Book Launch: jackie sumell’s The Abolitionist's Field Guide
August 5, 2022
Marking the release of artist jackie sumell’s The Abolitionist's Field Guide, MoMA PS1 and Artbook host a conversation between sumell and Viva Ruiz, an artist, advocate, and founder of the queer activist intitiative Thank God For Abortion. sumell’s The Abolitionist's Field Guide is an interactive workbook and reader that teaches abolitionist strategy through the lived experience of plants, their natural relationships, and the stories they tell. “Sometimes those teachings are direct perceptions, sometimes they are metaphors,” sumell writes. “Abolition, like growing a plant, requires daily attention and care.” Taking the Field Guide as a jumping-off point, sumell and Ruiz will discuss the power of imagination in organizing, and the liberatory potential of plants to guide us in resistance against forms of state-mandated control. This event accompanies sumell’s Growing Abolition, a multifaceted project in collaboration with the Lower Eastside Girls Club unfolding around a greenhouse located in PS1’s Courtyard. It also marks the launch of sumell’s tour of the Abolitionist’s Apothecary.
Viva Ruiz is a community educated artist and advocate, and a descendant of factory-working Ecuadorian migrants raised in Jamaica, Queens. They are a maker working in performance, film, writing, music, and dance with a collaborative practice grown out of their experience in NYC nightlife. Their telenovelas have been shown at festivals and art spaces such as Mix NYC, Outfest LA, Deitch Projects, MoMA PS1, and Futura in Prague. Her short film Chloe Dzubilo: There is a Transolution, commissioned by Visual AIDS, premiered at the 30th annual Day With(out) Art at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2019. Ruiz founded the Thank God for Abortion initiative in 2015, an ongoing awareness-raising project with multiple manifestations. In 2019 Ruiz’s held a solo exhibition titled Pro Abortion Shakira: A TGFA Introspective at Participant Inc. Ruiz was the first artist awarded a residency from the pro-abortion cultural organization Shout Your Abortion. They are a member of the Carribbean queer party/artist collective, RAGGA NYC. In 2020 Ruiz participated in In Plain Sight, conceived of by Cassils and rafa esparza, a coalition of 80 artists fighting immigrant detention and the culture of incarceration. Ruiz authored the phrase “ARREST ICE,” which was skywritten over NYC ICE offices. Ruiz is a recipient of the 2022 Creative Capital award.
jackie sumell’s work, anchored at the intersection of abolition, art, social practice, permaculture, and contemplative studies, has been exhibited extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe. She has spent the last two decades working directly with incarcerated folx, most notably, her elders Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox and Robert King—collectively known as the Angola 3. sumell has been the recipient of multiple residencies and fellowships including: Art Matters Fellowship & Joan Mitchell Studio Fellowship, Art for Justice Fellowship, S.O.U.R.C.E. Fellowship, Creative Capital Grant, A Blade of Grass Fellowship, MSU’s Critical Race Studies Fellowship, Robert Rauschenberg Artist-as-Activist Fellowship, Soros Justice Fellowship, Eyebeam Project Fellowship, and a Schloss Solitude Residency Fellowship. sumell’s work invites us to imagine a landscape without prisons. She is based in New Orleans, Louisiana where she continues to work on Herman's House, Solitary Gardens, The Prisoner’s Apothecary+, and several other community generated, advocacy-based projects.