As the director of Media Outreach and Coordination for sk.ArtSpace, Kinna LeBlanc helps to organize art shows in trendy DUMBO warehouses and beyond. However, she will always be a Flatbush girl at heart.
Founded in 2018 by a trio of Brooklyn-based women of color artists — Jarryn Mercer, Melissa Sutherland, and Symone Wong — sk.ArtSpace is an arts incubator primarily focused on providing opportunities to emerging artists.
The organization previously had a dedicated gallery space in East New York, but now works with clients throughout the city to put on shows in a number of venues. Yet as sk.ArtSpace’s work continues to expand, its creative team remains dedicated to their original mission.
“The neighborhood where we had our gallery was predominantly Black,” LeBlanc explained during a recent interview. “So being Black women, it was really important to us to open up a space that our community can just kind of walk into and say, ‘hey, I want to do something here.’
“As an art incubator, today, it’s important for us to provide the same safe space for emerging artists so we’ve incorporated a service by partnering with local small businesses, in Brooklyn, where we curate their spaces with local art,” she added.
LeBlanc, who is currently completing her BMA in Emerging Media Studies at CUNY Hunter College, joined the sk.ArtSpace team in 2019. Recently, she helped organize the third annual Future is Female show, an exhibition dedicated to highlighting the work of Black female artists.
This year’s exhibition was curated by local artist Nicolette McClendon, and was on display for nearly a month in the gallery at 175 Pearl Street in Dumbo. For LeBlanc, the 2021 Future is Female show was a perfect opportunity for sk.ArtSpace to show off the work of local talent in the quickly gentrifying landscape of Downtown Brooklyn.
“A lot of these spaces are only now being converted into art spaces, so for us to be some of the first people in here, we were really able to transform the space into something that reflected our identities as Black women,” LeBlanc said. “Every single person that walks through those elevator doors walks out with something new, whether it’s inspiration, a piece of art, or a feeling of pride in themselves.”
All of sk.ArtSpace’s work is extremely collaborative, and LeBlanc made sure to highlight a number of partners who continue to support the incubator’s mission.
“I want to shout out the emerging creatives and notable Brooklyn based artists like Tiffany B. Chanel, Demarcus McGaughey and Ashante Kindle who we’ve worked closely with and who continue to trust our creative vision and also the local Brooklyn businesses, like Brooklyn Blooms Floral Boutique and Lips Cafe, who believe in our curatorial services,” LeBlanc said.
Future is Female was doubly impactful for LeBlanc this year as she had the opportunity to display some of her own artwork in the exhibit. LeBlanc’s piece is a depiction of her mother, an immigrant from Dominica who passed away in 2020.
“I didn’t know I was going to be an artist for this exhibition too,” Leblanc explained. “But now the first thing I see everyday when I come off the elevator is my late mother, and it makes this space feel like home.”
Symbolically, Leblanc officially became a U.S. citizen on September 9, 2021, one day before this year’s Future is Female exhibit opened its doors, honoring her mom’s final wish for her.
“There’s nothing quite like that feeling of being the little immigrant girl from Flatbush and making it here,” LeBlanc said while looking around the DUMBO show room. “This is the stuff that seriously excites me, and I hope to pass it on to the next generation of young female artists and young Black artists.”
For more information about sk.ArtSpace and their upcoming projects, visit skartspace.com.