“Triple Beam Dream”: from crack pipes to glass art, Ghetto Gastro’s Jon Gray tells a story of race, class and inclusion
“Triple Beam Dream” shares its name with Rick Ross and Nas’ 2012 coke ballad– a song recounting America’s racial and societal inequalities and the history of drugs according to prejudice.
“Triple Beam Dream”, a film by NOWNESS directed by Elisha Smith-Leverock (Lief), tells the story of Jon Gray who co-founded the Bronx based culinary collective Ghetto Gastro, and whose exciting new glassware collection takes inspiration from the history of crack. Gray’s kitchenware collaboration with world-class artisans in Venice pays homage to Pyrex glass which was frequently used to produce crack during the 80’s and 90’s drug epidemic. It creates a particular kind of art which Gray names “Social Sculpture”.
By subverting the use of Pyrex, Gray draws on his personal experience to challenge ideas of luxury and creativity.
“Just like Ghetto Gastro and Jon himself, Triple Beam Dream challenges peoples’ perceptions,” says Smith- Leverock. “It’s a Trojan Horse. A meticulously hand-crafted, hyper-luxurious, carefully designed re- imagination of glassware that Jon used to cook crack with.”
Beauty can be found on the streets, and precious objects can be forged from pain. Through their appropriation of Pyrex glass, Gray and his collective have the agency to tell their story own on their own terms. As Smith-Leverock points out “it’s not uncommon for luxury items to be appropriated from things that come from the streets, but it’s far more rare that you see these ideas pushing into the luxury space created by people who have actually lived this reality. Jon and Ghetto Gastro are challenging ideas about who gets to tell these stories.”
This film rewrites the history of crack, deconstructs toxic narratives and simultaneously encourages people of colour to use their art to tell their own stories.
With a German mother and an African-American father, Smith-Leverock platforms diversity in her work on and off-screen– directing a short documentary on Miss Black Germany as well as serving as the ambassador for Free The Bid in Germany.
Tracks & Fields’ Executive Music Producer Ben Esser edited and designed the film’s gripping soundtrack securing a contribution from Solange. As a distinguished and high-profile black Amercian musician, Solange has captured black cultural and social history in her truthful and poignant lyricism. Her 2016 album A Seat At The Table documents her struggle as a Black woman and grieves over a history of racial injustice. By providing the soundtrack to “Triple Beam Dream” she bolsters Gray’s and Ghetto Gastro’s philosophy: creativity can challenge destructive narratives and champion black voices and histories.
Watch the video in full below: