Visitors to Socrates Sculpture Park on the Long Island City waterfront can now look up at towering golden faces of hip-hop giants, run inside a corral labyrinthine or peek inside tiny aluminum-can tents during the Socrates Annual exhibit.
Each year, Socrates Sculpture Park awards the Park’s Emerging Artist Fellowship to around 15 artists at the beginning of the summer. Selected artists, who can not be students and must be based in New York, are given a $5,000 stipend and studio space in the park.
The Socrates Annual is the unveiling of the artists’ summer-long work, which opened on Oct. 7. A variety of materials and styles are represented in the exhibited work. But all of the pieces are interactive by nature.
One of the park’s exhibits, which is referred to as “the sandbox” by Socrates Sculpture Park employees, is a interactive cube that visitors are invited to enter. Three of the cube’s walls produce sound. Once wall is made of string, the second of pipes and the third of textured paper. The box’s creator, audio-visual artist Lionel Cruet, felt a need to respond to the park’s landscape and community.
Cruet visited Socrates Sculpture Park two times before deciding to apply for the fellowship, and was always impressed by the diversity of the park’s visitors — a microcosm of the melting pot that is Astoria and Long Island City.
“The cube serves as sort of a metaphor for the park and its visitors,” said Cruet, who added that his piece is only stable through the cooperation of six different materials. All them can function independently but need to come together to create art. Visitors are meant to be active participants and challenged to look at their environment through different lenses.
This year’s artists are Leilah Babirye, Sherwin Banfield, Amy Brener, Lionel Cruet, Nathaniel Cummings-Lambert, Ronen Gamil, Jesse Harrod, Carlos Jiménez Cahua, Leander Mienardus Knust, Antone Konst, Joiri Minaya, Nicholas Missel, Virginia Lee Montgomery, Nancy Nowacek, Audrey Snyder and Joe Riley.
All exhibits are open to the public until March 10, 2019.