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Award-Winning Local Artists Selected to “Transform” Flushing Avenue Through Interactive Art Installations

Public art activations will be on display at the Brooklyn Navy Yard from May – November 2024

Brooklyn, NY – Today, the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation (BNYDC) announced the selection of Marek Walczak, Mark Shepard, Antonina Simeti, Steven Ladd and William Ladd to create two interactive public art installations that will be located along Flushing Avenue at Buildings 92 and 77. The selected artists responded to an RFP issued last fall for the development of original artwork that conveys the meaning and importance of the framing theme, “Transformation.”

“Art is an incredibly foundational element of New York City’s cultural vibrancy and economy. As a former military campus, publicly accessible and free art has been an important tool for us to “soften” the gates the Navy built and create ways for the surrounding community and broader public to engage with what is now a modern manufacturing and innovation campus,” said Lindsay Greene, President and CEO, Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation. “We’re proud to have selected promising local artists who will bring the concept of Transformation to the Navy Yard and help create new pathways to community engagement for us.”

“The Brooklyn Navy Yard’s two new installations tap into the power of public art to unite us, create more welcoming and dynamic public spaces, and, in the process, create stronger communities,” said NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo. “From Steven and William Ladd’s exhibition, tapping into the experience of everyday Brooklynites to create an engaging work, to Hedgework’s inspiring use of repurposed materials to integrate the natural world into their environmental artwork – we applaud these exciting projects and encourage all New Yorkers to visit this summer!”

Building 92 Forecourt Display and Exhibition – Transforming America through Art: A Vision for Brooklyn’s Community

Conceptual rendering for Building 92 forecourt provided by The Ladd Brothers

Local artists and brothers Steven and William Ladd will develop “Transforming America through Art: A Vision for Brooklyn’s Community,” featuring photographic reproductions of collaborative textile artwork in the publicly accessible forecourt of Building 92 and within its dedicated exhibition gallery. The interdisciplinary installation is rooted in the impact of art and representation of Brooklynites who have responded to the universal prompt of using one word to describe their hopes for the future of America.

As an extension of the storytelling amplified in the public art installation, the Ladd brothers will also curate an indoor exhibition on the ground floor gallery of Building 92. This exhibition will help put the public art installation in context by providing more background on the Ladds’ “Scrollathon project” and exploring their history of using the arts to drive community engagement.

Known for vibrant, highly textural artwork that evokes shared memories, and underscores the intersection of design, applied, and fine art, the Ladds work represent treasured people, places, and memories and often include materials attuned to adaptive reuse, drawing on their skills with handcrafted techniques such as sewing and beading.

“We’ve been working with the communities near the Brooklyn Navy Yard for the past 17 years,” said Steven Ladd and William Ladd. “We use art as a means for people to express their stories. We can all play a role in shaping and transforming the world around us, and telling people they are important and that their stories matter can have an incredible impact.”

This installation acts as a prototype for a larger commission the Ladds have received for the 250th anniversary celebration of the United States’ founding at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. scheduled to take place in 2026.

Building 77 Forecourt – Hedgework

Conceptual rendering for Building 77 forecourt provided by Walczak, Shepard, and Simeti

Hedgework will be created by a collective of artists, architects, and urban planners comprised of Marek Walczak, co-founder of Civic Space LLC, Mark Shepard, Associate Professor at the Center for Architecture and Situated Technologies (CAST), Antonina Simeti, founder of Timbre Consultants, with support from Robbie Lee, a composer, and Wes Heiss, a fabricator. The collective will create a sentient hedgerow on the forecourt of Building 77 along Flushing Avenue. The interactive public art display will integrate a community of native plants and environmental sensors to create a biodiverse habitat that encourages nature and human interaction. Visitors will have the opportunity to engage with AI-powered technology to chat with the hedgerow, learn about the habitat and the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and listen to a data-driven soundtrack it will produce.

Hedgework will provide a habitat for local butterflies and birds, creating a calming environment on Flushing Avenue and a permeable edge between the Yard and the surrounding community. Keeping true to the Yard’s commitment to sustainability and fostering a robust tenant ecosystem, the Hedgework artist collective will fit out and fabricate the installation at Building 77, reusing delivery pallets for added structure and weight distribution; sand, stone, and fill from New York Sand & Stone, and feature a solar panel system from Voltaic Systems to power a bird feeder and plant bed cameras.

Building on the interactive element of Hedgework, the collective will host several programs throughout the installation’s display between June and October. Led by Antonina Simeti, the programs will drive dialogue on issues tied to climate change and environmental justice, as well as the importance of understanding and utilizing data to make informed community-centric decisions.

“We’re proud to have been selected to develop an urban landscape that engages the community of workers, cyclists, residents, pedestrians, and others that surround the Brooklyn Navy Yard,” said Walczak, Shepard, and Simeti. “As a community engagement platform that allows people to see, hear, and touch nature in new ways, the essential and unique transformational relationship that Hedgework creates is the real conversation between human and more-than-human actors, a different way to foster environmental awareness and stewardship.”

BNYDC issued a request for proposals in October 2023. A Brooklyn-based selection committee comprised of representatives from BNYDC, the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA), BRIC Arts Media, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, MoCADA, Roulette Intermedium Inc., and The Invisible Dog Art Center helped narrow a crowded field of proposals.

“The unique public spaces of the Brooklyn Navy Yard – at the intersection of residential and manufacturing – provide a wonderful opportunity for public art that showcases the creativity and innovation of Brooklyn, said Tamara Greenfield, Vice President of Public Space and Operations, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. “These works are a powerful call for residents and workers to connect and enrich the neighborhood.”

“This is about more than beautifying a public space. Both of these interactive installations will invite the community to engage with them and, in fact, participate in the very act of storytelling and art-making,” said Jamie Burns, Executive Director of Roulette Intermedium.

“MoCADA is always honored to deepen community engagement by eliminating barriers to arts and culture through public art,” said Amy Andrieux, Executive Director and Chief Curator, MoCADA. “The Brooklyn Navy Yard’s work is a win for Downtown Brooklyn residents!”

“I’ve known Steven and William Ladd for 15 years,” says Lucien Zayan, Director, The Invisible Dog Art Center. “What I’ve come to know about them is the way they treat the people in their periphery. They treat their wider community like their family, and they love their family. This has a lasting impact on communities.”

The installations will be unveiled at a formal opening ceremony on Saturday, May 18th, during BNYDC’s annual “Design Day,” which celebrates the spirit and importance of design during the NYCxDESIGN Festival. To RSVP for the ceremony, click here.

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About the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation

The Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation (BNYDC) is a not-for-profit corporation that serves as the real estate developer and property manager of the Yard on behalf of its owner, the City of New York. BNYDC’s mission is to fuel New York City’s economic vitality by creating and preserving quality jobs, growing the City’s modern industrial sector and its businesses, and connecting the local community with the economic opportunity and resources of the Yard. BNYDC’s vision is a vibrant and dense, modern manufacturing community where businesses are provided the stability needed to invest, grow, and thrive and where diverse candidates can attain quality jobs. |