On Radical Openness

Fred Villanueva
Darryl Ratcliff
Maya Crawford
Juan Cruz

Selected by Open Call
Organized by Fred Villanueva
/ Ash Studios (TX)

In 2015, Ash Studios initiated the practice of radical openness in one of the poorest zip codes in Dallas — turning our art space over to the community and experiencing extreme growth in the number of events and attendance at our art space. However, existing in a community that struggles with poverty, drugs, addiction, and violence, and focusing particularly on youth culture, we had three shootings occur outside our space — ending with someone being shot through the hand and leg at an art show. Over the years our space has also dealt with other forms of violence, overdoses, deaths, suicides, abuse, police intimidation, and police indifference. Our question is: how do you remain as open as possible to the community, yet maintain a safe-space? How do others cope with the violences that occur in communities and the resulting trauma of dealing with violence on a regular basis? Do community practices and interventions actually curb violence or simply displace it? What are strategies and best practices for dealing with violence in community based practices? In this working group we will delve into this often experienced but under discussed issue that practitioners working in various types of communities must navigate.