Prayers for the Pandemic; Prayers for Progress; Prayers for the Planet; Prayers for the Presidency VOLUME THREE: FEBRUARY 2021
DRAWING ROOMS 926 Newark Ave., Jersey City, NJ victory hall press
Prayers for the Pandemic; Prayers for Progress; Prayers for the Planet; Prayers for the Presidency DRAWING ROOMS, JERSEY CITY, NJ VOLUME THREE: February 2021 The third wave of artists from New Jersey and locations across the country have put out their prayers flags at their homes, apartment buildings and college campuses, in woods and public parks. While many are isolated, and travel is limited by coronavirus, these artists have found a way to reach out to their local community and also create an interconnected community with each other through the prayer flag project. The collected images of their works on-site, and their thoughts and responses to life during the pandemic, are brought together in Drawing Rooms’ presentation in this volume available as both an online and a print book. This third part of the project includes a Jersey City display at the Topps Building, outside Drawing Rooms gallery, which spans over 70 feet down Newark Ave. Collaborations and shared concepts and materials between the group of ten women, which includes two sets of sisters and three collaborations, make for a unified front, full of brightness, movement and sound. Prayers for the Pandemic; Prayers for Progress, which began 5/15/20, curated by Anne Trauben, is an ongoing nation-wide public art project by Drawing Rooms, Jersey City, NJ. The exhibition asks artists to create prayer flags, drawing inspiration from Tibetan prayer flags which bless the surrounding area in which they are placed. This project responds to the world we find currently ourselves in. In March, 2020, coronavirus began to shut down the country. Frontline healthcare workers have been doing amazing heroic work and essential workers are keeping our society going. On Memorial Day, George Floyd’s murder brought issues of racial inequality and injustice to the forefront. Then came the fires in California, Oregon and Washington State. And finally, the long awaited election. While we are living through such stressful times, we could all use blessings. Drawing Rooms’ intention is to flood the world with artist’s prayer flags. We at Drawing Rooms hope Prayers for the Pandemic; Prayers for Progress; Prayers for the Planet; Prayers for the Presidency will reach thousands of people locally, nationally, and around the world. 4
We believe art is, of course, extremely important– especially to the well-being of all of our communities. Especially now. We also believe artists want to use their skills and talents to help. We want to send positive Karma out into the world and brighten each other’s days in the special way that art can do. It was exciting to receive these artist’s images and to read their intentions in making and placing their flags. Here are a few examples of what these artists had to say: “I was inspired by the idea of trying to make something positive out of a challenging situation.” --- LIse Kjaer, NY, NY “The conceptualization of a “prayer flag” used as the opposite of a white flag is an apt metaphor for not giving up, but working as a universal team to move forward.” -- Candice Greathouse My bird silhouettes and brightly colored felt represent the four seasons and the year we have been living with the pandemic. .” –– Mey Mey Likm, Elmhurst, IL “a beautiful, joyful, hopeful idea. .” ––Susan Chorpenning, Los Angeles CA “In Memoriam is the latest of my flags for Prayers for the Pandemic. It very specifically honors the healthcare workers who, despite dangerous odds, are risking their lives to save and protect our lives.” __Anne Dushanko Dobek, New Providence NJ It is our hope that this project inspires people to join with their community for social good. In Good Health, Art and Prosperity, Anne Trauben, Exhibition Director, Curator James Pustorino, Executive Director --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------On the Cover: Candice Greathouse, Comfort is a Warm(ing) Blanket 5
Anne Dushanko Dobek New Providence, NJ
Confronted by the deaths of too many family and friends and the ongoing polarization of the pandemic, I am trying to create a work which invites nonconfrontational conversations on the commitment of those who hold our lives literally in their hands. Hopefully some can find solace not just in my work but in the efforts of so many artists contributing to Prayers for the Pandemic. In Memoriam is the latest of my flags for Prayers for the Pandemic. It very specifically honors the healthcare workers who, despite dangerous odds, are risking their lives to save and protect our lives. All of the materials in this prayer flag are PPE (personal protective equipment) salvaged from non-COVID doctor’s visits. Will there ever be enough PPE? As the caregiver for a hospitalized non-COVID family member, I experienced first-hand the protocols I, and every doctor, nurse, and other hospital personnel had to observe. We stopped at the door of the patient’s room, had our temperatures taken, and then, donned from a secure supply: a gown, mask, and gloves. All before approaching the patient. Upon leaving, we removed all of this gear and placed it in a secure disposal container. During this time, I have been working on a painting series, COVID COVID COVID, all in tints of white. The primary element in these paintings is repeated clusters of hashmarks which reference the dead and, more obliquely, the caskets which were/are piling up around the world. In Memoriam evolved organically from these paintings and, by adding PPE gloves along the edges, began to resemble a small white shrine. For the interior of this new work I again used hashmarks to count the numbers of healthcare workers who have died. This is intentionally a manual versus a digital counting system, in part because it is immediate and universal in its usage and comprehension. 6
Anne Dushanko Dobek, Perilous Journeys, mixed media 7
In due course, I added a hospital gown, scrunched and torn, reflecting the anxiety and sadness experienced by healthcare workers who keep changing gowns before moving from patient to patient. Initially I began photographing In Memoriam in different locations: inside my home and outside to get a better sense of its scale and design. However, as neighbors, including an emergency room nurse, began commenting on this work, I realized that there was a real influence from the numerous impromptu assemblages found in the shrines of Italian and Greek churches. People often put bits of clothing or other personal objects on shrine walls as offerings in hopes that the saints will answer their prayers. I invite you to look at this and think of In Memoriam as an ad hoc shrine which is constantly evolving as I add more PPE. Not incidentally, in its current outdoor space at Riker Hill Art Park, natural elements– wind and rain, are constantly changing this flag in both form and substance. In effect, the constantly shifting shapes and shadows mirror the changing status of the COVID-19 virus. Anne Dushanko Dobek, In Memoriam, mixed media 8
Anne Dushanko Dobek, In Memoriam, mixed media 9
Candice Greathouse Los Angeles, CA
This project is meaningful because it offers a way to connect and manifest community and support amidst our isolation and fears. The conceptualization of a “prayer flag” used as the opposite of a white flag is an apt metaphor for not giving up, but working as a universal team to move forward. This installation work, Comfort is a Warm(ing) Blanket, is made of emergency blankets. As this is a time of emergency during the current pandemic, I find it a fitting material. Cutting out “COMFORT”, I make use of positive and the negative cutout– the positive reminiscent of a party banner, the negative maintaining the blanket reference, in locations where I hope their message will be seen and felt. These installations are ongoing. I create and install more weekly. The flags are hung in multiple locations in the San Fernando Valley. The largest number of them have been hung and left on the California State University, Northridge campus. This beautiful campus, previously full of several thousand students a day, is now overgrown and mostly empty. I place the signs in locations that were once bustling, where the occasional visitor will be surprised and encouraged by the work. People passing by have been pleased to engage in conversation as I have hung the works. It’s a strange feeling to place work in vacant spaces that were previously bustling. It is comforting to leave my mark, as others will continue to see it and know someone who cares was there.
Candice Greathouse, Comfort is a Warm(ing) Blanket 11
Candice Greathouse, Comfort is a Warm(ing) Blanket
Candice Greathouse, Comfort is a Warm(ing) Blanket 13
Candice Greathouse, Comfort is a Warm(ing) Blanket
Candice Greathouse, Comfort is a Warm(ing) Blanket 15
Carolyn Farina Wayne, NJ
The elements incorporated in my prayer flag represent the following: • handkerchief for face covering • red white and blue for our country/our government • buttons for skin colors / races • row of buttons for front line workers • dripping beads for lives lost to COVID-19 • cross for my faith • peace sign for peace • crystals for light in the darkness • blue birds fly over the rainbow for inclusion • flower seen when light shines through for a new beginning I hung this prayer flag on my log cottage. Making this flag has been very therapeutic, as I made it the day I lost my beloved cat. I plan to share it with my virtual community.
Christine Sauerteig-Pilaar Oak Ridge, NJ When I saw the project, I was reminded of the class I took on Tibet in college. I had always loved the idea of the Tibetan prayer flags, and how every time the wind blows, the prayer is activated, sending blessings all around. It is such a beautiful idea that has stuck with me. I live in a rural suburb, and art is not something one sees everyday outside here. I was glad to have an opportunity to send prayers out to my community. I took a trip to my local hobby store and rummaged through the scrap fabric bins. I like to use up materials rather than create more waste. I then went into my basement and searched for old sheets we keep for drop cloths that could work somewhat in the traditional colors of the flags. I cut the fabric into similar sizes, and was left with five repetitions of the color pattern. I started with the traditional prayer, and then a loose interpretation of the prayer as Compassion, Ethics, Patience, Diligence, Renunciation and Wisdom. I made a quick sketch of twenty flags and decided to intersperse these expressions throughout the piece. I also decided on the other ideas I wanted to use to bless our society: Justice, Peace, Love, Acceptance, Joy, Healing, Support, Understanding, Truth, Gentleness, Calm, Equality and Unity. Using oil paints, I created images that portrayed all these ideas. The tree in front of my home is affectionately named, “The Climbing Tree” as my children would climb into it and read or hang upside down with joy. It seemed the perfect place to hang my piece. I live on a street named Paradise, with an Elementary School of the same name just steps down the road. Tomorrow the students will be going back in for in-person instruction for the first time since March, and I will be going in as a substitute teacher. It gives me a good feeling that the children will be passing by my flags in buses twice a day. I just finished hanging the flags about an hour ago, so no feedback yet.
I am grateful to be part of this project which giving artists an outlet to help. We all want to help, and I am not in healthcare, so this felt like I was contributing to my community.
Christine Sauerteig-Pilaar 19
Donna Bassin Cedar Grove, NJ
The darkness gets more menacing in this sea of the Coronavirus pandemic and the crisis of democracy. Fear, rage, helplessness, confusion, grief, and isolation fill our daily existence. I have been awed by the sight and sound of prayer flags since my journey to the Himalayan mountain kingdom of Bhutan. There, in the high mountain passes, prayer flags are hung so that the winds may carry their messages of compassion, strength, and wisdom. My intention behind making these flags is to honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg and to create a small place of solace. I hung hand-dyed, cotton prayer flags in a variety of pinks and greens suggesting the return of a spring light. Included in the installation are authentic weather-worn prayer flags from Bhutan. The flags are hung at two adjacent locations at the crossroads leading to the Hawk Watch of Mills Reservation in Montclair, New Jersey. One is approximately 50 feet x 15 feet, and the other is approximately 15 feet x 10 feet. One woman sat down near the flags, watching us install them, saying she felt very peaceful being near them. Another man, just arising from a meditation, smiled in surprise at the manifestation of his calmness.
Donna Bassin 23
Huey Min Chuang Brooklyn, NY After six months confined at home due to the pandemic, I finally accepted a social distancing outing into the place of great spirits. We were off to a visit into the woods at Manitoga, where man embraced nature, and imagination grew wild at Dragon Rock. Two days before that, I had serendipitously come upon the Drawing Rooms prayer flag project, and was inspired to create my own set of prayers and blessings for me to share with the world in my new exploration into the wild. I call on the five invitations from the universe with this work: May the roaring lion bring us fortune and protect us from evil spirits May peace reign when choices are strained May love and joy blanket and delight us in our steps May health surround us. May courage see us through with compassion when lights are dimmed. One breathe at a time, from me to you, from you to the world, from the world to the infinite and back to us all. All is well. We are well. The piece calls on five prayers. Fortune comes when the roaring lion sweeps away evil spirits. In stillness, joy and love are found. The dragon spits out courage as anything is possible. With health, blooming flowers bring freedom to the world. And the horse brings peace as it trots to everyone on its path. The prayer flags dance with the wind lined up on a cloth line pinned by pastel colored pins. The hanging flags are clothes to be worn over our skins season after season. They protect and keep us warm, no matter the conditions of the elements. They are reminders of great things to come, things of our habitual cycles of life, and our awareness of how things are. The flags were placed on trees in the woods, above the Dragon Rock and above five chairs, inviting you to sit with it. The flags were also placed next to a vehicle and hung on growing bushes in nature. I heard the following: How colorful and appropriate for this place! “Can I take I picture and store it in my phone for blessings?” (BTW, I did not know that there would be a Dragon Rock at the place where I hang the flags. I drew the dragon two days before I visited the location!) “Wow, thank you!” “I feel calm and strong upon receiving your prayers.” “What is this project that you speak of?” I’m glad to have this opportunity to spread goodness into the world. 26
Huey Min Chuang 27
Huey Min Chuang
Huey Min Chuang 29
Jennifer Place Montclair, NJ
I recently moved and I knew about the exhibit and had seen the first catalog, The variety and messaging in the images shown has been wonderful. But I needed to unpack my studio and find some paint and media to work with. Early on I cut up a cloth tote bag to act as a canvas (with built in handles). The two pieces stared at me for several months before I began to paint. I have been isolating here since March. I work with bird imagery in my sculpture, so it made sense for me to continue the theme onto my prayer flags. And I moved to an area where birds are plentiful (along with squirrels, a groundhog, and a skunk). Not to mention spiders. The two pieces are titled “Faith” and “Hope.” They are painted in acrylics and oil pastel, with a bit of collage. I placed my flags hanging from the bottom of one of my front windows. My neighborhood is very quiet, but we do have kids walking and cycling around, and I have seen them point and smile. Many windows here have rainbow drawings and there are some “Black Lives Matter” lawn signs around as well. I feel the concept of making a prayer flag(s) and the collective effort put forth by the participants, can offset some of the negativity and difficulty we face at this time.
Jennifer Place, Faith and Hope
Jennifer Place, Faith and Hope
Jennifer Place, Faith and Hope
Judy Sirota Rosenthal Hamden, CT My flags explore the theme of transformation. The piece is made of raw cotton muslin, non-toxic dyes, jute cord. It is currently in a community project I midwifed and installed this fall, in White Plains, NY. I hand dyed over 700 prayerflags, taught a zoom class on their cross cultural history , member of the community of all ages, then drew, painted, knotted their hearts, messages, worries and souls on the flags. I made others to include. It took days to lay out the lines and install them. The woods where they live are now enchanted. “We have walked the path of the corona wilderness together these past months. I invite you to leave a trail marker on the path. We have commissioned an artist, Judy Sirota Rosenthal, to tie our prayers onto ropes of jute and to lift our prayers to the wind in the trees around our Chapel in the Woods. They will be there to remind us that once our hearts were softened and that we needed to pray. I invite you to now walk on the trails around the chapel where the forest is now praying. I hope it awakens you to feeling more compassionate, joyous, and courageous.” Rabbi S. “Before you enter the woods, we invite you to close your eyes... Take a deep breath... Then stroll in mindful meditation in our peaceful forest, made ever more magical by the colorful prayer flags blowing gently in the breeze. Perhaps you might want to first take it in as a whole. Then, you are invited to approach each flag and meditate on the prayer drawn with love and intention. Think about the thoughtful placement of each flag -- how the colors compliment one another... how the prayers might be connected.... Find the tree with the invitation to add your own silent prayer as you tie a piece of fabric to its cord. You might want to return for another visit as nature begins to absorb both the prayers and the material.” Judi B
Judy Sirota Rosenthal
Judy Sirota Rosenthal
Judy Sirota Rosenthal
Kate Daley Beacon / NY
I wanted to help put forth hope that with cooperative effort, our world can change for the better. I wanted to be directly involved in the changes that need to happen to establish true equality for all people. The violence against black people has to stop. The racism and biases in law enforcement, the government and among the general population has gone on too long. It’s time to right these wrongs. My piece is called Planet Earth. Each of the 15 panels were created by manipulating paint on water and capturing the floating designs on canvas through the process of marbling. The panels are sewn around hemp cord with embroidery thread. The circular imagery in each panel references our planet and its many physical, spiritual and political transformations. The prayer, wish or hope is that through the tremendous event of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will gain a better understanding of how we are all connected to each other and to the earth. Our actions affect each other and the greater environment. I hung the flag on the outside of my house, facing the sidewalk. I just installed it, but am hoping to engage pedestrians walking down my block. I hope that my flags project a sense of peace and hope. I believe that in order to enact change and push for equality and justice, we have to believe that it is actually possible.
Kate Daley, Planet Earth
Kate Daley, Planet Earth
Kate Daley, Planet Earth
Lise Kjaer NYC
I liked the idea of trying to make something positive out of a challenging situation. Largely confined to a small studio apartment during the pandemic (of which I spent three weeks in complete isolation), I had scaffolding outside the window and next to no light inside my home. I found myself inside a “black cube,” that seemed to function a bit like a Camera Obscura. I began to photograph the few beams of light that occasionally made their ways into the space, and came to think of it as an equivalent of Plato’s cave, COVID-19 style. From the inside of my walls, I tried to make sense of the world, while navigating sounds of sirens and news outlets. The experience made me extra aware of the impact natural light can have on one’s well being. I sought different ways to get my daily doses of vitamin D and spent most of the mornings in the building’s common area, reading the news, meditating, and trying to navigate through a stream of information. To me, the pandemic became a real eyeopener, like a magnifying glass, that revealed the ways in which we treat and mistreat our planet, our natural environment, and one another. I decided to make three large white screens and hang them parallel to one another. Soon the light and shadows from the trees and bushes revealed a subtle silvery movement on the each of the surfaces, echoing one another, and the outside world. The embroidered word “change” cast shadows that emerged and resided in the shifting the light. I placed the flags inside our building’s garden and common area, my only access to an outdoor public space at the time. Since there was barely anybody living in our apartment building, I was essentially the only person who used the area, as a chain linked refuge. In that sense, it was a bit like communicating in an empty echo chamber. 42
Lise Kjaer 45
Mary McFerran Croton, NY
I was viewing the exhibition online and realized my recent project that celebrates suburban wildlife would fit the theme. Each piece is approximately 42” x 36”. Materials include felt, plastic, print, assorted scraps of textile and machine stitching. My piece is installed on a community garden fence in Croton, NY Garden workers and passers by shared a sense of enjoyment while I was installing the piece. I love the idea for the show- such a positive spin on our challenging condition
Mey Mey Lim Elmhurst, IL
I liked the idea of sending blessings and positive energy as people drive past my house. The prayer flags are made of felt, glue, string and a little bit of tape. The bird silhouettes and brightly colored felt represent the four seasons and the year we have been living with the pandemic. The birds live on their separate panels adapting and waiting through the changing seasons. I worked on this project at the start of the second wave of the pandemic. I live on Illinois Route 64 by a busy intersection. The flags will be seen by people as they wait in traffic in front of my house. I put the prayer flags up on a cold windy Chicago day and haven’t gotten any feedback yet.
Mey Mey Lim 51
Mey Mey Lim 52
Mey Mey Lim 53
Mona Brody West Orange, NJ
The idea of a community project sharing hope for a better future drew me to participate. This work is part of a series that I am currently working on. It began during quarantine and in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement. “Souls Walking” draws meaning from the nexus between imagination and the human condition. The relationship between nature, abstraction, and materiality cannot be separated from the conditions of our lives. The work was made on sign cloth that I found. I have been experimenting with pigmented shellac and oil. After much thought, I placed two painted flags on a fence near the elementary school. I hung the work in the early morning. I wanted the viewer to come across the work quietly without seeing it being installed. I originally made this work for the first call of the Prayer Flags. It was difficult for me to install it outside my studio.
Mona Brody, Souls Walking 55
Paula Overbay Portland, OR
In February or March I noticed that a couple moving in below me immediately put up the traditional prayer flags outside their windows. I could only guess at their reasons. The winds have released their prayers to the clouds by now. I wanted to make a gesture in kind that they might notice. The piece is paper, acrylic paint and string. The images are small universal symbols of strength and infinity and longing. I placed my flags on my third story apartment window. My experience of installing them was one of ritual gestures. My experience of making them was of healing. This is a gift to our collective mourning. Manira Naqui noticed my flags and I offered them to her if she would prominently display them. She agreed and is making anset of prayer flags to send to me from her home in Portland, Maine.
Susan Chorpenning Los Angeles CA
I’m a practicing Buddhist, and love the idea of combining prayer flags with art, combining my two most important practices. My usual medium is light, whether in painting, drawing or installation. Using paint, which reflects the light back toward the viewer, fits with the idea of sending prayers out with the winds and sending wishes for peace and light outwards. The flags are installed on a lemon tree in front of my home studio, which is about to be torn down and rebuilt. This parallels our country, which has been decimated and is about to be rebuilt. May the light and peace generated by the flags go toward the peace and light we all need so much. What a beautiful, joyful, hopeful idea. Much love, gratitude, and many prayers for making this project.
Suzette Marie Martin North Adams, MA My intention was to create a public art piece as a meditation and memorial for all that has been lost to COVID-19, which acts as a visual prompt to keep community safety in mind, and compassion in heart, as we endure the long-term effects of this pandemic. These installations were created without previous knowledge of Drawing Rooms public arts open call. “Airborne Transmission, Prayer Flags for the Pandemic” are site-specific installations of surgical face masks sewn to white cotton flags, a meditation and memorial. Our current atmosphere is also filled with other invisible airborne transmissions: data and medical research, conspiracy theories and political opinions, thoughts and prayers. Each site-specific installation consists of a repeating pattern of surgical style face masks sewn to white cotton fabric rectangles. The flags are suspended on riverside fences at socially distant intervals. These ephemeral works, visually activated by passing airflow, will subtly deteriorate from the effects of seasonal weather changes as the COVID-19 pandemic runs its course. The white flag, international symbol of ceasefire, evokes the flu pandemic of 1918 when female volunteers hand-sewed stacks of white cotton masks for medical and personal protection. The commercially available surgical masks, sourced at a local grocery store, are manufactured in the People’s Republic of China where the SARS-CoV-2 virus first appeared. These two items, synthetic masks superimposed on cotton, reflect the similarities and evolution of personal protective equipment since the last massive global pandemic. “Airborne Transmission, Prayer Flags for the Pandemic” is on view at River Street Park in North Adams, MA from October 1, 2020 - March 31, 2021.The project is in association with the city of North Adams Public Arts Commission. This piece was also on view at Hoosic River North Branch Spillway in North Adams, MA from July, 2020- until the Massachusetts mask mandate is removed. The project was in association with the Eclipse Mill Gallery. Because of the one-third mile long scale of the River Street Park installation, it was a several day process of hand-tying each flag to make sure they could endure river-driven wind throughout the New England seasons, with maintenance several times a week to ensure no flags came loose or were vandalized. The smaller, 83’ installation on the Hoosic River has been adjusted and retied several times to accommodate changing wind patterns and prevent tearing on the wire fencing. I have received positive feedback from passers-by and local area media. I often see people photographing the large scale installation in River Street Park. 62
Suzette Marie Martin “Airborne Transmission, Prayer Flags for the Pandemic” 63
Suzette Marie Martin “Airborne Transmission, Prayer Flags for the Pandemic” 64
Suzette Marie Martin “Airborne Transmission, Prayer Flags for the Pandemic” 65
Trish Gianakis Stirling, NJ
Prayers for the Pandemic is a reflection of hope and gratitude for life for everyone. My piece is made of lace in a loom, drawn into the fabric a lotus leaf with fiber optics wire. This flag is best seen at night as the fiber optic lights in cycles with a rainbow of colors. It is displayed in my garden in front of my house. Each person who walks by or drove past my house can see it. There was a meditative quality in creating this, using an embroidery loom, cutting the fabric and sewing with the fiberoptic wire. My neighbors really enjoyed looking at it and brought them a sense of happiness.
Drawing Rooms/Topps Building Jersey City, NJ The entire Prayer Flag project comes home to Drawing Rooms in this diosplay along Newark Avenue in Jersey City. Drawing Rooms produced a seventy foot long installation of area artists Prayer Flags outside our gallerry at the Topps Building in the Fall of 2020 as part of Prayers for the Pandemic; Prayers for Progress; Prayers for the Planet; Prayers for the Presidency The Topps project developed as Curator Anne Trauben engaged artists who have often worked with us to create new prayer flags for the installation and Director, Jim Pustorino planned and exceuted the installation. Ultimately, collaborations and shared concepts and materials between the group of ten women, which includes two sets of sisters, made for a unified front, full of brightness, movement and sound. Jill Scipione’s crocheted dots created a shimmering field of color and a tinkling of bells when the wind blew, and were framed and complemented by Anne Trauben’s pipe cleaner wrapped eye votives and laminated letter drawings. Eileen Ferara’s painted canvas strips and Lucy and Liz Rovetto’s compilation of fabrics, plastics and knitted forms, both stacked totemic imagery: gloves, hands and hearts and fire. Katie Niewodowski’s drawings sparkled with tiny outlined monochrome shapes, like the cds that formed the base for Kate Dodd’s serpentine setting of eyes. Mollie Thonneson flags continued both the thematic symbol of eyes and the prevalent colors of magenta, blue and yellow, that runs through many of the works including Caridad Kennedy’s flags made of school folders and red ribbons. Nanette Reynolds Beachner added green to this color pattern, creating a glittering multi-layered set of flags featuring celebratory sounds cut into reflective foils trimmed with pom poms and bells that also jingled in the wind. A giant burst of flower petals, a collaborative banner of photographs by sisters Julie and Anne Trauben, finished or started the set of flags, depending on which way you traveled. 70
Drawing Rooms’ at Newark Ave.
Drawing Rooms at the Topps Building during installation
Drawing Rooms’ at Newark Ave.
Anne Trauben and Jill Scipione’s work on Newark ave.
Anne Trauben and Jill Scipione, Newark Ave.
Anne Trauben/Weehawken, NJ Drawing Rooms/Topps Building, Jersey City, NJ I created this project, and decided to participate in it, because I wanted to be part of this group of 10 women artists showing our flags outside Drawing Rooms on Newark Ave. I was excited to have my piece exposed to the wind, rain and snow, which would help disperse my prayers for healing. This is the first time Jill and I collaborated on a project. I designed the title of the show in individual laminated letters and hung them on their own concrete spaces on the building. Flanking Jill’s circles, I created evil-eye amulet imagery. Eyes are charged with protective and well wishing symbolism so I decided they were fitting imagery for the project. In 19th century Spanish culture, eyes were considered ex-voto’s, “votive offering”, an expression of a wish or desire of good health. Evil eye imagery can be found throughout history, and across cultures and religions around the world, kept by people fearing the hostile gaze of someone who wished them harm. I used this imagery in my pieces because I too wanted to have my piece symbolically offer protection and good health to our community.
When we installed, people in cars driving by honked and cheered. Over time, a few of my letters blew away. At first I replaced them, but after more blew away following a nor’easter, I decided to leave it as it was. I was happy the prayer wishes were spreading. For the lettering, I used ink markers on paper and then put the paper through a laminator. For the eyes, I used craft materials: embroidery hoops, two different colored blue pipe cleaners and cedar blocks. I wrapped the hoop with two different color blue pipe cleaners. On the outside, I used the turquoise, and fanning toward the center like the spoke of a wheel, I used dark blue. On the center point, I fixed a dark blue piece which jut out, and on the end, I placed a turquoise wrapped cedar block”eye” that blew with the breeze. I chose the color blue because it is sometimes symbolizes serenity, stability, hope and good health.
Jill Scipione, Bayonne, NJ Drawing Rooms/ Topps Building, Jersey City, NJ
I wanted to make something visible in this time of isolation as a bit of goodwill, communication and connection to passersby. This installation of dots on the grating of the Topps Building is made of approximately 1400 crocheted dots and is 8 feet high by 50 feet. It is made of yarn and wire with attached brass bells. The installation is my part of a collaborative piece with Anne Trauben. I installed my grid and left room for Anne to finish. My main intention was to bring color to the spot and make something to cheer people passing by. I also wanted to make something composed of an accumulation of many small parts. The bells knotted into the crocheted chains that link the dots ring with the movement caused by the wind along this street, transforming the material into a small, but ongoing, gesture of prayer. I installed the piece over some time. Response on the first day was someone in a car who shouted out of the window, “Like it! “ with a thumbs up.
Caridad Kennedy/Hoboken, NJ Drawing Rooms/Topps Building, Jersey City, NJ
My piece is titled Back To School 2020. Children all over the globe are being faced with the overwhelming challenge and threat that the pandemic has posed to their health and education. My intent by creating this flag was to boost the morale of students returning to school this fall and those supporting them in this effort. Especially of concern to me are children from disadvantaged communities who are disproportionally impacted by the pandemic. I was primarily raised by a single immigrant parent who worked 40 plus hours a week just to make ends meet. I can’t help but wonder what would’ve become of me if this had happened in my youth. Teachers in those communities could make the difference whether or not some high school students even remain in school or become dropouts. I am concerned over what the future high school dropout rate will look like as a result of the pandemic. For younger students, this experience could color their overall attitude toward education in unfavorable ways. My flag is made of weather resistant materials for outdoor public display. In keeping with the theme, I used repurposed back to school folders, binder clips, duct tape, packing tape, twine, paint pens and sharpie. During the making of this project, my young son felt excited and motivated to go back to school. It seemed to have cheered him up. My hope is that it will do the same for passersby. Each folder flag is embellished with some graphic image of a student and/or positive message about education. I included masks on all the figures and a laptop for these have become two very important necessary back to school supplies. As the predominant graphic message reads, “Shine All Day,” is my ultimate wish for students, educators and parents who support them.
Eileen Ferara, Jersey City, NJ Drawing Rooms/Topps Building, Jersey City, NJ
Living in this moment of shared crisis in our country, it is a privilege to be able to create artwork for a public space with the intention of providing a bit of brightness and hope for everyone who passes by. The flags are meant as appreciation and offerings. Created using fabric remnants combined with some of my old and new painting, the pieces are hand-sewn together with yarn using simple methods such as blanket stitch. Recently, I have been taking a look at my participation in consumer culture as it pertains to my studio practice. My hope is to reduce the amount of stuff I have accumulated over the years and limit my purchases to essentials. All of the combined pieces and yarn are recycled items found in my studio. Each flag features a painting of hand images based on mudras. Mudras are symbolic gestures used to evoke a spiritual state or energy. My familiarity with mudras is through yoga, and while these mudras have a foundation in eastern religions, these gestures can be found in many cultures. I am most familiar with ‘prayer hands’ from my Catholic upbringing, which is now widely used digitally in emoji form. Each of the gestures I’ve painted to represent a different element and prayer for the planet, Thanks and prayers for Earth, Water offering, and Fire Creation.
Julie Trauben, NYC and Anne Trauben, Weehawken, NJ Drawing Rooms/Topps Building, Jersey City, NJ
Curator Anne Trauben invited her sister Julie to participate in this collaborative prayer flag banner as part of the Ten Artists at the Topps Building project. Julie had been taking pictures in her neighborhood, at Central Park, so Anne asked her to take pictures for this project. The flower images from Central Park remind us that although we are living under restrictions for now and much of our activities are limited, beauty is still around us and nature continues to thrive. Anne created and designed the the banner digitally, choosing from Julie’s images and we had it printed by a local sign compny, placing it at the beginning of our long row of the works along Newark Avenue that ends at the door of Drawing Rooms.
Julie and Anne Trauben
Kate Dodd, East Orange, NJ Drawing Rooms/Topps Building, Jersey City, NJ
I made this piece because I needed to react to the moment we are in. This banner-like hanging panel references the Greek myth of Argus, covered with 100 eyes and employed by Hera as a watchman. It represents a sort of bearing witness to this time. In thinking about praying over this pandemic, and all the sorrow it has caused, I think of warnings from previous worldwide traumas; “never forget,” “don’t turn away,” ring in my ears. Yet the virus is a constraint that limits what we are able to do about the suffering all around us. So waiting and watching, like Argus, is my response. Ultimately, he died of boredom, a common complaint during quarantine. So this banner is a reminder to keep paying attention despite distractions, to maintain vigilance. The “eyes’, made of repurposed CDs, caught up in a web of undulating plastic strapping, shift their gaze by reflecting at different angles as the sun moves across the sky, flashing as car headlights pass by at night. Thank you Drawing Rooms for being an indefatigable supporter of the arts!
Katie Niewodowski, Jersey City Drawing Rooms/Topps Building, Jersey City, NJ
I participated in an earlier iteration of Prayers for the Pandemic when Covid was just reaching its first peak and I was in Florida taking care of my mom. It was a good way to channel positive energy through art. While I displayed the flags while I was there, Prayers for the Pandemic; Prayers for Progress; Prayers for the Planet; Prayers for the Presidency is a way to spread those good vibes publicly in my hometown of Jersey City. Using the Tibetan Prayer Flags as inspiration, I created five unique drawings in the color scheme of the traditional flags. Each abstract drawing contains a repetition of circles which references cells, molecules, atoms, stars, galaxies, and even viruses! The process is a meditation on the connectivity of everything in this universe, from micro to macro. Since the flags would be displayed outside, I weatherized the individual pieces by using resin to coat them and craft foam to give them more weight. Knowing that the pieces would be seen from the street, I added rhinestones and glitter in places to catch the light of the sun. They are currently displayed on the Topps Building and can be seen from Newark Ave. The responses so far have been of intrigue. I’m pleasantly surprised to see that most people intuitively understand that art itself can be a prayer. One individual said she felt chills. Anne and Jim installed the flags in Jersey City so the feedback about the flags in their current location has been from individuals who have seen them online. I’m so grateful to live in this city and be connected to artists and individuals who are trying to make positive changes in our country and bring love to the world.
Lucy Rovetto and Elizabeth Rovetto, Jersey City, NJ Drawing Rooms/Topps Building, Jersey City, NJ
In a time of chaos, panic and major influx of negative news coming from every platform available, it was an honor to create a piece that could be seen, touched, and meaningfully send out positive, healing energy. Elizabeth used crocheted hearts with tails displaying positive words of affirmation like Passion, Hope, Healing, Love, Peace, Joy and As One. Her intention was for each individual who sees this piece to inhale a portion in part or full, and take it with them. Lucy’s swirling plastic lines, inflated surgical gloves signing Unity and Love, and a crocheted shopping bag with the Equality symbol are all meant to bring lightheartedness, and “play”. Together the message “As One” seeks to spotlight what brings us together as humans, in resistance to all that would drive us apart. It is exciting that the banners hang on a busy roadway and to believe that the imagery and messages will unconsciously find their way to passersby. Any little way we can be agents of positive change allow us to be be undercover agents of positivity in our own little corner of the world.
Lucy Rovetto and Elizabeth Rovetto 93
Mollie Thonneson, Jersey City, NJ Drawing Rooms/Topps Building, Jersey City, NJ
I was drawn to the project, Prayers for Progress, as a way to voice my support for the Black Lives Matter movement that is bringing awareness and demanding changes to the systemic racism and abuse that has plagued Black people for the entire history of the United States. I believe public art has the ability to reach a broader audience than its gallery and museum alternatives and can be the perfect vehicle to echo the explosive and physical nature of the BLM protests. CMYK CMYK represents unity and is my interpretation of prayer flags made by Tibetan monks. It is my intent to express and celebrate the commonality among humans. The name CMYK is a metaphor for skin color. CMYK is the acronym for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black; the colors used in the printing process that make up all colors. The fifteen canvas flags are painted in these colors. A simple and stylized eye in the center of each flag represents our soul. Each flag was cut and reassembled in unexpected ways to acknowledge each individual’s uniqueness within the whole. The flags are hanging on the outside of an industrial building, alongside a road busy with cars and a commuter train track. Whether or not people understand my nuanced metaphors as they go whizzing by I can’t say, but I hope at least the good intention of my Flags for Progress make them smile.
Nanette Reynolds Beachner, Jersey City, NJ Drawing Rooms/Topps Building, Jersey City, NJ
This is an especially troubling time. The pandemic and the political climate of our nation has us both divided and living in fear. I welcomed an opportunity to join with fellow artists to create something that would bring a bit of much needed positive energy into the universe. As an artist, I may not be able to come up with a cure for what ails us, but I hoped to provide some joy to get us through. My Onomatopoeia prayer flags were created with materials I had in my studio. I experimented with mylar, plastics, wires, chain, etc– materials that I felt would hold up to the elements, and project some magic by shining and twinkling. It was when I discovered the bells that I hit on the idea that it would be fun to introduce sound into the equation. My efforts did not get very far before the “Ah-Ha Moment” came to me: Onomatopoeia words make their own sound! I knew then what my flags would say and that I had found a way for the viewer to participate in making some noise- some silliness during this worrisome time. I am honored that my flags were installed along with several artists that I admire at Drawing Rooms on the Topps Building in Jersey City. It is glorious to be included with this community, where I know they will draw an audience and smiles. My mission to spread a bit of joy seems to be working, at least among the family and friends I have heard from. I wish there was a way though to have a secret camera filming people as they walk by the Topps Building to capture anonymous reactions. (Onomatopoeia flag version #2 LOL).
Nanette Reynolds Beachner
Jersey City Library Prayer Flag Project Jersey City, NJ Drawing Rooms teamed up with Jersey City Public Libraries to create JC Library Prayer Flags Project, a city-wide display of flags placed at ten public libraries throughout Jersey City. Library-goers of all ages contributed photos of their neighborhoods, families, pets, and people who inspire them as well as inspirational quotes. The images were woven together into a visual narrative of the community by Drawing Rooms’ Curator, Anne Trauben and Director, James Pustorino. The flags were installed for the Jersey City Art and Studio Tour weekend in October 2020, kicking off the project’s display across the city. The flags placed at neighborhood libraries’ fencing and windows sent out good karma to those neighborhoods and create a sense of community among participants as well as viewers. The displays varied from one library branch to another. The Main Branch Library featured 14 windows of flags, 26 flags covered the railings at the Heights branch. At Miller Branch, seven large-scale flags featured images of the many inspirational activists, artists and leaders who participated in library programs there. This project is funded by Drawing Rooms’ project grant from the Jersey City Mayor’s COVID-19 Relief 98
West Bergen Branch
Morgan Branch 103
Five Corners Branch
Our thanks to all of our donors for their continual support. Dedicated to all who have suffered during these crisises. Victory Hall Press 926 Newark Ave Jersey City, NJ 07306 ISBN: 9798711511410 February 2021 Designer, Editor: Anne Trauben Layout: James Pustorino
This program is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts /Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, administered by the Hudson County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, Thomas A. DeGise, County Executive, and the Board of Chosen Freeholders.