Rowan Renee: A Common Thread

January 13 – March 4, 2022

Due to the process-based nature of the Session program, A Common Thread will undergo constant modifications; the features of this page provide accruing information on the project’s developments.

Ways to Experience the Project

Events are subject to change. All events are free unless otherwise noted.

Rowan Renee in Conversation with YaliniDream
Friday, Feb 11th, 6pm-8pm ET | Online Via Zoom

YaliniDream is a touring performing artist, organizer, cultural worker, and consultant with over twenty years experience using artistic tools for healing, organizing, and dignity with communities contending with violence and trauma. Yalini conjures spirit through a unique blend of poetry, theater, song, and dance– reshaping reality and seeking peace through justice in lands of earth, psyche, soul, and dream. Yalini’s work has been performed in Africa, Asia, Europe, and esteemed US venues such as NYC’s Lincoln Center, New York Live Arts, Here Arts Center, Chicago’s Vittum Theater, and numerous universities. Touring as part of Hip Hop Storytelling Duo Brooklyn DreamWolf, Yalini has shared stages with icons like Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Harry Belafonte, Joan Baez, and Rah Digga. Yalini was Artistic Director of APIA feminist performance company Mango Tribe, Artist-in-Residence at the University of Michigan’s Center for World Performance Studies; and teaches Social Justice Pedagogy and the Arts at University of San Francisco. 

Register Here

Rowan Renee in Conversation with Chloe Hayward
Friday Feb 18th 6-8pm ET | Online Via Zoom

Chloe Hayward is an art therapist, educator and author living and working in New York City. She believes in the power of art to transform systems, selves and structures. Chloe serves on the board of directors for Artistic Noise, an organization which provides self-expression through the arts for youth impacted by the justice system. As Associate Director of Education at The Studio Museum in Harlem, she co-creates with her department to provide a robust focus on the intersection between art, education and mental health, overseeing programs and projects rooted in community care and abolition. Her work uses the power of the creative arts process to bring awareness and promote social change, equity, and inclusion.

Register Here

Public Viewing: Rowan Renee’s Circle of Care
Saturday Feb 26th 4-6pm ET | 46 Washington Ave BK, NY 11205

The public is invited to view, for the first time, the completed tapestry work resulting from 2 months of collaborative weaving

Register Here

Rowan Renee in Conversation with RJ Maccani
Friday, March 4th, 6pm-7:30pm ET | Online Via Zoom

RJ Maccani has been active in social and environmental justice movements since the late ’90s. His work brings together three complementary passions: transformative justice, somatic coaching, and the creative arts. He is a parent and works for Common Justice in Brooklyn, supporting people who have caused harm to take accountability and transform their behavior at the first alternative-to-incarceration and victim-service program in the United States to focus on violent felonies in the adult courts.

Register Here

Studio Visits
Thurs, Fri and Sat 12-6 pm | 46 Washington Ave BK, NY 11205

Reserve your 45-minute slot for a private visit during open hours, as an individual or group of no more than four people. Meet the artist to see past work, learn about the artist’s evolving practice, and join them in exploring the potential for weaving as a healing practice centered on the body.

Schedule a Studio Visit Here

Co-Weaving Sessions
Thurs, Fri and Sat 12-6 pm | 46 Washington Ave BK, NY 11205

Recess will be transformed into a fully operational weaving studio where members of the public can make a 2-hour appointment to weave one-on-one with the artist. No prior weaving experience is necessary. Visitors are strongly encouraged to bring material with them to incorporate into a collaborative weaving–old textiles or clothing; paper, photos or documents; organic material (flowers, leaves, hair, thin wood); or small trinkets. 

*Note due to the long and close nature of this interaction, we will ask participants to show proof of negative PCR results within 48 hours, or within 12 hours of a rapid antigen test. Recess will have rapid test kits available on site for those unable to be tested prior to their appointment; if you plan to test at Recess, please arrive 15 minutes before your appointment.

Schedule a Co-Weaving Session Here

Past Conversations

Rowan Renee in Conversation with Alexander Anderson
January 14th 6-8 pm EST | Online via Zoom

For this installment of the project, Rowan will be joined by the Executive Director of Reentry Theater of Harlem, Inc., Alexander Anderson.

Alexander Anderson is the Executive Director of Reentry Theater of Harlem, Inc. A social worker for over 10 years, as well as trained actor, Alex is committed to helping people make the difficult transition from prison back to their communities. A survivor of U.S. legal system, Alex spent 15 years of incarceration in NYS prisons where he embraced education and earned a BA from Syracuse University. In 2009, he joined a program called Ritual4Return, which focused on using rites of passage to help people undo the stigma and trauma caused by mass incarceration. Ritual4Return helped Alex heal emotionally, reconnect with his family and community, and empowered him to help others transform their lives. The idea for the creation of Reentry Theater of Harlem was sparked by Alex’s experience with Ritual4Return.


A Common Thread

Visiting Hours:

By Appointment Only
Thursday, 12:00pm – 6:00pm
Friday & Saturday, 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm

46 Washington Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11205

Visitors (age 5+) must show proof of vaccination upon arrival to Recess. Please be prepared to check-in at the front desk to show your proof of vaccination. Per the city guidelines, we accept the NYC Covid Safe App (Android and iOS), Excelsior Pass, CDC Vaccination Card (or photo), NYC Vaccination Record, or an official immunization record from outside NYC or the US.

KN95, or N95, or KF94 Masks (age 2+) are required for all visitors, one will be provided if other types of mask are worn.

Click here to reserve timed tickets.

A Common Thread will transform Recess into a collaborative weaving studio that explores craft—specifically the physical transformation of material through the body—as a framework for envisioning and enacting transformative justice. At the beginning of the Session, the space will open with a few woven objects on display that were formative in their thinking about these issues, organized around a 25-foot long warp-printing/painting table and loom. Over the course of the Session, they will activate the loom as a place to explore ideas of transformative justice that have played a role in their own personal journey as an artist and a person dealing with familial and structural violence. The meditative act of weaving is offered as a non-verbal and embodied cultural ritual for experiences that are excluded from other public modes of healing, often because of persistent taboo, social shame or stigma. Through co-weaving sessions with community members and thematic public conversations with transformative justice practitioners, the project brings together artists, activists, and community members—particularly those who have been personally affected by the criminal legal system—to fundamentally rethink how society thinks of crime and punishment while exploring art-making as a system of care and healing. 

The artist invites community members who have an experience that they would like to process through the lens of transformative justice to bring material (fabric, paper, imagery or text) to contribute to a collaborative weaving during open studio hours or by scheduling a co-weaving session with the artist. Those unable to come in person can contribute material remotely via email to with “A Common Thread Contribution” in the subject line. Contributed imagery will be incorporated by the artist themself and through making these materials available to others who come to participate in the weaving process. In this way, the labor of transformation will be shared across a community of participants. For those who contribute remotely, they are putting their materials in the care of others to be transformed; for those who contribute in-person, their own experiences will be in direct conversation with others who have worked on the same textile or have contributed materials to its creation. As the textile grows over the duration of the Session, it will become a visual representation for what a community-driven transformative justice process could look like.  

Conversations with Transformative Justice Practitioners

These one-on-one conversations will invite practitioners of Transformative/Restorative Justice to join Rowan Renee in a public conversation that incorporates art-making and somatic movement around the weaving table and loom. Each conversation will address a specific issue or community that has experienced harm, particularly at the intersections of sexual abuse, gender-based violence, systemic racism and discriminatory policing. The conversation will explore different cultural and political strategies being developed and practiced in every-day life to deal with those harms outside the current criminal justice system. These conversations are conceived as part of community-building and collective-envisioning processes that offer a structured way to consider the intersections of art and healing, and the possibilities of art to transform trauma that is carried in the body. They will help inform the artist’s methodology of a full day workshop combining weaving and transformational justice principles that will be the eventual culmination of the Session project.

Rowan Renee’s A Comon Thread is part of Recess’s program, Session, which invites artists to use Recess’s public platform to combine productive studio space with dynamic exhibition opportunities. Sessions remain open to the public from the first day of the artist’s project through the last, encouraging sustained dialogue between artists and audiences. Due to the process-based nature of Session, projects undergo constant revision and the above proposal is subject to change.

 About the Artist

Rowan Renee (they/them) is a Brooklyn, NY based artist who explores how queer identity is mediated by the law. Their work addresses the intergenerational impact of gender-based violence and incarceration through State records and family archives. Their work has been exhibited in solo exhibitions at Smack Mellon (2021), Five Myles (2021), Aperture Foundation (2017), and Pioneer Works (2015), with reviews in publications including VICE, Huffington Post, Hyperallergic, and The New York Times. They have received awards from the Aaron Siskind Foundation, the Harpo Foundation and the Jerome Hill Foundation, and have been an artist-in-residence at the Center for Book Arts, NARS Foundation, Red Bull Arts and the Textile Arts Center. Currently, their project Between the Lines, in collaboration with We, Women Photo, runs art workshops by correspondence with LGBTQ+ people currently incarcerated in Florida. Their installation, No Spirit For Me (2019), was included in the critically acclaimed exhibition Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration, curated by Dr. Nicole R. Fleetwood at MoMA PS1.


Recess is supported, in part, by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; The Art for Justice Fund; The Pinkerton Foundation; ELMA Philanthropies; The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund; The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation; The Tikkum Olam Foundation; The Visionary Freedom Fund of Common Counsel Foundation; The National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in Partnership with the City Council; Prospect Hill Foundation; The Salomon Foundation; The Horace Goldsmith Foundation; VIA Fund; New York Community Trust; ArtMatters; Frank E. Clark Charitable Trust. In-kind support is provided by Materials for the Arts.