of the annual art calendar. Now in its thirty-sixth year at the National Portrait Gallery, and twenty-sixth year of sponsorship by BP, the first prize of £30,000 makes the Award the most prestigious international portrait painting competition of its kind and has launched the careers of many renowned artists.

The show runs from 18th June to the 20th September. For further info please visit http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/bp-portrait-award/exhibition.php

What is art for? Alain de Botton’s animated guide

In this exclusive video for the UK Guardian newspaper, philosopher Alain de Botton gives his top five reasons why art is such a vital force for humanity. Are we wrong to like pretty pictures? Why is some art painful to look at? Can art heal your feelings of urban alienation? Relax, watch and find out. This article was originally featured in September 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/video/2014/sep/10/what-is-art-for-alain-de-botton-guide-video

Artist Mark Ware and the Wavelength Project

Mark Ware recording sound at Oare Marshes Kent

Mark Ware recording sound at Oare Marshes Kent

A few years ago I was privileged to work with the UK Stroke Association in a fundraising capacity, highlighting the causes and measures to reduce the risk of stroke. Anyone can have a stroke, although there are some things that make you more at risk than others. It’s important to know what the risk factors are and do what you can to reduce your risk. For further information in the UK please visit https://www.stroke.org.uk or if in the US http://www.strokeassociation.org

During this time I was honoured to meet the truly inspirational artist Mark Ware. Mark is a Fulbright Scholar and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School. During 1996 Mark had a severe stroke, an event that suddenly and abruptly altered every aspect of his life.  Since then, his artwork has become increasingly concerned with how his subjective experience has been altered by the changes in mind and body due to stroke.

Mark is now collaborating with neuroscientist Professor Hugo Critchley and his team at the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, Brighton on The Wavelength project. The Wavelength Project will investigate and artistically interpret how we respond to natural versus artificial light and sound. The science activities will inform the development and creation of a series of artistic outcomes, including original music compositions, multimedia performances, sound and light installations, creative workshops and creative field research activities. I was intrigued to know more about the project and Mark’s career to date so I was most please when he agreed to be interviewed

What inspired you to become an artist?

Art encourages us to observe and express how we interact with the amazing world we live in.  For me art soon became a form of ‘life note-taking’, forcing me to connect with, and appreciate, the here and now.

What’s your favourite medium and why?

My art is multimedia and includes various combinations of sculpture, photography, video, sound, digital imagery, writing, performance and light.   I view my work as a la carte art where I am able to call upon whatever disciplines are required on any particular project.  This allows me flexibility in terms of scale, complexity and context for the work.

Cathedra 900 multimedia event

Cathedra 900 multimedia event

Has your appreciation of art and its importance changed since having your stroke?

Yes.  My stroke was severe and badly affected my cognitive and physical abilities.  Although I didn’t welcome my stroke, from an artistic point of view it was fascinating because it gave me wonderful insights into the perceptual process.  As a result, all of my post-stroke art is touched by my disability in some way.  Art is so important to me now because it allows me to explore and express my altered subjective experiences caused by changes in mind and body due to my brain injury.

Exeter Cathedral 3D banner exhibition

Exeter Cathedral 3D banner exhibition

Do you feel society undervalues art as a therapeutic medium particularly with regards to neurological health and wellbeing?

Yes!  Art is about what it is to be human and has the power to reach out and affect people on both conscious and subconscious levels.  When I look back at myself immediately following my stroke in 1996, I remember two things: The determination to survive a life-threatening event and the desire to create art.  Given my circumstances at the time, it is significant (to me) that the need to create art was as important as the need for life.  Art is within us all and when produced with honesty, it can have a profound affect on the people who experience it.

What is the wavelength project?

 The wavelength project is an extremely ambitious activity and will aim to seek answers to profound questions such as why is art important, and why do we create it?

Why are we drawn to the natural environment, marvelling at brilliantly coloured sunsets, for example? What impact do art and nature have upon health and wellbeing?

The project is an art/science collaboration between me and neuroscientist Professor Hugo Critchley and colleagues at the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, University of Sussex.  With contributions from Professor Critchley and the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, I will investigate how we respond to art and nature, focusing on differences between natural versus man made sounds and light.

What are its objectives and how do you see the project growing or gaining influence?

The project’s scientific investigations will inform the development and creation of a series of artistic outcomes, including original music compositions, multimedia performances, sound and light installations, creative workshops and field research activities.

Most people believe that the natural environment is good for us in terms of wellbeing and health. The wavelength project is seeking to provide scientific evidence to assess this belief, with artistic outcomes influenced by the results.  In the long term, we aim to deliver results that may be of benefit to many people, including those who have experienced brain injury or suffer from disorders of consciousness.

If, as most of us believe, exposure to the natural environment is found to be beneficial to our conscious experience, this will support initiatives to protect, enhance and restore wildlife and our natural resources, on land and at sea.  A vitally important outcome of the wavelength project will be to raise awareness of this need.  In recognition of this important direction, Kent Wildlife Trust has also partnered with the project.  The Trust will advise the wavelength project team on all issues concerning the natural environment and will collaborate on a variety of creative activities.

The artistic content of the wavelength project is supported by Arts Council England.

Useful links

MarkWare.co.uk

https://www.stroke.org.uk

http://www.strokeassociation.org

 

 

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