Artist launches Kickstarter to turn former Braddock church into transitional housing | Visual arts | Pittsburgh

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Photo: Courtesy of the Cultural Council

Artistic rendering of the Sanctuary

Artist and filmmaker Caledonia Curry has a special relationship with a church in North Braddock. In 2007 Curry, who works as Swoon, was asked to buy and restore an abandoned church on Jones Street. Since then the property, run by Swoon and a team of other artists, has undergone a series of transformations, from hosting a ceramics studio and a creative workshop called Braddock Tiles to the paints palette public murals.

Now Swoon has launched a Kickstarter campaign to turn the site into what an emailed statement calls an “art-filled community center and transitional living space for the homeless and people with addictions issues.” and criminal records”.

The campaign, which is accepting donations until Monday, May 30, will help transform the former church into The Sanctuary, a temporary living space that will be used to “address the housing discrimination faced by people with disabilities. criminal records and strengthen family ties by providing apartments where families can stay together, rather than risk having children lost to the foster care system.” Funds raised will be used to replace all 39 windows in the structure, including the addition of a large stained glass window designed by Swoon and handcrafted by local artists who are also members of the Za’kiyah House community.

According to its website, the Homewood-based Za’kiyah House opened in 2018 to house recovering men between the ages of 18 and 65 in need of a temporary sober living environment. In January 2022, Za’kiyah extended this mission to Donnelle’s Safe Haven for Women in Braddock, which offers to house women returning from incarceration.

The project is personal to Swoon, who, according to an emailed statement, grew up with drug-addicted parents who went through the US incarceration system. This led her to create The Heliotrope Foundation, a local non-profit organization designed to help “communities in crisis through artist collaborations”.

Swoon, who was born in New Haven, Connecticut and raised in Florida, has enjoyed great success as an artist with shows in the United States and around the world. She is credited as being featured in the Brooklyn Museum’s first solo exhibition by a living street artist, and her work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art, Tate Modern, and other institutions.

In 2020, she opens her first personal exhibition in Pittsburgh, The heart lives through the handsto contemporary craftsmanship.

Swoon now lives and works in Brooklyn.

The Kickstarter page says the project needs to raise around $100,000 in order to replace all of the Sanctuary’s windows. Those who donate will receive perks ranging from limited-edition prints to stickers and greeting cards from artists like Shepard Fairey, Nelson Makamo, Ebony Patterson and others, as well as bags and pins designed by Swoon.

Briana R. Cross