Event - Set On Freedom

Set On Freedom

07.02.16, 10:00 am

How do we become the artists we want to be? As artists who are systematically excluded from institutional resources how do we navigate these spaces? What can happen when we create outside those institutions? How do we work as a community to open up space and support for artists and communities whose main concern is daily survival in order to thrive? How does art allow us to feel free to create and imagine the world we want for all of us?

We are coming together as women, gender non-conforming, trans, queer, multi-media artists of color to hold space, learn, acknowledge and celebrate the radical systems that we create in our struggle for survival and quest for artistic freedom. We are gathering to share knowledge by centering ourselves as each other’s resources, while challenging the institutional pull to assimilate in order to gain access to systems that are not made for us. The SET ON FREEDOM retreat will bring a cohort of individuals together to share their practices, connect and care for each other. We are envisioning a space where we can uplift each other, rejoice in our collective brilliance and have fun. We are artists set on freedom and we want you to join us in this collective journey!


  • Self-identify as people of color
  • Self-identify as femme, women, trans, and gender non-conforming
  • Self-identify as (im)migrants
  • Self-identify as Disabled, Sick, Chronically Ill/In Chronic pain
  • Self-identify as Working class/poor
  • Are in all age brackets; this is an inter-generational space, we encourage youth, elders and everything in between are welcome
  • Are committed to social justice; who create to envision a better and more just world
  • Live within the New York Metro Area
  • Create in all sorts of artistic media, practices and traditions. We encourage self taught artists to apply

*We understand that sometimes identity labels do not reflect the place where we are at with our own identities. If you have questions about if this retreat is for you, we encourage you to apply, or shoot us an email at sjmo@queensmuseum.org if you have questions.


  • To be connected to other artists with a vast range of experiences
  • To share and exchange knowledge and resources
  • To share your work, artistic, and political life experiences
  • To identify artists locally and in the metro area for potential collaboration
  • To reflect on your practice
  • To explore how to build solidarity across artistic media and cultures

To apply please submit the application materials by following this link no later than May 21st, 2016 at 10 PM.

  • RETREAT July 2+3

This retreat is being planned and facilitated by a cohort of 5 artists who work in different disciplines and are at different stages in their career:

Thanushka Yakupitiyage
Thanushka Yakupitiyage (Thanu) is a Sri Lankan-born, Thailand-raised, Brooklyn-living artist. She is an immigrant rights activist, media professional, and DJ in New York City. She deejays with the stage name “Ushka”, combining her interests in the arts, music, migration as a tool for cultural organizing. The popularity of Thanu’s mixtapes, including “Foreign Brown” and “What Edward Said”, led to her inclusion in a 2013 list of favorite female deejays by VICE magazine. Her writing has been published in Hyphen magazine, Colorlines, Huffington Post, Racialicious.com, Okayplayer,and Dutty Artz. She is currently an Open City Fellow at the Asian American Writer’s Workshop. You can find on her on the interwebs via twitter and instagram at @ty_ushka. Thanu holds a bachelor’s degree from Hampshire College and a graduate degree in communications from University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Kay Ulanday Barrett
A Campus Pride Hot List artist, Trans Justice Funding Project Panelist, and Trans 100 Honoree, Kay Ulanday Barrett aka @brownroundboi, is a poet, performer, and educator, navigating life as a disabled pin@y-amerikan transgender queer in the U.S. with struggle, resistance, and laughter. K. has featured on colleges & stages globally; Princeton University, UC Berkeley, Musee Pour Rire in Montreal, and The Chicago Historical Society. K’s bold work continues to excite and challenge audiences. K. has facilitated workshops, presented keynotes, and contributed to panels with various social justice communities. Honors include: 18 Million Rising Filipino American History Month Hero 2013, Chicago’s LGBTQ 30 under 30 awards, Finalist for The Gwendolyn Brooks Open-Mic Award, Windy City Times Pride Literary Poetry Prize. Their contributions are found in Poor Magazine, Fusion.net, Trans Bodies/Trans Selves, Windy City Queer: Dispatches from the Third Coast, Make/Shift, Filipino American Psychology, Third Woman Press, Asian Americans For Progress, The Advocate, and Bitch Magazine. K. turns art into action and is dedicated to remixing recipes.  Recent publications include contributions in the upcoming anthologies, “Outside the XY: Queer Black & Brown Masculinity” (Magnus Books) and “Writing the Walls Down: A Convergence of LGBTQ Voices” (Trans-genre Press). Their first book of poetry, When The Chant Comes, is due out from Topside Press in summer 2016. Check out their work at kaybarrett.net

Simone?! Satchell
Simone?! Satchell is a Black Queer healing artist who hails from Staten Island, New York.  He lives in Elmhurst which completed his desire to reside in all 5 boroughs. He obtained his Bachelor of Fine Arts at Queens College. He uses artistic expression as a tool for processing and healing. Simone?! is frequently exploring ways to combine the arts with community healing by opening space for marginalized communities to practice self-care; as such, he hopes to use creative expression as a means of supporting those communities in reclaiming their stories. He has used a variety of printmaking techniques and mixed mediums, including but not limited to colored pencil, crayon, watercolor, acrylics, and ink. He is finding ways to combine art, community and healing. In terms of his own work, Simone!? utilizes art to explore his mind’s pathways and his original means of communicating. He is inspired by the paradoxical, the unrealized, the infinite possibilities of individuals, communities, and all that comes up along the way. He is brewing himself as a performance artist and intends to showcase his work in the near future. He is a Public Ally Fellow who is the Coordinator of Youth and Family Programs at Queens Museum. One day, Simone?! hopes to obtain a Master’s in Art Therapy so that his healing work through the arts can continue and spread further.

Silvia Juliana Mantilla Ortiz
Silvia Juliana Mantilla Ortiz is a transnational artist, educator and organizer whose work is located at the intersection of oral histories, migration, feminism and queerness. She is the founder of Talk Is Cheap: Unincorporated Languages Laboratories (TIC) a transdisciplinary collective that amplifies community narratives and engages in movement building through cultural work. She is also a member of Mobile Print Power (MPP) a multigenerational collective that uses silkscreen printmaking to engage communities and explore social and cultural situations. Since 2013 SJMO has worked at the Queens Museum where she currently is the Open A.I.R. Artist Services Program Coordinator and the Immigrant Movement International Corona (IMI Corona) Community Organizer. SJMO holds an MFA in Public Practice from Otis College of Art and Design, and holds deep community building knowledge gained in informal collective educational contexts through her involvement with groups such as Slanguage, School of Echoes Los Angeles, The Pedagogy Group, TIC, MPP and IMI Corona. She has strong links to many communities but currently resides in Jackson Heights, Queens where she loves to cook for her friends and ride her bike.

Dominique Hernandez
Dominique (she, her) was born and raised in Ecuador, and moved to Ozone Park, Queens in 2004, where she continues to live. Using various media such as film photography and drawing, her work often shows distorted figures as a way to explore the effects of alienation on the self. As a community organizer, her work has centered on the leadership development and political education of young undocumented organizers and supporting their organizing initiatives in schools. Dominique has no awards that she can recall getting, but through organizing labor there were long lasting, militant and unapologetic relationships built, as well as collective uplifting instances that continues to inform her work as an artist/organizer. Through those relationships, she has been able to have her work exhibited at NYU, Flushing Town Hall and at friends homes. She was a Create Change Fellow with the Laundromat Project in 2015. She graduated from Queens College with a BFA in Art Studio and BA in Psychology in 2014. She currently serves as Space Coordinator at IMI Corona, a Corona based arts and community organizing center. She needs a ridiculous amount of Mercedes Sosa, Ana Tijoux and Nayyirah Waheed to keep going.

This retreat is organized by the Open A.I.R. Artist Services Program
Open A.I.R. draws on the Queens Museum’s resources, staff expertise, and networks to provide workshops and lectures that help artists grow their practice, advance their career, and develop sustainable lives as artists. Given the Museum’s commitment to socially-engaged art that crosses sectors, as well as attention to its role in neighboring communities, Open A.I.R. works to expand the notion of who is an artist and, moreover, utilizes a holistic view of how to support their potential to thrive and contribute to the cultural landscape of Queens and New York City more broadly. Tailored to artists in the outer boroughs, Open A.I.R. prioritizes the needs of artists of color, queer artists, and immigrant artists, facilitating conversations where art meets activism, and organizing experiences that bring together artists and non-artists.

Open A.I.R. is made possible by a generous grant from The Scherman Foundation’s Katharine S. and Axel G. Rosin Fund. Additional support provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Questions? Email sjmo@queensmuseum.org