“Found Art in North Troy”
Through an opening and closing music festival bracketing a summer arts program and a participatory public art project that enhances the infrastructure of the civic community through creative streetscapes, we’ll animate a series of arts activities to inspire communities to creatively contribute to North Troy. The art responds to themes of “found objects,” recycling, permaculture and sustainability.
Music and Culture Festivals
As we kicked off our Fall 2013 season with our annual StoryHarvest, accompanied by many talented musicians, we will continue the season with many other exciting performances. Many musicians, performers, and documentaries will be showing at the Sanctuary for Independent Media throughout the season, as well as many workshops, including video correcting and music recording activities that are open to the public.
Artistic vision: “Found in North Troy”
We focused on artistic visual connections that transform the block, creating “art mosaics” with recycled materials, structured into a stage, gateways and benches with edible landscaping, murals and paintings. Themes include sustainability and re-use.
The work began with a focus on four spots at key artistic and cultural sites on one block – Troy Bike Rescue, Collard City Growers, Missing Link and Freedom Square — with the design to motivate spontaneous artistic constructions borrowing the techniques and echo the style and themes weaving throughout the block.
In the public arts project “Found Art in North Troy,” found art serves as a conceptual and aesthetic metaphor for the historic neighborhood itself; with the guidance of visiting and local artists, the community will use design and build art created with the discarded resources of our landscape.
With “found art” constructional materials responding as a conceptual metaphor to our historic neighborhood itself, we’ll create art mosaics with recycled materials, benches with edible landscaping, and art sculptures integrating the re-use of fantastic Greek columns saved from demolition from the City of Troy with other found objects into the community sculptures “Found Art Gate” and “Found Art Stage.”
Artists and architects engaged the community in the development of the project through charrettes and design workshops to develop master plans. We chose key places to create art and paint murals together, focused on the theme of sustainability. In this way, we engaged residents and community members in the practice of art through the design and implementation of a participatory public art project which improves the infrastructure of the block and its’ livability.
Arts workshops were led by local and visiting artists, and included a mosaic arts workshop with Isaiah Zagar, documentary photography workshop with Brenda Ann Kenneally, welding arts workshops (with bicycle wheels and other found objects) with Tovey Halleck, earth-bag sculpture with Iliona Khalili, painting and mural arts with Marcus Kwame Anderson and Troy Alley Action, media arts workshops with the artist/educators of Youth Media Sanctuary, and more.
The community will sculpt structures with earth bags, mosaics and moss graffiti, paint murals and the “sharrows” (for bike safety) on the street, weld fences and bikes, and document art “happenings.” These arts of assemblage, adorned by colorful “found” objects and poetry, will add infrastructure and beckon diverse neighbors to come together in dialogue, and brighten the day of any witnessing eye in a block plagued by boarded up buildings and litter.
We have used color and design to paint the compost bins in the community garden, the bicycles built by youth in the neighborhood, and the carts they pull with their bikes to pick up compost along the block and deliver it to the neighborhood garden. We have worked with the City to design and paint lanes, which help secure the safety of our neighborhood children, called “sharrows,” which let drivers know they are sharing the road with bicyclists. Examples include: City Repair’s community art projects to improve biker safety, http://cityrepair.org/, and Great Barrington’s artist designed recycling bins, http://cetonline.org/.
Benches, short walls and enclosure can be built with earth bags, an element which allows for sculptural structures manifesting the permaculture theme. The Earth Bags are tubular, filled with earth and cementitious materials to create a stabilized earth mixture. The bags are curved into place, pounded by people dancing and drumming on them, and the layers are hooked together using scraps of found metal including barbed wire and old fencing.
Around the block, additional collaborating organizations will support the celebration, offering creative activities such as bike “swag” art workshops, rodeos, and safety clinics, garden planting and educational games about permaculture, sustainability and health featuring local food transactions, DIY snack nutrition arts workshops, drumming circles and deep listening walks, from bio-art to sign painting, rock painting, etc.
The public art project will beautify and strengthen the neighborhood, and feature colors and designs carrying a visual motif to connect this neglected stretch of Sixth Avenue, adding a flow of movement, safe and social, throughout a block where many dare not walk. From a mural adorning the front of the building of Troy Bike Rescue at Glen Street, the colorful art will draw folks northward to the art benches with edible landscaping at Collard City Growers, and on to 101st St. at Freedom Square Art Park. There, an entranceway at the street intersection corner will create linear diagonal access drawing a flow of people through the community square to a “found art” stage for music, film and culture.
Music and culture festivals, as well as a series of outdoor film screenings, will complement the public art project and bring diverse communities together.
This project manifests the exciting artistic practice already bubbling up in the community. The goal is to come together through art in the creation of a highly visible, colorful and creative place that transforms the neighborhood and is an asset to our region.
Our priority is to plant seeds for a new cultural district, which until now has been stereotyped as a dangerous space to avoid.
Our action plan for creative placemaking will transform a historically troubled and neglected block of Sixth Avenue between Glen Avenue and 101st Street in North Troy, NY into a hub for interdisciplinary artistic practice, festivals and performances. Art, culture and sustainability guide our community collaborations: through participatory design we’ll public art to enhance the livability of this struggling neighborhood, add to the infra-structure, make the street feel safer and more beautiful, and foster positive community interaction.
Through our series of innovative art activities, including participatory public art, music, culture and artistic workshops, the citizens of North Troy will be exposed to artistic excellence which they otherwise would not have access to, plus the surrounding regions and states would be also drawn to the music and cultural events as a destination spot for the arts.
In addition to offering artist talks, screenings and performances drawing audiences from a three state area, over the past year Media Alliance has moved to expand connections to the ethnically diverse neighborhood surrounding The Sanctuary for Independent Media—in which more than 20% of the households have incomes below the U.S. poverty level. With the recent acquisition of several vacant lots for community outreach and outdoor programming to supplement the in-depth youth media training programs already offered by Media Alliance, the potential for broadening our audience has expanded exponentially.
We intend to build on the success of last year’s inauguration of “Freedom Square” and the Uptown Summer neighborhood arts project which brought an exciting blend of music, youth media arts, painting, gardening, bicycles, cooking, community art competitions based on recycled items, and other activities to a long-neglected neighborhood. The collaboration sparked the formation of a new grassroots “North Troy Environmental Education Coalition,” including Troy Bike Rescue, Collard City Growers, Youth Media Sanctuary, Missing Link Street Ministry and the Uptown Initiative.
The arts activities reflect a diversity of programming to reach a broad array of artists and audiences. This grant offers a unique opportunity to leverage our position in this neighborhood, using community engagement design activities to develop innovative arts programming that fosters human interaction and a new sense of civic pride.
The city is now in the midst of a significantly arts-driven economic revival, based on its vast inventory of architecturally-important buildings and a burgeoning creative community. This project adds strength to this revival through the creation of a new and vibrant arts corridor in North Troy.