New York’s Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) has shared new photography of its latest temporary public art installation, The House That Will Not Pass for Any Color Than Its Own by prominent Black mixed-media artist, activist, and educator Mildred Howard.
While the installation, a purple shelter realized from laminated glass and painted automotive steel, debuted last October at Belvedere Plaza near North Cove Marina on the Lower Manhattan waterfront, the heavy snowfall that recently blanketed the city lends a magical new quality to the work. First conceived in 2011, The House is on loan from the Sacramento County Department of Airports and will remain on view at Belvedere Plaza through spring 2022—an extension of its original run through the summer of 2021.
“The notion of home has been an ongoing investigation and interest for decades in my sculptural installations. As an unmistakable symbol of home, the house suggests a city that is sensitive to the experiences of its diverse population and celebrates their complex history and multicolored beauty,” said Howard, who is based in Berkeley, California, in a press statement shared by the BPCA. “This house is a bridge between the east and west coasts, and between New York City and the world. Viewers are standing both in real-time and history, sharing experiences of both the past and the present. They see reflections on mirrored fragments of 19th Century letters and consider reasons that people arrive in America; for freedom and opportunity, from fear or by force. It is exciting and deeply moving to be able to frame the Statue of Liberty through the doorway of my art. As Americans experience a racial reckoning and mistreatment of immigrants, does the refuge and safe haven symbolized by Lady Liberty seem more of a dream than a reality?”
Howard realized The House—described by the BPCA as “a resplendent place for shared humanity”—as an interactive work and viewers are still encouraged to directly engage with and explore the kaleidoscopic installation during its time in NYC. Social distancing protocols in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, have made a visit to the house-sculpture a more intimate affair as only small groups of three or four face mask-donning people are permitted to enter at a time. Once inside, they can view themselves reflected “in a different hue” from the purple glass panels that comprise the structure’s walls and ceilings. And as mentioned by Howard, visitors can peer out through the doorway directly at the Statue of Liberty across the New York Harbor while contemplating a range of issues including identity, immigration, racial inequality, and the potent notion of “home.”
Said Abby Ehrlich, director of Community Partnership and Public Art at the BPCA:
“Mildred Howard was aware early on that the accomplishments and struggles of her community and most African Americans were untold and important to share. Born into a large family who migrated from Galveston, she is the youngest child of community activist parents. Her participation in the Civil Rights and Black Power movements strengthened her determination to become an artist. Her art is frequently inspired by personal histories, expressed with everyday materials, and infused with beauty and pride. She creates imaginative places where viewers are made to feel invited in, free to question the status quo, and find inspiration and courage to work for more justice for all. Following a spring and summer of global demonstrations and in the midst of an unprecedented world health crisis, we welcome the shelter, courage, and beauty this art offers; the time could not be more right. We hope visitors of all ages will enjoy it.”
Flanked by Martin Puryear’s North Shore Pylons, The House That Will Not Pass For Any Color Than Its Own is the latest temporary art installation to debut in Battery Park City, following the launch of Poetry Path (in conjunction with Poets House), Muna Malik’s Blessing of the Boats, and Sunrise, Sunset (Revolution) by Autumn Ewalt and Dharmesh Patel.