Public Art Banner to be Displayed at Harlem Waterfront

By: May. 08, 2015
Enter Your Email to Unlock This Article

Plus, get the best of BroadwayWorld delivered to your inbox, and unlimited access to our editorial content across the globe.

Existing user? Just click login.

NYC Parks has announced new public art installation at 116th Street in Harlem. The site will receive a transformative makeover thanks to Friends of the East River Esplanade (60th-120th Streets) and renowned artist Vicki DaSilva, who has created a dazzling 60-foot long and 7-foot high light photography banner that will be displayed on the esplanade's fencing beginning today.

This first ever public art project on the El Barrio waterfront - or anywhere else on the upper Esplanade - was conceived by Esplanade Friends as a powerful way to draw much deserved attention to this stretch of the Esplanade, and beautify the East Harlem neighborhood.

"New York City is known around the world for its iconic skyscrapers, bridges, busy streets, and majestic parks. But our global city possesses another extraordinary physical asset -- its waterfront," said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver. "Parks is proud to present this public art project that brings attention to the transformation of our East River waterfront and highlights the East Harlem community."

"Friends was committed to a creative way of drawing attention of the powers that be and larger public to the decades-long neglect of what should be a world class community asset," said Jennifer Ratner, founder of the Friends non-profit organization.

Friends of East River Esplanade worked with Harlem-based curator Savona Bailey-McClain, who connected the group with DaSilva, light-painting pioneer and veteran of Richard Serra's studio. The result was the stunning "East River Flows", DaSilva's most impactful work to date. Along with her husband Antonio, DaSilva used 4 and 8-foot fluorescent bulbs attached to a complex system of tracks and pulleys to create her work. Using a camera that allows a 'bulb' setting for an extended time while on a tripod, the light source is directed at the camera and then the camera documents the movement of the light.

The banner, which was photographed along the Esplanade last summer and facilitated by NYC Parks' Temporary Public Art Program, will be on view now through Summer 2015. The project was generously funded with a donation from Tiago Holdings, LLC and East River Plaza.

DaSilva is a light graffiti and painting pioneer. Since 1980, she has been making single frame time exposure photographs at night. DaSilva is credited with creating the term "light graffiti", as well as being the first artist to make deliberate text light graffiti photographs. DaSilva was influenced by video and performance artist Joan Jonas and Serra, whom she worked with for ten years. Her work with Jonas and Serra, along with the birth of hip-hop and the fusion of graffiti with fine art was extremely influential in her art.

Savona Bailey-McClain currently lives and works in New York City. She is an independent curator and producer. The range of McClain's practice has included sculpture, drawings, performance, sound, and mixed media. McClain is the Executive Director & Chief Curator for The West Harlem Art Fund, Inc. a seventeen year old public art organization and curatorial collective serving neighborhoods around the City. Her public art installations have been seen in the New York Times, Art Daily, Artnet, Los Angeles Times, and Huffington Post among others. McClain has installed works in Times Square, DUMBO, Soho, Governors Island and Harlem. Noted works include The H in Harlem, Counting Sheep, Story Piles, East River Flows and Loosely Coupled. McClain is now developing new digital installations and location-based interventions using a tour platform.

NYC Parks' Art in the Parks program has consistently fostered the creation and installation of temporary public art in parks throughout the five boroughs. Since 1967, collaborations with arts organizations and artists have produced hundreds of public art projects in New York City parks. For more information visit