Red Hook residents selected Ark for the Arts by artists Isabelle Garbani & Jeannine Bardo from nine proposals Local students will build the bicycle-powered Ark, which will then serve as a platform for programming by a range of community partners. Rendering courtesy of Isabelle Garbani & Jeannine Bardo


The City has announced the winning proposal for a temporary public art project addressing the impact of climate change on the Red Hook community. Dozens of Red Hook residents selected the Ark for the Arts, a proposal by Brooklyn-based artists and educators Jeannine Bardo and Isabelle Garbani, from a total of nine proposals presented at a public input session on July 20, 2017 at the Red Hook Initiative. Finalists were chosen through an extensive participatory process consisting of public meetings throughout the spring and summer. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Member Carlos Menchaca originally announced the project on the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy in October 2016.

“Public art has the power to bring communities together, to consider the issues they’re facing from new perspectives, and to communicate ideas in compelling new ways,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “In Ark for the Arts, the residents of Red Hook have selected a collaborative art project that will bring residents together to consider the challenges posed by climate change, and to create a unique platform for education, organizing, and creative practice. By engaging local students and residents as collaborators on the project, the Ark promises to become a focal point for the neighborhood’s efforts to work out a vision of resiliency that includes every member of the Red Hook community.”

“We are thrilled with the results of the collaborative process with the Red Hook community that led to the selection of Ark for the Arts and are excited to see it come to fruition,” said Jainey Bavishi, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency. “Building resilient communities requires thinking beyond technical solutions, and this community-driven art project will provide a platform for creatively engaging Red Hook residents of all ages to envision the future of their neighborhood in new ways.”

“After a series of public community meetings, Red Hook residents have enthusiastically selected a project that they can call their own,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca. “Ark for the Arts will focus on climate change and resilience. Brooklyn artists Jeannine Bardo and Isabelle Garbani will collaborate with local youth, schools and service organizations to create a work that will delight and educate the public. I thank Mayor de Blasio, the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Office of Recovery and Resiliency for their commitment to Red Hook’s future.”

The selected artists are a team of two environmental, socially-engaged artists and educators: Jeannine Bardo and Isabelle Garbani. The artists will work as facilitators to organize and promote community events around the Ark, help design and engineer the Ark, conduct free art workshops in Red Hook, and help schools integrate the project into their curriculum. The project recognizes that social cohesion and interconnectedness are essential components of resilient communities.

“We are both thrilled and honored that the residents of Red Hook selected Ark for the Arts for this exciting public art commission,” said artists Isabelle Garbani & Jeannine Bardo. “We look forward to working with the community to transform the Ark into a symbol of resilience in the face of environmental and social uncertainty. The way we see this project: the students and residents of Red Hook are the artists, we are the brushes, and the neighborhood is the canvas. Together, we can envision and work toward a more collaborative, resilient community through this unique project.”

Ark for the Arts, addressing notions of refuge and safety amidst rising waters, will be constructed by local high school students in collaboration with the artists and Supersmith, a community of furniture makers, product designers, artists and ceramicists in Red Hook.  Ark for the Arts will be an amphibious, human-powered mobile structure to be freely used by the community. With partners at the Brooklyn Public Library, Supersmith, the Red Hook Initiative, and more, the artists intend to work with residents to make the ark into a multipurpose community resource, a site for emergency preparedness workshops, recycling and composting events, voter registration drives, dance and music performances, art exhibits, movie screenings, community resource events, and other purposes identified by local residents. Ark for the Arts will officially be launched to coincide with the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy.

After the ark is constructed in collaboration with students in fall-winter 2017, the artists will work with local schools and nonprofits to integrate the activities into educational curricula relating to arts and climate change. In 2018, the ark will be made available for use by Red Hook residents, who can reserve it for events, classes, and others. Read the artists’ full proposal and learn more about the project led by the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, and Council Member Carlos Menchaca here.

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