John Almanzar-Pena is a GNC Afro-Caribbean Multidisciplinary Teaching Artist, Writer, and Founder of Reina Project from Washington Heights, Manhattan. Their body of work focuses on embracing queer identities, healing through art, and questioning cultural norms.
John is known for cultivating and curating experimental educational arts spaces. Spring of 2019 they founded the Reina Project, to combine their passion for experimental celebratory queer spaces and community solidarity. They have been able to produce work in partnership with Bronx Arts Space, The Bronx LGBT Policy Task Force, Rupauls DragCon, Headcount.org, CK Life, and countless community arts spaces. Their work has been Published on Huffington Post, and Los Ignorantes. They’ve been cited and featured on various platforms, and had their work displayed at The Museum of Reclaimed Space and The POINT in the Bronx.
They helped start the NYC Transformative Justice Coalition, working to provide communities with tools for accountability, communication, and healing. Now an Alumni of TAP, they apply their teaching artistry to their practice of creating accessible community arts programming centering QTBIPOC Identities, under Reina Project.
During their time at TAP, John used their experience in Transformative Justice mediation to better their understanding of the Justice Oriented teaching practices, taught at TAP.
They were excited and motivated to apply these to their residency where they worked with Dale Novella, and Trace DePass at the Bronx Envisioning Academy. Their they got to support and engage with many new things such as Poetry and Music Making, all while being in their first educational facilitator role.
Most Memorable TAP Moment:
“My most memorable moment at TAP were the small moments where I was able to see the glimmers of the effectiveness of the work of teaching artistry.”
“Being able to meet students needs, listen deeply, and engage their curiosity when possible was very affirming. Watching them get excited and being able to model power with scenarios was very powerful.”
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