Blights Out for President
Blights Out for President is a creative campaign that calls for an alternative to top-down electoral politics that center talking heads and vague political jargon over the voices and concerns of everyday people. The Blights Out for President election signage campaign hijacks the aesthetics of election propaganda to create a crowd-sourced campaign of yard signs and billboards calling for housing justice.
Uplifting the political agent, artist, poet, designer, and planner within all of us, these 5 yard signs were designed to saturate the city beginning on the eve of the November 8, 2016 election and into the future because civic engagement does not end at the ballot.
Controls and Counter Reactions.
Curated by Carl Joe Williams for Blights Out. Photography by AnnieLaurie Erickson.
In June 2016, Blights Out Co-Founder Carl Joe Willams curated an exhibition of works at Antenna to embed the issues of housing, blight, and gentrification in the art world to encourage artists and art workers to acknowledge and confront our use and abuse by developers in the gentrification of low income neighborhoods. The exhibition included work by: Amy Bryan, Ana Hernandez, Bottletree, Carl Joe Williams, Craig Magraff, Jr., Dan Tague, Ernest Joshua Littles, Ginny Hanusik, Hannah Chalew, Heidi Hickman, Horton Humble, Jer’lisa Devezin, John Isiah Walton, Katrina Andry, Keith Duncan, Lee Deigaard, Ron Bechet, and Rontherin Ratliff.
Design as Protest
Photography by Marcus Carter and
In October 2015, in partnership with the National Organization of Minority Architects- LA Chapter, Blights Out hosted Design as Protest, a day-long "charrette" (architectural workshop) that united activists, community organizers, architects, designers, and artists with the intention of exploring the potential for design of and intervention within public spaces to expressly serve as an instigator of change.
Live Action Painting.
Photography by H. Hickman
In May 2015, local artists Katrina Andry, Ron Bechet, Amy Bryant, Jer’Lisa Devezin, Keith Duncan, Horton Humble, and Varion Laurent engaged in a “Live Action Painting” of portraits of blighted houses. This quiet event unfurled without PR attention—it was a humble opportunity for artists to engage in dialogue with residents and meditate on the sensory experience of blight. The event took place soon after the City of New Orleans placed several hundred blighted properties up for auction; housing rights advocates and neighbors alike feared that the auction would lead to a land grab and bloodletting of rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods like New Orleans’ historic 6th Ward. Blights Out was interested in carefully navigating the delicate situation, asking local artists of color to paint plein air and engage in candid conversation about the changing neighborhood. The decision to invite only Black artists was controversial amongst our participants and generated a meaningful discussion about race relations, gentrification, and public perception.
Home Court Crawl. Photography by Scott McCrossen/ FIVE65 Design
In December 2014, Blights Out activated Home Court Crawl (HCC) with a porch crawl/ roving performance in collaboration with Junebug Productions, Kesha McKey, and Frederick “Hollywood” Delahoussaye. Hollywood and McKey “performed architecture” by engaging in a call-and-response with blighted homes, reading the architecture as text, riffing on the absurd state of the hollow structures, and energizing them with folly, rage, spirit, and joy. The performance was carried from house to house by a second line with music and food. In retrospect, we see HCC as the beginning of Blights Out, despite the prior 6 months of organizing. On this day, residents who may have been hesitant to join our effort, holding a healthy dose of skepticism instilled by 10 years of false promises, stepped into the streets and articulated commitment to this process. On this day, Blights Out shifted from a project to a movement.