I’m an artist who grew up in New York City. My dad is a retired landlord and my mom is an artist, and I’ve always been obsessed with space. I have a photographic memory of spaces, and at six years old I started rearranging my friend’s rooms. In a roundabout way, these characteristics led me to photography and Social Practice art. I have worked within museum, community, school, non-profit, and gallery settings for the past fifteen years, where I have explored community as an artistic form. I have exhibited at: MoMA, MASS MoCA, MoMA/P.S. 1, Studio Museum in Harlem, Queens Museum of Art, Bronx Museum of the Arts, Project Row Houses, Contemporary Art Center (Vilnius, Lithuania) to name a few.
History of Listings Project
At 22 years old, I earned a residency at MOMA PS1 — I was the youngest resident in the history of the museum. When it ended, I wrote my own job description and got hired as their Education and Community Coordinator. Later, I enrolled in graduate school in Manhattan. I lived in a Queens apartment and wanted to move closer to school, so I sent out an email to my personal email list asking for recommendations.
By then, I’d built an amazing network of artists and friends, so I got a lot of good leads — so many that I couldn’t keep them to myself. I started sharing the listings, and as a result people kept sending them to me. It was artist Sanford Biggers who first asked me to “officially” list a space for him. At first I just used my personal Yahoo account, reformatting emails in Microsoft Word before copying and pasting to my list. Soon after, the email list got so big that Yahoo thought I was spamming people, so I made the leap to working with an email provider and added a sign-up field to my website.
The list kept growing organically, and I sought out friends and associates to give me guidance on how to make it into a business. I feared that being a businessperson would lead me off my path as an artist. For years I didn’t charge for listings, until I could no longer spend time on Listings Project without getting paid for it. When I first started charging, I thought listers would be upset, but instead they sent me thank-you emails — many of them had been looking for a way to give back to this service for a long time.
As an artist, I was lecturing, teaching, exhibiting and speaking a lot while creating Listings Projects on the side. It never occurred to me to present Listings Project as an art piece until, at a speaking engagement, the host asked me to include it in my talk. At that moment, I realized it was an extension of my long-time artistic exploration of self-care as well as my Social Practice work. I’ve always believed that artists need to advocate for themselves to get paid. Eventually, I realized that Listings Project was both art and a business.
My first employee, Dana, our Community Manager, joined me straight out of college. She’s been alongside me as Listings Project has grown into what it is today. She worked to launch our new website, reading every listing, corresponding with all listers, vetting brokers and asking them for documentation if necessary. My second employee, Scott, is our CTO. He joined Listing Project after seven years building the tech & product teams from the ground up for a large lifestyle digital media company. He is responsible for the software and technical systems that keep the list running, and eventually growing a team to help continue to grow & support it all. I hired Mayela, my third employee, in early 2016 as my assistant. She works closely with me on a variety of projects, including: research, outreach, design and copywriting. I’ve also expanded into working with designers, consultants, an accountant and a lawyer. We all work flexibly from many places — the East Coast, the West Coast and the Midwest — and we all share a commitment to creativity and community as well as to our own artistic practices. I’m grateful that Listings Project has become something that supports and sustains so many people. I believe we’re all tasked with taking care of ourselves as individuals within a public. We have to create the system we want to live in.