By Naeisha Rose
A digital art wall was installed in Jamaica in front of the 165th Street Mall and the first person to have her work displayed was Jamaica artist Jocelyn Goode of CultureCocoa Arthouse, a non-profit that provides art and graphic design classes to kids who otherwise would not be able to afford them.
The July 26 event was sponsored by City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) and includes a first-of-its-kind illuminated modular art wall that stands six feet by eight feet and is constructed with two-way art panels that feature a nighttime luminescence because of a special LED-backlit canvas.
“Downtown Jamaica is transforming right before our eyes, and this innovative art wall will help showcase what makes this community so special,” said Lancman.
Goode’s inaugural four pieces center on the theme of “Jamaica on the Move,” which was inspired by a half-day street art session that was held in May with area students, residents, workers and passerby.
Her colorful work included local residents or shoppers of different ethnicities drinking coffee, hanging out with friends, sitting in a community garden, and using their cell phones, while fading into the background of their environment.
“This art represents the residents whose humanity becomes more apparent when we take a moment to slow down and inhale all that makes Jamaica so special,” said Ms. Goode.
Totem, an urban design firm located in Brooklyn, created the art wall, which sits on top of a repurposed Jersey barrier that is easily moveable.
“The dynamic and ever-changing nature of busy urban spaces like the 165th Street Mall can make navigating them a challenge, but we viewed that as an opportunity to create something beautiful and transformative,” said J. Manuel Mansylla, principal and creative director at Totem. “Elevating a ubiquitous object like the common Jersey barrier into this pop-up art wall not only helps empower local artists to showcase their work, but also temporarily transforms the streetscape into a de facto public art gallery.”
Helping to organize the event was the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, a community development organization that formed in 1967 to spur the creation of new business and enhance Jamaica.
“We wanted to develop a simple place-making amenity that would marry captivating public art with a unique lighting activation to tell the story of the neighborhood and enliven the district at all hours,” said Greater JamaicaPresident and CEO Hope Knight.
GJDC has already put out a request for proposals for other artists’ work and hopes to hear back from them later this year.
Goode, who is an artist, designer, educator and community advocate, hopes her artwork will bring attention to her organization, CultureCocoa, because she is looking for a facility to teach her art and graphic design classes. She has worked to spread her knowledge of art to foster kids and incarcerated youths.
“I have innovative ideas to help people sustain themselves after jail and foster care…and I want them to use those skills to take care of themselves,” said Goode.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose