Tenant Spotlight: LMCC’s Arts Center at Governors Island

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Though Governors Island is currently closed to the public until next spring, year-round tenants bring hundreds of people to the Island every weekday to work and study in this unique environment.

One of these year-round tenants, LMCC’s Arts Center at Governors Island, opened this September with over 40,000 square feet of spacious galleries, welcoming activity space and versatile artist studios. Visitors perused the exhibitions at this renovated former munitions warehouse Thursdays through Sundays during the public season and participated in a wide variety of programs at the Take Care series every Saturday. While it waits for visitors to return next year, LMCC’s Arts Center is far from dormant.

Studio space in LMCC’s Arts Center

Sixteen artists-in-residence utilize the Arts Center’s studio space year-round to work on a variety of projects spanning visual arts and writing, while choreographers work on dance pieces in the Arts Center’s practice spaces. The studios, one of which is provided to each artist for free, are open Mondays through Fridays for the residents to use all year. These roomy, light-filled works spaces afford room for their residents to practice printmaking, videography, sculpture, writing, and more, while the environment of the Arts Center and Governors Island itself provide a distinctive setting for creating art.

“The term ‘incubator’ very much resonated with us as we envisioned what LMCC’s Arts Center could be in this exciting new phase, and ensuring that residencies were an integral part of its identity feels like a natural manifestation of that metaphor. It also feels important to support as many diverse voices, artists, and practitioners through these programs so that we can build a cultural hub that is true to LMCC’s mission. Our hope is that through this unique triangulation of space, time, and locale afforded by LMCC’s Arts Center at Governors Island, we’re not only serving artists but inviting them to help reimagine New York City’s cultural landscape” - Bora Kim, LMCC Program Manager, Artist Residencies

“For nearly 50 years, LMCC has served, connected and made space for artists and community. The expansion of LMCC’s Arts Center at Governors Island and its residency program is an incredible milestone for both LMCC and Governors Island. LMCC’s role in connecting Governors Island’s audiences to the creative process has grown as well, through public programs and exhibitions as well as the support of artists of all disciplines with opportunities to incubate and present work that focuses on ecology, sustainability and resilience. We look forward to uniting artists and communities under our roof, an open and generous sanctuary with a view!” - Lili Chopra, LMCC Executive Director of Artistic Programs

The current resident artists, who make up the inaugural cohort of the residency program, have use of the space until November 2020, when a new selection of artists will move in. Visitors can see works created at LMCC’s Arts Center during Open Studios weekends held periodically in the public season.

Read what two of the current Resident Artists have to say about their Arts Center residencies below.


Aviva Rahmani

Aviva Rahmani in her studio at LMCC’s Arts Center

What projects are you working on at the Arts Center?
“Blued Trees, Black Skies,” is about the tension between fossil fuel use and the struggle for life on Earth to survive. That will include creating a series of 20’x3’ translucent banners to suspend from groves of trees and branches trimmed and painted to be installed prone in the space. The one pictured in my studio is a 20’ long mulberry tree branch. Most of the new painted branches will be from the local English Plane trees culled at Earth Matter.

Rendering of “Blued Trees, Black Skies”

What unique opportunities or qualities does the studio space at the Arts Center offer?
The most dramatic opportunity is to have the space to work for over a year rather than be constantly worried about needing to leave or move my studio. The cohort of fellow artists share my concerns, making a convivial environment and the LMCC staff creates a supportive frame to outreach our work.

How does having space at the Arts Center affect your work or process?

It means I have time and space to not only focus my studio production but to deeply contemplate each step towards the realization of my present project without distraction. It means visitors can see and discuss my work in progress with me in a very impressive and accessible venue. It means I can closely observe the local trees that inspire me for over a year.

Has the Arts Center or Governors Island itself inspired any aspects of your work?
The groves of trees, the presence of Earth Matter; the complex history of the island: transforming a military base to a cultural base; the presence of so many other cultural centers and the view of the river from my studio are all profoundly, imaginatively moving. The steady stream of summer tourists has given me many ideas about designing space for human traffic as a discreetly informing experience.

Had you been to Governors Island before beginning your Arts Center residency?
Once.

Learn more about Aviva Rahmani on her website.


Hilary Lorenz

Hilary Lorenz’s desk in her studio at LMCC’s Arts Center

What projects are you working on at the Arts Center?
I am working on multiple projects while on GI. My original proposal to LMCC was investigating how water holds the ultimate fantasy of escape; whether by luxury ship or logs cobbled together, water offers passage, transformation and renewal. In 2016, I had the privilege of being ferried from Manhattan to Governors Island for my first LMCC residency. The trip became a meditation on the water and sparked my quest for boat building, shipping lane navigation, and accessibility, not just for transportation but physical and spiritual transformation.

I became obsessed with the idea of building my own canoe. And living in Red Hook, I am only a few hundred meters from GI. My fantasy is to carve my own boat to paddle back and forth. But for now, I am making prototypes from paper along with numerous drawings and linoleum block carvings of the water.

Coincidentally I was invited by two separate curators, one in the US and one in Australia, to create an art piece dealing with water and conservation. The water piece, and specifically paper boats, is for an exhibition in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The fragility of the paper boats is significant for the island identity, noted for resourcefulness and respect for the water that defines its edges and boundaries, not unlike GI. The Australian work is more specific to the problems of plastics in the ocean. Both of these will be paperworks.

What unique opportunities or qualities does the studio space at the Arts Center offer?
Number one is year-round access to GI and a completely quiet studio with beautiful views onto the harbor. I love the ferry ride. I could simply ride the ferry back and forth all day long. I ride the ferry from Red Hook to Wall Street, then the GI ferry. I love being on the water, and having this opportunity allows me to interact and experience NYC, my home, in a whole other dimension.

How does having space at the Arts Center affect your work or process?
Having space at the Arts Center shows me a whole new way I can approach my work. I get hours of uninterrupted time. It is quiet. I can watch the weather change and the water churn all day long. The viewpoint from my desk lines up the windowsill to the water and it is as if I am on a ship. I feel like I am being rocked by the water’s currents. I am more relaxed and that allows me to be more thoughtful and delve into my work deeper.

A tugboat carving by Hilary Lorenz used at Open Studios for visitors to make their own prints

Has the Arts Center or Governors Island itself inspired any aspects of your work?
The renovation of the Arts Center is spectacular, the galleries are gorgeous. I simply love being on the Island. I love the forts, the history, and I love running around the Island. I am a person of repetition and I can run pretty long distances, so during my break I take in the whole island by running around it several times, just a methodic, repeating loop.

Had you been to Governors Island before beginning your Arts Center residency?
I have been coming to GI since 2006, but only once or twice a summer. Then in 2016 I had my first LMCC residency. I worked there daily from March to June. It completely changed my artwork and opened up a whole new world. I made three significant friends as we were there daily together. It was one of my best opportunities. I feel tremendously lucky to be there now.

Learn more about Hilary Lorenz on her website.