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‘Bridging the Divide’ art installation debuts at five Brooklyn public housing complexes

“Bridging the Divide,” a public art exhibition made up of 50 installations totaling nearly two miles in length and located in public housing communities all around New York City, is finally finished after ten months of work.

“‘Bridging the Divide’ shows what’s possible when our artists and residents are empowered to collaborate and create toward a shared vision. It also shows how innovative use of our public spaces can turn something like a drab green construction shed into a canvas for artist-led collective creation, and a platform to engage and inspire New Yorkers,” said Laurie Cumbo, commissioner of the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs. “It’s a powerful reminder that when we collaborate with and work to understand one another, we can do amazing things.” 

bridging the divide painting on sidewalk shedDerick Cross’ piece “We Shine and Connect In Our Own Unique Way” at Ingersoll Houses in Fort Greene. Photo courtesy of Stephen Pierson/ArtBridge

The exhibition was facilitated by City Canvas, a program seeking to turn temporary construction sheds and fencing into visual art, and funded by City Artist Corps, a $25 million program funded by the DCLA and the Mayor’s office to restore community involvement and passion for arts and culture in the City. 

“The City Artist Corps program started with the intention to provide relief to artists and reinvigorate communities in New York City through public art; it has since grown into a program rich with community engagement, quality arts programming, and professional development,” said Jon Souza, ArtBridge’s Director of Programs. “The production of these 50 murals has opened the doors for future programs that recognize the value of art as a means to engage communities through creativity and collaboration.” 

The public murals hang on fencing and sidewalk sheds surrounding 16 NYCHA housing sites, five of which are located in Brooklyn at the Brownsville, Howard, Ingersoll, Red Hook East, and Red Hook West developments. 

art installation at NYCHA houses“Cloudy with a Chance of Brownsville” wraps around the sidewalk sheds at Howard Houses. Photo courtesy of Stephen Pierson/ArtBridge

“NYCHA’s collaboration with ArtBridge has given residents the opportunity to see their stories and ideas reflected in incredible artwork,” said NYCHA Interim CEO Lisa Bova-Hiatt. 

All 50 artists commissioned for this project by Artbridge are local to New York City, and 19 of them are previous NYCHA residents. 

“Through a participatory process with local artists, residents help design and create pieces that beautify NYCHA developments, while celebrating the exceptional talents and contributions of the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers living in public housing,” said Bova-Hiatt.

A few of the artists who contributed to the Brooklyn portion of “Bridging the Divide” in Brownsville include Jazmine Hayes with “You Deserve Ease and Joy”, Carlos Torres-Machado with ‘Playground,” and Sophia Dawson with “Testify!” 

Jeanne Verdoux’s “Howard Houses Drawing,” a series of ink portraits of New Yorkers, are on display at the Howard Houses, alongside Jocelyn Marie Goode’s “Cloudy with a Chance of Brownsville.”

bridging the divide installationJeanne Verdoux’s piece “Howard Houses Drawing” features ink drawings of New Yorkers. Photo courtesy of Stephen Pierson/ArtBridge

The 50 murals will remain accessible to the public only until August 2023, but a book about the project, “City Artists Corps: Bridging the Divide” has been published as a way to commemorate the artists and their work permanently.

“New York City is home to the most extraordinary creative talent in the world, and nowhere is that more evident — and underappreciated — than among our NYCHA residents,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “I applaud the artists and residents who worked together to bring these incredible artworks to public spaces across the city, and I encourage all New Yorkers to check them out in the months ahead.”