MELANIE CREAN, NYC PUBLIC ARTIST IN RESIDENCE WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION, INSTALLS REIFY AT STATEN ISLAND SUPREME COURTHOUSE AND HOSTS COMMUNITY DISCUSSION ON DECEMBER 3
On view through December 10, Reify Explores Young People’s Relationship to Justice System
A public conversation will be hosted near the installation on December 3 – RSVP here
Staten Island, NY – A new, temporary art installation by NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) Public Artist in Residence (PAIR) Melanie Crean has been installed on the front of the Staten Island Courthouse. The piece, Reify, was created by Crean as part of her residency with DDC that started in 2021 as part of the Department of Cultural Affairs’ (DCLA) PAIR program. To create Reify, Crean worked with youth from Staten Island to consider the future of justice that they would like to see in their community, and how they might represent this as a series of large format photographs installed on the front of the court building while under construction. On December 3, Crean and several of the youth who she collaborated with will participate in a public discussion moderated by Ayodamola Okunseinde. The event is developed by Crean along with the hosting community organization, Staten Island Urban Center. More information on the event is available here.
Reify consists of five banners measuring 20-feet high by 6-feet wide that are hung between the courthouse’s pillars. An additional 50-foot long by 7.5-feet high supergraphic print in installed on the construction fence. The installation will be on display until December 10. Additional photos of the project are available here.
Crean was named DDC’s Public Artist in Residence (PAIR) in 2021 as part of DCLA’s PAIR program, which embeds artists within New York City agencies in order to propose creative solutions to civic challenges. At DDC, Crean’s residency was committed to transforming a DDC construction site into a platform for exploring, imagining, creating and enacting connections between affected communities and the public works that impact a neighborhood. For this installation, the artist conducted a series of workshops with local young people where they described their relationships to the justice system. The images featured on the fencing and hanging banners in Reify echo people forging connections with each other across multiple divides.
“As Public Artist in Residence with DDC, Melanie Crean has done eye-opening work with local youth to explore and render their experiences into the remarkable ‘Reify’ public artwork,” said NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo. “Projects like this one demonstrate public art’s power to manifest unique experiences and point of view, and to transform the everyday into something remarkable. We’re proud to work with Melanie and DDC to bring this amazing installation to life.”
“DDC is proud to participate in the City’s public arts programs while rehabilitating this important civic structure. This project is an excellent example of how we are able to use construction sites to engage New Yorkers even while our projects continue,” said NYC Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Thomas Foley. “I want to thank Melanie Crean, our community partners, and our colleagues in government for advancing the valuable ‘Public Artist in Residence’ program.”
“Public spaces have been the center of meaningful discourse for centuries, and we proudly support the use of the courthouse for this gripping expression of art by Melanie Crean,” said NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services Commissioner Dawn M. Pinnock. “We are fortunate to work with our sister agencies DDC and DCLA, and applaud the Public Artist in Residence Program which has transformed the ongoing construction site into a canvas worthy of admiration and discussion.”
“I really respect the work done with the project participants, who took on the difficult challenge of voicing personal opinions and experiences related to justice, and then strategizing how to translate these into photography that would be seen in such a large public forum,” said DDC Public Artist in Residence Melanie Crean. “I’m grateful that they remain involved in the project and look forward to continued discussions with them about the relation of creativity and the future of justice in Staten Island.”
“I especially enjoyed sharing experiences and hearing the perspective of people from different backgrounds about the justice system, and then seeing those ideas be represented as images through tableaus,” said Project Participant Manya Sabu.
The 1913 courthouse at 18 Richmond Terrace is currently undergoing a $5.2 million capital project to restore the historic front stairs, handrails and other items on the façade. The project began in April and will be completed in fall 2023, is being managed by DDC for the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS). The project includes the replacement of the building’s existing limestone steps and landings with more durable granite stairs with bluestone landing pavers. The concrete adjacent to the steps will be replaced and the existing structural support beneath the stairs will be rebuilt with new reinforced concrete columns and beams. New ornamental bronze handrails intended to look like the building’s original handrails as seen in historic drawings will be installed.
The project will also replace the coping stone and iron picket fence above a retaining wall located along Schuyler Street. Four new exterior lights designed to match the exiting historic fixtures and brackets will be installed along the building portico. A new sidewalk and curbs will complete the job along Richmond Terrace.
Reify is also made possible by City Canvas, a DCLA initiative supported by DDC and the non-profit organization ArtBridge. Special thanks to the Staten Island Justice Center, the Staten Island Urban Center and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice for their assistance. The project is made possible, in part, by funding from the Ford Foundation.
About the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs
The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) is dedicated to supporting and strengthening New York City’s vibrant cultural life. DCLA works to promote and advocate for quality arts programming and to articulate the contribution made by the cultural community to the City’s vitality. The Department represents and serves non-profit cultural organizations involved in the visual, literary, and performing arts; public-oriented science and humanities institutions including zoos, botanical gardens, and historic and preservation societies; and creative artists at all skill levels who live and work within the City’s five boroughs. DCLA also provides donated materials for arts programs offered by the public schools and cultural and social service groups, and commissions permanent works of public art at City-funded construction projects throughout the five boroughs. For more information, visit nyc.gov/culture.
About the NYC Department of Design and Construction
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor Adams’ long-term vision of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, and new or upgraded roads, sewers and water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $15.5 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative and environmentally conscious design and construction strategies to City projects. For more information, please visit nyc.gov/ddc.
Banner Image: “Reify” by Public Artist in Residence Melanie Crean will be on display at the Staten Island Courthouse until December 10. Photo by DDC / Matthew Lapiska.