FIGMENT’s Kickstarter “curated page” is up! Check it out! http://kickstarter.com/figment.
This is where we’ll list all FIGMENT-related projects looking for funding on Kickstarter!
To list your FIGMENT project, email us at email@example.com.
Check out this amazing timelapse video by FIGMENT Artist Chris Jordan… of the FIGMENT NYC minigolf course, pavilion, and sculpture garden in FIGMENT Terrace under construction from May 20 to 22, 2011, and then check out the intense opening weekend crowds on May 27 and 28, 2011! Wow!
Part 2 of Katherine Gressel writing about the FIGMENT 2010 “Pallet City” project she co-built with Jeremy Reed and a team of dedicated volunteers. See here for part 1. Please visit the Pallet City Blog for full coverage of “Pallet City.”
Planning a City: Public and participatory art involves taking risks, but it is also about careful planning and teamwork. As it turned out, a large part of the “participation” in Pallet City came from the community that grew around its complex construction.
We spent a lot of time recruiting people. The project needed team-members with varied skills to help us accomplish feats ranging from structural engineering to transporting 90+ carefully sanded and trimmed shipping pallets from the Brooklyn Navy Yard onto Governor’s Island and putting the parts together.
And it was only with the help of nearly 50 devoted volunteers, that our initial sketch of a linear urban form got built. It was installed in about 5 days as a 154 foot long structure with morphing shapes that implied and encouraged different actions that take place in an urban environment: sitting, playing, exhibiting art, performing, gardening, etc.
Pallet City Comes Alive: One of the essential components of the project was to provide ongoing ways for the public to interact –with the project and each other—over the course of the summer, even in the artists’ absence. And it did, from a “Pallet Jam” musical performance on our pallet “stage,” to rotating interactive art shows in our pallet “gallery.”
I’ve always been interested in observing how a work of collaborative public art has a lifespan beyond its initial unveiling. In the case of FIGMENT, we felt that documenting interaction with Pallet City throughout the summer was crucial.
We put up signs on the project itself inviting visitors to email us photos of themselves engaging with our project, and we continually added them to the blog. We consistently got submissions for the blog from total strangers, and it gave Pallet City a digital presence beyond the island and 2010.
Challenges of Participation: As much as we wanted Pallet City to be interactive, admittedly we weren’t prepared for quite so many people interacting quite so much with Pallet City at opening weekend.
One lesson: If you encourage participation, it will happen in unexpected ways: For instance, if you attach magic markers to the sculpture and designate small areas for drawing, in an event attended by tens of thousands, people will in fact graffiti all over the project. Eventually, we had to sand off some of the graffiti in our “gallery” area so we could hang more artists’ work. But we also kept a lot of it, especially the more “uplifting” messages.
Another Lesson: Be flexible and adaptable, surrender control…but not too much control:
We wanted our project to retain aesthetic integrity all season long, and it also had to remain safe. When we found that people were climbing on unexpected parts of the structure, we allowed FIGMENT to put up signs about where not to climb. We also came back on many weekends, in order to improve the structural soundness of our project and replace broken boards or torn signs.
The aesthetics of Participation: Admittedly, we might have liked our project to be more “beautiful” overall, as if it had been put together by professional fabricators. But for that to happen, we would have had to sacrifice a lot of the sense of resourcefulness and self-sufficiency, not to mention community, that is a guiding principal of FIGMENT.
I do believe season-long artists should know how to make their physical designs withstand both weather and repeated public use, or, like us, at least be willing to baby-sit their projects throughout the summer when things go awry. People who come to the FIGMENT sculpture garden wanting to experience strong visual art should get to experience strong visual art.
But ultimately, FIGMENT is about participation. Having a developed artistic vision and aesthetic behind each project should simply be another element that encourages people to participate. The two go hand in hand.
Final Thoughts: The FIGMENT season-long area is a challenging setting to create art, and not just because of the hours of labor involved or the constraints of building on an island with limited electricity and water and daytime hours.
Jeremy and I both come from professions where built work is supposed to not only look polished but also “do” something tangible. In architecture, the purpose of a house, office building, or playground is clear, and in the community art/nonprofit world I inhabit, you need to demonstrate to funders that your collaborative art project has accomplished a specific outcome, such as youth empowerment or community renewal.
FIGMENT is not necessarily about polished finish, or quantifiable goals, it is about something that is in a way much bigger: inspiring countless ordinary people to tap into their own creativity, to feel as though the impossible is possible, and most of all, to have fun.
This is what experiencing FIGMENT as visitors did for me and Jeremy in 2009, and we are grateful we took the plunge and risked “bringing” something huge to it the following year.
We’re taking a break from building a major sculpture this summer, but hope to be back again in the future. And we look forward to seeing the incredible work that others are planning for FIGMENT 2011!
*For more information on Reuse and Recycling in NYC: Official DSNY site here
Last Week in “Lessons of a FIGMENT Sculpture Garden first-timer Part 1“:
- The Seed of a Project:
- The Project is Born:
- Making the Most of the Idea:
- The Project Evolves:
About the Author & Artist: Katherine Gressel is a Brooklyn-based artist and curator. She has shown her paintings and interactive public art installations at the Brooklyn Arts Council Gallery, Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Historical Society, Brooklyn Artists Gym, and City Without Walls in Newark. She is a recipient of the 2008 Abbey Mural Fellowship at the National Academy, and a 2009 CEC ArtsLink travel grant to paint community murals in Krasnoyarsk and St. Petersburg, Russia. She currently works as a muralist/teaching artist with STARR, Inc. and Kentler International Drawing Space/Red Hook Community Justice Center, and serves as Programs Manager at Smack Mellon Gallery in DUMBO, Brooklyn. See more of her work at www.katherinegressel.com
About the Artist: Jeremy Reed received his MA in Architecture from the City College of New York and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the University of Virginia. He is a LEED accredited professional, active in the AIA, and sits on the board of the CCNY Architecture Alumni Association. He currently works as a practicing architect for Morris Adjmi Architects, and previously worked at Richard Dattner Architects. He served as an editor for the recently updated Fifth Edition of the AIA Guide to the New York City and has held adjunct teaching positions in Architecture History at City College. See more of his work at www.reedjeremy.com.
Katherine Gressel writes about the FIGMENT 2010 “Pallet City” project she built along with Jeremy Reed and a team of dedicated volunteers. Part 2 follows next week. Please visit the Pallet City Blog for full coverage of “Pallet City.”
Neither of us had ever done a public sculpture before. Jeremy was a trained architect. I was an arts administrator and painter who had done many community murals but had barely used a power drill.
And then, while on a summer bike outing to Governors Island in 2009, we stumbled upon the FIGMENT season-long sculpture garden. We were immediately struck by it. As Jeremy said, it was a “magical courtyard with the potential to touch anyone who wanders in.”
So when we saw the FIGMENT 2010 call for entries a few months later, we were inspired to build a contribution of our own. Little did we know we were setting off on an exciting creative experiment. (more…)
When you do something, you learn something, and sometimes, those around you do, too: Artists Kathleen and Jesse Green talk about their FIGMENT 2010 creation, Sparky’s Wheel of Tesla!, where the exclamation point means both, “Be excited,” and, “Watch out.”
The Invisible Wheel*: Installed in the FIGMENT 2010 Sculpture Garden, Sparky’s Wheel of Tesla! looked like a piece of industrial machinery hauled from the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Burly, aged, and convincing, it was based on the 1,000-horsepower generators that provided electricity to the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, the theme of FIGMENT 2010.
For the sculptural version, participants cranked a handle to spin a flywheel studded with flints, that sent sparks flying from the mock rotors. (more…)
FIGMENT is coming to Detroit’s Belle Isle! With a full weekend event in the works for June 16-17, 2012. Detroit will get a taste of FIGMENT on august 6, 2011. Danielle Kaltz, producer of FIGMENT Detroit, recalls how it all began.
The origins of FIGMENT Detroit: “Over a year and a half ago now I had this idea of creating an art project on Belle Isle, which is my favorite place on the planet. I go there all year round to snow shoe, bike, kayak, play tennis, take walks, bbq, enjoy the conservatory and even the closed aquarium where I volunteer to catch koi in the fall. (more…)
In the article, West highlights FIGMENT’s conceptual link to Burning Man, while emphasizing the ways in which absolutely everyone, everywhere, can participate and create in their own individual way.
Here’s a link to the FIGMENT Jackson, MS event, where you can find volunteer opportunities, location, and additional information.
So what are YOU bringing to Figment 2011?
Anyone interested in public art, may want to consider this $75.00, 4 day public art workshop titled “Publicly Creative”, presented by CECArtsLink, May 9-12, 2011, in New York City. (Application deadline is March, 7).
According to CEC ArtsLink, “The workshop is a hands-on intensive introduction to the field, outlining resources, logistics, opportunities, and examples of successful collaborations. ”
FIGMENT, a free, family-friendly participatory arts event held in multiple cities and attracting tens of thousands of participants each year, is seeking artists and volunteers for its 2011 events in New York City, Boston, and Jackson, Mississippi.
Founded in 2007 on New York City’s Governors Island with a handful of projects and a few thousand enthusiasts, FIGMENT has grown exponentially into a multi-day, multi-city event that drew over 30,000 participants in NYC and Boston in 2010. With the addition of Jackson, Mississippi in 2011, FIGMENT continues its mission to offer free, inclusive and participatory art to entire communities, removing the barriers of museum and gallery walls and entrance fees and blurring the lines between those who create and those who enjoy art.
FIGMENT 2011 Events:
FIGMENT welcomes works in every imaginable medium including sculpture, installation, performance, music, workshops, games, experiences, site-specific pieces, social experiments, and any combination thereof. Projects that involve audience participation and interactivity are particularly encouraged:
In Friday’s Weekend section of The New York Times, Edward Rothstein wrote a fairly evenhanded story about Governors Island as “A Playground for the Arts.” As a follow-up, Ken Johnson contributed a dismissive and offensive post on the Times blog, the thrust of which is that good art requires money, the and if we want serious art people to take the art on Governors Island seriously, the best way for that to happen is to raise a few million dollars and throw an international art exhibition. Because, he writes, “Art just isn’t the kind of thing that lends itself to no-budget, laissez-faire populism.” He goes on to dismiss the work of No Longer Empty, FIGMENT, the Sculptor’s Guild, and even 4Heads, before their exhibition has even opened.
In his critique, Johnson manages to miss the point entirely. (more…)