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Socrates Sculpture Park artist fellows presents their interpretations on transformation in The Socrates Annual 2023

The Socrates Annual 2023 opens September 30, 2023
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** The opening date of the exhibition is October 1, due to weather conditions. **

Long Island City, NY, August 22, 2023 – Socrates Sculpture Park presents The Socrates Annual 2023 on view Saturday, September 30, 2023 through March 24, 2024. From an abandoned landfill to an art space, a public park, and outdoor venue, Socrates is a space that has thrived on changes. For this year, The Socrates Annual 2023 Fellowship prompted artists to create artwork from the theme “transformation.”

The Socrates Annual exhibition marks the culmination of the 2023 Socrates Annual Fellowship awarded to six artists, Ashley Harris, Ndivhuho Rasengani, Bat-Ami Rivlin, Kate Rusek, Maryam Turkey, and Stefania Urist. This competitive program provides funding, access to the Park’s outdoor studio, and the production support needed to realize ambitious public artworks. These five projects reflect on diverse stages of growth, change, and renewal while also invoking a keen understanding of how visitors use this space, informed by the artists’ firsthand experience fabricating these works on-site over the summer. Many of these works are constructed with found and recycled materials that have been ingeniously repurposed, breathing new life into objects that were once discarded or considered undesirable. Collectively, these artists compel us to value thehistories embedded in materials and the surrounding landscape.

“The transformation of these projects, both physically and conceptually, over the past few months has been incredibly inspiring to witness.” said Kaitlin Garcia-Maestas, Curator & Director of Exhibitions of Socrates Sculpture Park. “This fellowship and its culminating exhibition underscore the vital perspective that artists contribute to our societal understanding of waste and how they can assist arts organizations in reimagining more sustainable production practices.”

The six participating artists were selected from over 250 applicants by a curatorial jury consisting of Misa Jeffereis, Associate Curator at Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis and Sara O’Keeffe, Senior Curator at Art OMI; as well as Kaitlin Garcia-Maestas, Curator & Director of Exhibitions and Tamsin Dillon, former Executive Director at Socrates Sculpture Park. Projects were created on-site at the Park’s outdoor studios with financial support and technical assistance as part of the Socrates Annual Fellowship. Kate Rusek is the 2023 Devra Freelander Artist Fellow.

“It’s been wonderful to get to know the artists this summer and to watch their process and practice evolve in public,” said Katie Dixon, Interim Executive Director of Socrates Sculpture Park. “We offer a singular opportunity for artists to experiment and collaborate with our Socrates community and all of our Fellows this year tested their own boundaries and limits in surprising ways. I’m excited to get to see the works installed and to witness how they will transform our experience of the Park and each other.”

Socrates Sculpture Park is excited to welcome back SkowheganPERFORMS during the opening reception of The Socrates Annual 2023 on September 30, 2023. SkowheganPERFORMS is an exhibition of new, site-specific performance art by Skowhegan alumni at Socrates Sculpture Park. The event shares the same thematic prompt, “transformation,” as The Socrates Annual 2023. Performances may be one moment, ongoing, or repeated over the course of the afternoon at different locations in the Park. Various degrees of audience participation may be encouraged. All will share a responsiveness to the landscape and/or history of Socrates, as well as the works on view.

The Socrates Annual 2023 is on view Saturday, September 30, 2023March 24, 2024. A public opening will be held on Saturday, September 30, in conjunction with a tour by the Artist Fellows and SkowheganPERFORMS. Socrates Sculpture Park is open 365 days a year, from 9 am to sunset. Admission is free.

For full details visit https://socratessculpturepark.org/the-socrates-annual-2023

The exhibition press kit is available for download here.


ARTWORK DESCRIPTIONS

Ashley Harris and Ndivhuho Rasengani
Dwell within the Light
Glass, concrete, acrylic, steel, wood, and plants

Dwell Within the Light traces the Park’s trajectory from its origins as the ancestral land of the Lenape, Carnarsie, and Matinecock People, through its phase as a dumpsite, to its ultimate transformation into an arts space. These sculptures, forged from a fusion of found materials, pivot and morph in response to the Park’s natural forces – wind, rain, and human interaction. Together, these works intertwine narratives of history and landscape through their unique material interconnections.

Bat-Ami Rivlin
Untitled (12 tubs)
Steel and reclaimed bathtubs
Additional production support from Artis Contemporary 

Untitled (12 Tubs) is a sculptural gesture intertwining the landscape with the small, intimate spaces of twelve suspended bathtubs. Facing inwards, the bathtubs create an interior space of chambers, allowing the viewer to simultaneously experience extreme interior and exterior views of the Park. The bathtub, being a unit of measurement for the industrialized “average” human mass, creates a space that systematizes the human form. This duality of function, both intimate in its closeness to the body and alienating in its quantification of flesh, transforms into an architectural element as the object repeats over and over again. The bathtub-wheel carves into the air, placing frames for the body in impossible positions in space.

Kate Rusek
Imagined Fungal Emergence
Reclaimed aluminum, aluminum fasteners

Using reclaimed aluminum blinds, Rusek creates an immersive tapestry inspired by clusters of fungi. Referencing both natural and manmade architectural structures, the installation features archways and openings that invite visitors to navigate through the suspended forms. Notice how each cluster draws strength from its neighboring component while also relying on the supportive embrace of the trees. Crafted predominantly from waste sourced in New York City, this work challenges preconceived notions of value, and imagines a future where each element holds regenerative potential. *2023 Devra Freelander Artist Fellow

Maryam Turkey
Deconstructed
Metal, foam, stucco, pigment, and reclaimed wood 

Drawing inspiration from her childhood in Baghdad, where mud structures bore the imprint of human touch, this immersive work echoes the architectural imperfections and textures that fascinated the artist as a child. Facilitating tactile interactions through its textured surfaces and intricate puzzle-like form, the artwork serves as a juxtaposition to the prevailing tide of mechanized construction and architectural rigidity. Eliciting a palpable sense of play, Deconstructed embodies a timeless narrative, celebrating the enduring connection between humanity and its architectural creations amidst an evolving world dominated by technology.

Stefania Urist
Desire Lines
Phragmites, steel wire, and rebar

Formed in the shape of New York waterway maps, these fences are handwoven with phragmites, an invasive European reed grass now thriving in North American wetlands. While phragmites impose monocultures and suppress native flora, they also, paradoxically, serve as a carbon sink, absorbing emissions, cleansing waterways, and enhancing storm resilience. This work addresses the complex factors of human-defined borders and the migration of species. In an era of rapid global change, the artist prompts us to consider who has the authority to determine the habitats for certain species.

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SUPPORT

Major support for The Socrates Annual Fellowship & Exhibition comes from the Jerome Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Additional support is provided by AG Foundation, Charina Foundation, the Sidney E. Frank Foundation, Devra Freelander Artist Fund, Lambent Foundation, and The New York Community Trust, with in-kind support provided by Spacetime C.C.

Additional funding is provided in part, by public funds from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts.

ABOUT SOCRATES

For over 35 years, Socrates Sculpture Park has been an award winning model of public art production, community activism, and socially inspired place-making. Most recently Socrates was honored with the Public Art Dialogue 2023 Founders Award. Over 1,200 artists have created and exhibited new works on its five waterfront acres and outdoor studio facilities. Past exhibiting artists include Agnes Denes, Jeffrey Gibson, Guadalupe Maravilla, Virginia Overton, Jean Shin, Sable Elyse Smith, Nari Ward, Meg Webster, and Hank Willis Thomas.

Socrates is free and open to the public 365 days a year from 9am to sunset. It is located at 32-01 Vernon Boulevard (at Broadway) in Long Island City, New York. Socrates Sculpture Park is a not-for-profit organization licensed by NYC Parks to manage and program Socrates Sculpture Park, a New York City public park

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