Nov. 21, 2018 By Meghan Sackman
A new sculpture celebrating immigrants has gone up in Dunningham Triangle in Elmhurst.
The installation, located at 82nd Street and Baxter Avenue, is the work of Queens artist Yvonne Shortt and is titled What We Carry. It tells the story of how immigrants shape the neighborhoods where they settle with the customs and culture they bring.
The piece was chosen by Queens Council of the Arts as part of a program that aims to provide social commentary through artwork in the greater Jamaica and Jackson Heights areas.
Shortt’s sculpture is the first of eight pieces to be installed as part of QCA public art program called ArtSite. Shortt describes herself as “a social practice installation artist using art, design, & tech to make a difference.”
She works at RPGA Studios, a Rego Park-based nonprofit she founded with the goal of using art and activism to address community issues. She studied math at New York University and currently lives in Forest Hills.
Her artwork on display at Dunningham Triangle is a two-part installation.
The first part is an aluminum sculpture of a silhouetted woman. It is adorned with cut-out designs illustrating the journey of those who came by air, water and land. She holds a bowl that symbolizes what binds all of us: our family and our community.
The second part of the installation is a series of flowers. The flowers–created by community members in workshops–are backed with wood and hung on the fence of the triangle.
Shortt designed the piece after sitting in the triangle over a series of days, where she collected stories from immigrants who came by.
“We may come to the United States in a variety of ways, but once we come, we are the foundation for our community,” Shortt said. “[The work’s] co-creative process provides a creative platform for everyone in the community and empowers them to have a voice in public art.”
QCA’s ArtSite program will award eight artists a commission of $4,500 each to create art that reflects the unique aspects of the neighborhoods and how art can change a community. The mediums can be anywhere from a sculpture, to a mural, to a video projection.
According to QCA,“A key goal of ArtSite is to empower local artists to engage on a local level, understanding that they can be a catalyst for change.”