Pratt Institute | News | Pratt students demystify their local office application through interviews and activist art
Posted on Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Who is running for office, what they believe in, and how their election could shape the future are all critical questions for any voter, but the answers, especially in a sprawling city like New York City with many candidates for every position, can be difficult to access. . Over the past several months, students at the Pratt Institute, working with artists and peer leaders from the Recess: Assembly program, have interviewed representatives and candidates on the issues that matter to them, from bridging the wealth gap cuts in the sanitation budget. As part of this art and civic engagement initiative, they created prints to visualize these issues, their activist works joining a video of their interviews in an installation in the windows of the Pratt Manhattan Gallery.
Installation view of ‘Political Intimacy’ in the windows of the Pratt Manhattan Gallery
Who is running for office, what they believe in, and how their election could shape the future are all critical questions for any voter, but the answers, especially in a sprawling city like New York City with many candidates for every position, can be difficult to access. . Over the past few months, students at the Pratt Institute in collaboration with artists and peer leaders with the Recreation: The Assembly’s program interviewed representatives and candidates on issues of interest to them, from bridging the wealth gap to cuts to the sanitation budget. As part of this art and civic engagement initiative, they created prints to visualize these issues, their activist works joining a video of their interviews in an installation in the windows of the Pratt Manhattan Gallery.
On view until June 22 to coincide with the upcoming primary elections in New York, Political privacy is co-organized by Amy Khoshbin, who is currently the inaugural Pratt Fine Arts Civic Engagement Fellow. Khoshbin organized the initiative and exhibition with Pratt’s social practice student group, Brooklyn Engaged. The group’s undergraduate and graduate members – who belong to disciplines such as printmaking, art history and design, and industrial design – created both works of art for installation and conducted the interviews in partnership with Recess: Assembly participants. The artist-led alternatives to incarceration program is co-led by Shaun Leonardo, a recent Pratt Fine Arts Fellow. Together, they worked to demystify and humanize the local election process.
Their interviews included discussions with city council candidates Erik Bottcher, Michael Hollingsworth, Crystal Hudson and Kristin Richardson Jordan; mayoral candidate Paperboy Love Prince; and State Senator Jabari Brisport. Held virtually or outdoors in parks and on street corners, interviews focused on issues with city-wide impact as well as the application process. Presented in the Political privacy exhibition, these interviews encourage awareness of local politics, voting power and how running for office can be a path for anyone who wants to make change.
“As an international student of Chinese descent who has lived in the United States for nearly eight years, this project opened up my understanding of the local electoral process,” said Zichen “Oliver” Yuan, IDB ’21. “It’s amazing to see how there are candidates like Michael Hollingsworth and Paperboy Prince Love who have a different voice than mainstream politicians. I interviewed Paperboy Love Prince at their gallery in Bushwick, and it was an experience I will never forget. While I was asking about the proposed policies, they started rapping freestyle and raining money in the middle of the interview! I am excited to see the emerging possibilities for politics that make young people like me feel more intimate with systems of power.
The interview project and exhibit are aligned with other Pratt initiatives that focus on social change, inclusion in politics, and the importance of civic engagement in creative work. For example, the Fine Arts recently launched Pratt> FORWARD, a program co-led by Mickalene Thomas, BFA Fine Arts ’00, and Fine Arts President Jane South, which connects emerging artists with mentorship and pathways to become leaders in the field of fine arts. cultural advocacy. When Shaun Leonardo was a fine arts scholar at Pratt, he led on-campus experiments like the 2018 Long Table event which created space for informal conversations about ideas of community and belonging.
Khoshbin’s work deepened this focus. Political privacy is part of the ongoing civic engagement series that has hosted forums on voting and electoral politics alongside the 2020 election that she co-hosted in partnership with Pratt Presents, as well as discussions on self-help and abolitionism.
Seed Paper Prints by Pratt Students and Recess: Assembly Attendees
As one of the first exhibitions in the recently relocated Pratt Manhattan Gallery, which was previously on the second floor of the building, Political privacy also reinforces why it is powerful to have a fluid connection between city and campus. Anyone can see the work, day or night, passing on 14th Street, bringing the conversation about local politics to a public space.
For several pieces on display, Pratt students and Recess: Assembly attendees learned engraving techniques they could easily use at home, producing vivid images for issues they are passionate about, such as increasing pay. minimum, the end of homelessness and equity in healthy eating. They made seed paper by hand for the prints, with the works needing to be planted after the exhibition so that they could flourish in flowers, fruits and vegetables.
“Through the Political privacy project, I was able to better understand the impact that city council decisions have on the daily lives of New Yorkers, ”said Taylor Dean, MFA Fine Arts (Printmaking) ’21. “The people we vote for on city council can affect everything from the sanitation budget to gentrification. That is why, as citizens, we must involve as many people as possible and inform them about voting for local elections. “
Installation view of ‘Political Intimacy’
Work by Sarah Kanu, BFA Communications Design (Illustration) ’21, in ‘Political Intimacy’
Their prints are installed alongside pieces by contemporary artists who emphasize social practice in their work. For example, a knitted piece by Polish artist Olek, who regularly uses performative fiber art to advocate for the visibility of political issues, is joined by prints by the Sick Brothers (Ezra and Noah Benus) who use their art to draw attention to the justice of people with disabilities. , while Sarah Kanu, BFA Communications Design (Illustration) ’21, contributed to a series of dynamic impressions focused on social justice.
Along with the installation, the Political privacy the video of the final interview is available on the Pratt Manhattan Gallery website, with the April 29 program launch event also available to watch online.