Healing Pieces Presents Exhibits in West Dallas

Multi-sensory exhibits explore mass incarceration, environmentalism and more

Black Power Naps Park/Parque Siestas Negras

Collaboration led by SMU Meadows School of the Arts’ Ignite/Arts Dallas initiative with extensive group of organizations, artists and social justice advocates

DALLAS (SMU) --- Three artworks debut this fall in Dallas as the first iteration of Healing Pieces: Offerings of Art, Expression and Nature, a collaborative multi-year arts and engagement initiative led by SMU Meadows School of the Arts’ Ignite/Arts Dallas program with myriad partner organizations and individuals.

Healing Pieces (www.healingpieces.art) is specifically interested in how architecture, green space, urban planning and community development can lead to transformation of the city. It seeks to illustrate how Dallas and its communities can enter conversations that encourage understanding and stimulate meaningful change across race, culture, geography, criminal and environmental justice reform and urbanism.

The three works, each at a different site, are Black Power Naps Park/Parque Siestas Negrasby Navild Acosta and Fannie Sosa at Sweet Pass Sculpture Park; the augmented reality experience Project Witness in West Dallas;and the 2021 Healing Pieces Action Calendar by RISO BAR. All were designed in consideration of safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Both Black Power Naps and Project Witness will be available for public viewing from October 24 through December 10, 2020. In addition, an online symposium is planned for December 8.

Curated by Ignite/Arts Dallas Director Clyde Valentín and SMU Pollock Gallery Director Sofia Bastidas Vivar, Black Power Naps Park/Parque Siestas Negras is an interactive multi-sensory outdoor installation at Sweet Pass Sculpture Park that offers rest as a form of reparation. “It invites visitors to lounge, reclaim idleness and consider the power and energy that has been exhausted from those who are Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC),” said Acosta and Sosa. “It also looks at historical records documenting the deliberate fragmentation of restorative sleep patterns to subjugate enslaved people.” Black Power Naps has been presented in cities such as Miami and Madrid; this is its first outdoor exhibition. The installation features hammocks and mounds of grass in yonic shapes that welcome multiple resting bodies amid a serene soundscape of wind chimes and a soothing playlist. The exhibit is free and open to the public by appointment every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sweet Pass Sculpture Park is located at 402 Fabrication Street in West Dallas (75212). To make an appointment, contact Everton Melo, emelo@smu.edu or 214-768-4439.

Project Witness is a free augmented reality experience created earlier this year by the national Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth with Google and YouTube to build awareness of the conditions of childhood incarceration. Accessible via smartphone at six locations around W. Commerce Street and Riverfront Blvd. near the Dallas County Criminal Court and North Tower Detention Facility, it depicts the extreme forms of punishment imposed on incarcerated children in the U.S. through the personal stories of Johnny Perez, Xavier McElrath-Bey, Hernán Carvete Martinez, Jarrett Harper, Laura Berry and Alyssa Beck. Attendees must download Google Lens to scan quotations and engage in the interactive experience as they walk the area abutting the Trinity River, which itself faces pending urban transformation. Project Witness was curated by clemency reform advocate Jason Hernandez. For more details on how to experience Project Witness, visit https://bit.ly/3dsYFNI. For more information on the national project, visit  https://fairsentencingofyouth.org/project-witness/.

The 2021 Healing Pieces Action Calendar, from publishing initiative RISO BAR, will function as both a learning tool and a next-steps methodology for Healing Pieces. Curated by Bastidas Vivar, the calendar features literary and visual artwork by formerly and currently imprisoned people along with a historical understanding of the Texas criminal justice system, images of the Trinity River from the time of the indigenous Caddo people, and new developments taking place around the river linked to pertinent Dallas City Council meetingdatesThe calendar will be available in December via risobar.net, and all proceeds will benefit Miles of Freedom, a Dallas-based nonprofit that helps newly released prisoners get back on their feet.

Healing Pieces will also feature a symposium with conversations and screenings produced in collaboration with the Imagining Freedom Institute, a Dallas-based organization that provides a variety of consultation services on issues of equity and social justice. The symposium will be held Tuesday, December 8, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; details on the program will be posted soon at www.healingpieces.art.

Ignite/Arts Dallas leads Healing Pieces in collaboration with American Indian Heritage Day in Texas; bcWorkshop; Big Thought; Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth; Dallas Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation; Deep Vellum; HR&A Associates; Jason Hernandez; The Imagining Freedom Institute; Miles of Freedom; the Pollock Gallery at SMU; Sweet Pass Sculpture Park; RISO BAR; and Unlocking Doors.

About Ignite/Arts Dallas

Ignite/Arts Dallas launched at SMU Meadows School of the Arts in 2015 to integrate artistic practice and community engagement in ways that involve Meadows students, the wider SMU campus, the city of Dallas and the arts field at large. Ignite/Arts partners with artists and organizations throughout Dallas and across the country to support and develop meaningful cultural programs that benefit the local community, connect Dallas’ cultural energy to other creative communities, and introduce students to the arts’ critical role in social engagement. Its mission is to challenge the imaginations of students and citizens to create more just and vibrant communities through art. For more information, visit www.igniteartsdallas.com.

About Fannie Sosa

Fannie Sosa is an internationally lauded interdisciplinary artist, scholar and activist currently working on a co-directed French and Brazilian Ph.D. called Twerk/Torque: Using Pleasure and Manufacturing Resilience in the Atlantic World.Her Afro-diasporic and Indigenous ancestry has informed her many years of research, performances and teachings. Sosas work focuses on developing pleasurable methodologies using vibrational and sonic therapy, movement practices that liberate the core and transformational social-justice-centered publications. Her performance work has been produced by the Tate Modern, Matadero Madrid and Wiener Festwochen. Sosas current artistic projects include Black Power Naps, Pleasure Is Power, Consent Improvisation, and screen writing a new television series. For more information, visit https://blackpowernaps.black/.

About Navild Acosta

Navild Acosta is a multi-award-winning and internationally acclaimed multimedia artist and activist. His identities as non-binary, transgender, queer and Afro-Latinx have continuously inspired his community-based work. Acosta’s performance work has debuted in various institutions nationally and abroad, including the Tate Modern, MoMA PS1, the New Museum, Matadero Madrid, Tanz im August, Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art, Wiener Festwochen, David Roberts Arts Foundation, Kimmel Center for the Performing ArtsThe Studio Museum in Harlem and McGill University, among others. For more information, visit https://blackpowernaps.black/.

About Sweet Pass Sculpture Park

Founded in 2018 by Tamara Johnson and Trey Burns, Sweet Pass Sculpture Park is a 501(c)(3) organization located on an acre lot in West Dallas. Sweet Pass is dedicated to experimentation and community engagement, with the goal of offering thought-provoking, contemporary art in a free and public venue. In addition, Sweet Pass has an initiative for education and outreach focused on fostering dialogue about the ideas and objects present in the park. For more information, visit www.sweetpasssculpturepark.com.


RISO BAR is a publishing initiative and cooperative space that facilitates collaboration and experimentation using risograph technology. SMU’s Pollock Gallery is currently hosting a RISO BAR exhibition through May 15, 2021. For information about the exhibit, visit https://pollockgallery.art/RISO-BAR. For additional information about RISO BAR’s work, visit www.risobar.net.

About the Imagining Freedom Institute

The Imagining Freedom (IF) Institute is a Dallas-based thought leadership group that works with organizations and institutions to build their capacity for internal and external equity and social justice work. Its goal is to help organizations develop racial equity frameworks, historical analysis and a strategic action plan through customized training and ongoing consultation. For more information, visit https://www.theifinstitute.com/.

About the Curators

Sofia Bastidas Vivar works under the auspices of Ignite/Arts Dallas at SMU Meadows School of the Arts. As the current SMU Meadows curatorial fellow and Pollock Gallery director, she has curated diverse and dynamic programs that focus on supporting existing platforms that engage cultural discourses and catapult creative co-production, communication and sustainable forms of organizing.

Clyde Valentín is the co-founder and former executive director of Hi-ARTS (formerly known as the Hip-Hop Theater Festival). He is the inaugural director of Ignite/Arts Dallas at SMU Meadows. Valentín was a 2015 Community + Culture Fellow of the National Arts Strategies’ Chief Executive Program. He is an advisory committee member of the Latinx Theater Commons and has served as a consultant or panelist for numerous national arts organizations. He most recently joined the local advisory board for Year-Up DFWand the board of Texans for theArts, the statewide advocacy organization of public funding for the arts in Texas.

Jason Hernandez was sentenced to life without parole for a nonviolent drug offense in 1998 at the age of 21. While incarcerated, Hernandez became a “jailhouse attorney.” In 2011 he independently sent a petition and letter to President Obama asking that his sentenced be reduced. On December 19, 2013, Hernandez became one of the first to receive clemency from President Barack Obama as one of the “Obama Eight.” Since his 2015 release, Hernandez has helped six other individuals serving life sentences to receive clemency through President Obama and has advocated for criminal justice reform in major media outlets, including The GuardianThe New York Times, MSNBC and CNN. Hernandez is also a recipient of a Latino Justice Fellowship. He is currently creating a clemency guidebook for incarcerated people and is involved in the initiation and promotion of mass clemency on the state and federal level though a Soros Justice Fellowship provided by The Open Society Foundation. Hernandez also works with youth in the criminal justice system and in schools in Dallas.