September 21, 2023


Adorn your Feelings

Afro pick art protect pops up in Queens

2 min read

QUEENS, N.Y. (PIX11) — At community gardens, public parks, and at colleges in Queens you’ll find works of art in the shape of afro picks, those long combs used to style tightly curled hair. The artist behind the work is Yvonne Shortt, who said she’s creating a space for people to talk about issues and share their stories.

“I wanted to do it using afro picks because they have been around for centuries and they’ve been used to tell the narrative of many people in many cultures in Africa,” said Shortt.

They are part of a public art project she’s spearheading to bring positive images and strong stories of people of color to Queens.

“I have a project called the Elevation Project. What that’s about is bringing public art and doing it in ways that elevates the narratives of those who are at the colleges. I just didn’t see art that reflected of who I was and I wanted to have that in this space,” said Shortt.

Shortt’s grandfather’s story is displayed at Queens College. He attended the college, got a degree and ended up teaching math in the New York City high school system. The afro pick with her grandfather’s story features a figurine of him surrounded by his children.

“Often he’d be tired, as well and just falling asleep with his books and just knowing he was trying to create something better for his family,” said Shortt.

As a teaching artist at the college this year, Shortt will work with students to display their stories too. The handles of the afro picks with artwork on them will be removed and new narratives will go on top.

Her hope is to create a space where people can come together, see themselves in the artwork and even solve problems in the community.

“Public art is often very big but I like to work with the afro picks up to six feet so that people walk up to it and have a more intimate moment with the work. Art is a great tool to use, to be creative and to get people to come on board,” said Shortt.

Queens College President Frank Wu said this year the college will feature a new art school. He said the college is honored to have an artist in residence like Shortt with a family connection to the college.

“These artworks reflect our shared history and our values. We are so honored to have an artist in residence presenting these stories. Often stories that are not listened to but stories that are so integral to who we are,” said Wu. | Newsphere by AF themes.