News and Press Releases

For Immediate Release: January 23, 2018


Contact: Ryan Max,, (212) 513-9323




Public Artists in Residence (PAIR) program embeds artists within City agencies to address pressing civic and social issues through creative practice


New PAIR artists will work in four agencies focused on criminal and social justice issues: the Department of Correction at Rikers Island, the Department of Probation, the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, and NYC Commission on Human Rights


New York – NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) today announced four new appointments as part of the City’s Public Artists in Residence – or PAIR – program. PAIR, which DCLA launched in 2015, embeds artists within City agencies to address pressing civic issues through creative practice. The four appointments announced today will focus on social and criminal justice issues through their work with the Department of Correction (focused primarily on Rikers Island), the Department of Probation, the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, and NYC Commission on Human Rights.


“Artists can open our eyes to new ways of seeing things, revealing new avenues for solutions, collaborations, and improving lives,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “With these four new PAIR residencies, we have a real opportunity to approach some of our city’s most profound concerns – including criminal justice, domestic violence, and human rights – from new perspectives. Our City partners are committed to improving the lives of their constituents, and each of these remarkable artists has a compelling art practice and vision for how their work might engage with the vital operations of these agencies.”


The PAIR placements announced today include:


·         Artist Rachel Barnard with the Department of Probation: Rachel Barnard is a social practice artist formally trained as an architect. In 2012 she founded Young New Yorkers (YNY), an arts diversion program for teens being prosecuted as adults in criminal court. To date over 600 young people have been sentenced to make art at YNY instead of jail or other adult sanctions. Most participants have had their adult criminal cases dismissed and sealed. Barnard’s art practice brings large groups of people together from diverse, and oftentimes adversarial, communities to create new spaces of belonging. She will work with DOP to build trust, strengthen relationships, and improve communication and engagement between probation officers and the people under their supervision. DOP also wants to find ways to overcome the stigma of justice system involvement, which can damage their constituents’ relationships with family and community while also posing barriers to opportunities such as employment and housing.


·         Artist Onyedika Chuke with the Department of Correction (Rikers Island): Onyedika Chuke is an artist and archivist born in Onitsha, Nigeria. His largest body of work titled The Forever Museum Archive (2011-present), is a disquieting collection of objects, text, and images in which Chuke analyzes social, cultural, and political structures. Over the past ten years he has worked closely with Foster Pride, a grassroots nonprofit focused on providing art and advocacy to young adults in New York City's foster care and juvenile detention system. He has also participated in projects at venues including The American Academy in Rome and SculptureCenter in Long Island City, Queens. He is a graduate of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art (2011). His work with DOC will entail collaborating with individuals on Rikers Island to offer avenues for self-expression and healing, to create access to art, and to open dialogue between policymakers and those in their custody. In addition, he will research specific policies, architectures, and historical landscapes that have shaped New York's penal system.


·         Artist Ebony Golden with the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence: Ebony Noelle Golden is a South Bronx-based artist and cultural strategist who stages site-specific rituals and live art productions that profoundly explore the complexities of freedom in the time of now. Her current large-scale public performance project, 125th & Freedom, is in development and slated for a 2019 world premiere. Ebony is also the founder of Betty's Daughter Arts Collaborative, a cultural consultancy and arts accelerator serving the arts & culture sector for close to a decade. Her creative work has been presented at Judson Memorial Church, National Black Theatre, Hayti Heritage Center, DC Arts Center, and the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, among others. Her curatorial projects have been presented at the Brooklyn Museum, New York University, Alternate Roots, and The Brecht Forum, among others. She will work with OCDV to overcome challenges the agency faces in reaching particularly vulnerable communities, including those isolated by location, culture, language, disability, gender identity, and sexual orientation.


·         Artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh with the NYC Commission on Human Rights: Tatyana Fazlalizadeh is a Brooklyn-based street artist and painter. Her project Stop Telling Women to Smile is a street art series that tackles gender-based street harassment around the world; her work can be found on walls from New York to Paris, Los Angeles to Mexico City, and more, amassing international attention for tackling violence against women in public spaces. In 2014, film director Spike Lee asked Tatyana to be the Art Consultant for the TV adaptation of his first movie She’s Gotta Have It. Tatyana created all of the paintings for the show’s main character. During her residency, Tatyana will continue to work with people facing discrimination – particularly women and girls – to educate the public on discriminatory behavior and help the agency strengthen their presence and visibility as an important resource.


“The Department of Probation firmly believes in the transformative power of art and for years we have been bringing in arts programming to the people we supervise, their neighbors, and our staff,” stated Ana M. Bermúdez, Commissioner, New York City Department of Probation.  “We are thrilled to have the chance to collaborate with Rachel Barnard, founder of the Young New Yorkers, as our Public Artist in Residence, to see how art might transform the way we do our work in new ways.  Rachel is an innovative and creative force, and we can’t wait to see the great things we will achieve together. I would like to thank Commissioner Finkelpearl and his team for this exciting opportunity.”


“We’re excited to be participating in this program for the first time,” said Department of Correction Commissioner Cynthia Brann. “Not only do the arts offer positive avenues for self-expression, but they also provide proven pathways to self-development and rehabilitation. Mr. Chuke will be interacting with personnel and inmates at all of our facilities, and make a great addition to our already robust artistic programming. Programs like this can have a huge impact inside and outside of our jails. They increase safety and can help reduce recidivism.”


“We are excited to welcome artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh whose profound work tackling street harassment directly ties to the Commission’s efforts to combat harassment and gender-based discrimination in New York City,” said Chair and Commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights, Carmelyn P. Malalis. “With Ms. Fazlalizadeh, we hope to engage more communities with thought-provoking pieces that promote inclusiveness, safety, equality, and respect for all New Yorkers, whether it’s at work, on the street, or in their homes. I thank the Department of Cultural Affairs for making the Commission part of this inspiring collaboration.”


“OCDV is thrilled to be part of the Public Artists in Residence program,” said Cecile Noel, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence. “The arts can play an important role in helping survivors of domestic violence to heal and move forward. This partnership will be a unique opportunity to engage survivors in a creative process in a way that can be tremendously positive.”


"Arts and culture are the life and soul of every bustling city, and at its core the root of civic engagement," said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, Chair of the City Council's Committee on Cultural Affairs and Libraries. "As we move forward with developing CreateNYC, the city’s first cultural plan, partnerships and artist residencies at City agencies, such as the Department of Correction and the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, will have a major impact on disenfranchised New Yorkers who are currently incarcerated, re-entering society, and impacted by domestic violence.”


Each PAIR placement will last a minimum of one year. The residency begins with a research phase, during which the artist spends time at the agency meeting staff and learning about its operations and initiatives while also introducing the artist’s practice and process to agency staff. The research phase concludes with a proposal from the artist outlining one or more public-facing participatory projects that will be implemented during the remainder of the residency. Artists receive a fee as well as in-kind resources such as desk space with the partner agency, and access to DCLA’s Materials for the Arts creative reuse program. PAIR is supported with funds from the City of New York. In addition, The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation provided a grant for a portion of the Department of Correction’s PAIR placement.


Past PAIR partnerships have included artist Tania Bruguera in residence with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs; Bryan Doerries/Theater of War with the Department of Veterans Services; Mary Miss with the Department of Design and Construction; and The Lost Collective with the Administration for Children’s Services. More information is available on DCLA’s website.


The goals of PAIR align with several recommendations in CreateNYC, the city’s first-ever comprehensive cultural plan released by Mayor de Blasio in July 2017. The Arts and Culture in Public Space chapter of CreateNYC recommends sustaining and expanding PAIR as part of the objective to “increase opportunities for artists to work in public agencies and public space,” which, given the scope and reach of City services in New York, is a powerful vehicle for bringing art and culture to all New Yorkers.


About NYC Department of Cultural Affairs

The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) is dedicated to supporting and strengthening New York City’s vibrant cultural life. DCLA works to promote and advocate for quality arts programming and to articulate the contribution made by the cultural community to the City’s vitality. The Department represents and serves non-profit cultural organizations involved in the visual, literary, and performing arts; public-oriented science and humanities institutions including zoos, botanical gardens, and historic and preservation societies; and creative artists at all skill levels who live and work within the City’s five boroughs. DCLA also provides donated materials for arts programs offered by the public schools and cultural and social service groups, and commissions permanent works of public art at City-funded construction projects throughout the five boroughs. For more information, visit