Proposal for “The People’s Fort”
A wooden fort for “mechanics and artificers”; an open archive containing the colorful
traces of an interaction between a community and its artists; a bulwark against thedisplacement of traditional working class communities of Brooklyn. -Walt Whitman
A proposal for Art in the Parks: UNIQLO Park Expressions Grant.
Buried in The Brooklyn Eagle’s June 11,1846 “City Intelligence” section was animpassioned plea from the city’s kindly grandfather poet, Walt Whitman. It was an entreat to transform Fort Greene into Brooklyn’s first public park, a place where “mechanics and artificers” could congregate for a few hours of leisure on hot summer nights. At the time Myrtle Avenue, Whitman wrote, had “rows upon rows of neat wooden houses, without unpretensive appearance.” Fort Greene Park became a beautiful green space in the heart of this community because of the productive relationship between a community and its artist. I want to honor this historical relationship by constructing my own wooden structure: a fort of repurposed wooden scaffolding planks; wood patinated by the laboring footsteps of working class New Yorkers.
Open on all four sides, the fort would float atop the reconstructed stone platform at the bottom of the Crypt steps near the Myrtle Avenue entrance (a perfect spot for a fort). Inside, the walls would be gessoed white and festooned with the art and writings generated from a two-day event that would join artists and the community in an exchange about how we can preserve traditional working class neighborhoods into the future. The “fort” project would extend the long and varied history of Fort Greene Park—as revolutionary battlement—as memorial to fallen dead—and as a green refuge for the surrounding working class neighborhoods. The structure would be 18.5 feet square on the sides, and stand 7.5 feet tall, with 3.5 ft entryways on each side. The interior would have eight—six-foot panel sections: a total of 48 liner feet of space for art making. Built similar to a fence, I believe the structure can be completed quickly and with a minimum impact to the park and reconstructed platform during install and deinstall.
Once erected, eight selected artists, would paint the interior of the fort on the first day of a two-day public event called: A Community and its Artists. With the prompt: “how can artists help preserve working class communities.” On the second day, interested community members would be invited to use multi-colored acrylic paint markers (in a set color palette) to respond with their own expressions alongside the art. It’s this material interaction, a snapshot of this moment, that I want to protect for the community within this permeable fort and archive.