WHAT: Chashama’s LIVING WALLS art installation
WHERE: 1 Fordham Plaza, between Third Ave and Webster Ave.
WHEN: May 18th – June 30th, 2020
Since January, Chashama has had the pleasure of partnering with the Department of Transportation (DOT) to present three exhibitions in the windows at their beautiful and wonderfully accessible space at 1 Fordham Plaza. The third and final presentation this season, LIVING WALLS, showcases installations by three artists who use their work to celebrate our connection to the natural world.
“At a time when we are all feeling isolated, this display is intended for pedestrians and passersby to remember we are part of a larger, living world, which is still very much alive. With traditional venues for viewing art, and even local places to enjoy nature like the New York Botanical Garden and The Bronx Zoo now closed, a public exhibit like this becomes even more important and we hope to add a bit of comfort in these uncertain times,” says exhibition curator Laura James.
Living and working in the Bronx, artist Jennifer Tomaiolo’s work explores the play of patterns, figurative illusions, and the landscape. Her imagery is inspired by travels in America, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Italy, Spain, Jordan, and Morocco. The ancient Greek Goddess Thalassa, the goddess of the ocean, serves as inspiration for this installation. From her “Ocean Altar,” she presides over sea creatures, both fanciful and real, in a swirl of ocean waves. “Ocean Altar combines my greatest inspirations as an artist: powerful representations of women, love of ancient art and the sacred patterns and imagination of nature,” states Tomaiolo.
An artist whose work experiments with translating environments both imaginary and real, Genevieve Lowe’s installation, Ataraxia, subtly references the saturation and shift of colors as seasons move from Spring to Summer to Fall and then Winter. Each window showcases a three-dimensional wallpaper of foliage, going from full-color lush greens into monochromatic black and white.
Consisting of a variety of patterns, plant shapes and imagery, the “living walls,” in this installation suggests an urban jungle and flora camouflage. “The sculptures I create are essentially portraits of objects that are very much alive and living in their found landscapes. Utilizing various materials, my work creates a portrayal of these landscapes without using the traditional modes of landscape history painting,” she explains.
Gracing the windows on Webster Ave, Michele Brody’s work ComuniTea shows the culmination of her on-going interactive, community-based public art project inspired by the worldwide tradition of drinking and sharing tea. The ritual performance of preparing loose-leaf tea within special paper filters is shared with individuals and groups, after which participants’ conversations are preserved by being transcribed onto the stained tea bags after they’ve been dried and flattened, ending in the creation of an ever-growing set of fluttering paper quilts. “From afar these quilts form an overall composition of a craggy mountain range reminiscent of the mountainsides where tea grows, while when read up close you see they’re pieced together with over a thousand individual handwritten notes and unique drawings,” she says.
Chashama values the opportunity to create and bring artists together, but with everyone’s health and safety in mind. This installation was completed following the CDC’s guidelines for social distancing and protective wear, no more than 3 individuals were allowed in the space at once.
Chashama is a 501(c)3 that supports artists by partnering with property owners to transform unused real estate into space to present and create and provides free art classes to under-resourced communities. Annually Chashama awards $9 million worth of real estate to artists, operates 137 subsidized studios, presents 200 free exhibitions and performances, and provides 300 free art classes for 3,500+ participants in the Bronx, Washington Heights, and Sunset Park.
For more information about LIVING WALLS, please visit our website.