‘The KING and QUEEN Size Bench’

Submitted by Jason Wallace

0

Client: New York Department of Transportation

Location: New York, NY, United States

Completion date: 2019

Artwork budget: $15,000

Project Team

Director, DOT Art and Event Programming

Emily Colasacco

New York Department of Transportation

Senior Program Manager | DOT Art & Event Programming

Nina Marren

New York Department of Transportation

Overview

This project was a referral from Jennifer Lantzas, Deputy Director of Public Art, from NYC Parks and Recreation. I had completed a afro-pick project with them in 2016, while completing my Masters of Fine Arts at Tufts University in conjunction with the School Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) in Boston. The sculpture was named, ‘Crosshairs’, as a word play of the combs function and emblematic design.

Goals

The overall concept is to honor the pedestrian more as transportation has change in modern times. Even though the bench is inspired by M.A. Industries Afro Rake Pick, it is more about design. The bench varied heights accommodates people of all heights and statures. This was the sculpture's conceptual component addressing social justice through acceptance conforming to the people of the community served. The corner of Riverside Drive and Dyckman Street, in Inwood, NY, was chosen because of the proximity to the park, vibrant business community, public transportation, the Cloisters Museum and outlet to West Side Highway. I am fascinated by the intersection of urban development as pertaining to public art pieces ability to serve communities at large.

Process

Working with Emily Colasacco and the Department of Transportation was a great experience from start to finish. I was impressed with the communication of expectations and deliverables within clearly expressed timeframes. As the project went through six rounds of engineering the team was reassuring that this was a normal part of the process when considering public safety. This hands down is the best experience that I have had with a client to date.

Additional Information

This was an amazing public art project to be a part of in conjunction with the New York Department of Transportation. The ability to chose the location and make a site-specific piece was rewarding, especially as the piece wasn't far from where I lived. The intersection of Riverside Drive and Dyckman Street is unique in regards to urban development as the heart of the business district and public transportation was across the street. One of the most unexpected rewarding things about the project was that the design of the bench allowed for social distance during the pandemic. The bench became a safe-haven retreat as people began to venture out into the public to begin to embrace the Manhattan/Inwood community again. It was fantastic to see the popularity of the bench grow and the ways people imagined the public arts use beyond my vision of utility. The chance to engage with the community that I was serving with 'The King and Queen Size Bench' was one of the best highlights of the project.