A new art installation highlighting BIPOC & LGBTQ+ artists is coming to Brooklyn next week.
MTV is unveiling an inclusive art exhibit created by eight New York City-based BIPOC & LGBTQ+ artists at the Atlantic Terminal subway terminal. The installation will be on display from Aug. 24 through Sept. 6. The installation will be in celebration of the MTV Video Music Awards on Aug. 30 and is dedicated to amplifying underrepresented voices and the local community.
The installation was spearheaded by Antonia Baker and Rich Tu, two young employees of color at MTV who were inspired by their own participation in the Black Lives Matter protests at the Barclay Center this summer. Each artist offers their own unique perspective to the prompts “Unity”, “Music”, “Space”, and “The Future.”
For Manhattan photographer Bronson Farr, the theme of the installation fit really well with the themes of his own art.
“I was really excited about this. They originally were interested in my drag queen series, but with the increase in the BLM movement, I shared with them the art series that they decided to show,” said Farr. “It shows what people need to see — Black people being peaceful but grand.”
Farr had a corporate background before making his way into digital photography. As a queer Black man, Farr has grappled with seeing how the media can portray people of color in a less than positive light, and wanted to change that narrative through his own art.
“I have a message that I want people to see and to feel, and to me, this is a vehicle to share my message about the queer, Black condition and I wanted to including our trans Black brothers and sisters,” said Farr. “My favorite drag queen — Peppermint — has a quote that says, ‘Art must reflect what we see in the world.’ That has always stuck with me, and I try to be more thoughtful about what I put into the world with my art.”
Another artist highlighted in the installation, Eugenia Mello, found visual inspiration in her home growing up. Mello moved around a lot — she was born in Argentina but grew up in the Caribbean and Venezuela — but the one constant in her homes was the art that her mother brought into the house. She fell into illustration after doing graphic design for a number of years and finds that illustration gives her an outlet to truly express herself.
“I actually felt like I was searching for some outlet to express myself in the most fluid way possible,” said Mello. “I felt like illustration was a medium that I could really find a place for my voice, and was proven to be correct. I felt like I can speak through a lot of my work.”
For Mello, joining this installation is a dream come true for any artist and was able to connect with the themes.
“It felt great to be a part of it, public art is an artist’s dream,” said Mello. “I do a lot of work with characters and work a lot with community and people, so I’m usually working with the visualization of people and their shapes, races, and trying to create an inclusive visual landscape for that. Music dictates how I compose my images — the composition in dance and music is about rhythm and try to do that visually. I’m trying to make static art like it’s music.”
The installation will also feature art by MorcosKey, comprised of Wael Morcos, originally of Lebanon and Jon Key, originally of Alabama. The pair met at the Rhode Island School of Design and ultimately decided to move to New York City together.
“The cool thing about New York City is that people come from different places and bring their stories,” said Morcos. “We freelanced together for a while and later started a design firm.”
Key and Morcos are graphic designers, with Morcos taking a particular interest in Arabic typography and Key has collage pieces in the installation.
“A lot of my work is also collage work and illustration — turn them into a new image and composition and make them autobiographical,” said Key. “They can tell my story as a queer, Black person in Alabama.”
“One of the pieces has Arabic typography in it — it’s a yellow background, smiley face and it says ‘Tomorrow’s a better day’ in the mouth. It’s inspired by the current situation with COVID-19 and political unrest in Lebanon,” said Morcos. “It’s really important for the Arabic language to be presented in a positive, exciting way. In New York City, we don’t see a lot of that in the subway. It’s important to be apart of the conversation.”
Morcos and Key were both excited to take part in the installation and provide their voices for the city to see.
“When you grow up as a kid see New York as a kid who loves art, you hope and imagine one day that can be you,” said Key. “It’s very exciting to be among some of these creative artists.”
The show will also feature artist Amika Cooper; photographer Eva Zar; designer and illustrator Kervin Brisseaux; and 3D artist Zipeng Zhu.