The Conversing Bricks (2012) public art project emerged from a campaign waged by anti-immigrant groups back in 2006 that sent thousands of bricks to members of Congress who opposed the construction of a border wall between Mexico and the United States and were in favored of comprehensive immigration reform. The bricks contained messages like, “Build a Wall,” “No to Illegals,” and “Secure our Borders.” Of the thousands of bricks sent to Capitol Hill, 273 were incorporated into this project.
The project repurposed the original anti-immigrant bricks. A series of workshops, social media, email, and cell phone texting campaign was held and immigrants were asked to send and include their own messages onto the same bricks; and with them build a small wall and a round table with a bench. The intention is to transform messages of hate into a site for dialogue around issues of citizenship, immigration, and human rights.
A round table has no head or foot, no person who sits at it can claim a more important position than the other; thus making everyone equal in status. Therefore, the artwork becomes a symbol of equality for all citizens regardless of their immigration status. Throughout the tabletop and the wall one finds several bricks hand painted by immigrants in response to the original anti immigrant messages. In the middle of this round table there is a space for a perennial plant. The plant is a symbol of life. The table is a place of dialogue, conversation, and thought about the immigration issue.
Site of artwork
The brick table is permanently installed within the Hostos Community College Memorial Plaza
The memorial plaza recalls and mourns passengers and crew killed when their jetliner crashed and burned. At the crash site, five local residents were also killed. Carrying 260 souls and bound for the Dominican Republic, American Airlines Flight 587 departed New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. Minutes later, it crashed into the nearby Rockaway peninsula neighborhood of Belle Harbor, Queens county, New York City at 9:17 AM on November 12, 2001.
The plaza was designed by Goshow Architects, New York, NY, the memorial work is a water-wall of polished granite, 40-foot across. Inscribed on the wall – and readable through its cascading waters — are dedicatory inscriptions, story synopsis and names of the men, women and children who died in the crash. The memorial was constructed by The Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, Albany, NY. The site of this remembrance is a part of the campus of Hostos Community College, a unit of the City University of New York; the memorial is situated in the plaza between college buildings numbered 450 and 500, on the Grand Concourse, the Bronx. The memorial was dedicated November 18, 2006.
This project is made possible by Hostos Community College C.U.N.Y., Office of the Congressman José E. Serrano, A.G. Foundation, Bronx Lebanon Hospital, The Bronx Council on the Arts /D.C.A. Greater New York Arts Development Fund, New York Botanical Garden, International Masonry Institute, Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 1 NY, Bronx Museum of the Arts, W.H.E.D.C.O., Casa Redimix, St. Jerome Church.