community engagement + our project topics.
More Art is committed to creating projects that are meaningful to all the communities we partner with. In this optic, all our projects are shaped by an ongoing conversation with community members, artists and partnering organizations working on-the-ground around social issues. By conducting thorough research, organizing participatory workshops, and encouraging community members to take an active part in the creative process, we treat communities as complex, multi-layered entities that defy stereotypes.
If community is usually defined as a group of people sharing common set of values, concerns, and socio- economic background, the term remains vague and encompass many different realities. Indeed, while certain communities like religious congregations are highly organized and active in the public sphere, others are much less structured, lacking both leadership and a clear community identity. Because of this diversity we not only tailor our projects to engage preexisting communities and the challenges they face, but also address specific topics and issues as a way to encourage community building.
By exploring our past projects you will find some of the recurring topics that More Art engages with and that effect, in one way or another, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. Please note that we do not presume to resolve any of the issues explored in our projects, but rather aim to demystify and galvanize the public debate around them.
In New York City more than 60,000 men, women, and children experience homelessness. The number of homeless New Yorkers sleeping each night in municipal shelters is currently 71 percent higher since former Mayor Bloomberg took office. During this year’s harsh and bitter winter New York City updated its count of the homeless in shelters to 52,261 (29,747 adults and 22,514 children). Additionally, at last count, there were 3,180 people on the streets and subways.
In 2014, More Art presented Residents of New York, a public art project by Andres Serrano tackling the issue of homelessness. We also launched a residency program, Engaging Artists, designed to encourage young artists to deepen their understanding of socially engaged art practice. The 2014 theme is Homelessness and Poverty in NYC. We are pleased to be collaborating with The Bowery Mission, Common Ground, Art in The Woods, Sylvia’s Place, Grand Central Neighborhood, among other outstanding organizations. All artist participants volunteer at least half day a week at a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, food pantry, or doing outreach with people living on the streets. Additionally, we have weekly talks with experts in the field, and meetings where artists and homeless individuals (some of whom participated in Residents of New York) communicate while working on proposals for collaborative artworks.
The veterans of New York City is a population that unfortunately tends to go unnoticed in the public space. As of 2010, there were 988,217 veterans in New York State, alone. Veterans in this country face many obstacles in integrating back into civilian life; such as unemployment, homelessness, medical and mental health struggles, and difficulty in receiving or being educated about benefits.
More Art would like to give extensive thanks to organizations such as Services for the Under Served, Warrior Writers, Veterans Crisis Line, Coalition for the Homeless, Office of Veterans Affairs, Hope for the Warriors, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Wounded Warrior Project, Hire Heroes USA, Service Women’s Action Network, along with countless others, for their unyielding aid to military veterans. Organizations such as these offer invaluable resources to veterans, such as affordable housing, emergency mental health assistance, and personalized job training.
Despite these noble efforts, there is much work to be done in terms of giving back to our veterans and recognizing their sacrifices; as of 2010, an estimated 22 veterans committed suicide per day.
In Fall 2012, Krzysztof Wodiczko presented Abraham Lincoln: War Veterans’ Projection, commissioned by More Art.
The elderly population of New York City is in constant and steady growth. By 2010, there were 1.4 million senior citizens living in New York City. There are now 335 senior centers in New York City, 75 of which are in Manhattan. They serve only about 50% of the senior population, and yet are seriously overcrowded and lack adequate funding.
Seniors are living longer and are increasingly interested in finding, new, enriching, and stimulating activities to develop their creative capabilities. Because art plays a great role in the socialization, as well as the mental and physical well being of senior citizens, we have developed several public projects in partnership with organizations such as the Hudson Guild Senior Center which provides daily services to elderly residents of Chelsea. Programming provided by the Senior Center focuses on keeping seniors engaged, healthy, and active within the community. More Art’s projects involving senior citizens aim to make sure they do not go unheard in public.
In 2010, More Art collaborated with Kimsooja on Hudson Guild: A Portrait, which involved Chelsea senior citizens. Jenny Marketou and Pablo Helguera also worked on project involving senior citizens in the creative process.
In 2014, Amy Wilson led a series of quilting workshops with long-term residents of Chelsea and the West Village, exploring personal memory and neighborhood change. In addition, our 2014 Engaging Artist cohort volunteered with 150+ immigrant senior citizens from Flushing, Queens to Bedford-Stuyvestant, Brooklyn – bringing creative services to seniors in their native language.
New York City is a place that has always undergone major changes in its social and industrial landscapes. However, within the past 50 years, the gentrification process has become a topic or urgent concern due to its rapidly increasing momentum.
Gentrification is a process that enacts a complex chain of reactions, resulting in changes to social, economic, and architectural landscapes. These changes are often detrimental to small business owners, low-income families, and the cultural communities that are strongly rooted within the concerned neighborhoods. Issues that arise out of this process include declining access to affordable housing, loss of cultural and economic diversity, endangerment to historical spaces, and loss of the stories that these spaces hold.
More Art is particularly interested in art’s relationship to gentrification. By being the first to utilize defunct industrial spaces, artists are often identified as the initial agents of gentrification. However, art can also be used as vehicle to explore the issue from many angles.
Immigration has long been a hot topic within political discourse, and has also emerged as an important topic within art. To artists engaged with this issue, the questions arise: How can the topic be confronted within an artistic context? How can art help out?
As with our entire country, New York is a place built by immigrants. Over the centuries, significant waves of European, Latin American, Middle Eastern, Asian, and Caribbean immigrants settled in the city, establishing themselves as centers of political and economic power. For instance: according to the Fiscal Policy Institute, 48 percent of small businesses in New York City are owned by immigrants (the Nation). In contrast to national policies that have grown harsher on immigrants, New York City has a history of passing laws protecting the privacy of immigration statuses, especially from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But despite NYC’s supportive legislation regarding immigrants, grassroots and community organized advocacy groups play an invaluable role in attaining and protecting the rights of newly arrived individuals.
In 2011, More Art worked with Pablo Helguera on El Club de Protesta/ The Protest Club.
In 2012, almost 22% percent of New Yorkers were under the age of 18 representing 1.1 million students in approximately 1700 schools. More than ever, education plays a major role in the life of the city and its future. More are believes that at can help youth learn better, feel better and generally be more open to the world around them. Since the beginning, we have collaborated with local schools in an effort to introduce students to the many forms of contemporary art and possible careers in the arts. Our mission in this regard has never been more important considering the drastic budget cuts affecting art education in New York City. Indeed, in 2011, approximately 23% of NYC schools did not have a full-time or part-time art teacher on staff.
For More Information visit the Center for Art Education’s website.
To learn more about our commitment to youth, please visit our education section.