responding to last year’s boarded up storefronts across new york city, worthless studio introduces its plywood protection project. while the events caused the cost of plywood to skyrocket, the initiative invited artists and designers to transform the used and discarded scrap wood into a sculptural work of public art. the organization collected over 200 boards of plywood to be repurposed. while the competition was first announced in november 2020, the selected entries have just been installed across the city’s five boroughs. 

images courtesy of worthless studios | @worthlessstudios
all works on view may 15th to november 1st, 2021

 

 

many of the plywood protection project sculptures stand as didactic reminders of the black lives matter protests and their efforts toward reform. others celebrate the struggle of creators through the pandemic. worthless studios founder neil hamamoto began the initiative to encourage artists to engage with their communities and repurpose materials used by corporations to separate themselves from the important movement of last year, molding this once defensive material into something that tells the story of the strength of the city.

 

 

‘rockit black,’ tanda francis

plywood protection project transforms boarded storefronts into sculptures across NYC
‘rockit black’ by tanda francis | on view at queensbridge park, queens

 

 

for the plywood protection project, tanda francis realizes ‘rockit black’ as a continuation of her dedication to undoing the stigmatization of blackness. the artist presents black identities as divine and as a foundation to our shared humanity. inspired by ceramic vessels and the sound of undulating waves against a shore — as if merging with the human form — ‘rockit black’ took form as a stark black silhouette perched like a goddess by the river. this piece is a bridge between tanda’s monumental african-inspired sculptures and the boundless potential of the virtual world, incorporating music, video and other creative forms of collaboration.

plywood protection project transforms boarded storefronts into sculptures across NYC
‘rockit black’ by tanda francis | on view at queensbridge park, queens

 

 

tanda francis is a brooklyn based artist whose primary focus is creating public art, including monumental african heads. her work addresses diasporic african people who are too often underrepresented in public art. she sees the rituals and customs rooted in a spiritual and ancestral past as a significant means of understanding and addressing the contemporary and future condition facing humanity. she uses her work to activate a dialog of universal origin to cross cultural barriers.

plywood protection project transforms boarded storefronts into sculptures across NYC
‘rockit black’ by tanda francis | on view at queensbridge park, queens

 

 

‘open house,’ tony dibernardo

plywood protection project transforms boarded storefronts into sculptures across NYC
‘open house’ by tony dibernardo on view at alice austen house side lawn, staten island

 

 

tony dibernardo’s plywood protection project sculpture takes the form of a stage, where local theater workers will have a chance to perform outdoors — in some cases for the first time in over a year. the artist writes: ‘tell a writer to create without a page. try and make a movie without a camera. taking away our stages is taking away our art. i wanted to create a work that could capture and reflect on how this affects theater artists, while also embracing and preparing new york for the future. open stages will be a place where people can gather safely and watch live performance on top of the very plywood that was used to cover and close so many theatres here in new york.’

plywood protection project transforms boarded storefronts into sculptures across NYC
‘open house’ by tony dibernardo on view at alice austen house side lawn, staten island

 

 

tony dibernardo has over five years of professional design experience working in broadway, film and television, as well as renowned theatres around the world. he also acts as the founder and visual director of at home artists project llc, an arts company creating spaces to support artists and produce performances

plywood protection project transforms boarded storefronts into sculptures across NYC
‘open house’ by tony dibernardo on view at alice austen house side lawn, staten island

 

 

‘be heard,’ behin ha design studio

plywood protection project transforms boarded storefronts into sculptures across NYC
‘be heard’ by behin ha design studio | on view at thomas paine park, manhattan

 

 

behin ha‘s plywood protection project is a large scale plywood megaphone. plywood panels are faceted to approximate the conical form of the megaphone and assembled to create the structural framework that holds it up. the oversized megaphone is placed in a public plaza within a complex of courthouses and federal buildings. it aims to elicit a hopeful and optimistic reaction, highlighting the resilience of new york city by showcasing how a material once used as a barrier during protests can be transformed to celebrate free speech and civic engagement. behin ha worked with fabrication shop afoam of ridgewood, queens to build their plywood protection project.

plywood protection project transforms boarded storefronts into sculptures across NYC
‘be heard’ by behin ha design studio | on view at thomas paine park, manhattan

 

 

behin ha design studio is an architectural design practice founded by behrang behin and ann ha. while the duo enjoys working with a variety of architectural typologies and scales, a prominent part of their practice is designing and constructing public art installations. these projects have been a liberating way to experiment with material, concept and form on a smaller scale and faster timeline than their building projects, while engaging with the public in a direct way.

plywood protection project transforms boarded storefronts into sculptures across NYC
‘be heard’ by behin ha design studio | on view at thomas paine park, manhattan

 

 

sculptures by KaN+mardok

plywood protection project transforms boarded storefronts into sculptures across NYC
work by KaN+mardok | on view at poe park, the bronx

 

 

KaN+mardok have created an interactive sculpture of multiple cut out figures made of plywood, applied with collage and photographs from the @ny.strong project. as people walk through the portals they’re transported into the energy of the protests of 2020 — the unified experience of citizens across ethnicities and genders fighting for freedom and justice for black lives. the team has also collaborated with the bronx river art center on a program focused on public art and activism, offered to a team of young adults who are creating their own sculptures and photographs. their work will be shown in a group exhibition responding to the black lives matter movement, in conjunction with the installation of KaN+mardok’s sculptures at poe park in the bronx.

plywood protection project transforms boarded storefronts into sculptures across NYC
work by KaN+mardok | on view at poe park, the bronx

 

 

the KaN landscape design team (karine duteil & nadej hocini) approaches landscape projects as site curators and content specialists. the team is interested in the anthology, interpretation and display of human and environmental heritage material. KaN is committed to creating regenerative living infrastructures and landscapes — integrating artistic, sustainable and educational components while catalyzing and carrying communities’ vision. they aim to encourage positive changes in communities by engaging the public in the creative processes behind the design of meaningful and holistic spaces.

plywood protection project transforms boarded storefronts into sculptures across NYC
work by KaN+mardok | on view at poe park, the bronx

 

 

‘miguelito,’ michael zelehoski

plywood protection project transforms boarded storefronts into sculptures across NYC
‘miguelito’ by michael zelehoski on view at mccarren park, brooklyn

 

 

michael zelehoski’s plywood protection project reexamines egyptian obelisks, which are traditionally raised in pairs in keeping with the egyptian values of balance and harmony. the divine feminine and masculine were represented equally, side by side, whereas a single obelisk has come to represent male hegemony. in uniting two obelisks in his sculpture, zelehoski seeks to reclaim the symbol and propose a reconciliation of extremes. the artist’s first encounter with caltrops, or ‘miguelitos’ as they’re called in chile, was during protests against pinochet and then president bush’s foreign policy. he and fellow sculptors twisted hundreds of nails into caltrops to throw in the path of oncoming authorities. two decades later, participating in black lives matter protests around manhattan and brooklyn — many culminating in mccarren park — he was reminded of these caltrops and how protest can be a powerful force for socio-political reconciliation.

plywood protection project transforms boarded storefronts into sculptures across NYC
‘miguelito’ by michael zelehoski on view at mccarren park, brooklyn

 

 

michael zelehoski lives and works in newburgh and brooklyn, new york. his work involves the literal collapse of three-dimensional objects and structures into two-dimensional space. he disassembles found objects and cuts them into hundreds of abstract fragments before incorporating them into the picture plane. he holds degrees from bard college and universidad finis terrae in chile. zelehoski’s work resides in private and public collections around the world, most notably the musée national d’art moderne centre pompidou in paris.

plywood protection project transforms boarded storefronts into sculptures across NYC
‘miguelito’ by michael zelehoski on view at mccarren park, brooklyn

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