Tag Archives: public art

First Street Green

Last year I attended the Imagining America Conference that was held at New York University over the summer. Much of the conference was divided into breakout sessions of your choosing, and I visited First Street Green. First Street Park is a public park on the Lower East Side located at 33 East 1st Street. This park has been morphed from a neglected space into a place for community engagement through programs that include contemporary artists, architects, designers, and community groups. These events take place from May 1st-Oct 1st each year. First Street Green not only curates programs for the space, but also allows people in the community to suggest ideas and host events.

The first event for this year is on May 4 and is in conjunction with the New Museum’s Idea City Festival. Drawing from this year’s theme, Untapped Capital, First Street Green will hold exhibits, workshops, and screenings from 12pm-9pm at the park. For other events throughout the summer and into the fall, check out the calendar.

This is a really awesome new community engagement program through the arts that is just at the start of what I’m sure will be a long and successful journey. I’m really excited to see how this space transforms in the future.

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JR & the Inside Out Project

The French artist known as JR works relatively anonymous. After finding a camera in the Paris Metro, he began to study street art around Europe. Before winning a Ted Prize in 2011, JR created projects in Paris, Shanghai, Spain, Los Angeles.

The most interesting and socially engaging in my opinion is the Face 2 Face project in which he posted portraits of Israeli and Palestinian on each side of the separation wall of the two states. Many said it was impossible as it was high illegal, but it managed to be completed. The aim was to show how similar these two peoples were. I feel that though the images were humorous and light, they spoke about a much deeper level of unity. These people are brothers, yet they fight and kill each other.

After many successful but difficult projects, JR applied and was awarded a Ted Prize for his project, Inside Out. JR called for “a global art project” at the Ted Conference. This new project has extended what JR himself does with posting black and white portraits in urban areas. Inside Out allows for people around the world to submit portraits of their own. These portraits are then printed by the project and sent back in order to display in a public space. Guidelines have you group together with at least 5 other people with the same statement of purpose and then Inside Out makes it happen. The project is ongoing and submissions can be made on the site here. JR has recently brought a facet of his project that involves photo booths to Times Square in NYC. Check out the New York Times article here. I find this project so inspiring because you have so many voices just waiting to be heard all around the world. Many do not have the resources to have that voice heard. Inside Out gives these people the opportunity to share their stories with us, while creating a common ground.






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The Laundromat Project

A few years ago, we blogged about a community program known as The Laundromat Project. The Laundromat Project is a community-based art program that takes place in local laundromats across New York City. What makes this program unique is the fact that they use a space where people of different races and backgrounds converge. The laundromat is a common ground that all types of people come to, and the downtime created in waiting for laundry creates a perfect opportunity to engage in art. Right now, the project works out of different laundromats in the city, but their long-term goal is to create an art center that adjoins a laundromat and create a more permanent dialogue with a particular space.

I found the most groundbreaking aspect of the project to be its offering of residencies for artists. In their Create Change program, artists have the chance to break out of the independent mindset of working as an individual. Most artist residencies give artists an incubation space for their own work. The Create Change program allows artists to engage in a meaningful dialogue with the community. This departs from the norm, and allows for the artists in residence to explore what is possible when art is integrated into a community setting that would otherwise not be a part.

You can keep up with what The Laundromat Project is doing by visiting their website and calendar.

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Aja Project- Youth + Photography Transformation

Aja is an acronym for the phrase “Autosuficiencia Juntada con Apoyo” which means supporting self-sufficiency. Aja Project is an organization that provides photography based educational programming to youth that have been affected by war and displacement. In this program, the students are taught to think critically about self identity while developing leadership skills.

This non-profit organization is based in San Diego, California and utilizes participatory photography methods in after-school and in-school programs. Since its start in 2000, Aja has helped more than 1,000 displaced youth share their stories with over 1 million viewers. They have had public exhibits at the National Geographic Society’s Explorers Hall, United Nations Headquarter, and the San Diego Museum of Arts.

Aja Project also has two international sister organizations- Record of Truth in Burma and Disparando Cameras (para la Paz) in Colombia. Aja is continuing to look for ways to further expand their unique and life changing program.

You can read more about this organization here!

Photo from Aja

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Waterfire Providence

Waterfire Providence , a sculpture by Barnaby Evans installed on the three rivers of downtown Providence. WaterFire’s one hundred sparkling bonfires, the fragrant scent of aromatic wood smoke, the flickering firelight on the arched bridges, the silhouettes of the firetenders passing by the flames, the torch-lit vessels traveling down the river, and the enchanting music from around the world engage all the senses and emotions of those who stroll the paths of Waterplace Park. WaterFire has captured the imagination of over ten million visitors, bringing life to downtown, and revitalizing Rhode Island’s capital city.

Visit their blog.

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