Photos by This Bushwick Life
How did Josi and the Riveters start?
This is a 100% grassroots operation. It started March 19th when I got a call from a friend who said “Jos, we need to make masks for the hospitals”. I was like, “ok! let's get to work!” And there it started.
I began making masks for nurses at Wyckoff Heights using all the materials I had in my studio. I started getting hit up by people who wanted to help; so I immediately started making material bundles to get to them so they could also make masks.
I did a quick call out on social media to rally some help in making masks and everything completely snowballed from there! My phone would not stop ringing and I was getting hit with order requests. Before I could even blink my eyes I had orders for over 1,000 masks. Not only was I sewing but also orchestrating all the materials, handoffs, runners, etc - it was a lot. But luckily, a girl from Sea Wolf was like do you need help? I was like - Yes please! I knew I needed admin support.
She hopped on, and created the Facebook group and IG account "Josi and the Riveters" to help field all riveters questions, needs, etc. There was no time to think really. Every week since then I have sewn, rallied, wrangled, collected and distributed masks.
Our group Josi and the Riveters has collectively produced and delivered over 4,000 masks; All home sewers with all donated time and materials. So far, we have delivered masks to Wyckoff Heights, Mount Sinai West. NYU Langone Hospital, Elder care workers, and homeless shelters among other organizations.
When do you distribute masks?
We have distributed masks every Friday at Maria Hernandez Park For the last five weeks. We started distributing masks after I met with Alicia Fox, founding member of Bushwick Mutual Aid.
We have access to an autoclave machine, so all masks are sterilized before packaging them. We also include cleaning instructions (written in English and Spanish), and contact information for Bushwick Mutual Aid in case they need assistance. the masks we offer are not for sale, and are only distributed to families in need.
How has COVID-19 affected Bushwick?
Covid is making life hard for everyone in so many ways! People are not only suffering from being sick, but our Bushwick community, and city is suffering because our government has left people to fend for themselves. We have no where to go for help!
But luckily organizations like Bushwick Mutual Aid have stepped up and rallied an entire community behind them to help those in need!
I am more proud of Bushwick than ever! I have never felt the sense of community like this personally until covid hit. I am honored and proud to be connected with so many amazing and beautiful souls who's hearts are here for the main purpose of helping one another.
Tell us a little about Josi the artist?
I was born and raised in Maine. Lived in west Virginia for four years (during college), and moved to NYC on September 11, 2001. I have lived in Bushwick for over 14 years now.
I am an artist. I have been my whole life. I’ve been painting for over 20 years. I also, taught myself how to sew when I was a kid. I have a Bachelor degree in Fine Arts from West Virginia University, Master of Arts from New York University; and have also studied at Parsons and F.I.T. in New York.
I opened my first gallery in Williamsburg in 2017. I opened my second gallery in 2018 on Starr Street in Bushwick. Stay tune for the third gallery - more details will be posted in my instagram page.
Where do you hangout in Bushwick?
Sea Wolf is my main jam. I love those guys! Best food, best vibes, best authentic people.
Also, I want to shout out Taqueria Santa Ana (located at the corner of Irving Avenue and Stanhope Street). I get my Mexican food fix from there at least once a week. I hooked all of them up with beautiful masks too! :-)
Josi and the Riveters
Gallery Blue NYC