Being Present (2016). Organza, monofilament, fiberglass, steel. 96 x 120 x 24 in.
ThriveNYC (headed by NYC's First Lady Chirlane McCray) and Tumblr hosted a series of public events in all five boroughs to promote mental health awareness. I was asked to conceptualize and construct a portable installation piece embodying their joint mission of open, positive dialogue. The sculpture would travel to each borough as part of the events, and culminate in a two-week installation at the First Street Green Park.
I worked directly with Tumblr and ThriveNYC through many phases, from researching, concepting, mockups, production, transport logistics, etc. There were many requirements: the piece had to be weatherproof; able to withstand strong winds; easy for one or two persons to assemble, disassemble and transport multiple times; and it had to meet NYC Parks' safety requirements. It also had to be big enough to serve as a fun photo op, but small enough to fit indoors in case of inclement weather.
My resulting creation was inspired generally by Tibetan prayer flags: it is believed that as the wind blows through the colorful flags, the mantras and well wishes vested in them are spread across the world. We decided on the bow as a modern twist on the flag, to represent positivity, hope, and the act of giving. The rainbow of colors symbolize the range of emotions; it is also an immediately recognizable symbol for acceptance. The different pole heights create an ascending effect, to suggest an open growth process that encourages sharing with friends and family, and connecting about mental health.
The whole event was shared and publicized on Tumblr and the NYC Department of Health's blogs, and received press mentions on Artnet, NYU News, and the First Street Green Park blog.