Client: The William Vale Hotel
Location: Brooklyn, NY, United States
Completion date: 2017
Artwork budget: $200,000
General Manager of The William Vale
Mannahatta is a permanent artwork installed at the William Vale Hotel, in Brooklyn, New York. The sculptural painting, approximately 25 by 20 feet, and three feet deep, extends vertically, covering two floors and evoking a hearth in the center of the hotel’s lobby. The artwork intends to create an environment within which guests can gather, as if around a fireplace, and enjoy the space and each other. The shape, colors and process of Mannahatta evoke the many histories of the borough of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, specifically the many villages of the Lenape Indians who preceded the Dutch.
Materially, the artwork is comprised of 20 segments that vary in size and slide into each other like a puzzle. Each piece is supported by a flat wooden back and cleat. Through the use of painted geometric shapes on the undulating forms of the sculpture, Mannahatta creates multiple perspectives for the viewer; instilling the need to circle, looking from all sides, peering down and from above, investigating from below. The material is light, very durable and easy to clean. It has a protective coat that makes it resistant to humidity. The existing column in front of the artwork is also painted to become part of the work.
Mannahatta was created in Zacarias’ studio in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, with a team of two studio managers, the artist, and three assistants. Zacarias worked with the architect, designers and construction staff to complete and instal the project on a timeline of one year. The sculpture is made from a wooden structure, wire mesh and layers of joint compound and acrylic polymer. Each segment weighs between 10 to 30 pounds, making them easy to instal and carry. The construction process in the studio involved slow building and sanding of the surface, then painting and finishing. This process is used in other projects created by the artist, however, the colors, patterns, and shapes were all composed specifically for Mannahatta and highlight both the history of the area and a dialogue with the surrounding architecture. The overall contour of the work is the shape of a Brooklyn map. This shape also resembles a hide and the tip of the sculpture, which extends onto the ceiling, brings attention to the location of Williamsburg. Because Brooklyn is now gaining international recognition as a cultural, historic and artistic destination, Mannahatta exists as an artwork that celebrates Brooklyn’s most ancient past while embracing the future.