Art in the Expanded Field: In Conversation with Tianlan Deng

“We live in a globalized world now, and I believe this perspective is crucial for career development.”

Mixed-media artist and architectural designer Tianlan Deng goes above and beyond when approaching new projects, in both scale and concept. Fearless in probing existing boundaries, Deng draws from his multitudinous skill set, educational background and knowledge of world cultures to bring award-winning concepts to the table for his design projects. Deng has experience working internationally as an architectural designer, professor, and thought leader in design. We became aware of Deng’s most recent proposal, which also caught the eye of the Rockaway Park High School for Environmental Sustainability-Beach Channel Educational Campus. Deng’s vision for a bright, revitalized campus blighted by insufficient budgeting and oversight has generally enthused both the educational community benefiting from the project and our team here at ANTE.

Deng himself is thrilled for the positive impact this project will enact on the wider NYC community at large, and the potential it has to serve as a role model for other campuses seeking to engage students at a visceral level. We sat down with Deng to dive into his background and to gain some perspective on what this exciting project means for his career and for the community at Rockaway Park High School.

(Lead image concept, “Live Learning” by Tianlan Deng for Rockaway Park High School Beach Channel Educational Campus Auditorium re-visioning)

ANTE. Thanks for chatting with us Tianlan! Can you start by giving us insight into how you envision your architectural project with Rockaway Park High School will optimize and revitalize this educational community and enhance students’ learning experience?

Tianlan Deng. Thanks for having me here. As you probably know, in New York City, many public schools situated in low-income neighborhoods often face challenges of low funding support and safety concerns. Consequently, these schools feel like a prison, and they often fall into a financial down cycle: poor learning environment, lower graduation rate, dwindling student population, limited finances — leading to the school eventually being shut down. My project “Live Learning” aims to ease the prison-like atmosphere in the school, improving the students’ educational experience and overall quality of life. This will boost the school’s future prospects for securing funding and recruitment.

The struggle of these underfunded public schools is a long-term result of educational inequality in the United States. To remedy this situation, we cannot depend solely upon systemic policy reform, which often falls prey to cumbersome approval processes as well as broader political interests. However, as a discipline, architecture and interior design can be a highly effective alternative tool, because it offers technical & creative solutions without the politics. By adopting a temporary art installation and projected (digital) media, I believe this project can foster a comfortable and uplifting environment, inciting curiosity, passion, and hope in the student body.

Alternative concept image, “Live Learning” by Tianlan Deng for Rockaway Park High School Beach Channel Educational Campus

ANTE. You approached this project as your thesis for your Master’s degree at Pratt Institute. Can you discuss the program you recently completed at Pratt and what specifically this project addressed with regard to your aims for that educational program?

TD. It encourages the students to develop a sense of social responsibility. Before entering school, my artwork mostly dealt with the issues in the education realm. Enhanced by Pratt’s ideology, I became more involved in these conversations. Meanwhile, Pratt’s open and skillful platform helped me expand my artistic practice into the realm of architectural and interior design. Consistently, the thesis program at Pratt strongly emphasizes social and environmental issues. Since education always factors into larger socio-economic issues, I discovered an opportunity to develop a long term design project in my new discipline.

The parallel of being a designer for a Public High School and a student at Pratt provides a great reference point for my research and development. Although the differences between a college and a high school are substantial, I still can gather plenty of information by comparison. At Pratt, we have free access to most of the high profile museums in NYC, while the students of underfunded schools may never visit museums during their lifetimes. We use advanced digital fabrication equipment at Pratt, while some public schools use textbooks that are in shambles. From that angle, I witness the vast disparity between the two poles of America’s education system. These vivid contrasts shape and grow my design intention and responsibility.

ANTE. Your career goals seem to intersect both progressive education and experimental architectural/spatial design: what about these dual concerns draw you to working on projects such as this upcoming project with the high school?

TD. My belief in progressive education is rooted in my personal experience. For 20 years, I was suffering from studying under a Chinese education dominated by tests and mechanical learning. In those monotonous Chinese classrooms, teachers force-feed students information while students learn by rote memorization. (The monotonous process along with endless pressure from exams shaped the Chinese school into a symbol of anguish and torture.) After studying in the USA, I was lucky enough to experience progressive learning, which emphasizes growth from real life experience. This is what allowed me to develop my personality, philosophies, and systems of knowledge.

However, I realized that Rockaway Park High School and other underfunded NYC public schools follow the same pattern as the Chinese one. I understand it as a result of limited funding and resources, but in the long term, mechanical learning reduces the quality of the educational experience, which doesn’t benefit the school system or lower-income students. I believe with a modest budget, Experimental Design with technology can shape the public school teaching into a more progressive education system. Creating temporal and flexible structures with projected media can alter perceptions about the educational experience, prompting closer associations with experimental learning rather than behavior-based models. Structured to achieve an open, airy feel, the installation aims to excite and re-energize students, opening up their minds to new possibilities. The flexibility it provides will dissolve the traditional learning model and enhance the public education experience. Like Governor Andrew Cuomo mentioned in one of his coronavirus daily briefings: “When we’re reopening schools, let’s open a better school, and let’s open a smarter education system.” I hope my project “Live Learning” for Rockaway Park High School will create an opportunity for underfunded public schools to re-imagine education.

Alternative concept image, “Live Learning” by Tianlan Deng for Rockaway Park High School Beach Channel Educational Campus

ANTE. Talk to me about site-specific aspects of this environmental and architectural design project at Rockaway Park HS; how did meeting with the community inform your process as you finalized this proposal?

TD. Before the pandemic, I visited the school and spoke with the administrative staff and students several times. Rockaway Park High School is located at the Beach Channel Educational Campus, which is shared by several other schools. Like many underfunded public schools, Beach Channel Campus has a prison-like atmosphere, defined primarily by the dense security technology and numerous security officers. During our conversations, students told stories of the long security check process. The administrative staff mentioned that conflicts between officers and students were a regular occurrence. I factored these considerations into my design for the entrance of the Beach Channel Educational Campus. I conceptualized new stanchions with increased mobility, and they serve as both partitions to curb the traffic flow, and projection screens for multimedia displays. This will channel a better circulation during the security check, while presenting pleasant visual distractions to ease the atmosphere, and offering more privacy for students during the checking process.

After several visits to the campus, I found many empty spaces in this massive building, including a wide corridor and an extra auditorium with a low usage level. These spaces are wasted resources due to the lack of funding and inefficient spatial recognition. I proposed creating additional temporary installations with digital projections to activate these spaces, converting them into new common areas for students and/or alternative learning spaces. These installations can also become an open platform for the administration to stage temporary events for community-building and school wide activities.

Alternative concept image, “Live Learning” by Tianlan Deng for Rockaway Park High School Beach Channel Educational Campus

ANTE. You yourself have worked as an educator, as you were a professor at the University of Kentucky. How did your own role as an educator working with college students inform your design process as relates to education?

TD. My personal experience of switching between student and instructor has a significant influence on my design process. It helped me develop strong empathy during the design process. I have a deeper understanding of both the learning and educational process, and am acutely aware of the challenges, struggles, and problems facing schools today. For example as a student, I remember my own struggle of enduring monotonous lessons in a lifeless classroom. On the other hand as a teacher, I know the difficulties of motivating students and maintaining their focus. This insight inspired my decision to use projected media, which has great flexibility, or presentation format. With various projected media content and forms to interact with students, the installation can enhance the environment while offering additional ways for teachers to communicate and keep students stimulated.

ANTE. You have studied in China, Japan, Denmark, and the United States. Can you elaborate on how these international experiences have shaped your career?

TD. Studying and living in both East and Western countries increased my sensitivity toward social issues, including education. The chance to observe and compare people, systems and cultural norms revealed the differences and difficulties of each society. Being an artist and designer, my career goals, choices, and expectations have become increasingly interrelated with societal issues. Studying and living between China and the United States made me aware of the differences and similarities between the two educational systems. It informs my intention to produce artwork that communicates my wishes and concerns. Traveling to Japan and Northern Europe broadened my spectrum of global education and expanded my knowledge of design’s power. My project “Life Learning” at Rockaway Park High School is a choice shaped by all my international experience. We live in a globalized world now, and I believe this perspective is crucial for career development.

ANTE. Walk us through the career highlights that have marked your exceptional rise as an architectural designer – including your award winning commissions for the Gatton College of Business and Economics in KY (2016) and more recently the Best Team of Wanted Design Competition (2019.) What about your practice, do you feel, leads to your continued success and recognition in the field?

TD. When I primarily focused on painting, my paintings were collected by several well-known hotels in China, such as Fairmont Pace Hotel in Shanghai and Tianjin Crowne Plaza. After coming to the states, I became more involved with installation art. I completed small commissions for site-specific installations, such as the ‘Fence’ I created for the Lyric Theatre & Cultural Arts Center — a translucent photo wall that cyclically sculpts sunlight and shadow to create a sensory experience. Winning the glass design competition of Gatton College of Business and Economics was important to me. The project ‘Tally Mark’ is not only an award-winning achievement, but a successful example of how fine art and spatial architectural design can be combined. Tally Mark is an art installation that introduces the ancient Asian counting system into a western financial college. It establishes a diverse cultural atmosphere while serving as a spatial partition to maintain the independence of both private and communal spaces. 

Tally Mark inspired me to continue exploring projects that combine fine art and architectural design. Three years later, I participated in the Wanted Design competition following a similar trajectory. Five designers from different countries spent five days creating a community engagement project. My project ‘This is Not Stair’ is a site-specific installation that alters the walk route to bring enjoyment and engagement to the monotonous pavement walking experience. This project won the competition and was featured in Core77 Magazine.

I wouldn’t say there is one specific aspect of my artistic practice that leads to success or recognition. But maintaining a sense of connection to the world and society is fundamental to my creative process.

 

– ANTE mag

Laura Kimpton Brings LOVE to Renown Health with Artown in Reno

Artist Laura Kimpton can be best described as an interdisciplinary artist who is not likely to sit still. Her artistic practice spans sculpture and installation art along with wearable art, mixed media and painting. A stalwart for decades on The Playa at Burning Man, Kimpton is no stranger to bringing her monumental sculptures to a wide audience of admirers. Previously exhibiting inspirational messages such as “BELIEVE” at larger-than-life scales as interactive installation artworks, Kimpton brings her creative forces to bear as a power for the greater good, sharing her inspiration and ingenuity with all who encounter them.

During the current pandemic, Kimpton has taken that impulse for public engagement one step further through a partnership with Reno, NV’s Artown and Renown Health Foundation to bring “LOVE” – a monumental sculpture conceived of by Kimpton and produced in collaboration with artist Jeff Schomberg – to prominence on the campus of Renown’s hospital in the city. The work is imprinted with the artist’s signature uplifting bird motif throughout, evoking an inspiring and enduring message of love, reminding us that love conquers all, the sculpture will be on display from April 16-July 16 at Renown’s Regional Medical Center, located at 1155 Mill Street, Reno. Visitors driving by or entering the hospital to visit loved ones can take comfort in knowing that love is always there for them to access in times of need, bringing to bear the message that art is here for us to bring us comfort and clarity in times of upheaval.

Laura Kimpton’s “LOVE” sculpture, original public display (Burning Man)

 

“I hope that this sculpture will bring a sense of meaning and mindfulness,” reflects Kimpton, “to all who encounter it. I hope it gives a sense of calm to the Healthcare workers onsite, along with medical patients and their families, who view it from above or as they approach the hospital.” Kimpton’s work has always embedded a sense of mindful meditation and peace, and nowhere is this more needed than during today’s uncertainty amid a global pandemic. The sculpture beckons, a beacon of light among the sagebrushed hills, reminding all who come into contact with it that all is not lost. Kimpton herself has endured life’s ebbs and flows, and emphasizes the peace and comfort she aspires to bring to viewers of her work, particularly “LOVE” on view at Renown Health in Reno. The artist has worked with the community to make sure the sculpture brings a sense of local pride to the hospital and to residents and visitors alike in Reno.

 

“LOVE” at its new home at Renown Health in Reno, NV (pictured onsite with healthcare workers)

The sculpture provides a message of support for Reno’s front line workers at its current location. The installation was made possible by a collaboration between Reno’s own Artown initiative, bringing Reno’s art industries and civic identities together to create a stronger community, and by Renown Health Foundation, a locally owned and governed not-for-profit integrate healthcare network serving Reno and the surrounding areas. With an eye toward bringing a powerful message of hope to the wider community, both organizations are thrilled to be collaborating with Kimpton on the installation.

Kimpton herself views this joint effort as all about enriching the lives of the local community through the power of inspiration and solidarity. The artist has been staying busy, not only with her monumental sculptures and upcoming exhibitions, but with communicating with her wide network of fans and supporters through daily social media posts offering smaller works at attainable prices for her collectors. The new initiative, @apeaceofkimpton, continues the message that we can come together and support the arts while connecting with one another and making strides to build sustainability in the arts. Kimpton looks to innovative and meditative artists in her practice, including American artist Joseph Cornell and German artist Kurt Schwitters. Viewing their use of eclectic materials and aim toward a higher power of abstraction and even meditation in their work, Kimpton seeks to create art that will unite, inspire, and bring unique messages of hope to all who encounter it. She notes that though her world sculptures can… “have strong meanings,… to everyone it may be different. I love that about them.” From her large scale sculptures and handmade collages and everything in between, Kimpton’s practice speaks to everyone, bringing unity and comfort to all who encounter her creations. To everyone it may be different, but to many, her work both inspires and brings solace in a time when art brings out what is human in us all.

Hurrah! For the Future of Public, Interactive Art

On view through May 22nd at the NYCxDESIGN Design Pavilion in Times Square, a public art initiative stands out from the pack. Created through a partnership between students at the Strzeminski Academy of Fine Arts in Łódź, Poland and the Brooklyn-based Pratt Institute, the project – “Hurrah!” – marks a creative, innovative approach to US-Polish relations through public participation. “Hurrah!” consists of large-scale vertical tubes that form a public installation – a xylophone for visitors to interact with, that – upon visitors striking the sculpture in a percussive form – plays well-known Polish birthday and anniversary song, “Sto Lat.” The aesthetics of the public design initiative itself reference both the beauty of Polish landscape and the verticality of midtown Manhattan, where the project is situated.

Hurrah! installation shot, Design Pavilion, Strzeminski Academy x Pratt Institute for NYCxDESIGN

Polish Cultural Institute of New York Director Anna Domanska comments on the partnership of this endeavor, “The idea of the installation arose from reflections on how we could celebrate the 100th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between the USA and Poland in a way that would be interesting and inspiring today. We wanted to talk about the union of Poles and Americans, not by reviving history, but by establishing a new space for people from both countries to create together. We wanted to commemorate not only the material things expressed in this installation but also newly established relationships that may result in future projects. And, of course, we wanted to give people a moment of fun and joy in experimenting with an unusual art object.” The project welcomes a spirit of public participation and celebration, with the uplifting sounds of “Sto Lat” bringing visitors together to honor the long-lasting relationship that binds together the United States and Poland. Welcoming and joyful, this project speaks to the talented, rising stars of design studying both at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and the Strzeminski Academy.

Artist rendering, Hurrah! for NYCxDESIGN Design Pavilion

 

 

The public art design project is on view at the Design Pavilion, NYCxDESIGN through May 22nd! The sculpture can be visited at the showcase which spans the pedestrian plazas between W 42nd-47th and bounded by Broadway and 7th Ave – “Hurrah!” is located within the Design Pavilion, and is sponsored by the Polish Cultural Institute and the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Washington, D.C.

Art in Odd Places 2018: BODY, Towards Renewed Public Autonomy

(feature image photo by Meg Stein)

For 14 years, odd happenings have stretched out across the 14th street corridor in Manhattan, NY. Artists, designers, dancers, performers and creators have created ephemeral experiences to engage passersby for Art in Odd Places since 2005, when Founder/Artist Ed Woodham envisioned the festival as a means to reclaim public space by the same creative set continually forced out of New York City apartments by rising rents and luxury condos. The festival continues with its 14th iteration, BODY, from October 11-14 on 14th Street (Ave C to Hudson River) and – for the first year ever – in a gallery, at Westbeth gallery space Oct 4-27.

Unseen/Reclaimed Exhibition view, photo Walter Wlodarczyk

This year’s festival curator, Katya Grokhovsky, proudly emphasizes this additional space as necessary to give increased exposure for this year’s participating artists: artists who, for the first time in AiOP’s history, solely encompass feminist collectives, fem-identifying and non-binary artists with the theme, BODY. “AiOP BODY centers around the agency, autonomy and visibility of the female – identified and non-binary body in the public space and the urban environment,” notes Grokhovsky. “Both the exhibition and the festival include works which utilize humor, absurdity, gesture, actions, performance and various media and materials to explore the notion of the body as a site, as a particular battleground, especially poignant in our political climate.”

Participating artists in this year’s festival include Jessica Elaine Blinkhorn, LuLu LoLo,  Elaine Angelopoulos, Deborah Castillo, Maryam Monalisa Gharavi, Esther Neff, Amy Finkbeiner and Christen Clifford of No Wave Performance Task Force, Nicole Goodwin, Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow, Dakota Gearheart, and many, many more. Projects range from Jody Oberfelder’s poignant Madame Ovary, which incorporates a safe space for discussing the body as site for agency, intuition, and birth; Yali Romagoza‘s Meditating my way out of Capitalism and Communism. 12410 days of Isolation, investigating traumas, displacement and the immigrant experience.

Yali Romagoza for Art in Odd Places (image by Katya Grokhovsky)
In a time when average rents for an apartment along the Art in Odd Places festival route costs upwards of $4k/month, according to RentCafe’, the need for visible and creative public art is more dire than ever. Particularly important in a social climate denigrating and ignoring women’s voices, such as our current moment in the wake of governmental actions such as the Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation, AiOP 2018: BODY is here to remind us that women’s voices – and agency – always matter.
Art in Odd Places 2018: BODY public street festival takes place Oct 11-14, 2018 along 14th street from the Hudson River east to Ave C.
Art in Odd Places 2018: BODY exhibition, Unseen/Reclaimed, takes place at Westbeth Gallery from Oct 4-27, 2018. Public programs forthcoming, including a panel on the body & public art takes place on Oct 18th, 6-8 pm with closing festivities on Oct 27th. Gallery hours are from 12 pm – 6 pm, Tues-Sat.

ZIEMIA Introduces a Whole New World to Greenpoint’s McGorlick Park

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Opening Day of “Ziemia” at McGolrick Park with the artist revealing the sculpture in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (image credit Izabela Gola)

Ziemia has arrived at McGorlick Park in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and with it a world of experiences, memories, dreams and hopes.

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Polish Cultural Institute New York Director Anna Domanska introducing “Ziemia” at McGolrick Park

The project, created by artist Martynka Wawrzyniak in partnership with support from the Polish Cultural Institute New York, is a rounded, organic sculpture incorporating soil samples from across the world in an orb-like shape to represent the multi-dimensional fabric of our human tapestry across the globe. Spanning from the US across Asia and Europe, the artist has spent years creating this project – now on view through June 2019 in Greenpoint’s own McGolrick Park! The first public art project in the park in decades, Ziemia symbolizes hope that we can live side by side as co-stewards of our planet.

In particular, the project embodies dual concepts of migration and establishing new residencies/homes. The soil itself has traversed time zones and latitudes in order to create this pivotal sculpture, which has subsequently made its own home in the meadow of McGolrick Park. Polish Cultural Institute of New York (PCINY) director Anna Domanska notes of the project, “When Martynka Wawrzyniak came to us with her project, we knew it was the best canvas to tell the story of Poland and the Poles, who through the ups and downs of history found their new place on earth in the United States, but in a broader sense, portraying issues shared by many nations and cultures in a global context.”

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“Ziemia”, at McGolrick Park, Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Photo credit Weronika Kwiatkowska.

Domanska continues, “After all, the idea of the project refers to universal questions of the meaning of emigration, of roots, having a home and losing one, finding one’s identity in new cultural circumstances. This project also symbolically shows the strength of the links between Poland and the United States. The Ziemia Project after all is not only a sculpture, on display since June 9 in McGolrick Park, but also all the collected and documented human stories that demonstrate those links.”

More about the incredibly labor intensive process the artist used to realize the project, with support from PCINY, can be found on the Ziemia project website. Ziemia, the word for “Earth” or “Land” as translated from Polish, is a potent reminder of the common bond we share despite the boundaries that may divide us. The project was realized in partnershp with the New York City Department for Parks & Recreation and will reside in McGolrick park through June 2019.

Pushing Ten Years! Culture Push Benefit + Art Raffle Supports Socially Engaged Art Leading Up to Ten Year Anniversary

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Culture Push, an innovative NYC-based nonprofit arts organization promoting civic engagement, is hosting their annual benefit on Tuesday, June 26 from 6-9 pm at the Abrons Art Center, 466 Grand Street (#201) New York, NY. This fundraising event honors Art in Odd Places Founder Ed Woodham while raising funds to support one of the nonprofit’s central missions, the Fellowship of Utopian Practice, which funds artists to create socially-engaged projects across a range of mediums and with a variety of audiences in mind. Tickets are still available here – there’s still time to join in and be a part of innovative and experimental social practice Culture Push brings to life! Tickets to the party start at $25, with a $75 option to enter the raffle and leave with a fabulous limited edition artwork!

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Artwork by Chloë Bass for Culture Push benefit raffle

Works are available in the raffle by innovative artists such as Chloë Bass, Caroline Woolard, Aricoco, Todd Shalom and so many more! The Benefit not only continues to support Utopian Practice fellows including Clarivel Ruiz, Chris Ignacio, Kanene Ayo Holder & Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow, Theodore Kerr, Hidemi Takagi, the Chinatown Art Brigade and more. All artists call attention to the intersection between social and civic participation and the arts. This is a sentiment also advanced by Art in Odd Places founder Ed Woodham, the honoree of the event. Art in Odd Places, a nonprofit arts festival taking place along 14th street in New York City, is in its 14th year and has allowed experimental practice along the length of this public corridor in Manhattan.

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Artwork by Aricoco for Culture Push benefit raffle

Imaginative problem-solving and the genesis of social art lie embedded in the foundation of Culture Push’s mission. Flexible, responsive and avant-garde, Culture Push is celebrating its ten-year anniversary of producing innovative art projects in public for a wide audience. Founded by Clarinda Mac Low, Aki Sasamoto and Arturo Vidich, the founders have mined their respective backgrounds in visual and performing arts to create a platform for artists engaging with creative expression within the public context. Come and attend the Culture Push benefit, win a great artwork, meet inspiring artists and celebrate what is almost ten full years of experimental public art – with many more to come!

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Fellow for Utopian Practice Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow

 

 

 

-1 Below: A Look at Culture in the Outer Boros & NY Metro Area, Jan 29 to Feb 2, 2018

There are countless gallery guides exploring the cultural events happening throughout NYC, but how many can you find within walking distance or bus ride of your nest? How many events happen right down the street that you could swing by after a nice dinner with a friend? Why does every single blog profile seem to profile events happening in the art areas of Chelsea and the Lower East Side?

With these thoughts in mind, here at -1 Below we take a look at cultural events happening around New York City, minus one boro: Manhattan.

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Below we consider upcoming cultural highlights with five not-to-miss events from Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx… with some cultural events to entice guests willing to venture farther afield.

Artwork by Katherine Toukhy, PES Grab back artist-in-residence
Artwork by Katherine Toukhy, PES Grab back artist-in-residence (Project for Empty Space, Newark, NJ)
  1. “Night Regulation” Radiator Gallery, 10-61 Jackson Ave, Long Island City feat. artists Loren Britton, Maria Dimanshtein, Nicholas Fraser, JF Lynch and Andrew Prayzner – curated by Patrick Neal. An exhibition touching on the fraught and complex relationship between conceptual and formal elements present in contemporary art. Opening: Feb 2nd from 6-9 pm  
  2. “Incision: Feminist in Residence” Project for Empty Space, 2 Gateway Center, Newark, NJ  (across from Penn station skybridge) feat. artists Chaya Babu, Christen Clifford, Camille Lee and Katherine Toukhy. Profoundly feminist, this exhibition explores the personal and political presence of being a woman artist in a complex, hierarchical art world pantheon.  Opening: Jan 31st from 6-8 pm.
  3. Know Your Mushrooms: Mycology 101” Earth Arts Center, 936 Madison Street, Brooklyn, NY for artists with a taste for the wilder side of nature, this class, led by expert agriculturalist and PDC practitioner Oliver Bolotin, covers key points outlined by Paul Stamets in the tome “Mycelium Running”. This class will cover wild mushrooms as well as growing your own fungi colony at home. Event takes place Sat, Feb 3rd: doors open at 8 pm with discussion beginning at 8:30. 
  4. “Reenactment” gallery talk, BRIC (The Stoop @ BRIC Arts) 647 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY. Coffee + Conversation discussing current BRIC exhibition “Reenactment” with curator Jenny Gerow and exhibiting artists Maria Hupfield and Farideh Sakhaeifer on how certain histories are privileged, stifled, and/or eventually re-examined. The exhibition features artworks by Ken Gonzalez-Day, Crystal Z. Campbell, Alicia Grullon (pictured in cover image), Hupfield, Sakhaeifer, and Marisa Williamson. Feb 3rd from 12-1 pm.  
  5. “Coming to America” Free Screening @Brooklyn Bazaar, 150 Greenpoint Ave, Brooklyn, NY. A light-hearted look at America (specifically, Jamaica Queens) through the eyes of a visitor from our current administration’s so-monikered “shithole countries”, come laugh off our current xenophobia with Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall’s devastatingly witty performance, with turns by the commanding James Earl Jones and Madge Sinclair in the classic 1988 film directed by John Landis.  No RSVP required, seating first come first serve. Jan 31st from 8-11 pm. 
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“Know Your Mushrooms: Mycology 101” Earth Arts Center

A Blade of Grass Celebrates Making Magic for their Night of Alchemy

It’s undeniable: the world is a bit more magical with A Blade of Grass in it.

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A Blade of Grass Fellow for Social Engaged Art, Quantum Black Futurism’s Rasheeda Phillips

A Blade of Grass, with its focus on promoting social change through social engagement and dialogue in contemporary art, is one of a kind. It has continually pushed the envelope by empowering artists through fellowships and providing platforms for dialogue on improving social conditions and inclusivity.

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ABOG Fellow Jackie Sumell’s Solitary Gardens in New Orleans, April 2017

Nowhere will this mission be better celebrated than in the organization’s annual benefit, Night of Alchemy, this November 7, 2017 from 6:30 – 9:30 pm at the Prince George. Honoring renowned artist Ross Bleckner, Brooklyn Museum director Anne Pasternak and Laundromat Project founder Risë Wilson, MC Shaun Leonardo will lead festivities in a night of vibrant festivities. The evening will also include a performance by Dancing Earth’s Rulan Tangen.

Help support A Blade of Grass and their mission to produce demonstrable impact through contemporary art at A Blade of Grass, and learn more about the annual benefit here.  See you there!

Ai Wei Wei’s Public Art Fund sponsored “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors” Breaks Down Barriers

October 10, 2017

 

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Ai Wei Wei and Nicholas Baume at Doris C Freedman Plaza for Good Fences Make Good Neighbors (press preview)

It was 9:07 AM, and the artist was discreetly standing to the right of his Gilded Cage sculpture in Doris C. Freedman plaza in Central Park. Ai Wei Wei, artist behind Good Fences Make Good Neighbors  – an immersive public art experience around NYC’s Five Boros – was standing next to the Central Park behemoth which was realized with the support of the Public Art Fund. The Fund is currently celebrating 40 years, with Wei Wei’s project as their central focus celebrating this momentous milestone.  Wei Wei was deep in conversation with a city official when the photographers swarmed him, creating a buzz of activity near a path of curious dog walkers and joggers.

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Wei Wei can similarly expect that his art installations, situated throughout New York City Parks including Central Park, Washington Square Park, and the Unisphere at Corona, Queens, will be swarmed by visitors during its duration from October 12, 2017 through February 11, 2018. Each site-specific work responds to the surrounding architecture, echoing themes of immigration and inclusivity. Wei Wei has planned discreet references to the personal faces of immigration and global migration visible on lampposts throughout the City – including near the Gilded Cage work – featuring documentary portraiture from Wei Wei’s visits to over forty refugee camps in twenty-three countries. Additionally, graphics echoing themes related to the refugee crisis will be installed at bus stations and public sites throughout the City.

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Wei Wei himself was kept under home arrest for years in his native China after a stint living as an artist for twelve years on New York City’s Lower East Side, and this return to NYC is a triumphal return for him as well as a personal tribute to the residents of the City. After recovering his passport in 2015, the artist relocated his studio to Berlin and resumed talks with Public Art Fund’s Nicholas Baume that began in 2011 on a large-scale public art project based in New York City. Baume notes that the various iterations of Ai Wei Wei’s Good Fences Make Good Neighbors “form different articulations of fences as a motif resonating throughout the City.” By meditating on the different ways we can experience and exercise inclusion within our communities, Wei Wei breaks down perceptions concerning who belongs where, facilitating new environments where people can relate to one another on a personal level.

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Ai Wei Wei’s “Arch” in Washington Square Park, New York City 

Wei Wei himself noted of the project, “We are living in a divided time; I’ve learned so much from [my time in] this City: here, you never feel like you’re a foreigner.” He notes that this feeling of inclusion is crucial to New York City as a global beacon of hope for those who call this city home. By supporting our diverse ecosystem of international communities throughout the five boros, we can better reflect on how to be a good neighbor to those who call on us in a time of need and break apart the stereotypes that stand between us.

 

-ANTE.’s Editors