Take a stroll down memory avenue.
The fifth annual “Black Artstory” series of events and exhibitions will turn six blocks of Myrtle Avenue in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill into a walkable history of African healing practices. The curator of this year’s series “The Altar: Rituals Of Healing In The African Diaspora,” starting Feb. 3, says that although any African American history event has to confront some grim topics, she wants to focus not on the bad times, but how people survived them.
“I don’t want it to be dreary — we get enough of that in life,” said Suhaly Bautista-Carolina. “We want people to walk away with inspiration and tangible examples of how we have attempted to be healed.”
The exhibition asked artists to explore mental, social, and physical healing practices of the African Diaspora, how they evolved, and their place in modern times, presented through a variety of live performances, videos, visual art, and interactive activities.
“This show developed from thinking less on trauma and more on how we’ve emerged, the tools and rituals, survival tactics, and trying to look for more information for the future,” said Bautista-Carolina. “A lot of artists interpret that differently and hopefully people see that.”
The series kicks off Feb. 3 with videos of black artists discussing the restorative quality of creative work, followed by an interactive art session at the Ingersoll Community Center. More events will happen every Friday in February at other locations, including a film screening, a night of spoken word poetry, dance performances, and a hands-on art making session. Organizers say the series is designed to appeal to all ages.
“We designed it as something to remember — every Friday and there’s going to be a different meeting and activity,” she said. “It’s a family-oriented event.”
In addition to the Friday night events, Myrtle Avenue will become an art walk for the month. Between Washington and Classon avenues, 15 storefronts will display exhibitions and murals relating to black history, most of it created by Brooklyn artists. Visitors can pick up a map of exhibition sites at Ray’s Barbershop [331 Myrtle Ave. at Classon Avenue in Clinton Hill], and at other stores along the route.
The artstory is not a response to recent discussions of safe spaces and self-care, said Bautista-Carolina. Instead, it is a look at how current practices in healing have evolved from the beginning.
“We might find that we’re needing and paying more attention in calls for self care, but for me this is a reverberating concept,” she said. “Being in a community with healers and being with people that prioritize self-care has always a topic, whether the climate is more or less burdensome. I want to emphasise a piece of the legacy of our cultures, and want people to see we’ve been doing this for a long time.”
“The Altar: Rituals Of Healing In The African Diaspora” [Myrtle Avenue between Washington and Classon avenues in Fort Greene, (718) 230–1689, www.myrtl