Conversations | Rica Takashima and Christine Yearwood’s “One Stop Family Pop Up”
The Fiscally Sponsored project celebrates maternal health at public events throughout New York City.
Visual artist Rica Takashima and Christine Yearwood, UP-STAND CEO/Founder, have teamed up to bring awareness to the maternal experience through their One Stop Family Pop Up, which is Fiscally Sponsored by New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA). A social practice arts project, the mobile set-up shares accommodations through public events in New York City via workshops, a lactation tent, diaper changing station, a play-yard, and an experiential wearable pregnancy bump.
Read NYFA’s conversation with Takashima and Yearwood as they tell us more about making accessibility a reality in an inaccessible city, and celebrate maternal health with them at the 6th annual Boogie on the Boulevard in the Bronx on Sunday, September 15, where One Stop Family Pop Up will next be stationed.
NYFA: How did your One Stop Family Pop Up collaboration begin?
Christine Yearwood: At the end of 2016, Rica met me at a community market. As soon as Rica saw UP-STAND’s table, a showcase of products and opportunities to support pregnant women and families, she asked to collaborate. Rica, as a mother and artist, sympathized deeply. I was excited about an artistic advocacy partnership with Rica and we quickly thought up the concept for One Stop Family Pop Up.
Rica Takashima: One of our aims is to increase accessibility in public spaces for families. In the beginning, we provided a lactation space, a diaper-changing station, a play-yard, priority seating area, and a free artists’ tent and workshop. Then, we also added a pilot Ramp Project, working to install portable ramps in storefronts that have a step and are therefore inaccessible.These ramps are beautifully-designed and painted by community members; we hope to invite visual artists to add paintings to the ramps in the future.
NYFA: For One Stop Family Pop Up, the experience includes a wearable Empathy Belly sculpture. What prompted you to highlight the pregnancy experience for others?
RT: This sculpture, made from a used children’s backpack, contains 20 lbs. of water-weights, the average weight gain around a pregnant woman’s abdomen. Wearing this sculpture, participants experience how much a pregnant woman is challenged just by sitting on a chair or putting on shoes. Not only that, they can also feel the heavy burden put on the body in other supportive areas, such as the back and legs.
CY: Many people, particularly males and young people, are not familiar with the typical challenges that come with pregnancy and are even less aware of the serious complications women frequently experience during pregnancy. Pregnancy is special, but can also be stressful, trigger health concerns, and limit mobility. Pregnant women need community members to understand and support them in order to produce healthy babies and best transition into their roles as mothers.
NYFA: The project now includes an open call for artists. How will presenting other artists’ work enrich the participant experience?
CY: After giving birth, many female artists experience career interruptions. We want to make a space for these artists to return and show their work. As an artist who overcame birth and child-rearing, and who is still struggling, Rica wants to make a path for others in her community.
RT: Artists often gain a new perspective through the experience of raising a child, and in turn provide participants with a new way to look at everyday things. For instance, one of our guest artists worked with participants to create reusable wraps made with cotton cloth and beeswax for an eco-friendly alternative to Ziploc bags or plastic wrap. Makers used cloth from a baby’s dress, or special shirt, to preserve and represent their special memories; this is a great way to give them new life!
NYFA: What new or unique perspectives have your own maternity experiences given you, that you might not have expected?
CY: Being pregnant and parenting has made us realize that pregnancy and childrearing are treated as things that may be accommodated as a courtesy in New York, but that we provide almost zero institutional, standardized, practical support to make public spaces and transportation truly accessible. Everyone knows that New York is expensive, but it is also surprisingly taxing physically and emotionally to have children here. We want to change that.
NYFA: You work in social practice. How does art strengthen a community?
CY: We believe families should have access to socially-engaging art shows, workshops, and public art. All of us better contribute to society when able to connect and engage with our communities!
RT: Our art shows and workshops represent the personalities and communities of our artists. Attending our workshops creates dialogue that introduces and respects one another’s origins, customs, lives, and generational differences.
NYFA: Why did you choose NYFA Fiscal Sponsorship?
CY: NYFA has been incredibly instrumental in our work. Their sponsorship helped us to articulate our project goals, create a project plan and timeline, and keep us accountable. We receive our monetary donations through the NYFA portal and are easily able to manage that account, and have been able to receive material donations via their sponsorship as well. Our projects have truly only been possible with NYFA’s ongoing support!
– Interview conducted by Priscilla Son, Program Officer, Fiscal Sponsorship & Finance
Images: Rica Takashima and Christine Yearwood, Collaboration with MOMpreneurs’ Show & Tell, 2017, Astoria Park, Queens, Photo Credit: Yasushi Tamaki; Collaboration with GrowNYC Green Market, 2018, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, Photo Credit: Rica Takashima; Collaboration with Boogie On The Boulevard, 2018, The Bronx, Photo Credit: Rica Takashima