Liana Maneese
Liana Maneese, one of the artists awarded a grant from the Advancing Black Arts program. Photo by Kahmeela Adams.

Activist, entrepreneur and social practice artist Liana Maneese is co-founder of S Group—a creative and cultural problem solving organization—and Adopting Identity, a community for and by adoptees and people of color who grow up in multi-racial families. Liana’s motto, charity is no substitute for justice, resounds in all of her work.

Monday, August 31

Those who know me know I am not an early bird. I love my sleep. This Monday is different; I am out the door around 8 a.m. to meet with my business partners Justin Strong and Luqmon Abdus-Salaam. We are the owners and operators of S Group, a creative and cultural problem solving group. Usually when we meet in the morning we like to start off with breakfast fish at Birdy’s in Homewood and a pit stop for the best doughnuts in the city from Dana’s Bakery. Next I’ll stop at Zeke’s in East Liberty for some coffee before heading home to organize my week at my home office.

Liana Maneese.
Photo by Celeste Smith.

We are doing some amazing work with Heather McElwee at the Pittsburgh Glass Center and I am eager to meet with her soon to share what great things are happening in Garfield through our Garfield Looking Glass Project.

Tuesday, September 1

I’ll start my day at The Kingsley Association for yoga class with Felicia Savage. This woman is the key to my sanity so I try to get to her as often as I can. I will head to my favorite restaurant, Gaucho Parrilla in the Strip District for lunch before heading Downtown. I am an activist first and foremost; all of my work is born out of social change, so today I will go to a rally demanding justice at the Allegheny County Jail. The press conference outside of the County Executive office is to demonstrate and show solidarity with prisoners currently having their human rights violated. After that, it’s on to a meeting with my crew from the Pittsburgh Student Activist Coalition. It is my pleasure to work with such dynamic and fearless young people from around the city.

After that, it’s on to the grand opening of Umami Pittsburgh with chef Roger Li. I love food and cooking, so eating well is always a priority.

Wednesday, September 2

Liana Maneese.
Photo by Sam Suter.

Because Monday was so busy and emotionally taxing, I’ll start my day getting my frustration out at the gym, Orangetheory Fitness in East Liberty. After that it’s back to work on my film with producer Darcy Trunzo and fellow Brazilian, director of photography Gabriel Colombo. My current social practice work is a film about trans/multi-racial adoption. I was adopted from Brazil when I was young and this work is the most important to me. I want to motivate adoptees to reclaim our narratives. I like to do my work in a booth at The Squirrel Cage (Cafe) in Squirrel Hill; it’s quiet during the day and gives me that old-school classic writers inspiration.

Thursday, September 3

Today is the calm before the storm of a very busy weekend. I will connect and work with my Penn Avenue Creative Cohort Program, which run through the Kelly Strayhorn Theater by Janera Solomon. This is always motivating and keeps me at ease. It is very important to plan big moves with a team that supports your vision. I’m looking forward to a great dinner with my partner at the fabulous brand new tapas restaurant and bar, Pallantia in Shadyside.

Friday, September 4

Today is a big day! I am prepping for my residency show at Most Wanted Fine Art in Garfield with Nina and Jason Sauer tonight. My artistic partner, Dylan Demanski, and I are so excited for our show during the Unblurred Art Crawl, entitled Adopting Identity: The Exploration of Lies, Luck and Legitimacy. After the show I will unwind with my friends Julie Mallis and Darrell Kinsel at BOOM Concepts where 1Hood Media is hosting a show as well.

Saturday, September 5

I always wake up early for a trip to the Kennedy Farmers Market in East Liberty to gather my food for the week. Then I make a nice lunch before taking my dog to the park and attempting to relax. Saturday is me day. I will listen to the album Surf by Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment & Chance the Rapper on repeat before I spend the late afternoon in the garden.

Sunday, September 6

Sunday is family day. I like to stay close to home and enjoy the neighborhood. I’ll have brunch with my partner at E2 and meet the rest of the family for Citiparks’ Reservoir of Jazz Concert Series in Highland Park featuring Etta Cox.

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.