ArtBridge organized a culminating group exhibition to celebrate the 50+ artworks designed by 59 artists at 16 NYCHA developments for City Artist Corps: Bridging the Divide. The exhibition, Present Power/Future Hopes, was held at The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center, July 9–23, 2022. Exhibiting representations of each artwork in a central location provided an opportunity for artists, residents, community partners, and supporters from all over the city to meet. It also made it possible to consider the varied aesthetic, thematic, and material approaches to making these artworks.
While the artworks on view at each NYCHA development were printed on vinyl and installed on scaffolding sheds and construction fencing, the gallery exhibition presented the artworks in a number of formats. Every artwork created for City Artist Corps: Bridging the Divide was included in a digital slideshow projected onto a gallery wall. Additionally, select panels from some of the artworks were turned into fine art prints and hung as individual pieces. A number of material-based artworks—collages, paintings, and a sculpture—were also included in the exhibition. These artworks were directly related to the vinyls produced for NYCHA. We also designed a digital slideshow for a monitor that included photographic documentation of the installations and workshops from each NYCHA development. Finally, we reprinted vinyl sections from six artworks and installed them on fencing in front of The Clemente.
Viewing the artworks up close, visitors to Present Power/Future Hopes were able to explore the intricacies of each artist’s conceptual and material approach to meshing their personal practices with community values and input. Artworks addressed the lived experiences of residents navigating the social and environmental health of their communities. The illustrations, portraits, collages, and abstract compositions paid homage to generational and cultural heritage, healthcare and frontline workers, and resilience during a time of increased gun violence and illness resulting from the pandemic. Explicit imagery relating to celebration, pride, home, and support for public space was visible in many of the artworks.
Programming related to the exhibition included an opening, a panel discussion, and a closing celebration featuring artist-led workshops and artist talks. These programs furthered connections between artists and community partners. Hosting these events at The Clemente—a multigenerational cultural venue committed to collaboration—expanded our reach. Ultimately, the exhibition Present Power/Future Hopes was an opportunity to celebrate ArtBridge’s investment in local communities thanks to the support of New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs City Artist Corps grant.