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Public Art Takes on New Meaning as Community Members Step In

A rendering of the Amanda Browder project.
A rendering of the Amanda Browder project.

Amanda Browder is the type of artist whose work you spot a mile away. Her signature geometric patterns of bright, community-sourced fabrics wrap buildings and structures all around the country – but no matter the location, the pieces are always unmistakably hers. However, according to the artist, these projects are not just hers. Browder encourages people to contribute to her landmark fabric sculptures, providing an entirely new level of accessibility in public art.

The next project on Browder’s list is a monumental work of public art that will be draped from the top of ArtsWestchester’s historic nine-story building in downtown White Plains. The fabric sculpture is scheduled to go up in May of 2020 and will remain on display for six weeks.

Browder has always placed the community at the core of her artistic philosophy. She explains: “When I moved to Greenpoint, Brooklyn in 2007, I created my first interactive community-based project. I decided to get to know everyone in my community through my contemporary art practice.”

As such, Browder’s process welcomes a host of opportunities for the community to get involved. In the coming months, fabric drives hosted across the County will collect material for the project. Once fabric is sourced, public sewing days will allow local individuals, families and community groups to work directly with the artist to help construct the artwork itself. Those less inclined to actually sew will be encouraged to donate time and funds in support of the project’s execution.

Browder has created a contemporary infrastructure in which everyone can participate in the artistic process. “Working with communities can be an empowering experience for everyone,” says Browder. She adds: “I get to talk to people involved and tell them, ‘you are the artist, you are the participant, you are going to help make this piece, and you should tell your friends that you made this.’”  For more info, visit artsw.org/browder.

A version of this article first appeared in the November issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.

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