By Isha Khawaja
Hydr0punk and Blue Machine Records presented their second annual Art Exposition this past weekend. What looked like a large warehouse in the East Bronx was revealed to be a haven for the uptown artists of the resistance.
The exhibition was massive. Tapestries labeled “The Duty of Youth is to Challenge Corruption” sewn beside a raised, clenched fist pinned against the wall and five metallic balloons spelling out “Bronx” floated behind the stage of punk bands like Da Pop and The Plasmids. The Bronx Art Exposition is a place where these artists can display their passions, meet like-minded individuals and even get a flash tattoo of a pair of Timbs.
The exposition was filled with 20-somethings wearing fresh flowers in their ears and green glittered Basquiat earrings, resembling a 2018 version of Prince.
Hydr0punk is an art collective missioned at creating an artist-centered movement and empowering marginalized young talents from the Bronx and uptown Manhattan. Their journey began on Instagram. Here, the young generation release zines about Red Lining, mosh to punk music and express what it is like to be a “Weirdo of Color” to initiate their art career and help establish their small businesses.
The diversity in the Bronx inevitably seeps into the Bronx Art Exposition. A majority of the venue consists of Latin American and African American artists who create their work as a means of resistance against President Trump and, most notably, his administration’s rhetoric against immigrants. This anti-Trump opposition has become a platform for these young artists to advocate their views and experiences.
While circling the venue looking for the nearest bathroom line that was not 10 people long, I could not help but attribute Trump’s election to this production. The more young people are silenced, the greater they will push back – especially in their artistic pursuits.
Emerald Pellot, founder of Grl Trbl, began to design pins to demonstrate her opposition to Trump’s inauguration. “Since Trump was elected, I felt so angry I didn’t know what to do. So I started to design pins to express how I felt.” Pellot created her first pin to represent intersectional feminism. The pin’s design comprised of three fists: one white, one brown and one black raised up in a triangular fashion to express that every woman of every ethnicity should have an equal opportunity to have their opinions heard.
Some artists’ work was not connected to any political sentiment. A Mexican-American artist, Christian Dova, actually avoided the current political climate when creating her bright and vibrant paintings since it tended to distract her more than inspire her. When speaking to her, Dova’s eyes saturated with intense passion, her hands smothered in blue paint as if she was just putting some final touches on a painting.
“My work is a product of people telling me no and from being put down for my emotions and my sexuality.” The only place she can find self-expression is when she is painting.
Whether these artists are creating to protest the current political administration or to discover self-expression, the act of organizing together all through Instagram is revolutionary in and of itself.
While some can get lost in Instagram’s self-obsessed algorithm, these uptown artists use this social media app as a tool to express their political beliefs and display their passions.