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Tenant Spotlight: LMCC’s Arts Center at Governors Island, part 2

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LMCC’s new Arts Center at Governors Island opened its doors in September for visitors to discover sprawling galleries with stunning exhibitions, a host of free activities on Saturdays at the Take Care series, and ample studio space for a cohort of resident artists, accessible to the public during Open Studios events. The inaugural group of sixteen artists in residence work across disciplines including sculpture, photography, writing, quilting, and more. In November, we highlighted two resident artists, Aviva Rahmani and Hilary Lorenz, exploring their practices and how having studio space at the Arts Center affects their work. Now, we’re highlighting two more artists in residence, Lize Mogel and Aaron Suggs, below.


Lize Mogel

Lize Mogel’s “Performing Infrastructure” workshop in which participants make a “human diagram” of the NYC watershed using costumes, props, and their bodies.

What projects are you working on at the Arts Center?
I’m working on a long-term project, Walking the Watershed, which is about the relationship between NYC and the upstate communities that our drinking water comes from. I’m using different forms of “embodied cartography” to explore how the water system is a social connector. This includes a workshop in which people make a “human diagram” of the water supply, a series of bus tours in the Catskills (where 90% of our water comes from), and a couple of other things in the works that are more installation-based and performative.

What unique opportunities or qualities does the studio space at the Arts Center offer?
The community of artists, writers, and choreographers whom I’ll have the privilege of working alongside for the next year. Much of “Walking the Watershed” is participatory, so I’m excited to invite the public into the project during Open Studios.

“Watershed Portraits” at Open Studios in October 2019. Visitors were invited to have their photograph taken as an element of NYC’s water system.

How does having space at the Arts Center affect your work or process?
My thought process is always affected by my environment. I love the open space of Governor’s Island and the visible layering of history. My work is about the social economy of water, so it’s been really generative to walk around the island (especially in the quiet of the off-season) and look out at the harbor and think about what it represents—commerce, infrastructure, overlapping ecologies, and the city’s future in the face of climate change.

Has the Arts Center or Governors Island itself inspired any aspects of your work?
I’ve done some previous research about NYC harbor and the Hudson River, and I have a view of the harbor from my studio (where I can watch the tides, ferries and the occasional oil barge come and go)…so stay tuned.

Had you been to Governors Island before beginning your Arts Center residency?
Many times! It’s been interesting to see the changes over the last couple of years.

Learn more about Lize Mogel on her website.


Aaron Suggs

Pinhole camera photos taken on Governors Island by Aaron Suggs.

What projects are you working on at the Arts Center?
I am making a series of photographs using small pinhole cameras that I designed and built from readily available materials like metal and PVC pipe. Currently, I am taking walks around the island, setting up the cameras in various locations and taking single images at stops along the way. These images will help me determine the best camera placement, as I build a proposal to affix the cameras to various objects across the island (a flagpole, a fence, the top of a building). The cameras will be secured in place for several months in order to capture the shifting path of the sun as it crosses over the horizon throughout the seasons. I am also gathering source materials by logging details, photographing and taking video as I travel from Brooklyn to Governors Island, via bike and ferry. The changing details that I am currently focused on are weather patterns, the river’s daily conditions; changing current and tides as well as the course that the ferry takes between Manhattan and Governors Island. Each of these elements affect and inform the others and these various forms of documentation will be integrated into works that I develop throughout my residency at the Arts Center.

What unique opportunities or qualities does the studio space at the Arts Center offer?
The seasonal nature of the public programming on Governors Island means that the population density ebbs and flows quite dramatically. Throughout the length of the residency, I am sure this will influence my experience; interacting with numerous visitors when the island is open, and having a more quiet and contemplative experience during the months that the island is closed. For me, the mainstay of LMCC’s program is the proximity to the other artists participating in the residency. Having such a wide range of practices and perspectives working under one roof makes space for the exchange of ideas and concepts between artists. This community aspect creates enlivened creative energy.

Not to mention, the view from the Arts Center is breathtaking with views of the Statue of Liberty and the confluence of the rivers in the harbor. And from the highest hill on the island, you can see Brooklyn, Staten Island, and New Jersey; which attests to the fusion of the natural landscape nestled in the midst of such dense urban life.

How does having space at the Arts Center affect your work or process?
For me, commuting from Brooklyn to an island in the middle of New York harbor is a transformative experience; I ride my bike from Greenpoint to lower Manhattan, then catch the ferry and cross the harbor to get to the island. The commute is something that one really has to plan for, considering access is determined by the ferry schedule. This time constraint allows me to focus and prioritize the work in the studio in a way that is all-encompassing. Having unencumbered access to the outdoor space on the island is equally important to my process, allowing my worktime to flow freely between outdoors and indoors; the studio naturally expands beyond the walls of the Arts Center.

Aaron Suggs’s studio space at the Arts Center.

Has the Arts Center or Governors Island itself inspired any aspects of your work?
Access to Governors Island has been a springboard for the work I am currently making. My work is closely related to my everyday experiences and observations, so working at the Arts Center and on Governors Island has become an integral part of my art-making process. Placing pinhole cameras around the island literally documents the specific light patterns related to the location of the island and the vantages of the objects that the cameras are attached to. Crossing the river every day to the island is allowing me to produce a series of videos and still photographs documenting the waterways and boat movements on my journey to the studio. The landscape and environs of the island will invariably become elements of the body of work that I create during my residency.

Had you been to Governors Island before beginning your Arts Center residency?
I have visited Governors Island numerous times over the last several years. It has always been an inspiring place for me, so being a part of LMCC’s residency program is an exciting opportunity. I have not spent time on the island in the off-season, so I am really looking forward to experiencing the island in all seasons and capturing the beauty of the place through my work.

Learn more about Aaron Suggs on LMCC’s website.