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braiding circles

artists
Veronica A. Pèrez
 

braiding circles is a dynamic community-building project that delves into themes of fractured identity, representation, and power through BIPOC experiences. The project is inspired by artist Veronica Perez's personal journey and their Puerto Rican father's struggle with white supremacy and colonization, which led to the loss of his cultural heritage. braiding circles aims to preserve and continue storytelling traditions rooted in Black, Latinx, and Indigenous cultures. The project is the recipient of Research and Development funding for ongoing workshop models.

Workshops involve braiding three-strand braids from textiles and synthetic hair while discussing identity, especially from a BIPOC perspective. The resulting braids are used to construct monumental sculptures, symbolizing the collective voices of the community.

Artist bio:

Veronica Pèrez (they/them) is an artist who works alongside the community to speak about erasure, identity, and interdependency.

As a visual artist, social justice, and cultural worker, Perez uses these frames of reference to situate their work deep within intimate stories and experiences — and share them with a broader audience through sculpture and account. The sculptures present themselves through hair and textiles, materials that elicit futures, pasts, and many stories braided together. She achieves this through her workshops called 'braiding circles', which are intimate community gatherings focused on braiding a three-strand braid and discussing identity through the lens of belonging, acceptance, and power through a BIPOC lens.

In 2020, they were awarded the Ellis-Beaureguard Visual Arts Fellowship. In 2021, they were the inaugural fellow at the David C. Driskell Black Seed Studio at Indigo Arts Alliance. In 2022, they were a fellow at the Lunder Institute for American Art Colby College. Perez also subsequently had their first solo exhibition titled 'voices, whispering' at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art. In 2023, Perez had a show at the University of Southern Maine titled 'shadow / echo / memory' as a part of their residency there. Perez is the Administrative Assistant at Indigo Arts Alliance, a Black-led arts and residency organization in Portland, Maine. They are also a co-organizer in Tender Table, an organization focused on uplifting Maine's Black and Brown community through storytelling and food. Pèrez lives with her child and partner in Westbrook, Maine.

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Cover image: Veronica Perez, who’s gonna take care of me...when you die?, 2023, artificial hair, bobby pins 125” x 96” x 27 (Photo by Jack Stoltz)

🕯️ The dance show of the summer is Scapegoat Garden’s Liturgy|Order|Bridge. The Hartford-based company calls upon Black church traditions and ideas of faith, nature, fashion, and experimentation in their limited performance run June 20-22. Tickets available now, presented by SPACE at Mechanics’ Hall. 🕯️