Convene is a sculptural installation of aluminum canoes painted with designs that abstractly and explicitly evoke national flags symbolic of the diverse historical and contemporary demographic makeup of Astoria and Long Island City. The work will be installed on land along the East River in Hunter' Point South Park in Long Island City.
Various factors influence personal assumptions about how communities are composed: where one lives or has lived, whom one lives amongst, proximity to or isolation from populations perceived as different and marginal, or longing for the way things were "before" These subjective impressions commingle with demographic information (and its strict categories) as it is distributed through popular media and news outlets.
Convene addresses population data and its visual representation while engaging the canoe's symbolic narratives of historical shift and reliance on personal vessels to move navigators, people, and goods to their desired destinations, often via bodies of water that span or bisect local, national, and international territories. Simmons's work references the conditions and forms of migration, political and leisure travel, transport, and refuge, as well as the practices of documenting and representing the location and movement of people. Abstracting the visual identities of individual flags, Simmons acknowledges the complex interplay between national, cultural, and ethnic subjects, as well as the reality that allegiances to flags are often imperfect reflections of individual or collective identities. Presenting visual information that is hard to decipher, Convene suggests that statistics found in any set of data need critical engagement in order to be put to use.
Xaviera Simmons (born 1974 in New York; lives and works in New York) received a BFA from Bard College (2004) after spending two years on a walking pilgrimage retracing the Transatlantic slave trade with Buddhist monks. She completed the Whitney Museum's Independent Study Program in Studio Art (2005) while simultaneously completing a two-year actor-training conservatory with The Maggie Flanigan Studio. Her solo shows include Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (2017); The Kitchen, New York (2016); The Goethe-Institute (2010); and The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2013). Simmons has participated in recent group exhibitions at the Renaissance Society, Chicago (2018); Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH (2017); Prospect 5 New Orleans (2017); Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2017); and MCA Chicago, Chicago (2017). Simmons's work is in major collections including The Museum of Modern Art, Deutsche Bank, The Rubell Family Collection, The Guggenheim Museum, The Weatherspoon Art Museum, The Agnes Gund Art Collection, The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, The Studio Museum in Harlem, The High Museum, Atlanta, and The Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University.
The project is curated by SculptureCenter Executive Director and Chief Curator Mary Ceruti.
About Public Process Public Process is a three week summer program for high school students that explores public art, urban planning, and architecture. In an intensive lineup of field trips and discussion sessions, students explore the city and engage firsthand with the artists and professionals who shape the cultural and civic life of New York. At the conclusion of the course, the students collectively select a proposal for a temporary public artwork to be commissioned and presented by SculptureCenter. Tuition is completely underwritten so participation is free for all students.
Public Process offers fresh perspectives on art and urbanism and an immediate opportunity to impact public space: at the end of the program, students visit artists in their studios to evaluate proposals for a temporary public artwork for Long Island City. Together, they form a panel to select a winning commission to be produced by SculptureCenter the following summer.
Past Public Process classes have commissioned Mika Tajima's Meridian (Gold) for the waterfront of Hunter's Point South Park and Words Like Love: Alphaville, First Scenes, a billboard for Jackson Avenue by Alejandro Cesarco.
About NYC Parks Art in the Parks NYC Parks's Art in the Parks program has consistently fostered the creation and installation of temporary public art in parks throughout the five boroughs. Since 1967, collaborations with arts organizations and artists have produced hundreds of public art projects in New York City parks. For more information visit nyc.gov/parks/art.