2015 Challenge: Post War Blues
Brooklyn Army Terminal was originally constructed for the war effort
in 1919. It was most heavily used for WWII, and was eventually decommissioned
and sold to the city of New York in the 1970's. It now houses a
variety of businesses, from a chocolate factory to a balloon manufacturer
to artists' studios.
The building has an amazing architecture:
at the time it was built, it was the world's largest concrete building.
The sad truth, however, is that most innovations come from the war
effort. Post War Blues addresses what happens to the fruit
of war innovations after a conflict is over and how we can work
together to start healing a space. My goal is not only to have the
current tenants of the Brooklyn Army Terminal work together for
a peaceful end, but to also involve the surrounding neighborhoods
of Sunset Park and Bay Ridge.
Post War Blues is a site-specific
collaborative installation: flowers crocheted and knitted from recycled
plastic yarn, burst out of the train car that sits in the Brooklyn
Army Terminal atrium. The flowers rise and slowly fall in undulating
waves, blanketing the tracks all the way to the end of the courtyard,
a distance of about 300 feet.
Starting in 2015, I will a create an
art club in the Brooklyn Army Terminal which will meet every month
to collect plastic shopping bags, make yarn, learn to knit and crochet,
and make the individual flowers for the final installation. I am
working with Chashama, a New York based non-profit, and the building's
management (NYC-EDC) to reach out to the tenants of the Brooklyn
Army Terminal, and encourage their workforce to participate in the
project. I am also working with the local libraries of Bay Ridge
and Sunset Park to conduct regular monthly art clubs in their meeting
I am modeling this installation on previous
community-based projects: Knit for Trees on Governors Island
in 2011, and Invasive Species for the Wisconsin Farm/Art
Dtour in 2014. In Knit for Trees, I gave free knitting lessons
to park visitors on Governors Island every weekend. The knitted
panels were then continously added to the tree installation over
In Invasive Species, I issued
a national crochet challenge to make crocheted kudzu
leaves through crochet forums, yarn stores, social media sites and
local businesses. Over 35 participants, some as far as Australia,
made over 1500 leaves, out of the final 5000 that were used in the
Those large scale installations, comprised
of smaller, simple elements, are a tangible illustration of a community's
effort. Participants see the results of their creative process,
and pay more attention to the art, its role and its message.
My goal is for Post War Blues
to function as a meaningful public art engagement: to serve as the
glue that can bind a community together, and to show that despite
our differences and our violent past, we can make something beautiful
and meaningful together.
This installation is made with the participation
of Chashama, and a 2015 BAC Community Arts Grants.
Chashama supports artists by transforming
unutilized real estate into free and subsidized work and presentation
Chashamas primary goal is to support
artists living in New York City by giving them space to create and
exhibit their work. chashama also aspires to bring the benefits
of art and cultural programming to New Yorkers of all ages and backgrounds.
We believe in the power of a reciprocal and mutually beneficial
relationship between artists and the communities in which they work.
More information at: www.chashama.org
Post War Blues is sponsored, in part,
by the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City
Department of Cultural Affairs, administered by Brooklyn ArtsCouncil
The Brooklyn Arts Council gives grants,
presents free and affordable arts events, trains artists and arts
professionals, teaches students, incubates new projects and promotes
artists and cultural groups across our borough/
More information at: www.brooklynartscouncil.org