Behind a pair of red double doors in the Laurel District, a crowd abuzz with chatter, music and artistic critique quieted to a foot-tapping silence as writer and visual artist Indira Allegra stepped to the makeshift center stage and read her poem “Body of the Work.”
Allegra’s piece was the first performance at the pre-opening showcase and fundraiser for Liminal, a new location for feminists and artists to workshop, meet and collaborate. The event — Sunday, Feb. 15 — featured sets of performances by artists, poets and musicians from 2-6 p.m., massages, astrology and a writing station from 6-8 p.m., and a dance party from 6-8 p.m. Throughout the afternoon, people wandered in and poked their heads through the doors, which often flowed over with the diverse crowd squeezing in.
“To be a feminist is to exist in a liminal space. To be in a neighborhood that hasn’t ever had a venue for Feminist events and workshops, or a venue for creativity such as this before, is to be in a Liminal space,” said Goldblatt in an email. “To encourage and engage in conversations about sexuality, gender, equality, creativity, is to enter in and out of multiple liminal spaces.”
Part of Liminal’s mission is to be accessible to people across the board. Goldblatt said that she intends to offer a low-cost rental fee, package deals and what she calls an inclusive membership that allows people who make under a certain yearly income to attend for free.
“A lot of people who are in the arts are not making a lot of money, and a lot of people [who] would maybe be interested in taking writing classes will not be able to afford them,” Goldblatt said. “I think we lose a lot of people whose voices aren’t heard because of the fact that writing workshops can be pricey, and it’s, like, a bourgie thing that a lot of people get locked out of.”
According to Allegra, accessibility is one aspect that makes Liminal a valuable and inviting space. Allegra pointed out that Liminal is located along the 57 bus line, and the slope at the end of the sidewalk combined with the building’s wide, flat threshold makes the space accessible to those with a wheelchair or stroller.
Immediately upon walking into Liminal, one is surrounded by art. On the right hand side, a series of colorful, three-dimensional and textile, canvas pieces line the wall. Past the entryway, where Liminal’s mission statement is posted, natural light from the building’s many windows highlight three rectangular strips that hang vertically from the ceiling to the tops of the couches below. Each strip has seven horizontal rows of photographs featuring items like shells, bottles, figurines and a bird’s nest. A sign below describes the piece as Kevin Tijerina’s “Giant Versions of Miniature Things.”
Allegra, who projected a visual piece at the event in addition to her poem, appreciated the mixture of artistic mediums at Liminal, which she feels makes it a uniquely valuable resource for artists.
“I think there is a real need for spaces like this, you know; places wherein people can present work from many different mediums,” Allegra said. “There can be art on the walls, as well as a space for folks to speak poetry … I feel like that’s how art happens and where critical conversations boil up to the surface, when there’s this cross-pollination of folks from different mediums.”
Golblatt lives in a curtained-off loft, a staircase above the workshop area. She began renting the building last month and in that time has developed the lower floor into what is now Liminal. Though she plans to start small, Goldblatt hopes that Liminal will grow into a communal and cooperative place for artists that is be fully operational in March.
“One of the main principles going into this space is really supporting each other and promoting the f— out of each other,”Goldblatt said. “If we are going to combat a system that is not making a ton of space for our voices, then we really have to do that and not make a ton of divisions inside that group.”
Daphne Gottlieb, who taught poetry at Mills during the Fall semester in 2014, is supportive of Goldblatt’s vision for Liminal, and thinks it will become a valuable communal space for feminist artists.
“I’m really proud to be part of the consecration of this space because I think that this speaks to a lack that has existed for a long time now, both in the feminist community and the writing community,” Gottlieb said.
Gerald Chambers, a psychotherapist who lives two doors down from Liminal, was invited to the event by Goldblatt when they crossed paths one day. Chambers said he enjoyed the event and thinks Liminal will draw people in from the surrounding neighborhood.
“I like it; I like it a lot. It’s good for the neighborhood. People have already stuck their heads in the door who are coming back,” Chambers said. “I think it’s very, very new, and we have to give it a chance to catch on, but I think it’s going to be nice. I think people are going to come over here.”
For more information about Liminal, visit theliminalcenter.com.