“BYOJ” brings your own joy! Series of events hosted by artist Nikki Williams in Harlem


“I wouldn’t have seen it if I hadn’t believed it! a “BYOJ” – Bring Your Own Joy! Artist Nikki Williams’ solo art exhibition in Harlem, NY.

Presented by Spirit at Sunset Productions in association with Ryan Health Frederick Douglass.

Solo art exhibition celebrating Harlem artist and writer Nikki Williams’ joy in imagination, creativity and dreamed vision. The exhibit will be on view in all four Ryan Health Frederick Douglass storefronts at 2381 Frederick Douglass Blvd and 128 the Street in Harlem from October 4, 2022 to November 28, 2022.

There will be an artist talk on Monday, October 24, 2022 from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The artist talk will be a “wonderful stroll in observing the everyday creativity of Harlem and its citizens,” beginning with Ryan Health Frederick Douglass and ending at Ryan Health Adair at 565 Manhattan Avenue at 124th Street in Harlem. Along with the artist, Nikki Williams, Mr. Charles Shorter, Executive Director of Ryan Health Adair, and Ryan Health Frederick Douglass will be on hand to lead the walk and talk about Ryan Health, the arts and Ryan’s Harlem community

health serves. Mr. Aboubakar Diaby, Special Projects Coordinator and Exhibition Curator, and Mr. Charles Ruiz, Administrative Coordinator, Associate Curator, will also be present to discuss the exhibition’s curating process.

Invited guests are Ms. Laurie Cumbo, Cultural Affairs Commissioner, Ms. Nina Norwood, Deputy District Director Office of Congressman Adriano Espaillat NY-13, and Mr. Manny Belliard,

Deputy Director for Constituent Affairs, Office of the Manhattan Borough President, Mark Levine, North Manhattan Office. Ryan Health staff and healthcare providers Frederick Douglas and Ryan Health Adair concluded the Artist Talk on the importance of creativity and imagination in relation to health and well-being.

For more information, contact Spirit in Sunset Productions at (212) 368-3571 [email protected] or Mr. Aboubakar Diaby, Special Events Coordinator at Ryan Health Frederick Douglass at (212) 222.5221 ext. 7826 or www.ryanhealth.org.

“I wouldn’t have seen it if I hadn’t believed it! is the artwork by creator and producer Nikki Williams, Artistic Director of Spirit in Sunset Productions and the creative force behind “B,YOJ” – Bring Your Own Joy! a campaign she spearheaded in 2021. The theme of the art exhibition focuses on challenging you to see what you joyfully believe. It also pays tribute to the magical energy of dreams and creativity of children, especially children of color, whose genius is not always reflected in the resources made available to them. “Children have a way,” Williams affirms, “of reminding us of the importance of recognizing and celebrating our innate blessing of joy—our sixth sense.”

Williams describes the images in “I wouldn’t have seen it if I hadn’t believed it! as a series of art-in-photo/collage images that challenge you, as children can, to “see what you believe” rather than relying on what you see. Williams asserts that “creativity is a heavenly space within our inner being.” Williams

interprets the biblical passage in Matthew 18, “Truly I say unto you, unless you change and become like little children, ye shall never enter the kingdom of heaven” to mean that artists transcend what their five senses perceive .

Artists must first believe that something exists before they can see/create and bring it to life. It takes the faith children have to know that all things are possible for one who believes. Children are fearless in their imaginations – in the way they envision nations.” Williams harnesses the same innate power of childlike wonder and imagination to create artworks that bring visioned dreams to the physical realm and challenge the viewer, twice over looking at works of art that, like the Gene Wilder-written song “Pure Imagination,” tell the viewer, “What you will find that will defy explanation.”

“I wouldn’t have seen it if I hadn’t believed it! also pays special tribute to the artists who work in the arts and education—the often unspoken heroes who are instrumental in shaping how children see the possibilities and beauty of the world. Williams knows firsthand the value of the arts when it comes to raising children. She understands that most children respond and learn when lessons are presented through the lens of creativity. Williams worked as an independent contractor for several arts organizations as an artist for over twenty-five years

education specialist. Williams speaks about her colleagues when she says, “The work of professional artists who bring their gifts and expertise to classrooms, libraries, arts centers, hospitals, community centers, etc. often goes unrewarded. Artists have a unique and enduring way of educating children and adults. Its effects, especially on children, are long-lasting. These artists open worlds to children through books, music, poetry, dance and most importantly, the visual arts.” Williams recognized artists who bring art to children and adults alike in Blick Arts Material’s inaugural exhibition over the summer. Multidisciplinary artist Khuumba Ama and dancer, choreographer and poet Myna Majors from Arts in Education were guest speakers at last August’s Artist Talk.

“I wouldn’t have seen it if I hadn’t believed it! launched a touring exhibition at Blick Art Materials at 261 West 125 the Street next to the world famous Apollo Theater in Harlem. The exhibition is part of the “BYOJ”

TM – Bring Your Own Joy event series that began as a creative writing workshop made possible by William’s third solo show in Spring 2022. The exhibition opened on July 13, 2022 and has been extended to September 7, 2022, Williams is honored and excited to have three solo exhibitions hosted by Blick Art Materials in Harlem. Her first exhibition celebrated the 50th year of the African American Day Parade in Harlem with select photographs Williams had taken of the parade over a period of 25 years. The second exhibition was part of Blick Art Materials’ 12 Art Beats series. A series in which twelve artists have been selected to exhibit their artworks each month of the year. Williams’ artwork celebrated the achievements of the Women Artists of Color in August. “Blick Arts material,” says Williams, “is my creative home. Every time I enter the store, I feel a sense of family. You’re transformed by the power of creativity as you open the glass doors and a sense of what you’re about to experience takes hold of your mind.” Williams admits that after decades of shopping at Pearl Paint, an art supply store that’s… officially located on Canal Street and closed its doors in 2014, would never again feel a personal connection with the employees of an art shop.

Williams also feels extraordinarily blessed to have her artwork featured in the Ryan Health Frederick Douglass window display for the second time. She is grateful that Executive Director, Mr. Charles Shorter, saw the value in her idea of ​​celebrating the endless dreams and creativity inherent in communities of color. Last year, Ryan Health and Executive Director of both Ryan Health Harlem sites, Charles Shorter, spoke of seeing last year’s exhibit “to give the community an opportunity to celebrate, observe and witness an example of Black Excellence, that is shown through powerful imagery and poetry.” Williams prays that the exhibit and the poetry that accompanies the artwork will inspire residents of the neighborhood, as well as the patients that Ryan Health serves and all children who see the exhibit to tap the endless well of their own imagination. Williams is a multi-talented artist who has always added literature and theater to her visual arts.

Dubbed the “Renaissance Woman,” Nikki Williams is an award-winning photographer and poet.

She is also an accomplished painter, playwright and performance artist who has been producing cultural arts programs for over thirty years. “BYOJ” – Bring Your Own Joy! was inspired by a poem Williams wrote last year when she was producing a “Herstoric” photo shoot that focused on women of color artists aged 50 and over.

The poem of the same name is found in her book, Mama Movers/Sistah Shakers – A Celebration of World Dreaming Wimmin.” On August 7, 2022, Williams conceived and hosted what she calls a “joyathon.” For over two hours, professional artists of color presented a non-stop, two-hour marathon presentation of the poetry and prose of Mr. Langston Hughes and Dr. Maya Angelou. The performance took place at the Robert F. Smith Performing Arts Center at Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park. The efforts and work of the participating artists and Spirit in Sunset Productions were recognized with proclamations presented by Ms. Nina Norwood, Assistant District Manager, Office of Congressman Adriano Espaillat NY-13. State Senator Cordell Cleare was also in attendance that day, appearing in person to present the artists with a proclamation. Ms. Minah Whyte, community liaison to Borough President Mark Levine, personally presented certificates of achievement earlier in the week.

“BYOJ” – Bring Your Own Joy! is now the title of a coffee table book published in June 2022. More “BYOJ” events will be presented this year. One of them will take place on Thursday, August 25, 2022. Williams will be presenting an artist talk at 4:00 p.m. in front of Blick Art Materials. Singer Lil Phillips, visual artist Sara Diallo and artist Rasheeda Shabazz will engage audiences with songs and stories about their lives as artists and the creative process.

Williams looks forward to producing a “BYOJ” – Bring Your Own Joy! Podcast by the end of the year. The public is encouraged to contact Spirit in Sunset Productions via their email address – [email protected] – to be kept informed of upcoming “BYOJ” events.

Both Ryan Health Frederick Douglass and Blick Art Materials are accessible by public transportation by taking the A, D, C, B and/or the #2 and #3 trains to 125 the Street.

For more information, contact Spirit at Sunset Productions at (212) 368-3571, [email protected] or Ryan Health at (212) 222-5221 | ext 7826, www.ryanhealth.org

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