‘Mellány Sánchez: Objects of Permanence’ to Open at Abrons Arts Center Underground Theater during New York Fashion Week




Center for Puerto Rican Studies Library & Archives, Hunter College, CUNY

Objects of Permanence, a special installation curated by Mellány Sánchez and presented during New York Fashion Week, seeks to spotlight the rich histories of the Puerto Rican and other migrant community labor forces in New York City’s garment industry.

This show spotlights the Lower East Side as a pioneering capital of the garment industry in the mid-20th century. Objects in the form of artifacts, both real and imagined, work to preserve and tell the story of LES residents of the past and present, whose labor was integral to the development of New York City as a fashion capital. Simultaneously, it will unite these voices of the past to the direct descendants and beneficiaries of their legacy—today’s fashion designers.

It invites Emily Adams Bode Aujla from BODE; Christopher John Rogers; Tremaine Emory from Denim Tears; Elena Velez; Kim Shui; Rio Uribe from Gypsy Sport; Procell; Bárbara Sánchez-Kane from Sánchez-Kane; Willy Chavarria; and Maria Cornejo from Zero + Maria Cornejo to create imagined artifacts for an archive devoted to the life of a garment worker. In addition, contributions from local community collaborators with ties to the garment industry will also be on display. As a nod to the Tenement Museum’s exhibition Saez Velez Family Story, the installation also features historical objects, such as shears, photographs and more, on loan from the Tenement Museum, the first time a large trove of objects have been lent outside the institution.

A series of public programs will explore preservation and the role of style in placemaking, including a Why We Collect live discussion on September 8th at Abrons Arts Center, exploring how and why we form collections, and the role of garments in community storytelling; and an in-person special-edition tenement apartment tour at the Tenement Museum on September 9th at 10AM exploring the recreated homes of the Saez Velez and Wong families.

Mellány Sánchez: Objects of Permanence will be on view from September 6-14, 2023 at Abrons Arts Center Underground Theater, 466 Grand Street at Pitt Street. Entrance: Free

Guided tours of Objects of Permanence:

Sept 7-14, 12:15PM & 6:15PM daily. Tickets: $20. Join us for daily guided tours of the Objects of Permanence installation, where you will learn more about the historical context and designers featured in the exhibition.

Discussion: Why We Collect discussion

September 8, 2023, 6:00PM. Experimental Theater @ Abrons Arts Center (466 Grand Street at Pitt Street) Tickets: $5-$20 sliding scale

In-Person Tour: Tenement Apartment Tour

September 9, 2023, 10:30AM, 11:30AM. Tenement Museum (103 Orchard Street, New York, NY 10002) Entrance: Free


Why We Collect discussion September 8, 2023.Experimental Theater @ Abrons Arts Center (466 Grand Street at Pitt Street) Tickets: $5-$20 sliding scale

Mellány Sánchez is joined by Dr. Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Jessica Gonsalves, co-owner of Lower East Side vintage store Procell, Kathryn Lloyd, Vice President, Programs & Interpretation at the Tenement Museum for a discussion about how and why we form collections, and the role of garments in community storytelling. Co-presented with the Tenement Museum.

Tenement Apartment Tour, September 9, 2023, 10:30AM, 11:30AM Tenement Museum (103 Orchard Street, New York, NY 10002) Entrance: Free, RSVP HERE

Funding ~ Objects of Permanence is co-presented by Abrons Arts Center and the Tenement Museum.

About the Artist/Program Participants

Mellány Sánchez is a creative director from the borderlines of Queens and Brooklyn. Studied and passionate about the history of her city, community, and their futures, she works to honor these legacies through her ongoing mixed- and multi-media curatorial hero research project Aquí Me Quedo. She has also worked in wardrobe styling, brand direction and consulting. Sánchez received her Bachelor of Science from New York University in Media Culture and Communications. @mellanysanchez Mellanysanchez.com

About Abrons Arts Center

Abrons Arts Center is a home for contemporary interdisciplinary arts in Manhattan’s Lower East Side neighborhood. A core program of the Henry Street Settlement, Abrons believes that access to the arts is essential to a free and healthy society. Through performance presentations, exhibitions, education programs, and residencies, Abrons mobilizes communities with the transformative power of art.

About Henry Street Settlement

Founded in 1893 by social work and public health pioneer Lillian Wald and based on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Henry Street Settlement delivers a wide range of social service, arts and health care programs to more than 60,000 New Yorkers each year. Distinguished by a profound connection to its neighbors, a willingness to address new problems with swift and innovative solutions, and a strong record of accomplishment, Henry Street challenges the effects of urban poverty by helping families achieve better lives for themselves and their children. Henry Street has a staff of 450 full-time and 400 seasonal employees, an active Board of Directors, partnerships with several organizations and a burgeoning alumni network.

About the Tenement Museum

The Tenement Museum tells the stories of working-class tenement residents who moved to New York City from other countries and other parts of the country between the 1860s and the 1980s. While textbooks often overlook the stories of ordinary people, Tenement Museum tours immerse visitors in the tenement hallways, kitchens, and parlors where families carved out new lives. Visitors can view restored apartments from the 19th and 20th centuries and walk the historic neighborhood to learn the stories of generations of immigrants and migrants who helped shape the American experience. The museum is available by guided tour only. Each tour focuses on a specific theme and takes visitors to different areas of our two historic tenement buildings or neighborhood. The Museum also offers public programs, curricula, and a digital crowdsourced exhibit, Your Story Our Story to continue the conversation, using our stories as points of departure to connect the past to present.

Declaration of Inclusion

Abrons Arts Center values freedom of expression and creativity, ever striving to provide creative communities with a space that celebrates diversity of thought and experience. Abrons aims to be an anti-oppressive home to people from all backgrounds and does not discriminate on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, citizen status, ancestry, age, religion, disability, sex, or gender identity. As definitions of expression and inclusion evolve, Abrons is committed to continually revising this statement in collaboration with our communities.

Indigenous Land Acknowledgment

Nulelìntàmuhëna èli paèkw Lenapehoking. Kulawsihëmo ènta ahpièkw. Nooleelundamuneen eeli payeekw Lunaapeewahkiing. Wulaawsiikw neeli apiiyeekw.

We are glad because you people came to Lenapehoking. Live well when you are here. Abrons Arts Center is situated on the Lenape island of Manhahtaan (Mannahatta) in Lenapehoking, the Lenape homeland. We pay respect to Lenape peoples, past, present, and future and their continuing presence in the homeland and throughout the Lenape diaspora. We offer our care and gratitude to the land, water, and air of Lenapehoking, and are committed to resisting colonialism and imbalance with Mother Earth through the support of Indigenous-led programming and Indigenous artistic practices.

Thank you to the Lenape Center and Emily Johnson/Catalyst for their partnership in developing Abrons Arts Center’s Indigenous Land Acknowledgment.


Thank you to our fabulous friend, artist and performer, LuLu LoLo for the heads-up on this performance.