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Times Square Public Artist-in-Residence Program: How I Keep Looking Up

Times Square Public Artist-in-Residence Program: How I Keep Looking Up

On view beginning June 14, 2021 Encore Community ServicesTimes Square Arts is proud to announce a new artistic experiment: a public art residency that pairs socially engaged artists with Times Square’s massive network of businesses, nonprofits, hotels, restaurants, and more to create art that tackles the social, cultural, and political challenges we face as a city and a society.

The first artist-in-residence is Christine Wong Yap, a Queens-based artist who often uses printmaking, drawing, and social practice to explore psychological well-being. Wong Yap will collaborate with Encore Community Services, a support program based in Times Square and Hell’s Kitchen that provides meals and social services to elderly New Yorkers. The resulting public art project How I Keep Looking Up — a series of flags representing the individual seniors’ sources of resilience — will be displayed in Times Square beginning on Flag Day, June 14, 2021. Leading up to the project launch, Wong Yap will hold flag-making workshops with seniors, working directly with them to share their personal stories around resilience, perseverance, and adversity. The flag fabrication will also engage costumers from the local theater community, another group that has been hard hit this past year by the closure of Broadway and other performance spaces.

This Times Square Public Artist-in-Residence program was created in response to the powerful ideas and artworks artists have generated throughout recent moments of political and cultural upheaval. The program is launched based on the belief that artists are visionary thinkers and creative problem solvers, that novel ideas and collaborations are necessary in response to the current crises, and that Times Square’s unique characteristics as both a public space and a cultural and commercial district are vital in tackling the social, cultural, and political challenges we face as a city and a society.

The residency will support one artist per year for a 6-month period who has demonstrated a collaborative practice and shows a commitment to fostering meaningful connections both within and beyond the art community. As part of the program, Times Square Arts can facilitate connections with relevant individuals and organizations in Times Square, as well as provide any resources and expertise from the broader Times Square Alliance team, with departments ranging from operations to policy and research. In addition to a fee covering the residency period, artists are eligible for funding toward the public presentation of their artwork in Times Square.

Christine Wong Yap is a project-based artist who often uses printmaking, drawing, and social practice to explore psychological well-being. She has participated in over a dozen residencies and studio programs. A longtime resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, she has lived and worked in Queens, NY since 2010.

Encore Community Services was founded in 1977, by Sr. Lillian McNamara, Sr. Elizabeth Hasselt and Fr. George Moore to provide food, socialization and support for the elderly of the Hell’s Kitchen and Broadway communities. What started as a single community center in the basement of St. Malachy’s Church has since grown into a multipurpose, nonsectarian agency providing a comprehensive array of programs and services to elderly New Yorkers. Each year Encore provides over 400,000 meals; both on-site, at our senior center and delivered directly to our homebound members.

In addition to providing meals and social services to the elderly, Encore also operates the Encore 49 and Encore West Residences. The Encore 49 Residence provides an SRO-style supportive housing facility for formerly homeless seniors with special needs. In a safe, clean and caring environment, residents are provided with their own units, and a range of mental health services. The Encore West Residence provides 84 independent housing units for the very low-income elderly.

Encore strives to provide a safe and welcoming environment to any senior that may need us, from meals, to social services, to housing; Encore’s philosophy remains the same: “By nurturing, respecting and enabling, Encore hopes to improve the quality of life of older New Yorkers in need, in an approach that emanates from the core of Encore’s commitment: we believe that what we do comes from the heart and the heart is the center of all.”

Art

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

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