Flatbush has a new home in which to explore its rich cultural and artistic heritage.
The House recently hosted an evening of Caribbean cuisine and music to celebrate its opening, and introduce neighbors to its inaugural Artist-in-Residence, Shakespeare Guirand, who originally hails from Haiti.
The solar powered space will host exhibitions, book readings and other arts and culture activities.
The House is the latest project of CaribBEING, a non-profit organization whose stated mission is to build community through the lens of Caribbean cinema, culture and art. The organization has been in existence since 1999 and is the brainchild of Flatbush native and Caribbean-American (Trinidadian) Shelley Worrell.
CaribBEING house is a way to begin to address the “huge deficit of arts and culture spaces in Central Brooklyn,” Worrell said. And “brings home the [cultural] work we’ve been doing in Ditmas Park, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens and Greater Flatbush,” she added.
While the space won’t be solely focused on Caribbean and Caribbean-American themes, Worrell said, its creation speaks to Flatbush’s historic role as a center for the Caribbean diaspora in the U.S., and it will play an active role in maintaining and preserving Caribbean culture in Central Brooklyn and greater New York City.
The Inspiration for the house “comes from my passion for Flatbush, home to one of the largest Caribbean communities in the world,” Worrell said.
CaribBEING House itself could be considered a work of art. Designed by Andrew Hamm and Studio SUM, it’s situated in a re-purposed shipping container with floor to ceiling windows, an unfinished interior, and bespoke flooring.
Another key purpose of the House is “to activate the plaza in front of the Caton Flatbush Market,” Worrell explained. As the weather warms up, the plaza will also host cultural events like sidewalk film screenings.
CaribBEING House will remain open until the existing Flatbush Caton Market, an indoor shopping center hosting almost 50 vendors, is demolished. A new market will be built on the same site as part of a planned mixed-use development, which will also include 166 low, moderate and middle-income apartments and additional commercial space.
The CaribBEING House “is a one of a kind space that reflects the cultural heritage of its surrounding community in one of Brooklyn’s original towns,” Worrell stated. “The community deserves a space,” she said.
For information about when CaribBEING House is open for visitors, email: [email protected]