On Tuesday, February 28th, 2023, the nonprofit Women in Need (WIN) in partnership with Sugarlift and Related Companies hosted an art unveiling at the Harriet Tubman Supportive Housing Building in Far Rockaway, New York. The building is home to a bright and bustling community of women and children, who, in 2022, transitioned out of homeless shelters into this amenitized space, with the support of WIN and Related staff. The building’s sunny playroom filled with books and games now features not only a sculptural installation and mural by esteemed artist duo CHIAOZZA, but also 25 kids’ colorful artwork, framed on a large wall for the entire community to see.
The event was a culmination of 3 artist workshops that were organized by WIN and Sugarlift to expand the kids programming in the building. Upon arrival that evening, the Sugarlift team was flooded by enthusiastic children, ready to see their artwork on display. Their excitement to not only see their work professionally framed and hung, but share their work with their families and friends was contagious. The children had the opportunity to share their artworks with not only their loved ones and neighbors, but with the entire community that made the program possible, including the artists who led the workshops, the building managers, Related execs, and the Sugarlift team. The smiles across their faces were undeniable as they hugged their friends, families, and WIN and Related staff, and celebrated with stacks of pizza and endless Capri Sun.
Upon the unveiling of this building back in 2022, and after successfully transitioning families in need to this supportive housing building, Related Companies and WIN were inspired to bring more joy to these families through artwork. Related Companies Developer and Essence founder, Jamar Adams, brought in Related’s long-time partner, Sugarlift to source an artist that could commission a colorful piece of artwork for the kids playroom, and the result was extraordinary.
The artist selected for this project was CHIAOZZA, an artist duo whose mixed media work is bold and playful in both vision and concept. The duo created a mural and sculptural installation inspired by their collage series Meander, which, with its vibrant and continuous winding line, echos the path of exploratory thought, and reminds us of the diverse moments and unexpected paths of life. Not only does the installation bring light and energy to the room, but it also reminds any viewer of the importance of curiosity and imagination - perfect for a kids playroom.
But the incorporation of art and creativity at the Harriet Tubman House didn’t end there. Inspired by the joy CHIAOZZA’s piece brought to the space, WIN decided to expand its art programming. Related, WIN, Sugarlift banded together to organize three artist workshops in the supportive housing building, to teach kids about the importance of self-expression, and taking ownership of their creativity. Each workshop was held by a different artist and explored the use of different materials and subject matter.
The first workshop that took place was hosted by CHIAOZZA, who helped the kids create collages inspired by the Meander installation and mural in the kids playroom. The second workshop was hosted by Lydia Baker, whose abstract pencil drawings explore the concept of home in nature. Baker taught the kids basic techniques on how to represent their favorite animals using colored pencils. Finally, the third workshop was hosted by Lucas Bononi, a contemporary figure painter who supported the childrens’ efforts in using oil pastels to draw their favorite characters from movies, games, and books. Some of the children even made themselves into characters, like ballerinas or superheroes.
By the end of each workshop, the Sugarlift team was taken aback by the love they received from kids. It was clear that this experience not only gave the kids the opportunity to explore their creativity and passions for the arts, but allowed them to make new friends and engage with their community in ways that they hadn’t quite before. The buildings’ manager and Related’s Lisa Harrell shared that prior to the workshops, the kids barely knew one another, and by the end of the three weeks, they were inseparable. Artist Lucas Bononi shared that his experience teaching the kids was nothing short of impactful. “Being able to donate my services as an art instructor to encourage self-expression, and to do so alongside such a committed group of people is something that I’ll always cherish.”
This is one of many community engagement projects Sugarlift has participated in, which is committed to not only providing more opportunities for emerging artists to grow their businesses but encouraging people to incorporate art into their day-to-day lives. Sugarlift is lucky to have had the opportunity to work with these artists and this incredible community, and are thankful to everyone who made this program possible.
For more information about Women in Need, the Related Art Program, and the artists who helped spearhead these workshops, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.