Arts installations, developed with community input, encourage physical activity in communities with disproportionately high rates of chronic illness
December 18, 2018 — The Health Department, in partnership with NYC Parks, today announced the completion of five art projects in public parks in East Harlem, the South Bronx, Eastern Queens, and Central Brooklyn. The initiative, Art in the Parks: Active Open Space, funds local community-based organizations to install large-scale public art installations to promote physical activity in neighborhoods with disproportionately high rates of chronic disease. The installations range from ground murals to interactive sculptures and were developed to reflect the cultures and history of each neighborhood. Members of the community provided input on the design of the work and, in some cases, participated in the creation of the artwork itself. These projects will remain on display through September 2019 and were produced in partnership with the Fund for Public Health in New York City and made possible with funding provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“High quality and attractive spaces in neighborhoods have been shown to encourage physical activity and may reduce health inequalities,” said Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “These new public artworks will encourage New Yorkers to enjoy their local park and support their overall health.”
“NYC Parks is an agency that promotes fun, health and happiness, and that mission goes hand in hand with public art. In partnership with the Department of Health, we are pleased to welcome these five new creative public artworks to our parks,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “These installations are the result of local community engagement and a passion for wellness. They will surely inspire the many New Yorkers who see them to stay active and healthy.”
“Physical health is important and beautifying our public spaces is an excellent way to encourage New Yorkers to stay active and celebrate our city’s talented artists at the same time,” Senator Roxanne J. Persaud said. “I commend this initiative and look forward to visiting Betsey Head Park to see the new artwork soon.”
“This public art initiative will not only encourage residents and tourists to walk through our parks and enjoy all that they have to offer, it will also showcase the wonderful work of local artists and residents,” said Senator José M. Serrano. “Parks play a vital role in the health and well-being of New Yorkers. Beautifying our green spaces will inspire visitors to re-discover and engage with their communities in an active and meaningful way. Many thanks to Acting Commissioner Barbot, Commissioner Silver, and all the artists and community members who dedicated their time and talent to improving their neighborhood parks.”
Assemblyman Marcos A. Crespo said, “Great things are happening in our community and while it is important to read about them, it’s even better to actually see the many positive things. Through the installation of public art by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, in partnership with NYC Parks; Concrete Plant Park will serve as a more vibrant welcoming space for residents and commuters. I am grateful not only for the partnership that the agencies were able to create, but I am also thankful to the artist and the Bronx River Alliance for helping to generate a vision and bring that vision to life.”
“Incorporating the ideas of local residents, the ‘Rep Your Flag’ mural design that’s been selected for Inwood Park embodies the rich diversity that is such an important strength of the Bronx,” Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner (D-Bronx, 77th AD) said. “It is a dynamic and colorful addition that will enhance the enjoyment of Inwood Park for families throughout the Mount Eden community.”
“I’m delighted that we’re making investments in park beautification and art at Captain Tilly Park and at pros around the city,” said Assemblyman David I. Weprin. “Captain Tilly Park has been a cherished by the residents of Eastern Queens for generations and I am glad that nearby elders, families, and kids will now be able to enjoy a wonderful art installation when they visit the park.”
“The Art in the Parks initiative is a fresh and creative way to boost residents’ mental and physical wellness with interactive large-scale murals and installations. The collaborative process in which the health department, the parks department, and local communities engaged has produced art that will promote physical activity and improve quality of life,” said Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik, Chair of NYC Council Committee on Parks & Recreation.
Harlem Art Park (East Harlem): The Marcus Garvey Park Alliance held community workshops where local residents discussed issues of social justice and loss of neighborhood identity at a time of increased gentrification. Artist Kathleen Granados asked local residents to submit photographs that represent the neighborhood to them. She then transferred the images onto colorful tiles and placed them on the fence, along with mirrored tiles, so the viewer sees herself as part of the community’s story. The installation is an ongoing interactive artwork and residents will continue to submit photographs and images that will be added throughout the exhibition.
Inwood Park (South Bronx): Artist Andre Trenier created three mural designs, and ArtBridge held a community voting event in the park. The winning design, “Rep Your Flag,” depicts 17 flags of local immigrant communities. As the artist was painting, community members suggested four additional flags, which he incorporated into the final design.
Concrete Plant Park (South Bronx): The Bronx River Alliance worked with artists Sohhee Oh, Lovie Pignata, and Moses Ros to create a communal bench, tile installations, and 14 flags that span the length of the park. The artists participated in three community engagement events, including a workshop in which residents helped paint the flags.
Betsey Head Park (Central Brooklyn): BMS Family Health and Wellness Centers worked with artists Chessica Rose, Sandrine Saint Louis, and Tarik Lewis to produce 21 artworks displayed on fences. The pieces represent the values expressed by Brownsville residents, including healthy living, community pride, cultural heritage, and physical activity.
Captain Tilly Park (Eastern Queens): Rego Park Green Alliance’s in-house artists held discussions with community members about what improvements would help residents feel healthier and safer in the park. The conversations inspired artwork and signs encouraging residents to clean up and care for their neighborhood park. As a result of the project, the Alliance collaborated with local organizations to form a Friends of Captain Tilly Park group, which will continue to encourage park beautification and healthy living.
“The community feels a sense of pride and recognition with the installation,” said Connie Lee, President of Marcus Garvey Park Alliance. “It encourages people to revisit the park, creating opportunities for people to take a walk and spend time in a place that they may not have ever visited before. Connecting neighbors and neighborhoods contributes to both the walkability of the neighborhood and breaks down the psychological barriers that prevents people from visiting public spaces.”
Since its creation in 1967, the Parks Department’s public art program Art in the Parks has featured over 2,000 works of art in parks across the city.
For high resolution images of the projects, please contact the press office.
MEDIA CONTACT: Christopher Miller/Stephanie Buhle: (347) 396-4177,