Should you walk into the Serett Metalworks warehouse at the Gowanus Industrial Arts Complex on Ninth Street at the Gowanus Canal, you’ll be in for quite a treat. Five students from the Art Students League of New York are busy working on sculptures that will soon travel to Manhattan for an installation along the Hudson River in Riverside Park South.
The sculptures are all part of a one-year program from the Art Students League called Model to Monument which has the goal of teaching artists how to create public art. Teamed with the city’s parks Department, the program allows students to express their creativity — and then to have the unique opportunity to have that creativity put on display in a public location.
The first round of Model to Monument sculptures were installed last year, and the current round will be installed this month.
The metalworkers at Serett have generously been helping the artists to get their materials together and to be ready for their big day. As J. McDonald, an architect, designer and metalworker at Serett explained what they do, “We do a lot of building of things that other people don’t know how to build. We have an aesthetic sensibility, which a lot of metalwork shops don’t have.”
McDonald is helping one student, Damien Vera, to finish his piece for Model to Monument at the moment. Titled “Cope” the work includes five stainless steel towers with a cast stone figure hidden in each. As Vera explained,
“It’s about the human experience. The five towers will surround viewers, they’ll feel trapped, then they’ll see the figures and realize they’re trapped, too. I guess the whole thing is about confinement and dealing with it.”
Vera explained that his goal is for viewers to have an emotional experience when they look at his artwork on display. And viewers will soon have that opportunity in the Riverside Park South.