The Catalyst Commissions is an initiative by Landecker Fellow and Humanity in Action Senior Fellow Sharon M. Chin. It aims to catalyze civic participation and democracy via the power of art. It awards grants to artists who use art to engage and empower communities in New York City. In April of 2021, The Catalyst Commissions announced its awardees.
In June 2021, one of the awarded projects was released: a comic about white supremacy in Queens by Kimberly Chan, titled “Queens – I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down…”. Using a personal lens and images recognizable to Queens residents, Kimberly Chan educated the viewer about subtle and blatant white supremacist ideology, and simultaneously urges action.
According to the author, this creative project was made “in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and calls to the spirit of Bayanihan (a Tagalog term which means ‘to be in unity, to work together to achieve a specific goal’).” It further encourages the NYC population to vote in the upcoming local elections, and urges them to “choose candidates who understand white supremacy’s manifestations and have platforms and plans to address it.”
The Comic was supported by Sharon’s initiative The Catalyst Commissions and its partners, including: Queens Council on the Arts; Think! Chinatown; The Creative Sanctum; Alfred Landecker Foundation; and Humanity in Action.
Sharon is one of thirty Landecker Democracy Fellows. This fellowship, a collaboration between the Alfred Landecker Foundation and Humanity in Action, was created to strengthen a new generation of leaders whose approaches to political and social challenges can become catalysts for democratic placemaking and community building. Read more about the fellowship here.