Assembly operates from the Recess satellite storefront space in Downtown Brooklyn. To expand upon our mission to connect artists and publics, Assembly offers arts-based diversion programs for court-involved youth, in order to provide alternatives to incarceration and other adult sanctions. The program’s curriculum utilizes visual storytelling to reject popular narratives of “the criminal.” When participants complete the Assembly diversion program, prosecutors may close and seal their cases, allowing them to avoid an adult record.

The program is presented in partnership with Brooklyn Justice Initiatives, who recruit program participants at the court level, and Shaun Leonardo, who is the program’s lead teaching artist and organizer. After the first three months, Leonardo will be joined by teaching artists Salome Asega in the spring, and Sable Elyse Smith in the summer, who will have the opportunity to activate and cumulatively add to the front gallery space over a 3 month period, working toward an evolving installation rather than a static exhibitionHe will also be joined by research artist Melanie Crean, who is investigating the potential of the performance-based curriculum to promote agency and mitigate stress related to trauma.

In addition to this dedicated diversion program, Assembly grants each teaching artist the opportunity to activate and add to the front gallery space cumulatively over a three month period, working toward an evolving installation rather than a static exhibition.

After the mandated four-week program, participants may elect to continue as paid artists/curators to realize a final project and curate a final exhibition combining their own work with that of the teaching artists. Once participants have completed the mandated and voluntary portions of a cycle, they are invited to continue their involvement with the Assembly program as paid peer leaders, advising future participants and learning the skills required to teach the curriculum on their own.


Major funding for Assembly is provided byThe Horace Goldsmith Foundation, The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, and The Salomon Foundation. This program is also made possible with donated space and program support from Alloy Development

Banner image courtesy of Alloy, Kaz Sakuma

Current Activation: