On being an ‘artist and….’

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Elizabeth Hamby and Hatuey Ramos Fermin (also known as Meta Local Collaborative) are Bronx based artists who continue to transform our understanding of New York’s largest public space: its streets. They explore the histories of neighborhoods, create site-specific participatory work, engage a broad range of people, and work collaboratively across disciplines. In this episode, we have a conversation about work, about crossing between disciplines, how bicycling is an art form, using history as a jumping off point for deep dialogue, and the kinds of moments that can turn your life in a direction you never saw coming.


Meta Local is the collaborative practice of Elizabeth Hamby and Hatuey Ramos Fermin. Our work investigates the dynamics of urban spaces; exploring the histories of buildings and neighborhoods, and tracing the flows of people, ideas and products. Combining documentary strategies with performance and fine art, we articulate concepts of origin, and the sense of place.  Meta Local develops site-specific, participatory works that refer to the complexity of our community in the South Bronx and beyond. We observe, analyze, and dissect the social, cultural and economic structures of our neighborhood, as well as the design and organization of buildings and spaces, and use the information gathered to develop questions that serve as a foundation for our projects.

By actively engaging a broad range of people and working collaboratively across disciplines, Meta Local challenges the existing hierarchies, inclusions, and exclusions that characterize “participation” in the larger democracy of New York City. Projects are entirely site specific, and are developed collaboratively with a variety of stakeholders including community organizations, neighbors and visitors in different capacities.

Process and Progress: Drew Manahan, Meta Local Collaborative & The Bronx River Alliance

Process-progress-river

 

On View from February 01 – February 23

Gallery Location: 305 E. 140th Street, #1A, Bronx, NY 10454
Reception: Friday, February 1, 2013, 6-9pm

GALLERY HOURS: Wednesday–Friday, 3pm–6:30pm / Saturday, 12pm–5pm FREE ADMISSION

Bronx, NY, January, 2013—Bronx River Art Center (BRAC) is proud to announce Process and Progress: Drew Manahan, Meta Local Collaborative & The Bronx River Alliance. This is the third in the series of five exhibitions that invites artists and architects to engage with systems of urban development in the Bronx and beyond. Process and Progress is presented in BRAC’s temporary gallery space in Mott Haven while our permanent facility in West Farms is undergoing renovation.

The exhibition series, Process and Progress: Engaging in Community Change, highlights the Bronx River Art Center’s development during a time of significant structural and cultural change in the borough. BRAC’s major building renovation project, now underway, is leading the way for more environmentally sustainable and technologically advanced designs within our local West Farms Community. At the same time, the surrounding area has become home to new and imminent urban development projects that will dramatically impact the built environment, social fabric, and cultural composition of our local community.

Process and Progress: Drew Manahan, Meta Local Collaborative & The Bronx River Alliancefocuses on the past, the present and the future of the Bronx River. Architect Drew Manahan explores how the wilderness around the river has resurfaced within the South Bronx’s urban environment through renderings and drawings and how this evolving ecology and the river is creating new ephemeral or transcendental experiences for the borough’s dwellers.

In partnership with the Bronx River Alliance, Meta Local Collaborative has curated a selection of photos, plans, maps, ephemera from the Alliance’s archives. They trace how spaces along the river has changed throughout the years, revisit past restoration and recreation plans, and consider the river’s present state and plans for its future. In addition, Meta Local is showcasing work they are developing focused on public access to the Bronx River Greenway.

Artists and Partners:

Andrew Manahan is an Eagle Scout from Northwest Ohio who received his Bachelors of Science in Architecture from the University of Cincinnati and his Masters of Architecture from the Cranbrook Academy of Art. His vision is to create architectural and cultural policy through an opportunistic and proactive practice. He completed his first building just this past year through a mixture of contemporary and digital fabrication techniques and traditional woodwork and handcraft, featured in Metropolis magazine. Andrew has become increasingly interested in the reemergence of wilderness and nature in highly populated or recently vacated urban areas, and is interested in crafting a relationship between culture architecture and wilderness.

Meta Local Collaborative is the practice of Elizabeth Hamby and Hatuey Ramos Fermin. Their work investigates the dynamics of urban spaces, exploring the histories of buildings and neighborhoods, and tracing the flows of people, ideas and products. Combining documentary strategies with performance and fine art, they articulate concepts of origin, and the sense of place. Meta Local develops site-specific, participatory works that refer to the complexity of their community in the South Bronx and beyond. The artists observe, analyze, and dissect the social, cultural and economic structures of their neighborhood, as well as the design and organization of buildings and spaces, and use the information gathered to develop questions that serve as a foundation for their projects.

The Bronx River Alliance serves as a coordinated voice for the river and works in harmonious partnership to protect, improve and restore the Bronx River corridor so that it can be a healthy ecological, recreational, educational and economic resource for the communities through which the river flows.

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Citizen Placemakers: Elizabeth Hamby & Hatuey Ramos Fermín Use Art to Bring People Together

By  for Project for Public Spaces

Elizabeth Hamby and Hatuey Ramos Fermín are people connectors. As artists, activists, and Bronxites, their creative collaborations are all about gathering information from neighbors and presenting it in ways that allow communities to better understand themselves and the urban spaces they create. The two have worked in all kinds of public spaces, from major thoroughfares and street corners to laundromats, grocery stores, and vacant waterfronts.

Recently, they organized Boogie Down Rides: Bicycling is Art. The artists used the social act of biking as a springboard for talking with people about the creation of healthy, active urban environments. Throughout the month of May 2012, they set up many different formats for engaging the public: a temporary bike shop that simultaneously served as an education hub, group rides across the Bronx, and visioning workshops about biking and greenway initiatives in the city.

The project was organized as part of the public art exhibition, This Side of Paradise, by No Longer Empty at the Andrew Freedman Home. I recently sat down with Hatuey and Elizabeth to talk aboutBoogie Down Rides and the other urban projects they have in the works.

 

What was it about your community that inspired Boogie Down Rides? Was there a particular need that you were responding to or wanted to address?

Hatuey: Boogie Down Rides grew out of another project of mine, Transmit-Transit. It explored the idea of taxi drivers as a mode of transport in the the Bronx, and the need for cabs to move around. Public transit in the north-south direction works well but east-west not so much. No Longer Empty first approached me about that transportation project, which became a video installation at the Andrew Freedman Home that connected the gallery space to the outside world. Then we began thinking about how to physically and conceptually expand transportation within the community. Transportation was a major theme extending back to Mr. Freedman’s time, with Mr. Freedman being a major backer of the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT), New York City’s original underground subway. The IRT addressed the linking of open space from Central Park to Van Cortlandt Park. Extending the idea of Transmit-Transit beyond cabs, we wanted to look at bikes as another viable option to address mobility in the Bronx.

One of the great things about Boogie Down Rides is how it brings together many activities that people may not normally associate but which all contribute to healthy places. Your tagline, for example, is Bicycling is Art. Can you explain how biking, public art, and urban spaces are linked in your project?

Elizabeth: Instead of representing reality as a painting, we live it on a bike. The bike embodied action for this issue of transportation in the Bronx, where biking is a social act and a political act. Instead of designing a solution to a problem, we tried to figure out the questions that exist in real life through the experience of biking. We both live in the Bronx. It’s part of our day-to-day reality, and because we’re artists, we have a compulsion to make what we see public. We often talk to people about the role that artists play as citizens and neighbors in our communities. We hope our work as artists can help make our neighborhoods more safe, lively, and liveable in many ways.

The project also involved community visioning sessions for the Bronx’s longer-term development. What came out of these sessions?

Elizabeth: The visioning sessions were really spearheaded by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which was just launching an interactive toolkit to gather data and address threats to active transportation and public space. They were key in leading some of the concrete visioning work happening around the Sheridan Expressway, where dangerous connections make it unsafe to bike between the parks. Rather than focusing on cause and effect, the visioning sessions were about figuring out opportunities for improvement. Safety—specifically, feeling safe in public—was an ongoing theme in the conversations we had with our neighbors.

Throughout your various interactions with the public, did you come across questions or reactions that particularly surprised you?

Elizabeth: One of the most surprising things that we learned from Boogie Down Rides was the number of adults—particularly women—who had never learned how to ride a bike, and who were very excited to find out about opportunities for biking in the Bronx. In the instance of another project, Mind the Gap/La Brecha, we talked a lot with folks in our neighborhood about their ideas for the waterfront. One of the critical components to the waterfront that came up over and over again was the basic need for clean public restrooms!

Collaboration seems integral to your work. What other community partners were vested inBoogie Down Rides?

Hatuey: Conversations and collaborations were important from the start; we worked with Transportation AlternativesDepartment of Health and Mental HygieneBronx River AllianceBike the BronxBronx Health REACHPartnership for ParksVelo City

Elizabeth: We also had a meeting with City Planning and the Mayor’s Office where we were able to show our recommendations. It was perhaps an unusual case in that the Mayor’s Office and City Planning came to us. Our collaborations really grew organically, and our project was timely in terms of how they related to conversations already happening in New York about biking, complete streets, and the South Bronx Greenway Plan.

And did people express any misconceptions that you were able to address through these collaborations?

Elizabeth: I think that artists working in public the way that we do are often confused with non-profit or other community-based organizations. We often talk to people about the role that artists play as citizens and neighbors in our communities—and the ways that we hope that our work can help make our neighborhoods more safe, lively, and liveable.

Any advice you would give to communities who are trying to build healthier places?

Elizabeth: You have to remember the factor of critical mass. If you notice a problem, someone else probably has too, so it becomes about working together in a long-term way.

Hatuey: It’s realizing there are already resources within the community, and that becomes the main point of departure. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel. You want to create space to bring stakeholders together.

Elizabeth: Also humility and willingness to listen and genuinely collaborate—those are really important, in regard to attitude. There’s a lot of work that goes into working together.

Hatuey: Listening is the biggest thing, listening with a big ear.

Art in Odd Places Model 2012

Street Cartographies will be part of this year’s Art in Odd Places!

Fashion. Prototype. Pose. Imitate. Plan. System. These definitive words come together to create AiOP 2012: MODEL, a festival of transformative ideas, wearable visions of positive change, and walking theories that expand preconceived notions of public space and art. From October 5 -15, national and international artist-citizens will take over 14th Street through poetry, performance, site-specific installations, videos, painting, sculpture, drawing, illustration, street art, mobile studios, design, music, as well as innovative trans-disciplinary work. Sashay, swagger, roll, prance, play, aspire, duck walk, run, jump, drop, tap, crawl, and strut along with over 100 artist-citizens as they are celebrated, presented, demonstrated, and paraded on 14th Street. Their work will occur all along this unrestricted corridor: in plain view, exposed, transparent, accessible, interactive, tangible, engaged, audible, robust, and colorful. Stop, watch, listen, and interact in fun, insightful, and unexpected ways.

Fashion: The global fashion world creates garments that adorn and protect our bodies while simultaneously gleaning from, and pushing forward, culture. Woven within this system is the ideological “fabric” from which we fashion ourselves as individuals and communities. The artist-citizens in AiOP 2012 MODEL present couture that mirrors the shared desire to define ourselves through a particular style, social norm, brand or uniform. Their projects also work to the contrary, reflecting our struggle for personal expression, individuality as well as our resistance to stereotypes, racial profiling and prejudice. They explore work that challenges often-unattainable perfection or unrealistic ideals, express behind the scenes viewpoints, and reverse the roles between fashion model and consumer. Take part in the transformation of subways, parks, buses and sidewalks into interactive runways complete with paparazzi, catwalks and, at times, a walking hotdog.

Prototype: History shows that before any creation becomes a fixture of society, there is first a creator of the exemplar, the ideal construct from which all others are modeled. This year’s festival literally reinvents the wheel including helmets that communicate without technology and permit us to hear with our bones, apparatuses that allow us to effortlessly carry the world on our shoulders, air made solid, illuminated blood, boxes made from cooked sugar, magnetic dreams, wearable furniture and bodega bag wisdom. Not limited only to objects, prototypes also define ideal citizens, those who, in our estimation, resist the status quo and seek to improve the world around us. For these artist-citizen role models, 14th Street becomes a platform for social change with visionary propositions that examine issues around politics, racism, ecology, economics, and health care.

Pose: Whether striking a pose or posing a question, this aspect of model embraces contrast: passive and assertive, subject and object, leader and follower. AiOP artist-citizens redefine these dichotomies, inverting the relationship between model-creator, digital-analog, celebrity-anonymity, and the personal-political. Questioning notions of race, beauty, gender, age and sexuality, their work asks us to reexamine the everyday tools and parameters we use to position ourselves with within society, as well as delve into the ways in which we document, arrange and prioritize our on- and off-line social profiles. “Like,” “friend,” or “poke” other participants through the vernacular of social media, as well as aspects of hyper-identity and virtual reality. Activate your own contributions to mobile photo studios, instant makeovers, portrait painting, games of the flesh and fetishes of the mind.

Imitate: Throughout our lives, we are presented with models of behavior, belief and social interaction that become the foundation for own aspirations, tastes, and relationship to the world around us. Be prepared to be entranced by the siren’s song and call-and-response of popular culture with marching choirs, gospel voices, spontaneous sing-a-longs, eclectic ensembles, lip-synchs, DJ and VJ performances. Stand witness to manifestations of deities, spiritual apparitions and incarnations of our darker sides. Sidewalks are converted into sociological experiments with artist-citizens analyzing social class, culture, religion, law, and deviance. Corners, curbs and cellar doors offer self-help and psychological evaluations including poetic probes into our collective state of mind.

Plan. Come partake in redefining our landscape. The schematics of 14th Street will be continually reinterpreted, rebranded and rearranged with projects that seek to draw out its present and potential urban structures, and remap its entire length delineated by our individual preferences rather than historical landmarks. Hidden infrastructures will fill in the outlines of its avenues through mystical labyrinths, poetry driven geographical charts, geocached communications and unraveling knit-guided walks. Bold, wheat pasted statements of solidarity and projected remixes of culture combine to inform a revised topographical social matrix that echoes through the corridors of 14th Street.

 

System. Amongst all of these conflicting, chaotic and collaborating definitions there is always order to be found. There are the systems that keep our world running, stumbling, prancing and plodding along through models of communication, business, finance, and economy. Investigate the procedures and methods by which we analyze and substantiate society, be challenged to scrutinize class divide, economic collapse, and recession politics. Artist-citizens reorder our current systems of capitalism, consumerism and commerce, reinventing new methods and industry, as well as reach back into the wisdom of indigenous customs.

 

We are all citizens of the MODEL runway. Throughout the festival, we invite you to join us in putting our best foot forward as we proclaim 14th Street as the largest and longest promenade in the world. We declare it our interactive public showroom, free laboratory, open vitrine, inclusive procession, movement mall, evolving plaza and liberated space. No door will separate us. MODEL!

 

About

Art in Odd Places (AiOP) presents visual and performance art in unexpected public spaces. AiOP also produces an annual festival along 14th Street in Manhattan, NYC from Avenue C to the Hudson River each October.

 

Mission

Art in Odd Places aims to stretch the boundaries of communication in the public realm by presenting artworks in all disciplines outside the confines of traditional public space regulations. AiOP reminds us that public spaces function as the epicenter for diverse social interactions and the unfettered exchange of ideas. Website: www.artinoddplaces.org

 

History

Art in Odd Places (AiOP) began as an action by a group of artists led by Ed Woodham to encourage local participation in the Cultural Olympiad of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. In 2005, after moving back to New York City, he re imagined it as a response to the dwindling of public space and personal civil liberties – first in the Lower East Side and East Village, and since 2008, on 14th Street in Manhattan. AiOP has always been a grassroots project fueled by the goodwill and inventiveness of its participants.

 

Art in Odd Places is a project of GOH Productions.
Bonnie Stein, Executive Director.

www.gohproductions.org

Laundromat Project’s Third Annual Public Art Potluck

Third Annual Public Art Potluck

What Do We Bring? Yummy Food and Public Art!
What Do You Bring? An Open Mind and Creative Ideas!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 | 7:00pm – 9:30p
Doors open at 6:30pm
University Settlement, 184 Eldridge Street, New York, NY 10002

The Laundromat Project invites you to celebrate this year’s Create Change artists at its 3rd Annual Public Art Potluck.

Engage our Create Change artists in conversations about their projects and creative ideas set in communities across New York City and Philadelphia.

You’ll hear about socially-engaged art projects ranging from yoga-based printmaking in Jackson Heights to envisioning a new waterfront for the South Bronx to a multimedia installation highlighting the history of garment workers in Sunset Park.

Dinner will be prepared by Organic Soul Chef Madea Allen.

2 BX artists bring ‘Mind the Gap’ project to Mott Haven

2 BX artists bring ‘Mind the Gap’ project to Mott Haven by Bornx News 12

MOTT HAVEN – Two Bronx residents have launched a project in an attempt to bridge the gap between the waterfront and Mott Haven. ‘Mind the Gap’ is part of The Laundromat Project, which brings artists to neighborhood Laundromats to document what locals think about the waterfront and how to improve access to it. The participants hope the project helps residents appreciate the area’s natural resources. ‘Mind the Gap’ will be stationed at the Blue and White Laundromat on East 140th Street through September.

Mott Haven artists transform laundromat into interactive art site

By Patrick Wall for DNAinfo

MOTT HAVEN — With its rumbling dryers and stinging smell of detergent, the Blue and White Laundromat on East 140th Street is a fine place to wash clothes, but an odd one to dream about a river.

But that is what two Mott Haven artists are asking patrons to do as they conduct interviews outside the laundromat and invite passersby to fiddle with a whimsical model of the South Bronx waterfront, where popsicle sticks stand in for bridges and blue tape signifies water.

“Feel free to touch things and put things here,” said artist Hatuey Ramos-Fermín as locals approached the tabletop river. “Make your own little place along the water.”

Through the model, the recorded interviews, maps, photographs and riverside walks, Ramos-Fermín and his creative partner, Elizabeth Hamby, want to draw their neighbors’ attention to the South Bronx waterfront, which sits just a mile south but often feels a world away.

“There is a disconnect between people’s everyday experience here and the waterfront,” said Ramos-Fermín, noting that many locals travel some nine miles northeast to Orchard Beach or walk along the Manhattan bank of the Harlem River to spend time near the water. The piece, which will culminate with a public presentation in October, was commissioned by The Laundromat Project, a citywide nonprofit whose residency program gives artists $4,000 to launch interactive art projects inside laundromats in the neighborhoods where they live. Other artists have converted sections of laundromats into yoga studios, reading rooms and English language classrooms for immigrants — all with the blessing of the storeowners, who are not paid by the artists or the nonprofit.

The Mott Haven pair hopes their piece, called “Mind the Gap/La Brecha,” can connect residents with the ongoing efforts of local activists, city officials and urban planners from as far away as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge to convert stretches of Bronx waterfront from their old industrial uses into public spaces. “A lot of plans already exist,” said Hamby, including ones for new riverside parks, pathways and a long-delayed footbridge to Randall’s Island. But, she added, there is a need to carry “that conversation out of those meetings and onto the ground.” Riverfront access gained new attention this year when some Bronx residents loudly opposed FreshDirect’s plan to build a new 500,000-square-foot facility in the Harlem River Yards in Port Morris.

But when the art project began this month at the laundromat on East 140th St., talk of the water was far less contentious and much more personal. After shoving her clothes into a dryer, an elderly woman told the artists that she loves dipping her feet in the water. A man passing on the sidewalk pulled out his cell phone to share a picture of his favorite beach in Puerto Rico. Alex Alonzo, 9, played with the river model until he had designed his dream waterfront, with pipe connectors as telescopes, a plastic badge as a police station and a pack of pink wafers as a cookie factory. Alex’s older brother, Alberto Alonzo, stopped folding clothes for a moment to imagine fishing and picnicking by the river. “You sit by the water and feel the breeze and you feel relaxed,” Alberto Alonzo, 25, said. “You forget about the city.” When the artists asked their neighbors about their visions for a reclaimed South Bronx waterfront, they mentioned shade, bright colors, swimmable water, security and, of course, restrooms. “What this exercise reveals is that everybody has feelings about water,” said Hamby, while some young children pushed plastic fish through the blue-tape river. “It’s elemental.”

Soundview Park Summer Festival 2012: City of Water Day in Your Neighborhood

Friends of Soundview Park annual celebration of the park and the Bronx waterfront!

All activities are FREE and open to the public. Performances for all ages, family friendly fun and educational activities, and fitness and recreational programming.

10:00 am – 6:00 pm – Street Cartography
This bicycle-based mobile exhibition of ideas about ways to make bicycling accessible, safe and sustainable in the Bronx. The artists Elizabeth Hamby and Hatuey Ramos-Fermín will share existing initiatives in the Bronx and generate new ideas with participants in the festival.

 

Laundromat Project 2012 Cycle

We are excited to be part of the Laundromat Project Create a Change Artist Residency!
 Hatuey Ramos-Fermin and Elizabeth Hamby will turn their laundromat into a classroom environment in their project Mind the Gap/La Brecha to invite their neighbors to propose new ways of increasing their access to green spaces and the waterfront. Collaborating with locals, they will use 3D models, workshops, and other platforms to visualize the future development of the South Bronx. The interior and exterior space of the laundromat will be used to exhibit the culmination of ideas generated by locals.

Elizabeth Hamby and Hatuey Ramos-Fermín are artists and educators working between the studio, the classroom, and the city. Their collaborative practice explores the relationship between people and place through a variety of media, and relies heavily on community participation and engagement. Their recent projects, Boogie Down Rides in “This Side of Paradise,” organized by No Longer Empty, and When the Bronx was Burning, Casa Amadeo was Holding it Down produced with Action Club for “Shifting Communities” at the Bronx River Art Center combined installation with public programming and community engagement to create conversations about critical issues in the Bronx.