This week, ArtsWestchester announced its two 2023 Advancing Equity Award honorees. This award recognizes an artist and a nonprofit organization for their leadership in advancing social justice, equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility through and in the arts.
Selected as the 2023 Advancing Equity artist recipient is Haifa Bint-Kadi of Yonkers. To support her ongoing work and commitment to service, the artist award comes with a $5,000 prize.
The winner of the Advancing Equity Organization Award is The LOFT LGBTQ+ Community Center of White Plains. This award comes with a $25,000 recognition prize.
The Advancing Equity Award is a cornerstone program in the organization’s commitment to social justice. ArtsWestchester CEO Janet T. Langsam explains that the organization “seeks to amplify the diverse voices of [its] multicultural and multiethnic communities through the arts.”
Haifa Bint-Kadi has been designing and fabricating public art mosaics since 1993. She explains: “I was born and raised in New Jersey, but my Arab heritage has influenced the construction of my identity, often in relation to the concept of ‘Other.’” Her work explores issues of gender equality, cultural scrutiny and socio-political scenarios that construct representations of the Other.
“I intensely examine how image language can resist, and also create, representations while also transcending boundaries and oversimplified understandings of what it means to be ‘western’ vs ‘eastern.’ I do this by constructing alternatives to typical Middle Eastern iconography.”
In addition to Bint-Kadi’s own body of work, much of which is in public spaces, she has been a mentor to many emerging artists. As a curator, she has worked to create safe spaces and professional development opportunities for artists from backgrounds that are historically underrepresented in arts institutions.
The LOFT LGBTQ+ Community Center provides a range of services for the LGBTQ+ community in Westchester County and the Lower Hudson Valley Region. The LOFT offers in-person, virtual and hybrid services, support groups, social activities, arts and culture programming, and special events. This includes the Westchester Pride and the Hudson Valley TransForum.
Motivated by the core values of “respect, inclusivity, opportunity and integrity,” The LOFT’s mission is to provide a safe space in which everyone is respected, supported and valued, and to create an affirming environment that reflects the diverse identities of its members. Through this mission, it seeks to be a forceful advocate for justice and positive change for all LGBTQ+ people and celebrating the past, present and future of LGBTQ+ culture and its contributions to society.
Langsam adds: “The Advancing Equity Award recognizes those organizations and artists who have been leaders in creating systemic change towards a more just, diverse, equitable, inclusive and accessible society. The work that these winners have done in Westchester can serve as a model and inspiration for all.”