Client: NYC Dept. of Cultural Affairs
Location: Queens, NY, United States
Completion date: 2004
Artwork budget: $70,000
Public Art Agent
Public Art for Public Schools
Glen Oaks Campus
New York City School Construction Authority
This was a percent-for-art commission created for a new school campus in Queens, done under the auspices of the NYC School Construction Authority. Thirty bollards were cast in aluminum, painted with industrial-grade enamel, and mounted over concrete-filled pipes. They were installed around the semi-circular driveway of the school, where students are picked up and dropped off.
The goals were both aesthetic and practical: representing the value and strength of education, while adding to the safety of students and staff. The bollards consist of three objects symbolizing school activities: a brush (for the arts), a beaker (for science), and a barbell (for sports). Each object was cast ten times, for a total of thirty bollards.
I first created paper mache models of the bollards, then worked closely with pattern makers and other staff at a Brooklyn foundry to create castings with the solid, industrial appearance of fire hydrants. My aim was to achieve a traditional, retro look that connoted safety and stability. Prior to fabrication, the project required approval by certified conservators to make sure it would be permanent and low maintenance. It was a struggle for the foundry to meet the demands of the project, but the end result was successful.
Afterward the artwork was installed, the commissioning program's director marveled at the value and scope of the project despite a limited budget.