While it sure was a hot one, our final week of ART YARD Summer Session 2023 in our studio at BWAC in Red Hook, Brooklyn was a resounding success!
We began with Teaching Artist Jane Hungtington's excellent lesson and display of pictures of protest posters throughout the decades. Powerful images pinpointed how activism through art helps make change. Jane took us through the BLM movement, AIDS crisis, women's marches, union strikes, and war.
Using materials of their choice, students designed posters using paint, markers, collage, and pencil covering important issues such as trans rights and awareness, bicycle regulations in NYC, recycling processes, homelessness, and banned books. Ajani's tender sentiment and beautiful collage served as a tribute to a friend Tommy which prompted discussions about trans rights as well as the possibility of her work becoming public art.
Jane explains: "I showed my slide deck using images from historical references and images of unique, homemade protest signs. I then organized the images based on movement. Or discussion touched on the following topics:
The mass produced, professionally printed signs used in the Hollywood writers’ strike versus the power of individually made signs to show passion for the protest’s cause. Causes that effected change through protests over time: Woman’s right to vote, ending the war in Vietnam, etc. The point being: it’s a long haul, but protest is effective.
The bite, snack, meal method of copywriting: Meaning–keep the words short and sweet to communicate your message efficiently.
How to show respect differing opinions on issues, and the importance of listening.
Protests which we have participated in over the years, or plan to attend in the future.
Eden touched on the hot topic we've been discussing a lot these days.
Eden Moore, AI couldn't...
Marie did a densely painted poster calling for liability insurance for Citi-bike riders.
Ajani did a cut paper collage called “protect dolls”, as a memorial for a murdered trans friend. (We are exploring ways that we might be able to bring this piece into a public forum.)
Zeke focused on unhoused people in his community in Maine, with a detailed marker drawing of a tent city. During critique we discussed how Zeke’s use of color helped to give a sense of individual identity often missing from a discussion of this topic.
Jeremy was very prolific. Highlights of his work include cut paper collage and paint to address Robert Moses’s tearing down neighborhoods and creating segregated communities through his highway system, as well as repurposing a closed down industrial site as an urban farm.
Jeremy Winter, Protest Signs
Vera did several digital collages using a drawing of the female reproductive system, combining them with photos of the American flag, and selective phrases in Spanish & English.
Vera Tineo, Protest Signs
Maraya used collage to focus on how she addresses the issue of recyclables winding up in landfills by doing a piece called “Grandma’s Hand", illustrating the cup she carries at work that she fills with water to drink rather than using disposable cups.
Jacob used collage to great effect. The first piece was a rainbow flag with the red portion cut into drips. This was a memorial to a gay person who was murdered in a local parking garage. Activists painted the floor red, but the garage owner decided it would deter customers, so they painted the floor with the rainbow flag instead. He also did a piece inspired by Barbara Kruger’s “Your body is a battleground.”
Delphine used her new, very favorite, “alcoholic markers” to draw an of the earth’s face spitting out garbage.
Meridith did a cut paper flag using Lola, her cat, as a reference. The words on the flag spelled Tranquilkitty.
I (Jane) did two pieces: the first, as a reference what a painting done in ink for banned books with the phrase “Free people read freely.” The second was a blank and white portrait of Gandhi with the quote “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Jane Huntington, Protest Signs
During critique we noted that many of these pieces would work well as a flag or banner. In the spirit of our theme Do Something! Marie suggested that we consider applying to the open call for flag design at Rockefeller Center.
On Tuesday, Teaching Artist Jacob Rath's presentation brought site specific dedications and monuments to BWAC by showing a well curated and thoughtful PowerPoint presentation which covered politicized and unfair deaths and protest sites which inspired participating artists to create. But before we dove into the deep content of this session, Jacob asked us to take three deep breaths.
Images from Jacob's presentation: Comfort Women, George Floyd Square, Ghost Bike
Jacob summarizes: “I began my class by defining site specific artworks, and discussing why certain deaths are politicized. Deaths that become politicized often have unfair circumstances surrounding the death, and affect one group of people more so than others. Eden added that these are deaths that inspire people to mobilize and fight for change. I discussed examples of site specific memorials, which included ACT UP! protests, statues of comfort women, ghost bikes, George Floyd Square, and other murals in Minneapolis.
We then made models of site specific memorials for people we were interested in honoring. The group came up with a variety of topics including the murder of women by their partners, the inhumane temperatures inside prisons, the Dakota War of 1862, the 1913 Paterson Silk Strike, and animal abuse.
Jacob Rath, Plan for a Public Sculpture
Eden and Ajani made memorials to specific people; Eden made a memorial for her English teacher who died of covid, and Ajani made a painting about her friend who was murdered in a hate crime.
Ajani Russell, Plan for Murals (I, II, & III)
Everyone dove into emotionally difficult topics, and emerged with powerful artwork. Everyone who worked with cardboard enjoyed the challenge of working with that material. Ajani liked that Meridith and I both used numbers in our pieces, since they provided concrete facts that can't be argued with. Eden and Ajani did an excellent job of portraying the inner beauty of the individual people they were honoring.”
We were thrilled to work with Teaching Artist Xinan Ran as part of a collaborative community project. Also involved in Xinan’s Tree Chuang public art piece are classes from other Brooklyn arts organizations including Voices Ciudadanas, Mizteca, and Apex for Youth. In this session we created two types of fabric pieces that will become a part of the exterior Chuang, two soft sculptures that are projected to be installed in Sunset Park in September. We were thrilled to learn new techniques including fabric binding, vinyl transfer, and the basics of cyanotypes.
Xinan explains: “Tree Chuangs are textile sculptures that create multifaceted sensorial experiences throughout the urban space. Using the form of a traditional Chuang—a cylindrical textile apparatus commonly used in Buddhism—as a launching point, the soft sculptures are created collaboratively between the artist and the public, and showcase the unique personal narratives of local participants. The theme of the workshop will be “pass-downs” —concepts, ideas and advice given to us by family members, which we feel worthy of sharing with others.”
Use arrows to scroll through our Tree Chuang banners:
Xinan sums up the day: "I enjoyed seeing the different ways that each participant interpreted the theme of "pass-downs" and dive head in into unfamiliar material, experiment and have fun with it. Our conversation was well-balanced between thematic and compositional observations that inspires each other."
Cyanotypes on fabric
Vera shares their thoughts on a morning experience, which lead to thinking about the power of the ART YARD Community: “On the way to class I found myself engaged in several activities which had me to consider our theme "Do something". At the Jay Street train station I witnessed a negative interaction between a citizen and a police officer and decided to intervene as an intermediary to help de-escalate the situation by providing train fare for a fellow subway rider. I also helped a friend by running around to find shoes for them after a shoe malfunction.
ART YARD BKLYN is a community that encourages caring for one another and for the world. People bring their passions and concerns into the community, and they are respected and acknowledged for it. Being part of ART YARD has taught me valuable lessons about the true essence of a supportive and caring community. Being part of a program that encourages compassion and understanding is enriching and encourages us all to notice meaningful experiences and life lessons. I love that as an ART YARD artist I will always be learning and growing.”
Our final day of ART YARD Summer Session 2023 was a session titled ART YARD Happening: A Fluxus Affair presented by Teaching Artist Ajani Russell.
This art happening was both well planned and very free form! Ajani thoughtfully prepared a series of challenging prompts – draw in several mediums but in only one color, depict the feeling of water, draw a foot with your foot, make a drawing only using circles, make a drawing only using straight lines, draw ½ of something in the room then give the piece to someone else to complete, draw the same thing 10 times only spending 15 seconds per image, draw a portrait of Meridith from memory and many more. Candy enjoyed the prompts so much she asked Ajani for the full list to use as inspiration in her studio in the future!
We worked at our own pace, laughing, chatting, snacking on our delicious feast, listening to the ART YARD playlist, fanning ourselves to try and beat the heat, and totally loving the vibe of our community.
Critique was a massive undertaking and truly wonderful! So engaging that I forgot to take individual photos of the work. Fortunately several artists did take images of their work.
While we missed Delphine’s organizational oversight, everyone pitched in to clean up our supplies, organize the closet, sweep and mop the floor, take out the trash and recycling.
Hugs and love all around!!
Other Art News
We are excited to announce that our Record Album Covers created last week in class with Abby are going to be exhibited at The Record Shop at 360 Van Brunt Street!! Big thanks to ART YARD pal Scott Pfaffman for arranging with The Record Shop owner Bene Coopersmith. The work will be displayed in plastic sleeves to mimic the vintage vinyl on sale in the shop. Isn’t this cool!? More info to follow.
As I have shared in previous recaps, ART YARD BKLYN is a proud and grateful recipient of Con Edison Arts and Culture Grant 2023.
I was so pleased this week to have an email from Johari Jenkins at Con Edison: “I hope you are doing well. From reading this newsletter I would say yes you are. I always take pause and read your email e-blasts because the art and the stories are simply amazing – it is my therapy! I heart so many of these pieces and I am extremely in awe reading about the Art-o-Mat art vending machine. What a clever idea! I hope to find one and but some art soon.😊”
I read Johari’s email out loud during class and everyone cheered – “THANK YOU Con Edison!” accompanied by a round of applause.
Delphine writes: “Paris is really fun so far, the streets are really narrow and there’s of course lots of French. It’s the perfect temperature and has been beautiful to take short walks maybe get a crepe or a croissant (which is so good, particularly the plain one which is crunchy and delicious) I didn’t do that much yesterday since I just got there and it was my first day but my mom and I went out to eat at a restaurant and then my family got some gelato! It was so good!! Anyway I’ll send you updates and I haven’t seen much art so far but here is some of the images I have…”
Use arrows to scroll through Delphine's photos from Paris!
We will be off for the month of August. Advanced Studio on zoom and in person will be back in action in September. Advanced Studio in person will have a core art skills focus for the first 6 weeks as we help ART YARD artists readying portfolios for high school, college and grad school. School programs will also resume in the fall.