Ai Weiwei is Crowdfunding His Latest Art Project: A Series of Security Fences Around New York

Courtesy of Ai Weiwei Studio/ Frahm & Frahm
Courtesy of Ai Weiwei Studio/ Frahm & Frahm

Artist/activist Ai Weiwei is famous for breaking down barriers (and stirring controversy) in his native China. But for one of his largest projects to date, he's actually building barriers—in New York, with help from the public. As Dezeen reports, Weiwei, in conjunction with the Public Art Fund, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to build security-fence installations throughout the city.

Called Good Fences Make Good Neighbors (a line borrowed from Robert Frost’s 1914 poem "Mending Wall"), the urban project—planned to commemorate the Public Art Fund's 40th anniversary—is symbolic of both the international migration crisis and President Donald Trump’s proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall. Erected on rooftops, in alleyways, and as freestanding sculptures, these individual artworks will examine themes like immigration, borders, and cultural division.

Rendering of one piece in the multi-part Public Art Fund project "Ai Weiwei: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors" at Washington Square Park.
Rendering of one piece in the multi-part Public Art Fund project "Ai Weiwei: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors" at Washington Square Park.
Courtesy of Ai Weiwei Studio/ Frahm & Frahm

“I was an immigrant in New York in the 1980s for 10 years and the issue with the migration crisis has been a longtime focus of my practice,” Weiwei said in a statement. “The fence has always been a tool in the vocabulary of political landscaping and evokes associations with words like ‘border,’ ‘security,’ and ‘neighbor,’ which are connected to the current global political environment.”

“But what’s important to remember is that while barriers have been used to divide us, as humans we are all the same,” he added. “Some are more privileged than others, but with that privilege comes a responsibility to do more.”

Rendering of one piece in the multi-part Public Art Fund project "Ai Weiwei: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors" at Doris C. Freedman Plaza.
Rendering of one piece in the multi-part Public Art Fund project "Ai Weiwei: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors" at Doris C. Freedman Plaza.
Courtesy of Ai Weiwei Studio/Frahm & Frahm

Several hundred artworks have been proposed for sites across the city, including around 10 major landmarks, according to The New York Times. Sites like Central Park, Washington Square Park, and the Unisphere monument in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park will host large-scale, freestanding sculptures, while smaller works will be installed on top of and between private buildings in Lower Manhattan and around bus shelters in Brooklyn and Harlem. In addition to these 3D works, Weiwei has also created a series of lamppost banners and posters, featuring portraits of immigrants, which will hang across the city’s five boroughs.

Rendering of one piece in the multi-part Public Art Fund project "Ai Weiwei: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors" at the Unisphere.
Rendering of one piece in the multi-part Public Art Fund project "Ai Weiwei: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors" at the Unisphere.
Courtesy of Ai Weiwei Studio/Frahm & Frah

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors will be on view from October 12, 2017 to February 11, 2018. To contribute to the Kickstarter campaign—which, as of press time, had already reached nearly $35,000 of its $80,000 goal—click here, or learn more by watching the video below.

[h/t Dezeen]

Meet the Artist Who Has Been Sketching New York City Subway Stations for 40 Years

art2002/iStock via Getty Images
art2002/iStock via Getty Images

The aesthetic appeal of New York City's subway system is often hidden behind a layer of grime or simply ignored by commuters. Philip Ashforth Coppola has been admiring those finer points of public transit for more than 40 years.

The New Jersey-based artist began sketching and researching the subway’s interior in 1978, Atlas Obscura reports. His pen drawings are in black and white, but Coppola notes the exact colors and the historic significance behind each. The beaver plaques at the Astor Place station, for example, represents real estate mogul John Jacob Astor, who first made his fortune in the fur trade.

“I’ve spent a lot of years on it,” he says in the 2005 documentary One Track Mind (also the title of his 2018 book). “But I haven’t accomplished that much.” The former art student is selling himself short: Coppola has drawn at least 110 of the city’s 472 stations, resulting in 2000 sketches spanning 41 notebooks.

In an interview with WNYC, Coppola admitted that he wasn’t a train enthusiast as a child. “When I was a kid, I liked to draw pictures and tell stories or write them down,” he says. “That sort of ... filed into this new adventure.”

Coppola sees the drawings as a way to preserve the subway system's overlooked details. “The idea is to make a record of what we’ve got, before more of it is lost," he says.

Even irritable commuters realized the significance of his endeavors. “People were just thunderstruck when they saw [Coppola’s] artwork,” says Jeremy Workman, the documentary's director. “It reminded them of art they had seen themselves and maybe didn’t notice. We thought that was a powerful message: Reminding people of the beauty that’s right in front of their eyes.”

You Can Rent a ‘Lisa Frank Flat’ in Los Angeles on Hotels.com

Hotels.com
Hotels.com

If you went to elementary school in the 1980s or 1990s, chances are there was at least one piece of Lisa Frank gear in your classroom. The artist's aesthetic helped define the decades, and wide-eyed, technicolor animals still hold a special place in the hearts of millennials. Now, you can live out your childhood dream of having a room that looks like the inside of your 3rd grade backpack: a penthouse suite inspired by Lisa Frank is now available to book in Los Angeles.

The Lisa Frank Flat, a collaboration between Lisa Frank and Hotels.com, screams nostalgia. Each room pays homage to the settings and characters in the artist's vast catalog. The bathroom is painted to look like an underwater paradise, with shimmering dolphins swimming in a pink and blue sea. The kitchen is stocked with snacks from your childhood—like Gushers, Pop-Tarts, Pixy Stix, and Planters Cheez Balls—and painted in bright, rainbow animal patterns that will reflect how you feel when your sugar rush peaks.

Lisa Frank bathroom.
Hotels.com

Lisa Frank kitchen.
Hotels.com

In the bedroom, the colors are toned down only slightly. A light-up cloud canopy and a rainbow sky mural create a soothing environment for falling asleep. And if seeing Lisa Frank around every corner makes you feel inspired, there's a place for you to get in touch with your inner pop artist. The desk comes supplied with pencils, folders, and a notebook—all branded with Lisa Frank artwork, naturally.

Lisa Frank bedroom.
Hotels.com

Lisa Frank desk.
Hotels.com

Interested in basking in the glow of your childhood hero for a night? Online reservations for the Lisa Frank Flat at Barsala in downtown Los Angeles will be available through Hotels.com starting October 11 and lasting through October 27. You can book your stay for $199 a night—just don't forget to pack your Trapper Keeper.

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