December 21 marks the winter solstice and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is hosting a themed Third Thursday event in celebration of the coming season.
On the longest night of the year, the museum partners with the Transformative Culture Project to present engaging art that sparks conversations about inclusion and representation.
“Every culture has some type of tradition around the solstice,” says Malia Lazu, Strategic Director at TCP. “We’re incorporating these ideas of getting ready for the new year with movement work and short workshops around dance and energy. It’s all about curating this space with different rituals.”
Merged from youth outreach group Press Pass and the adult-focused Epicenter Community, TCP supports socially and culturally transformative work to support both youth and adult artists. The Roxbury-based organization provides youth jobs training, employment, and professional development with the mission to empower artists to create positive change.
Lazu, herself, has been involved with multiple nonprofit organizations since the age of 19.
“I created Epicenter Community to really get at what I thought nonprofits couldn’t, which was authentic relationship-building without asking for something,” says Lazu. “So often, when we talk about bringing people together, it’s very transactional and that’s why I believe it doesn’t work. If we set up spaces for people to have real reactions, they’ll develop real relationships.”
Lazu, having worked with the Isabella for several Third Thursday events, says their partnership is the model for a genuine, mutually beneficial relationship.
“They understand how the 21st century works and why it’s important to create a space of belonging for our network of artists,” says Lazu. “They see what we do and think that it’s something that deserves to be next to a John Singer Sargent painting. That’s what makes it work versus if they just wanted to check a box and have a colored event. They include us instead of just allowing us to participate.”
The solstice-themed soiree will include an appearance by award-winning actress Obehi Janice, a native Bostonian and Luminary Artist at the Isabella, and performances by a select group of poets.
“The idea is that we have something happening in every room,” says Lazu. “We have an amazing artist who’s getting recruited to do plays in New York here in the living room. Then we have a confident group of young, millennial whippersnappers performing poetry in the tapestry room. It’s a very unique and exciting experience.”
Lazu says she couldn’t imagine a more perfect place than the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum for this type of event because of the personality of its namesake.
“I think Isabella herself would approve of this, and she’d love to see these beautiful young artists speaking their truth,” says Lazu. “I wish people knew she wasn’t just this rich, eccentric woman. She was very forward-thinking and creative and would host these amazing events. I basically try to channel her all the time. I mean, who wouldn’t want to go to a cool party with tigers? You just can’t get the permit for that anymore.”
In addition to the talented lineup, event-goers can enjoy live music, a cash bar, hands-on art making, and snacks, dinner, and drinks from Cafe G. Tickets for the Third Thursday event can be bought online or purchased at the door; students only pay $5 for admission.
For more information, visit gardermuseum.org.
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