LES Community Culture Council
The Lower East Side Community Culture Council is a group of LES residents and workers interested in strengthening opportunities for LESiders to connect to, enjoy, and actively participate in local arts and culture experience. These connections may be as audiences, arts learners, or practicing artists.
FABnyc, which organizes the LESCCC, is committed to strengthening opportunities for LES residents to access and fully participate in local arts and culture. We are particularly interested in seeing those who have felt themselves marginalized in the community and/or separated from its cultural institutions feel more welcome and included. The LESCCC was originally developed in collaboration with University Settlement.
Tareake Dorill Ramos
Get to know the current council and read their bios below:
Shaheeda Yasmeen Smith is a creative, an organizer, a healer, and a communicator. She’s been a youth and community through the arts and wellness for twenty years in New York City. Using the Arts to connect with families and unite the communities, she has worked with iconic Lower East Side Settlement Houses, Community Organizations, Public Officials and has initiated citywide youth initiatives to amplify youth voices, to move the needle of injustice. As a creative, she has developed content for social media through an anti-racist lens that is spiritual, informed, and inspirational. In all her lived experiences as a modern black Muslim woman, she formed Infinite Movement Incorporated(IMI), an organization that promotes healing through the arts, health, and wellness. Her mission is to alleviate the community trauma caused by systemic racism to underserved communities. Being an intentional advocate for all genders and generations, she honors diversity with a hands-on, heart on, and ears open approach.
Tareake Dorill Ramos
Tareake Dorill Ramos’s proudest affiliation is being born and raised in the Lower East Side, NYC. Tareake graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and Choreography. Mr. Ramos served as Student Body President at UNCSA and had the amazing opportunity of being a voting member of the university’s Board of Trustees. Tareake founded and serves as the Executive Director of Dorill Initiative, which is committed to engaging students through artistic and creative expression, academic enrichment, and community engagement to ensure student success artistically, academically, socially and professionally. Mr. Ramos is currently a member of the Angel Alliance Board of the Lower East Side Girls Club, co-chair and member of the UNCSA Alumni Association, and is excited to join the Lower East Side Community Cultural Council as a council member.
Felicia Gordon is a life long New Yorker. Whom has resided in the Lower East side for over two decades. What attracted Ms. Gordon to the community, was its cultural diversity, and thriving art scene. She states “Since childhood, I have found refuge in the arts. My first love however, is dance. I found my voice in movement. And that voice is loud, bold, and self assured” Qualities that Ms. Gordon has honed, and utilizes on a daily basis as a community activist. She is the President of Raphael Hernendez Resident Association. And has committed herself to ensuring that truly affordable housing is a right, not a privelege. She also champions, and supports a number of local non profits. The most recent “LESCCC” The opportunity to share the wonderment of artistic expression with her neighbors, she declares with a smile “Is A Dream Come True”
Fan Kong is an educational researcher and teaching artist with a background in studying how people learn art and science outside of school and across the lifespan. She works toward building consequential spaces where youth and families can practice social changemaking through the arts. As a 1.5 generation immigrant, her journey from China and Hong Kong passes through Manhattan’s Chinatown, where she attended Mandarin school on Saturdays and later worked as a community organizer and educator. She is inspired by the serendipitous encounters with people, art, and ideas that are still possible during these pandemic times. Fan holds a BA in Art History from Columbia University and MEd in Learning Sciences and Human Development from the University of Washington
Kendra Krueger is an intersectional scientist, educator, artist and human of color on many edges. Raised by artists, educated as an electrical engineer and trained in anti-oppression facilitation, theater, mindfulness and permaculture. Her work and research is a convergence of these many waters. The intention of her work comes down to healing. Healing ourselves, our communities and our Earth. Her teaching and research pedagogy advocates that science can be transformative for the external and internal world and art is a means of research. She founded 4LoveandScience as a platform to teach transformative science at universities, in k12 schools and in community spaces/gardens throughout the country. She has also developed performative art and installations that integrate stories of nature, science and identity. She currently works as a Youth Science Educator at CUNY’s Advanced Science Research Center and supports the East Village arts organization founded by her parents in the 1970s known as Minority Photographers Inc.
Jonathan Martinez is a lifelong Scholar and Educator native to New York City. Sinplicity, his first book of Poetry, was self published in the summer of 2018. A collection of early works meant to serve as an introduction to the three personas of ‘The Mad Poet’. The poems were all meant to be spoken aloud, a poetic mask that empowers the reader to shed their mundane inhibitions and enjoy life. He has been dubbed the “Street Art Historian” due to his recent work with respected members of the Graffiti and Urban Arts Movement in NYC, by way of his social media platforms. As an artist Jonathan is a self taught photographer who also enjoys creating original paint and graffiti pieces. Jonathan is currently working on Vol 2 of Sinplicity along with the publication of other original comic books and graphic novels. 2018 also saw the foundation of the Deathwish Society Art Collective.
Destiny Mata is a Mexican American photographer and filmmaker based in her native New York City as she focuses on issues of subculture and community. After studying photojournalism at LaGuardia Community College and San Antonio College, she spent 2 years as Director of Photography Programs at the Lower East Side Girls Club Mata and has had work published and featured in The Nation, Teen Vogue, Vice’s Noisey, Vibe, The Source, and Mass Appeal. Mata recently exhibited La Vida En Loisaida: Life on the Lower East Side at Photoville Festival 2020. She has taken part in a group exhibition at ICP Concerned Global Images for Global Crisis at the International Center of Photography 2020, Magnum Foundation US Dispatches Grantee 2020, Mexic-Arte Museum, Young Latino Artists 21: Amexican@ 2016 and in 2014 she exhibited photographs of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy at the Museum of New York City’s, Rising Waters: Photographs of Sandy exhibition.
My name is Saarah Medrano, I was born in the Dominican Republic and came to the United States at a very young age. I was raised in Chelsea and in my early teens my family moved to the Lower East Side and have been there since. I developed a passion for the Arts in my early pre-teen years when I attended an after school program which offered theater classes at Hudson Guild Theater. As a result of my training, I was afforded the opportunity to perform in various theater productions, both in Spanish and English. I have appeared in several short Spanish films, the most recent one in my native country, the Dominican Republic. I like to explore new things and take on new challenges. I recently ventured into the television industry and became a certified Studio Producer at Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) Studios. Aside from my theater experiences, I enjoy meeting people from all walks of life and have a passion for different types of cuisine. My best role in life is being a mother of three beautiful children and four awesome grandchildren whom I adore. They are my inspiration to spread my wings in each step I take in my journey through life.
Mollie Serena is a New York City-based interdisciplinary artist working in photography, film, sculpture, lasers, and light art. Within her art practice, she experiments and remixes mediums to synthesize projects steeped in layered visual imagery in the intersection between art, science, technology, and philosophy. Her art practice is informed by her academic pursuits being a graduate of Parsons School for Design with a BFA in Photography, M.A. and Ph.D. from the Philosophy, Art, and Critical Thought division of The European Graduate School. For the past few years, Mollie has been collaborating with the Design Trust for Public Space to create a prototype for an outdoor NYCHA space that will be transformed into a recreational area in the Lower East Side. She is currently developing three public art installations for NYCHA developments in the LES and