April 17, 2014

"Tomorrow" comes to Fordham Road, artwork having its impact today

After completing six-months of negotiations on an art project, the Fordham Road Business Improvement District (BID) worked with community artist Akihiro Ito to unveil his "Tomorrow" sculpture on Fordham Road on Wednesday. The sculpture, made of 600 pieces of wood blocks and formed into the shape of a baby, transforms an empty, drab concrete space into a symbol for the relationship between humanity and nature. 

The sculpture, sponsored by the NYC Department of Transportation's Urban Art Program, was first noticed by the Fordham BID's deputy director Daniel Bernstein in a park in Brooklyn. When he was notified that the artwork's contract for the space had expired, he immediately jumped at the opportunity to bring the artwork to the Fordham Road area. "I think that this has the opportunity to attract more people to the BID" states Bernstein, whose intent for the artwork was to draw people to the area for more than just shopping, but to also demonstrate the importance of supporting art in this community. This piece follows on the footsteps of another successful art project on Fordham Road, "Silver", that was on displayed in 2011-12 on the Grand Concourse and Fordham Road. Many of the attendees expressed the same accolades, including a number of art students from Monroe College that popped up.

According to Mr. Ito, who has displayed similar pieces in New York, New Jersey, and his native Japan, the artwork is designed to help stir a transformation of the human soul. "I hope this sculpture provides an opportunity for people to think about humanity's connection to nature, and reminds us that we are all part of earth's family." Mr. Ito's art stands in stark contrast to the cemented area of Rose Hill Park near the Metro North Fordham Station, brilliantly capturing the natural sunlight and bringing a sense of warmth despite the cold temperatures.
Also on hand were several representatives from the Department of Transportation, including Wendy Feuer, Assistant Commissioner for Urban Design and Art, Emily Colasacco, the Urban Arts Program Manager, and Dr. Charles Ukegbu, Deputy Bronx Borough Commissioner. Without the partnership between the Fordham BID and DOT, Bronxites would not have the same opportunities to interact with public art as is the trend now throughout New York City and other cities around the world. 

After the unveiling, the Fordham BID and Mr Ito hosted a networking event at Applebee's Restaurant to discuss Mr. Ito's background and inspiration for his art. Mr. Ito, who originally studied graphic design in Japan, expressed how he needed to find a way for his art to come alive and have purpose. He discussed how he began to use wood as a medium to artistically express the need for humanity to reconnect with nature. After his presentation, participants had a chance to network and socialize, even taking opportunities to talk one-on-one with the artist.

Where can we have more urban art projects in the Bronx? Would urban art work in your community? If you agree, check out the DOT's website at www.nyc.gov/urbanart. To find out more about events, projects and deals on Fordham Road, go to their website at www.fordhamroadbid.org. Check out more pics on the Bronx On the Go Facebook photo album here, and don't forget to follow us on our Page. And let's speak up for public art!

2 comments:

  1. Kudos to the Fordham Road BID for displaying Mr. Ito's unique and moving artwork. Creations and ideas from distinctive and various artists are things that every neighborhood can benefit and appreciate. Looking forward to seeing more of Mr. Ito's work and what the Fordham Road BID has next for us!

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