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THE SUSTAINABLE ART SHOW Celebrates 10 Years Of Artists In Residence At Materials For The Arts

Works by 19 artists who have participated in MFTA's pioneering artist residency program will be on display at The IW Gallery in Brooklyn June 2-5.

THE SUSTAINABLE ART SHOW Celebrates 10 Years Of Artists In Residence At Materials For The Arts

Materials for the Arts (MFTA) - a program of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs - is pleased to announce The Sustainable Art Show, an exhibition of artwork on view in COPE NYC's space at the historic Pfizer Building in Brooklyn by artists who have participated in the first 10 years of the unique MFTA Artist-in-Residence program.

The residency provides artists whose creative practice incorporates reuse with free studio space in MFTA's 35,000 square-foot warehouse and unlimited access to the troves of donated supplies that have helped fuel NYC's arts community for decades. On Thursday, June 2, MFTA will host a public opening celebration and silent auction for The Sustainable Art Show, and the exhibition will remain on view through Sunday, June 5.

"The Materials for the Arts warehouse is a magical place where art, creativity, sustainability, and education meet," said Laurie Cumbo, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner. "MFTA's amazing artist residency program has given artists who integrate reuse into their creative practice space to explore their craft while having access to MFTA's unparalleled collection of free, donated supplies. From gorgeous collages and sculptures made from repurposed materials to entire installations built out of found objects, the work these artists create inspires countless educators, cultural workers, and all residents to reconsider the materials they're encountering in The Warehouse, and how they can be tools for unlocking our creativity. 'The Sustainable Art Show' gives us an opportunity to reflect on the incredible work these artists have done, and how important it is to support and uplift the programs, people, and institutions that give programs like this space to thrive and grow."

"MFTA's residency program fuels the creative energy in our space and it encourages our members to dream up the potential of the materials from our warehouse," said Tara Sansone, Executive Director of Materials for the Arts. "I walk by the installations in our gallery every day, and I am always stunned to see how each Artist-in-Residence interprets the supplies from MFTA. As we approached ten years for our residency program, we knew we had to do something special to showcase the breadth of artists and their incredible work. I thank curator Sara Reisman, along with John Cloud Kaiser who created the MFTA residency program, for organizing and curating this exhibition."

MFTA's warehouse gives the artists in residence access to a vast, eclectic range of free, donated supplies: every kind of fabric, vintage buttons, old postcards, whimsical toys, relics of technology, storefront mannequins, heaps of paper, plexiglass, office supplies, furniture, and paint, which gives artists an abundance of material work work with in their studio space. Each MFTA artist residency culminates with a solo exhibition in the MFTA Gallery. Located at the entrance to the MFTA warehouse, the gallery provides inspiration to thousands of MFTA recipient educators, students artists, nonprofits, and social service organizations picking up supplies, and the general public, encouraging everyone to explore the creative potential of nontraditional arts materials.

The Sustainable Art Show includes the work of past MFTA Artists-in-Residence Yazmany Arboleda, Andrea Burgay, Barak Chamo, Juan Hinojosa, Annalisa Iadicicco, Elisa Insua, Bernard Klevickas, Skip LaPlante, Tijay Mohammed, Dario Mohr, Whitney Oldenberg, Ben Pederson, Lina Puerta, Sol'Sax, Jean Shin, Dianne Smith, Vadis Turner, Roberto Visani, and Michael Kelly Williams. It is curated by Sara Reisman, Chief Curator and Director of The National Academician Affairs at the National Academy of Design, and John Cloud Kaiser, who founded the MFTA Artist-in-Residence program and currently serves as the Materials for the Arts Gallery Director and Director of Education.

"When I think about art that has a social impact, it's difficult to imagine a more ecologically significant effort than Materials for the Arts. Located in Long Island City with 35,000 square feet of warehouse space, Materials for the Arts redistributes and diverts over one million pounds of waste from landfill each year. Over the last decade, MFTA has run the artist-in-residence program, affording each artist unrestricted access to these materials, resulting in limitless aesthetic and conceptual possibilities, while stemming the tide of waste in New York City," said Sara Reisman, Chief Curator and Director of National Academician Affairs at the National Academy of Design in New York City. "'The Sustainable Art Show' celebrates a legacy of collaboration between government agencies, artists, the nonprofit sector, and the public. I'm proud to have worked with this stellar group of artists, and to honor the labor and dedication of the team at Materials for the Arts, and the artistic and educational communities they serve."

"I created the Materials for the Arts Gallery ten years ago in order to showcase the fantastic artwork done by New York City artists that highlights sustainability through art. The arts have more power than we realize to help communicate to people about the importance of helping our environment and our communities. These artists represent some of the most compelling in the realm of creative reuse and upcycling," said John Cloud Kaiser, MFTA Gallery Director and MFTA Director of Education


"The things we throw 'away' always go somewhere - there is no such place as 'away.' Any opportunity to creatively promote reuse is a good one, and for 10 years, artists in residence at MFTA have done just that. I hope all New Yorkers will take the time to visit this exhibition and take inspiration from it," said Jessica S. Tisch, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Sanitation.

The artwork in The Sustainable Art Show explores themes such as race, identity, spirituality, nature, waste materials, and technology through large-scale installations, sculptures, collages, paintings, and digital artwork, underscoring the versatility and infinite potential of reuse in art, a unifying thread throughout the exhibition. The works incorporate various materials, such as Jean Shin's Projections, an installation strung with discarded 35mm slides from the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Michael Kelly Williams' Star Burst I, a sculpture configured with piano wire, and Roberto Visani's Hands cuffed, a laser-cut cardboard figure mounted in a vintage frame.


The opening event and silent auction on Thursday, June 2 from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm is free and open to the public. Attendees are invited to tour the gallery and talk with exhibiting artists. The opening event will include live musical performances by the musical duo ARKAI and community artmaking led by artist Tijay Mohammed. Masks are strongly encouraged throughout the venue and required in the gallery. The Sustainable Art Show will be on view Friday, June 3 through Sunday, June 5, 2022 between the hours of 12:00 pm and 5:00 pm.

The Sustainable Art Show is made possible by the support of Sony, Plant Specialists, Rockaway Brewing Company, and Acumen Capital Partners LLC. The show is presented by MFTA's nonprofit partner Friends of Materials for the Arts with a special thanks to COPE NYC and THE IW GALLERY. Funds raised from the auction will support MFTA's Artist-in-Residence and gallery program.*

"Someone else's trash is someone else's art at the City's Sustainable Art Show," said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. "The City's Department of Cultural Affairs and its MFTA program are redefining not just how people reuse waste, but also exhibiting how this same waste is reincorporated in other parts of our borough, like in buildings and park space. The more common we make this out-of-the-box creativity, the more sustainability will become second-nature to us. I look forward to enjoying the art our participants come up with."

"Materials for the Arts recognizes two critical areas of interest for New York: the sustainability of the City itself and the enrichment of the lives of its citizens. Turning waste that would have otherwise spent millennia in a landfill into the building blocks of art is both inspiring and necessary. This ten-year mark for the artist in residence program is the perfect moment to step back and admire the striking successes of collaboration between government and non-profits, and recommit ourselves to these partnerships moving forward," said Chi Ossé, City Council Member

"MFTA is a model of sustainability and generosity. Not only does MFTA divert our surplus and goods from ending up in landfills, but they are an extraordinary free resource for artists," said artist Jean Shin. "I am so grateful for my rich experience in this unique artist residency and my ongoing relationship with the people at MFTA."

"In my work as an artist and community organizer, I often set out to create gymnasiums for the human imagination. I have never stepped foot into a place that more perfectly embodies that concept than Materials for the Arts," said artist Yazmany Arboleda. "MFTA is a community that practices reuse and recycling as a kind of spirituality. It imagines a world in which we all have access to the resources we need to create, and these resources don't come at a cost to the environment. I couldn't be more thrilled to be a part of the MFTA family. I hope it has been changed by my touch, as I have been changed by it. I quite literally couldn't do my work without it."

"The residency at MFTA changed the way I thought about what was possible to use in the studio," said artist Juan Hinojosa. "It opened the door to fabrics, 3D items, and even lightbulbs. I could not be more grateful to the entire MFTA team who made my time there absolutely wonderful."

"Creative reuse has been a major factor in my work for nearly 15 years. I used to garbage pick discarded table tops, shelves and other surfaces to paint on and build assemblages out of the more 3D structures I would find. I loved being informed by the shape and story behind these materials to create work that dealt with sustainability in my undergraduate college experience," said artist Dario Mohr. "This practice later evolved into reusing those used objects as well as paintings and sculptures that I had previously completed, to present them in new larger shrine-like installations. My current series 'Blood is Thicker than the Water that Separated U.S.' is made almost entirely of recycled materials from MFTA, and I am grateful for my residency experience with them to further my explorations in creative reuse."

"I am conscious of the climate crisis and utilize recycled materials, magazines, newspapers, flyers, and posters in my large-scale collages often referencing objects from everyday life," said artist Tijay Mohammed. "In my work, I delve into the themes of home, identity, self-love, and appreciation through the complexities of the African and African American experiences."

"MFTA is a repository of items somebody didn't want made available to artists of all descriptions," said artist Skip LaPlante. "The material for my wind chimes are from two sources, MFTA and damaged lobster traps found along the Maine coast."

"Walking around The Warehouse triggered so many new ideas and possibilities to create new artwork and push my practice further! It was a period full of inspiration and productivity that I am very grateful for," said artist Elisa Insua.

"Materials for the Arts should be duplicated across the country," said artist Michael Kelly Williams.

*Pursuant to NYC Conflict of Interest Board requirements, please note that donors to Friends of Materials for the Arts will receive no special access to City officials or preferential treatment as a result of a donation.



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