A key goal of ArtSite is to empower local artists to engage on a local level, understanding that they can be a catalyst for change. QCA, along with its partners, the Jamaica Center BID in Jamaica and the 82nd Street BID in Jackson Heights, seek to create a self-sustaining supportive art culture in these communities.
To create the piece that celebrates immigrants, Shortt worked with artists Joel Esquite and Mayuko Fujino, the Parks Department and the Jackson Heights community.
“We may come to the United States in a variety of ways, but once we come, we are the foundation for our community,” said Shortt. “We carry our stories and history when we leave one place, and form new traditions once we arrive.
“Whether we were forced to come or come on our own, from us flourishes strength, hope, and unlimited possibility,” she further stated.
“What We Carry” celebrates immigrants through a two-part installation.
The first element, an aluminum sculpture of a silhouetted woman, is adorned with cut-out designs illustrating the journey of those who come by plane, water and land. She holds a bowl that symbolizes what binds all of us: our family and our community.
A series of flowers comprises the second part of the installation. The flowers were co-created by the community members at the collaborative workshops, then fabricated in wood and hung around the iron fence, which traditionally sets boundaries but here communicates a sense of togetherness and collaboration.
Dunningham Triangle is located at 82nd Street and Baxter Avenue.
In order to capture the stories of immigration in Jackson Heights, Shortt sat in Dunningham Triangle over a series of days speaking and listening to those community members passing through the park.
“My family came by boat but I thought by listening to others I could incorporate other influences into the piece,” she said. “Sitting in the park I learned how some came by plane and others by land. I think it’s so important to remember that in many cases, one doesn’t leave everything behind unless where they are leaving is worse.”