Creative Opportunities Promoting Equality New York City (COPE NYC) hosted Michela Martello and The Third Eye Residency Project, a collaborative community framework with the artists supported at AHRC NYC, leading to placement in an art exhibition focused on inclusivity. Vida Sabbaghi, the Executive Director of COPE NYC, and AHRC NYC have had a productive working relationship since 2013, while Michela is a well-known international artist who has had her work displayed in Italian and New York galleries.

COPE NYC partnered with community artists to present its traveling exhibition, An Inclusive World: Connecting Through Art at the Queens Museum for its inaugural opening.

The traveling exhibition brings together self-taught and formally trained artists in order to exchange ideas and enrich communities without identifying labels,” the organizers’ statement said. “The artists, designers, and active contributors to the exhibition raise community awareness about diversity, differences, and inclusivity.”

Jayson Costor's piece that was featured in the exhibition.

Jayson Costor’s piece was featured in the exhibition.

For several weeks in the summer of 2021, four artists supported at AHRC NYC’s Day Services programs in Brooklyn–Jayson Costor, Cora Ammie, Jonathon Weekes, and Abu Samir–collaborated within the Third Eye Residency Project, led by Michela.

The residency started with conversations of how to make studio practices greener to reduce ecological impact, types of works that will include the art of reuse, and combining various senses to create artworks. Artists chose white cardboard boxes, flattened out, to become the canvases. The familiarity of cardboard was used as the backdrop for untapped creativity which was complemented by the unknown outcomes of the process in which artists created wall murals. These processes were the delight and excitement of the residency project participants.

The artists created works that spoke to their personalities and cultural and intellectual interests. Jayson’s piece, for example, included elements of anime characters, foreign languages, geography, and movies. Michela also encouraged the artists to try creating art while undergoing some form of sensory deprivation—a cloth covering the eyes, or using their non-dominant hand to create art.

Seeing the artists flourish has been inspiring for Michela.“I’m beyond proud of my students,” Michaela wrote. “During the residency, they showed discipline, dedication, insight, enthusiasm, and lots of creativity. They never hesitated to draw and paint blindfolded or draw with the opposite hands. Thank you, Cora, Abu, Jonathan, and Jayson!

The finished pieces of this art project are displayed on the walls at 630 Flushing Ave. (formerly the Pfizer Building) in Brooklyn. They will be showcased until October 3, 2021. The official visiting hours are 4 pm -6 pm. Visitors will need to show proof of vaccination and wearing masks and social distancing are required.