about the project.
Beam Ensemble is a public art project by Sean Desiree that combines their understanding of timber frame construction and music production. It’s an association that is largely unprecedented, though it is a natural pairing. In brief, the installation is an outdoor orchestra. In a deeper sense, it creates a space intended for the public to establish a connection with the buried history of African American composers. The architecture of the piece will resemble that of an orchestra with four distinct sections, each representing a different instrument originating from the African diaspora. This ensemble will include a kora, percussion, an amadinda, and a tongue drum. Constructed with a frame of hemlock timber beams, the large-scale structure will be installed at a public site in the Bronx, and will invite engagement with the public. The influence of Black musical traditions are indisputable in American culture, except for when it comes to classical music. Discriminatory practices within the genre have denied African Americans access to the resources, venues, and equipment needed to have a successful career. There is a buried history of a few African American composers—such as Nathaniel Dett, William Grant Still, and Florence Price—that deserves a physical space within New York City to be memorialized. The intention of Beam Ensemble is to give orchestral music back to the people by providing a resource for composition.
The significance of this structure runs deeper than the visual appeal of art in public spaces.—it is an invitation for interpersonal and intercultural connection. It’s an opportunity to compel communities to cooperate and collaborate, to practice both sympathy and empathy. Art that brings forth strategies to combat the increasing presence/ever-presence of racism, transphobia, xenophobia and ableism among other pressing human rights issues is essential. People who would not otherwise share the same space are given a shared destination to create an experience together and potentially forge new associations. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, both friends and strangers become a part of an impromptu ensemble.
Beam Ensemble is commissioned by More Art through the Engaging Artists Residency program. The nine-month Residency provides an opportunity for NYC-based early career and underrepresented artists to gain a deeper understanding of the history of the field of public art, and is focused on the incubation and commissioning of a public art project. The Residency carries a $8000 award to realize the project.
about the artist.
Sean Desiree is a self taught artist and furniture maker, born and raised in the Bronx. They use wood from found pallets, demolished buildings, and discarded scraps to create works that range from 2D pattern based pieces to 3D sculptures that put race, gender and safety at the forefront. Their most recent solo show LIFTED: Public Housing, an Aerial Perspective was a collection of two-dimensional works depicting aerial views of seven public housing units in Hudson, NY. Profits from the sales were used to give a grant to an artist/maker living in Hudson Public Housing. In the summer of 2019, they expanded their skills by learning timber framing. They were a co-facilitator in the Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) Builders Immersions at Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, NY, where they learned how to build shelters/homes. Through the craft of woodworking, they aim to design life-size structures and sculptures that act as sanctuaries, protectors, and symbols of empowerment for BIPOC queer, trans and nonbinary people. In 2020, they were an Engaging Artist Fellow at More Art and currently a 2021 Workspace Residency at Wave Hill in New York City.