On a recent Sunday, traces of snow lingered beneath the shadows of sculptures in Socrates Sculpture Park’s EAF16: Emerging Artist Fellowship Exhibition, which debuted in September and is weathering winter through March alongside the East River in Queens. The works from the annual fellowship competition, which offers funding and on-site studio space, must endure the extremes of New York cold seasons, yet from an augmented pick-up truck full of butterflies to miniature busts of Christopher Walken, there is a diversity of sculptural forms.
“To mark the Park’s 30th anniversary, applicants to the 2016 fellowship program were asked to consider the Park’s history, landscape, and surrounding community when submitting their proposals,” Jess Wilcox, director of exhibitions at Socrates Sculpture Park, told Hyperallergic. “The selected artists’ approaches are distinct in subject matter and material, with a few common trends, such as narrative and storytelling.”
Dachal Choi and Mathew Suen’s “AQ625: Site on the Move” might not look like much in the park — just an ominous billboard with the roots of a landmass dangling above the skyline — but it’s complemented by an elaborate website that further considers a speculative future when the Socrates Sculpture Park is in the sky. The site includes six art projects that engage with this elevation, including Choi’s “Potted Socrates” with an interactive cut-out library of the park’s people, plants, and objects, and Michael Sims’s “Socrates At” traveling diorama of the suspended landscape.
As for those Christopher Walken heads that have sprouted up in cement around a small grove of trees, they’re not quite as random as they appear. This “Monument to Walken” by Bryan Zanisnik recognizes the actor’s connection to Queens, with his birthplace in Astoria, a discovery which is explored in a framed comic by Eric Winkler (you can read it online). Elsewhere, Liene Bosquê’s “Terracotta Impressions” has a building foundation from reclaimed bricks from structures torn down in Long Island City, involving casts of architectural elements. Some are casts from the wall that borders the park, which incorporates unused tombstones. The installation has a similar celebration of the urban environment as her collaboration with Nicole Seisler, in which they roamed Manhattan with a cart of clay, the results of which were exhibited at Cuchifritos Gallery in 2015.
Interior of Andrew Brehm’s “AMAMML” (video by Randall Tilson)
EAF16 does reward spending time with it for unexpected details, such as Andrew Brehm’s “AMAMML” truck with its interior swarmed with artificial butterflies (hint: turn the keys on the door for insect action to the tune of the Doors), or Lia Lowenthal’s “Dilated Surpintel,” a baby grand piano built with flying buttresses and mosaic patterns referencing a cathedral space. However, it is recommended that you grab a guide at the entrance, as some of these touches are easy to miss, like the prison photograph on one side of Sable Elyse Smith’s flashing roadside sign “And Here is a List of Names,” or the small pair of conch shell-adorned sandals joining Onyedika Chuke’s eye-catching “The Forever Museum Archive,” featuring Hermes feet flying on a reflecting pool. Two of the interventions also require a bit of planning. The next staging of Madeline Hollander’s safety protocol-inspired movement is March 4, while Dylan Gauthier’s next kite performance, to accompany his triangle-trussed sculpture tribute to Alexander Graham Bell, is February 25.
Below are more photographs from EAF16, from a winter day exploring this sculpture park on the Queens shore.
EAF16: Emerging Artist Fellowship Exhibition continues through March 13 at Socrates Sculpture Park (32-01 Vernon Boulevard, Astoria, Queens).