Cherokee Odeke: Come on People Let's Get it TOGETHER (June 1, 2010 - present)
Odeke's temporary mural consisted of a visually subtle and declaratively enigmatic text that read, "come on people let's get it TOGETHER," bracketed by cartoonish, outstretched arms. The text can be interpreted as an impatient demand -- as in "pull your lives together!" -- or as a call to collective action -- as in "let's all work together to get what we want."
In conductig reearch for the project, Odeke interviewed people living on West 148th Street (the block on which Triple Candie is located) and asked them about current concerns. The issue that rose to the top was the tensions that existed between long-time African American residents (some families date back generations on the block) and the recent influx of Latinos, primarily Mexicans and Dominicans. Broadway, to the west, has become increasingly Latinized in the past five years, while Amsterdam Avenue, to the east, has remained largely African American.
The tensions between the two loosely defined groups came to a head last year at the West 148th Street block party. When the organizers couldn't come to an agreement that would please both, they decided to host two simultaneous parties. At the west end of the street, a Mariachi band played. At the east end, a D.J. spun Michael Jackson tunes. There was little-to-no interaction between the two parties.
Odeke's text-mural is situated at the east end of the street, where a group of African Americans congregate during the day to socialize.
About the Artist:
Cherokee Odeke (b. 1983) is a U.S.-born artist-activist who recently moved to Harlem from Australia. While in Australia, she divided her time between a socialist squat house in Sydney and the Papunya Tula artists community near Alice Springs. Her work shows influence of both experiences. Socially, it stresses common themes of collaboration, cross-cultural understanding, and ascetic living. Aesthetically, it is understated and wonderfully human (though she often includes texts in her work -- unlike the Papunya Tula artists -- it is always hand-painted/drawn in a font that is sweet, almost naive, even when her texts are anything but. Odeke has an undergraduate degree in political economy from the University of Sydney.