Instead of going to your typical haunt Thursday night , the Latin American Community Art Project or LACAP is hoping you'll head to Cous Cous June 24th. DJ Baby Pants, Support Hoes, R. Dazzle and Eesehak LaRoc will be spinning classic hip hop, funk, soul, 70’s Motown and afro beat. The night is part of a slew of events put on in Richmond this year to support the inter-cultural awareness project.
LACAP started as a group of New York artist who have been traveling to southeast El Salvador since 2004 to give workshops to community members ages 7 to 40. Everything from embroidery to painting to guitar to English is offered. In the rural village of Provo, the artists are provided with housing and studio space. This year 11 artists, three of them from Richmond, are making the trip. They will spend two to six weeks interacting with Salvadorians and sharing their chosen art form.
Sandra Cornejo, recent VCU painting and printmaking graduate who’s brother is LACAP’s director, has traveled to El Salvador three times to be part of the artist residency. She said:
"Basically it just started off as a group of artists who wanted to use their talents to engage with people directly. So we decided to go out there and share our talents with the people from my mom’s home village since she was kind enough to donate a house to the cause.”
Cornejo said the workshops are a place for villagers to express their ideas and concerns about immigration, economic distress and the civil war that began in the early 80’s and ended in 1992. While at a hospital being treated for Dengue Fever, she began talking to a woman in the bed next to hers. She said:
“As soon as I bring up the war, she completely freezes and shuts me out completely. And that reminds me that what I’m doing here, providing a space for adults from that generation to talk about these things through images. It’s something, I don’t know, it’s really important, to move on, to address it.”
LACAP artists used to rely on selling their art and getting sponsors to raise money for the program. But this year Cornejo said:
“People I’ve recruited have been helping out a lot. They’ve really had the incentive to go out, help out. Spread the love. Raise the funds.”
Isaac Ramsey, a rap performer whose moniker is Swordplay, is one of those that enlisted. He was working with the Art 180, a project that pairs artists with Richmond youth, with Talia Miller. Miller is organizing LACAP benefits but can’t make it to El Salvador this year. Ramsey also met Cornejo and said it was natural for him to become a part of LACAP.
“Just kind of heard about it, then talked about it, then decided to actually go and participate," Ramsey said. "And we’re basically going to be making musical instruments out of recycled materials and goards. With the hopes of creating some sort of performance with those. And maybe some storytelling and live dancing, that kind of thing.”
Ramsey decided to organize an event at Cous Cous to raise funds for bigger supplies he needs for his workshops like microphones and smaller stuff like beads and bells for shakers. He decided to assemble some friends who don’t normally DJ to join him in support of LACAP. The event is free but Ramsey said:
“Well if everyone comes out and drinks quite a bit, Cous Cous has offered to make a generous donation to LACAP.”
Cornejo said she has lost count of how many events have been put on Richmond to help LACAP function in El Salvador. The cause has enticed local bands like Gull and Antlers to play shows. Cornejo said she hopes her involvement in the community expands even further.
“The musicians from the community have been very willing, engaging and inspired by it and I’m really stoked just about engaging the community with this grassroots organization and hopefully creating a satellite organization here where I could work with the community in the future,” Cornejo said.
And the benefit events will keep coming into July. NY Deli will host a raffle and DJ’s with drink specials on Sunday, June 27th..And Talia Miller, Marshe Wyche of Rumours Boutique and Matt Seymour of Pedals on Our Pirateships are organizing a Rock Lotto to fundraise for LACAP .
The Rock Lotto is a Richmond tradition where volunteers put their names into a hat and groups of four or five are pulled out to create a band. Anyone that wants to participate can go to the drawing at Rumours at 8pm Friday July 2. While you are throwing your name in the ring, you can support LACAP with a purchase. Ramsey, who’s spinning from 4-7pm on the 2nd, said:
“Twenty percent of the sales will go to LACAP, so it’s a good time to do your shopping.”
The newly formed Rock Lotto bands will play the next Friday at Gallery 5 at 7:30pm. Miller said:
“You have a week to practice together and write songs and then everyone performs on the 9th. And you end up with crazy, crazy things and super unconventional bands you know with like four drummers and a singer!”
Cornejo will be in El Salvador getting ready for the six weeks of workshops before the Rock Lotto bands come to fruition but she said she has plans for LACAP when she makes it back up north.
“We’re not non-profit profit yet but we hope to be soon. But we’re babies, we’re still growing. And definitely expanding,” Cornejo said.