PRESENT POWER / FUTURE HOPES
In celebration of City Artist Corps: Bridging the Divide
June 29, 2022 — New York, NY — ArtBridge, in partnership with NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA), and New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), is proud to present PRESENT POWER / FUTURE HOPES, a culminating group exhibition showcasing works from its City Artist Corps: Bridging the Divide installation series that aims to amplify the voices of New York City’s 400,000 public housing residents. Co-curated by ArtBridge’s Curator and Senior Program Manager Rebecca Pristoop and ArtBridge Board member and artist Manjari Sharma, PRESENT POWER / FUTURE HOPES celebrates 50+ outdoor exhibitions by 59 New York-based artists at 16 NYCHA developments in all five boroughs.
The program was supported by City Artist Corps, initiated in 2021 as a way to invest in and provide relief to artists across the city and to empower them to contribute to New York City’s ongoing recovery. The installations throughout the NYCHA system are also made possible by the City Canvas initiative, which allows construction sheds and fencing to be transformed into platforms for community-driven public artwork.
The exhibition opens on July 8th, 2022 at The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center with a reception at 5–8 PM ET and will remain on view through July 23rd, 2022.
Highlighting selected artworks from the larger city-wide installations, PRESENT POWER / FUTURE HOPES puts on view the interests, talents, concerns, dreams, and hopes of public housing residents and demonstrates an expansive approach to designing public art in relation to community reflections, collective histories, and aspirations. While the public artworks were printed and installed on vinyl and other weather-durable surfaces across the City, this exhibition includes a number of original, material-based artworks directly related to the final vinyl designs. Digital and print reproductions of many of the public artworks are also included. Additionally, photographic documentation of the site-specific installations and artist-led workshops at each NYCHA development are featured to showcase the holistic process of creating community-rooted public art.
“ArtBridge’s Bridging the Divide shows cultural democracy in action, creating deep partnerships between artists and NYCHA residents to explore and express what’s meaningful and beautiful to them in their communities through the unmatched power of creative expression” said NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo. “We’re committed to investing in our cultural community and our artists as a powerful driver of recovery and recognition of their incomparable contribution to the vitality of New York City. Congratulations to every artist whose work is now installed through this exciting project, made possible by our City Canvas initiative, and to every New Yorker whose vision and contribution is represented in one of these amazing pieces. It’s a powerful reminder that when we collaborate with and work to understand one another, we can do amazing things.”
“It has been an absolute honor to collaborate with this amazing group of artists and community partners. Presenting this work in a gallery setting at The Clemente gives us the special opportunity to explore the intricacies of each artist’s conceptual and material approach, meshing their personal practices with community values and collective input,” said curator Rebecca Pristoop, “PRESENT POWER / FUTURE HOPES underscores what happens when public art programs invest resources into collaborating with local communities. We have been overwhelmingly inspired by the power of community engagement, resilience, and hopes, and look forward to continuing presenting local talents in our shared urban space.”
Over the course of 10 months, ArtBridge commissioned 59 local artists through a city-wide open call — many of whom have direct relationships with the sites — in creating over 50 new, original, site-specific works, and produced nearly two miles of public art, derived from hundreds of art-making workshops and community events with NYCHA residents across five boroughs. Partnered NYCHA sites include: Baruch, Polo Grounds, Taft, and Lillian Wald in Manhattan; Brownsville, Howard, Ingersoll, Red Hook East, and Red Hook West in Brooklyn; Adams and Mitchel in Bronx; Astoria, Pomonok, and Woodside in Queens; South Beach and Todt Hill in Staten Island. The program is made possible by the City Artist Corps and the City Canvas pilot program, initiatives of the DCLA and the Mayor’s Office.
Images: (Left) Derick Cross, We Shine and Connect in Our Own Unique Way, 2021. Photo by Rathkopf Photography. (Right) The Canary Swords, Run Wild, 2021. Photo by Collin Erickson
One of the most important elements in any successful public art program is community engagement,” said Jon Souza, Program Director of ArtBridge, “The greatest impact comes from the program’s ability to connect with local partners and ensure their voices are heard. This is why our partnership with NYCHA was so crucial to our program — working in collaboration, we were able to better connect with public housing residents and community members, using art to learn about their cultures, histories, struggles, joys, talents, and more. Moving forward our program will continue to hold the space to amplify these voices through creativity and collaboration.”
“The PRESENT POWER / FUTURE HOPES group exhibition illustrates the dazzling array of artistic talent found among our public housing residents while activating dozens of NYCHA campuses in the process,” said NYCHA Chief of Staff Joey Koch. “This ambitious public art project would not be possible without the institutional support and artistic guidance provided by ArtBridge, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Mayor’s Office — who share our commitment to empowering the voices of our residents through creative self-expression.”
Canary Swords (Ashley Crawford and Kenneth Tooley)
George Torres Jr.
Jia Yan Yuan
Jocelyn Marie Goode
Nandy Del Castillo
PTSD (Paul Kamuf and Tony Schloss)
RHAP Collective (Felipe, Scarlett, Abigail, (Bri) Aspen, Jeylani, Angelly, and Bianca)
Vanesa Álvarez Díaz
Abrons Art Center, Center for Court Innovation – Neighborhood Safety Initiatives, DYCD Cornerstone, Hellenic American Neighborhood Action Committee, Joan & Alan Berkinow JCC of Staten Island, Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, Moore Jackson Community Garden, Office of Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, PAL Cornerstone, Pioneer Works, Queens Community House, Raymond Velez Health Center, Red Hook Art Project, Red Hook Initiative, Save Our Streets, UJA Federation of New York, United Activities Unlimited Inc., University Settlement, William Cullen Bryant High School, and Woodside Senior Center.
Founded in 2008 by artist and designer Rodney Durso, ArtBridge empowers emerging artists to transform prominent urban spaces by turning street-level construction fencing and scaffolding into a canvas for art. ArtBridge works with communities and artists to develop large-scale art exhibitions that represent local narratives and culture. Through the program, ArtBridge’s outdoor exhibitions have provided unprecedented exposure for hundreds of artists, and have covered over 50,000 square feet of public space.
About Bridging the Divide
Bridging the Divide is a series of ongoing artist residencies at NYCHA developments throughout New York City. Through this program, artists engage with local residents through a variety of workshops and create artworks that empower residential narratives. The resulting artworks are transformed into large-scale public art, displayed on the construction fencing that surrounds the NYCHA sites.
About City Canvas
Announced in September 2018, City Canvas allows nonprofits to install large-scale, temporary artwork on protective construction structures — namely construction fences and sheds — throughout the five boroughs. A 48-month pilot program, City Canvas is a collaboration between NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, the Office of the Mayor, and the NYC Department of Buildings designed to improve the city’s visual landscape, while giving artists and organizations opportunities to bring their work to public space. Learn more about the program here.
About City Artist Corps
Announced in May 2021, the New York City Artist Corps was a historic investment in artists by the City of New York. The $25 million program was created to provide relief to the City’s hard-hit arts community and reinvigorate arts and culture as part of the City’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to giving New Yorkers opportunities to experience a diverse range of free cultural programming across the boroughs, City Artist Corps ensured that more than 3,000 working artists were supported in their own right, recognizing their labor as critical to the City’s recovery. Through a number of partners, City Artist Corps provided thousands of grants and support to artists in all disciplines across New York City. Learn more about the program here.
About The Clemente
The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center Inc. is a Puerto Rican/Latinx multi-arts cultural institution that has demonstrated a broad-minded cultural vision and inclusive philosophy rooted in NYC’s Lower East Side/Loisaida. While focused on the cultivation, presentation, and preservation of Puerto Rican and Latinx culture, The Clemente is equally committed to a multi-ethnic / international latitude, determined to operate in a polyphonic manner that provides affordable working space and venues to artists, small arts organizations, emergent and independent community producers that reflect the cultural diversity of the LES and New York City.
Banner Image: “You Deserve Ease and Joy” by Jazmine HayesPanel. Image Credit – ArtBridge