Artist and Artifact: Re|Visioning Brooklyn's Past
Through this exciting initiative, artists, musicians and writers explored the Society's collection for inspiration for original art work. These new works will be exhibited along with the utilized pieces from the BHS collection in an upcoming exhibition at BHS and BRIC Rotunda Gallery.
Artist and Artifact: Re|Visioning Brooklyn’s Past
November 11 – December 17, 2010
Opening reception: Wednesday, November 10
7:00 - 9:00 pm at BRIC Rotunda Gallery (33 Clinton St.) and Brooklyn Historical Society
Premiere Performance with Daniel José Older
Thursday, October 28
Doors open: 5:30 pm, Performance: 6:30 - 8:00 pm
at Brooklyn Historical Society
Author Readings with Michael Schwartz and Elizabeth Gaffney
Saturday, November 20
2:00 - 4:00 pm at Brooklyn Historical Society
Artist Panel and Gallery Talk
Tuesday, November 30
6:00 - 8:00 pm at BRIC Rotunda Gallery and Brooklyn Historical Society
With artists Nora Herting, Andrés Vera Martínez, Meredith Bergmann and Stanley Greenberg.
Free admission to exhibition and programs.
Artist and Artifact is made posssible throught the generous support of The Getty Foundation and The Greenwall Foundation.
Read the project timeline below written by Kate Fermoile, BHS' Vice President for Exhibits and Education who has overseen the exhibition.
Meet the Artists
Meet the artists, writers and performers featured in the exhibition and scroll down for a sneak peek at the works they're creating for Artist and Artifact:
Andrés Vera Martínez is a comic book artist, writer, and illustrator residing in Brooklyn who completed the Masters of Fine Arts program at the School of Visual Arts in 2007. Vera Martinez’s poignant illustrations have appeared in the Washington Post and the New York Times; he also worked on the animation in the 2006 feature film A Scanner Darkly.
Kristin Posehn is a conceptual artist currently based in the Netherlands who primarily uses photography to create sculptural installations that re-interpret architecture. Posehn is drawn to the Brooklyn Historical Society’s collections as they relate to early Dutch houses to explore Dutch heritage and influence in Brooklyn through the residential architecture, both existing and demolished. She will travel to Brooklyn to participate in the project.
Terry Adkins describes himself as, "a sculptor, musician and a latter-day practitioner of the long-standing African–American tradition of ennobling worthless things." Adkins’s "recitals," which combine sculpture with live musical/text oriented events, have been performed at venues throughout the country and internationally. His work is part of many major collections, including those of the Museum of Modern Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Meredith Bergmann is a New York-based poet and sculptor who frequently works in bronze and marble to create powerful figurative works of monumental scale. Bergman’s evocative public sculpture is exemplified by her Boston Women’s Memorial in Boston and her Memorial to Countee Cullen, now permanently installed in Harlem in the Countee Cullen branch of the New York Public Library.
Stanley Greenberg is a photographer known for his stunning black-and-white shots of infrastructure and architecture including the depths of New York City’s water system. With a knack for gaining access to the hidden guts of the city, Greenberg has brought fascinating tunnels and other hidden structures to light for the rest of us. Greenberg’s photographs are included in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of the City of New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Nora Herting ‘s staged studio portraits call into question what constitutes a portrait and ironically play with the manner that people are represented by traditional posed portraiture, brilliantly combining humor and tradition. Brooklyn-based Herting will examine the multitude of historical portraits in the Brooklyn Historical Society’s collection to further examine the aesthetics and social constructs of the practice of commercial portraiture.
Herting's photographs have been exhibited in numerous Brooklyn galleries, including Like the Spice and Jack the Pelican Presents.
Xiaoze Xie’s ongoing series of paintings depict close-up views of newspapers and books as they are stored on the shelves of libraries and archives. Born and trained in the People’s Republic of China, Xie’s earlier works dealt with censored books. His paintings focus on the objects yet often suggest the politics represented by literature and newspapers, alluding to the content within. A 2003 recipient of a Pollack-Krasner Fellowship and currently a professor at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, Xie turned his attention to the Museum of Modern Art’s library and archives for his most recent paintings.
Elizabeth Gaffney is a native of Brooklyn whose short stories and historical novel Metropolis have won her a devoted following in Brooklyn and around the world. Her short stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines such as the Brooklyn Review and Metropolis was touted as "a thrilling Brooklyn Bridge of a novel" by Michael Chabon.
Michael Schwartz has produced, directed, composed, and played characters in both his recent full length play, Coney Island Last Stop, and in his seven-character, one-man play, In the Shadow of the Third Rail. Schwartz has performed his award-winning poetry at such venues as the Bowery Poetry Club. In addition, Schwartz has a long history of sharing his gifts through education, working with adults and children with disabilities.
Daniel José Older is a composer, storyteller and community-organizer. He has been creating original musical narrative projects about the intersections of urban history, collective memory and mythology for the past six years. While studying music composition under the guidance of jazz legend Yusef Lateef for a semester in Havana, Cuba, Mr. Older composed his first short opera- Cartas de la jaula, a mythological treatment of his family’s history and its relation to the tumultuous Cuban political world. He has created a soundtrack for a fictional Mexican horror movie and also worked as an organizer, working closely with young people from Bushwick and Flatbush on a number of artistic projects and events. Mr. Older says his work as a Brooklyn-based 911 paramedic intimately involves him with the inner workings of Brooklyn after dark and has inspired much of his recent creative work.
The artists returned to BHS for a meeting and reported back on their inspiration for their projects:
Andrés Vera Martínez will create a graphic novel that will look at the past, present and future of Brooklyn. For the present, he has looked to the BHS’ 1679 journal written by a Dutch explorer, Jasper Danckaerts. For the present-day story, he will use as his inspiration the personal story of Michael Schwartz, another Interpreting Brooklyn artist and for the future; Andres will tell the story of a Brooklyn boy who finds the cure for cancer.
Kristin Posehn Using images of Dutch Colonial houses, Kristin plans to create a large model of one of the houses.
Terry Adkins Looking at the 19th century city directories, a precursor to the phonebook, Mr. Adkins noticed that African-American merchants were listed with asterisks next to their name. Terry decided that he would create a large-scale reproduction of a city directory with the names of the “asterisked” merchants.
Meredith Bergmann Coming in and out of the building Meredith noticed that around the outside of the BHS building there are busts of Mozart, Columbus, Shakespeare, Gutenberg and Michelangelo, men representing music, art, literature and scholarship. None of the people who stare down on passer-bys represent the borough. After a visit through our exhibits, Meredith learned about Sally Maria Diggs, known as “Pink” or “Pinky,” who became well-known in the 19th century Brooklyn as an enslaved woman freed with the help of Henry Ward Beecher. Henry Ward Beecher drew attention to the issue of slavery by holding “mock auctions" in Plymouth Church to raise money to purchase freedom, usually for young, fair-skinned African American women. Congregants donated money and jewelry to the cause. Sally Maria Diggs was sold in the pulpit of Plymouth Church. Meredith is creating a bust of her.
Nora Herting After exploring our portrait collection, Nora was struck by the lack of diversity. She set out to remedy that by setting up street portrait studios at eight Brooklyn Parks. She invited more than 200 Brooklynites to sit for their portraits alone or with their family and friends. Ms. Herting also collected data about the sitters. As a part of the project, Nora donated all of the photographs to the Brooklyn Historical Society along with the metadata (that’s the technical term for data about data). How lucky are we for her donations?!
Xiaoze Xie During his first visit, Xiaoze became intrigued by the contemporary local newspapers stacked up by the archivist’s desk. He photographed them and painted three beautiful paintings based on the photographs.
Elizabeth Gaffney is working on a novel set in Brooklyn during the period between WWII and the Vietnam War. The story will be told from the perspectives of two friends, one black and one white.
Michael Schwartz interested in his native Coney Island, Michael was inspired by our extensive Coney Island collection that includes postcards, photographs, wax heads, and carnival gamesto write a one-man play about Coney Island.
Artist and Artifact: Re|Visioning Brooklyn's Past has been funded by The Getty Foundation and The Greenwall Foundation.
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