Transportation is often viewed as a means rather than an ends, something to be endured on the way to a destination. But New Haven artists have taken up the task of challenging this conception by bringing together travel and art.
This Tuesday, sustainable transportation coalition goNewHavengo hosted the event “Art & Motion: Exploring the Creative Connection between Commuting and Art” as part of its annual September Car-Free Challenge initiative. The monthlong project, which is co-hosted with City Hall, aims to promote sustainable transportation options. The Tuesday event highlighted the work of four teams of local artists who have created art in public spaces around the Elm City. The artists shared past ideas they have had had for mobility-themed projects.
“Transportation intersects with so many areas like time, access, education, safety and privilege,” said Sarah Fritchey, gallery director at ArtSpace New Haven and moderator of the event.
The discussion began with each team introducing its artistic brainchild. Linda Lindroth and Craig Newick ARC ’87, a husband and wife duo, centered their work on the issue of traffic calming. To protect pedestrian safety from reckless drivers careening down I-91, Lindroth and Newick proposed painting a series of 3D lines on the street pavement on Livingston Street corner.
Similar public art projects have been previously attempted in Madrid, Baltimore and Iceland to encourage drivers to “slow down, stop completely and take a good long look before moving along.” But when they introduced the idea to the city government, the proposal was shot down for concerns that the unfamiliarity of art on the ground might “shock bicyclists.”
One project that was actively supported by the city was Kellie Lynch’s Elm City Dance Collective, which has choreographed impromptu dances in public spaces, such as City Block Cross Walk dances commissioned by the Department of Transportation, Traffic and Parking. True to its name, a City Block Cross Walk dance involves dancing and stopping mid-movement on the crosswalk in accordance to the street signs.
“A main difference between commuting in New York versus New Haven is that there is no street art in New Haven, which we wanted to change,” said Lynch. “It’s very interesting to see art through the lens of motion, because dance is motion, and so is commute.”
Kassandra Leiva ARC ’19 spoke about the Urban Canopy Parklet in Fair Haven, a collection of tables and chairs on Grand Avenue shaded by wooden canopies shaped like the city’s five most prominent tree species. She described the parklet as a “parking space turned into an ecological classroom.” Leiva’s design won the New Haven Parklet Design Competition, which goNewHavengo hosted last October.
In line with the theme of sustainability, the structure is built with reclaimed local wood. The parklet also includes a bike station to encourage alternative modes of transportation.
Last to take the mike was Kwadwo Adae, who was hired by Newhallville in February to create the Women’s Empowerment Mural along the Farmington Canal trail. The city hopes that the mural will help get cars off the street and beautify the trail. The mural depicts women standing in the Statue of Liberty pose, which Adae said represents the country’s foundations.
Nicole Ahn | email@example.com