The Hudson Yards Hell’s Kitchen Alliance (HYHK) today announces Shadows, an installation of ten new site-specific sculptures created by mixed-media artist Fanny Allié for Bella Abzug Park (542 W 36th St., New York, NY 10018) and inspired by the workers who maintain it. Shadows invites people to experience the park—a picturesque public green space surrounded by urban bustle—in a new way, as a place for compelling, free art.
The colorful sculptures comprising Shadows are installed in planting beds—some out in the open, others partly concealed by plants—in a circular pattern within the first block of the park (nearest The Shops at Hudson Yards and where the 7 train entrances are located). They depict ten workers who maintain the park for the benefit of the public, through their outlines. To create the sculptures, Allié spent time with each person and asked them to pose in a manner that reflected themselves. She captured these poses on film, drew their outlines, and translated them into steel silhouettes. Each worker chose their sculpture’s color, prompted by Allié to select one that best represents them.
Shadows also includes an audio component, accessible with a QR code, in which Allié’s subjects sing songs, whistle, hum, laugh, and share stories about their work. The songs touch on life experiences, family ties, stories of immigration and passage, and relationships to the park. The workers come from wide-ranging places including Senegal, Togo, Puerto Rico, and across the United States. And yet, they form a close team, caring for one another as well as the park—a bond Allié wishes to highlight. She explains, “Voice is a powerful medium that can carry various emotions and reveal a lot about a person.”
Allié says of Shadows, “In Hudson Yards, surrounded by tall buildings and concrete, Bella Abzug Park is a patch of greenery where anyone can sit, relax, and reflect. It’s a vital resource, and it wouldn’t function without the workers who clean, sweep, look after, watch, plant, dig, and trim it. My intention is to highlight the presence of 10 of these workers through their body outlines and voices, allowing visitors to get to know them and making visible individuals, experiences, and work that can sometimes be overlooked. Through this site-specific installation, I hope to trigger a connection between the workers, the public, and the park and create a multi-sensory experience around the sculptures.”
Allié’s community-based public art projects explore human interrelationships, collectiveness, and connection to places we inhabit daily. Shadows follows her work Exquisite Corpse, which she created for the New York City Department of Transportation’s DOT Arts program. The interactive sculpture was made up of four blocks that displayed larger-than-life-sized, black-and-white photos by Allié of longtime residents of Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.
Bella Conway, Marketing and Programming Manager at Hudson Yards Hell’s Kitchen Alliance, says, “Fanny Allié’s work speaks specifically to what we hope public art can achieve: that it can bring the socioeconomically diverse communities in this neighborhood together around the dynamic spaces it offers, that it can make people going about their everyday existences stop and consider the lives and experiences of those around them. We’re so happy to team with her to create this experience that we hope deepens people’s relationship to the park, and to the strangers that enjoy it and keep it alive.”
To curate and produce Shadows, HYHK engaged Debra Simon Art Consulting. Simon has curated and produced numerous significant public art projects in New York City, having served as Director of Public Art at the Times Square Alliance and oversaw its Midnight Moment series, the world’s foremost digital public art series; created Arts Brookfield, the largest privately funded public art program in the United States; and co-founded the River to River festival, established to bring audiences back to Lower Manhattan after 9/11. Debra Simon Art Consulting curates Art at Amtrak, a new public art program at New York Penn Station.
The Hudson Yards Hell’s Kitchen Alliance (HYHK) is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of the diverse population who lives, works and visits the district. Since 2015 the HYHK Business Improvement District (BID) has been providing supplemental sanitation services, streetscape improvements, neighborhood horticulture and beautification projects, and technical and professional services for small businesses in an area broadly bound by West 42nd Street to the north, Eleventh Avenue to the west, West 30th Street to the south and Ninth Avenue to the east. As the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation’s official maintenance and operations partner for Bella Abzug Park, HYHK is active in providing a variety of cultural programming to the neighborhood. Through film screenings, rotating art exhibitions, concerts, wellness series and more, the HYHK Arts Program is focused on enhancing public space and community through public art. Learn more about our work at hyhkalliance.org and @HudsonYardsHellsKitchen.
For over 50 years, NYC Parks’ Art in the Parks program has brought contemporary public artworks to the city’s parks, making New York City one of the world’s largest open-air galleries. The agency has consistently fostered the creation and installation of temporary public art in parks throughout the five boroughs. Since 1967, NYC Parks has collaborated with arts organizations and artists to produce over 2,000 public artworks by 1,3000 notable and emerging artists in over 200 parks.
Fanny Allié: Shadows will officially unveil on November 10, 2022 in Bella Abzug Park, and will be on view through October, 2023. An Opening Reception will be held on Thursday, November 10th from 8:30am to 10:00am.
While you’re there, take a walk on the largest Green Roof in New York City ~ right next door at The Javits Center.