Bridging the Divide: Lillian Wald Houses, Manhattan

  • Bianca Garay, Nourish NYCHA, 2022
  • Jia Yan Yuan, The Moments, 2022
  • Dr. Mollie Serena, Photon Light Garden, 2022


Themes of gardening, greenspaces, and community unite the three artworks created for the Lillian Wald Houses. Each of the artists who made these works have witnessed the development’s changing landscape over many years. Due to ongoing construction in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, many of the houses’ outdoor gathering spaces are inaccessible. The artworks each emphasize the importance of shared outdoor space through the presentation of playgrounds, park areas, and digitally altered photographs of local flowers. Residents were able to participate in the creation of the pieces at a Community Art & Resource Fair and various workshops held in community gardens and at Abrons Art Center.

Photo Credits for all Lillian Wald Houses artworks: Paul Katcher

Bianca Garay, Nourish NYCHA, 2022

Bianca Garay’s Nourish NYCHA was inspired by conversations she had with residents during the Community Art & Resource Fair held at Baruch and Wald Houses in April 2022. Many youth expressed a sense of loss due to the ongoing construction at the houses. They want their playgrounds and parks back, they want more trees to offer shade on hot days. NYCHA’s Recovery and Resilience plans for both the Wald and Baruch Houses are working to bring greenspaces back to these developments. In the meantime, Garay hopes the people she engaged during her workshops will see their desires reflected in the depictions of playgrounds, community gardens, and symbols of care included in her artwork.

30 Avenue D, New York, NY

Dr. Mollie Serena, Photon Light Garden, 2022

Photon Light Garden is a contemporary response to climate change as well as an homage to the “Green Guerrillas” of the 1970’s who used gardening to reclaim green spaces in the Lower East Side. To make this work, Dr. Mollie Serena invited Baruch and Wald residents to interact with various flash lights and light sticks, which she photographed at night using long exposures. The photographic light graffiti stands as an archive of the interactions between humans, technology, and nature. The artist hopes this project inspires reverence and responsibility for the relationship between the natural world and the ephemeral individual life.

30 Avenue D & 10 Avenue D , New York, NY | @mollie_serena

Jia Yan Yuan, The Moments, 2022

The Moments is inspired by the residents of Lillian Wald Houses. A member of the community herself, Jia Yan Yuan noticed the loss of greenspaces and community gardening. The colors and plants she placed in her artwork are intended to be a restorative gesture to bring these elements back to the houses. The imagery of group leisure activities are meant to portray an active community that has recovered from the pandemic.

50 Avenue D & 60 Avenue D, New York, NY

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