PRESS: Local Artists Talk ‘Beyond Diversity’

By Jackie Strawbridge
Queens Tribune

Jackson Heights is well known as one of the most diverse places on Earth – but what forms does this diversity take, and how does it affect locals’ lives?

Resident and artist Nancy Agabian hopes to address these and other questions at “Beyond Diversity,” a free event taking place Oct. 25 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Queens Pride House. With presentations from local artists, photographers and writers, “Beyond Diversity” will investigate layers of diversity within Jackson Heights and how they influence residents’ understanding of local social and economic issues.

Agabian said she hopes the event will spark dialogue on these varied issues and open connections between artists, activists and residents of every type.

“I had been thinking about starting a salon series to bring people together to talk about local and global issues; this topic of diversity seems to hit closest to home for Jackson Heights,” Agabian said.

For the event, Agabian has pulled together participants representing a range of fields and artistic media.

Writer and organizer Amy Paul will read a short story centering on gentrification, immigration and religion, while artists and advocates Beatriz Gil and Carlos Martinez of the Hibridos Collective will present their DiverCity Map, a crowd-sourced map of community resources.

By participating in Beyond Diversity, Gil said, “we want to include more people in the conversation about what diversity means and how to harness it to improve our neighborhood.”

Agabian herself will read a brief personal essay exploring her experience as an Armenian American, a bisexual and an artist within the neighborhood.

“We’re delighted to be hosting this important event at Queens Pride House as part of our commitment to making ‘diversity’ real,” QPH executive director Pauline Park said.

She also noted that QPH is particularly interested in addressing the challenges faced by “LGBT immigrants and people of color who live at the interstices of multiple oppressions.”

For Agabian, “Beyond Diversity” is only the start of a dialogue.

“We hope that this will be the first of a series of many similar conversations,” Agabian said.

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