Prominent, well-capitalized cultural institutions are often located in privileged neighborhoods, where cultural capital follows economic capital, making institutions inaccessible for many marginalized and minority communities. This second program in the Social (In)Justice and Spatial Practice series, focusing on Decentralizing the Brick and Mortar Institution, looks at new models for decentralizing institutions and expanding the foot print of cultural capital.
The Social (In)Justice and Spatial Practice series investigates the cultural institution’s role in social justice. The past few years have been a turning point in American society, with its intrinsic social injustice finally reaching a widespread moment of urgency. In response, as part of an effort to rethink and reform public civic life, many cultural institutions have been working to combat their historic complacency and restructure their organizations. This series looks not only at the ongoing restructuring of our society, but at how spatial practice, architecture, and design can contribute to this change, showcasing institutions that are instigating reforms as well as those that have been consistent in their embrace of social equity.
Lillian Cho, Senior Project Manager, Hester Street
Stephanie A. Johnson-Cunningham, Executive Director, Museum Hue
Kemi Ilesanmi, Executive Director, The Laundromat Project
Koray Duman, AIA, Principal, B-KD
Peter Zuspan, AIA, Principal, Bureau V Architecture (BVA)
Previous program in the series: Social (In)Justice and Spatial Practice: Architecture & the Cultural Institution – The Institution and Gentrification
About the Speakers:
Lillian Cho is a community organizer and creative placekeeping advocate who has spent more than two decades working with social justice organizations, cultural groups, and public agencies on projects that promote racial equity, inclusion, and access. Before joining Hester Street, Cho served as project lead for the Urban Essex Coalition for Smart Growth. Cho has maintained a practice focused on community engagement, leadership transitions, resource planning, and program design for community-based nonprofits. Clients have included Asian American Writers’ Workshop, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts, Grace Institute, Streetwise Partners, Opening Act, and The Laundromat Project. Prior to consulting, she served as the Asian American Arts Alliance’s executive director, leading advocacy efforts across NYC’s ethnically diverse immigrant populations to promote equity and inclusion for APA cultural groups in partnership with BIPOC communities. Cho holds a BA in Art History and East Asian Studies from Colgate University, and is a LNY24 Fellow alumna of Coro New York Leadership Center. In her free time, she is a curator for Lincoln Center Out of Doors’ La Casita Festival and serves on the boards of EOSFA, Ping Chong & Company, and Think!Chinatown.
Stephanie Johnson-Cunningham is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Museum Hue, an organization that centers the experience of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, and all Creatives of Color. As an advocate for arts and culture, she has been on the forefront of developing invaluable resources that deepens public knowledge and understanding of art, history and culture. As a United Nations Human Rights fellow centering arts and culture, she applies the UN’s ratification of cultural rights to her work to call for greater recognition and representation in the arts ecosystem. Johnson-Cunningham also received the Americans for the Arts 2019 American Express Emerging Leader Award for her work. She also hosts and produces On Display, a show for The WNET Group’s multiplatform arts and culture initiative ALL ARTS that focuses on ways museums and other cultural spaces are addressing societal issues that resulted from intersecting histories and connects to contemporary life. As the United States reckons with a legacy of structural racism, oppression, and discriminatory policies and practices, she centers cultural equity as an essential part of achieving social justice. Johnson-Cunningham holds a Bachelor’s degree in Art and Art History from Brooklyn College and a Master’s degree in Cultural Heritage and Preservation Studies (CHAPS) from Rutgers University.
Kemi Ilesanmi is Executive Director of The Laundromat Project, which advances artists and neighbors as change agents in their own communities. With 20 years of experience in the cultural arena, she is inspired by the immense possibilities for joyful justice at the intersection of arts and community. Prior to joining The LP, she was Director of Grants and Services at Creative Capital Foundation, where she supported the work of American artists making adventurous new work. From 1998 to 2004, she was visual arts curator at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. In 2015, she was appointed by the Mayor of New York City to the Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission and has served as Chair since 2020. Observer included her on the Arts Power 50 list in 2020. She has been honored by the Metropolitan Museum and Project for Empty Space and serves on the boards of the Joan Mitchell Foundation and Smith College Museum of Art, as well as advisory boards for Brooklyn Public Library, Black Arts Future Fund, Indigo Arts Alliance, and WNET All Arts. A graduate of Smith College, NYU, and Coro Leadership NY, she is also a Sterling Network Fellow.
Koray Duman is the principal of Büro Koray Duman, a research-driven architecture and design studio based in New York and Istanbul. Established in 2013, the firm has completed projects for American Society for Muslim Advancement, the Finnish Cultural Institute, MoMA PS1 Museum, and artist Richard Prince. In 2016, the firm won an invited competition to design an art and archive building for the Noguchi Museum. In 2017, Architizer honored the firm as Emerging Firm of the Year. Among several recognitions, the firm received the 2017 Design Award of Excellence by Society of American Registered Architects, and 2020 & 2015 Best of the Year Awards by The Architect’s Newspaper. The firm’s work has been featured in publications including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, New York Magazine, Surface, Cultured, Interior Design and Dwell. Duman is originally from Turkey where he earned a Bachelor Architecture from Middle Eastern Technical University and furthered his studies at UCLA with a Master’s degree in Architecture. He has served as the chair of the AIANY New Practices Committee and as a board member of the Clemente Center in the Lower East Side. He is also on the advisory board of the American Society for Muslim Advancement and ProtoCinema. Duman is an adjunct professor at Pratt and New School and a registered architect in New York State and Turkey.
Peter Zuspan is founding principal of Bureau V Architecture (BVA), an arts-focused design and architecture studio based in Brooklyn. BVA and its projects have won national and international awards, including numerous AIA Awards, a nomination for the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize, Architectural Digest Innovators and Curbed Groundbreakers. BVA’s clients have included the Brooklyn Public Library, National Sawdust, the Bushwick Starr, Chapter NY, Atlanta’s Goat Farm Arts Center, Miami-Dade County. The studio’s work has been exhibited at the Centre Pompidou, the Guggenheim Museum, MoMA PS1, the Storefront for Art and Architecture, the Smithsonian Institute/Cooper Hewitt Museum, and many others nationally and internationally. Zuspan’s research project, “The Performance of Shame: The Desegregation Renovations of Downtown Atlanta,” won the 2021 Arnold W. Brunner Grant for Architectural Research. Zuspan holds a Masters of Architecture and a Bachelors of Arts from Columbia University. He is a licensed architect in the states of New York and Georgia. He is also the Secretary of the Board of Directors of National Sawdust, a nonprofit organization dedicated to new music. He taught architecture at Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, Syracuse University, and the University of Kentucky. BVA is a certified LGBTBE.
This event is offered in person; proof of complete COVID-19 vaccination (for attendees ages 5 and up) with photo ID for adults is required to attend. Food and beverages will be served. Face masks are required for visitors ages 2-5, and optional for those vaccinated. Read our full Health and Safety Protocol here.
AIANY Cultural Facilities Committee