Feb. 4: Creating the Urban Canvas: Land Art on a Brooklyn Street Corner

WHEN: Thursday, February 4, 2016, 6 - 8 PM

WHERE: Knox Hall, 606 W. 122nd Street, Room 509

This artistic collaboration between Brooklyn natives Laura Barnett and Alfred Evans uses oral history as a means of documenting ephemeral public art. The process of collaboration made both artists consider whether the life history approach, standard for oral historians, was indeed ‘best practice.’

Laura Barnett is a 2015 graduate of OHMA. She came to Columbia with a background in theater and performance art, photography, and education. She has directed at NYC theaters including 59E59 Street and Judson Church.  For Chashama Experimental Theater, she curated WINDOWS ON 42nd STREET, a series of installations and performances designed for storefront windows in Times Square; she performed her own performance pieces in windows in NYC and Berlin. In the 90s, she toured with Love Theater, the company performed at festivals throughout Europe and venues including London’s ICA, Budapest’s Katona József Színház and The Wooster Group’s Performing Garage. Laura has had dual careers as a producer and casting director of commercial photography and as an educator. She currently teaches theater at Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn Heights, where she created a high school elective that focuses on autobiographic, site-specific theater. She has taught at Columbia University’s Summer Program for High School Students and is on the Advisory Board of Equality Now’s Adolescent Girls’ Legal Defense Fund. A graduate of Brown University, with a degree in English-Creative Writing, Laura is a native of Brooklyn, where she currently lives with her husband and son.

Alfred Evans is a lifelong Brooklyn resident. His artistic practice is guided by a motivation to make a difference in his community, which presently consists of ten buildings located blocks from the Brooklyn Bridge and managed by New York City Housing Development. The father of two, Alfred is one of ten children, six sisters and three brothers. His parents separated when he was a child and Alfred was largely raised by his mother Lennis Evans, a classically trained pianist, who migrated from Montgomery, Alabama. Alfred’s site-specific community focused artwork functions as both visual art and performance. The act of creating “land art” in public for an audience of passersby is integral to his vision.  Alfred activates public space, treating it as a large canvas and utilizing everyday materials – both natural and discarded – to create installations that generate public discussion.  He then documents his work with photographs. Alfred received a scholarship and studied acting at The Lee Strasberg Theater Institute. He also studied at New York City’s Studio Jewelers.  He is also a spoken word poet. Alfred’s current project is located on a street corner, adjacent to a highway and green space maintained by the Department of Transportation.

SPONSORS: This talk is part of the Paul F. Lazarsfeld Lecture Series, co-sponsored by the Columbia Center for Oral History Research (CCOHR) and the Oral History Master of Arts Program (OHMA). Support from the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics (INCITE) is provided for programming that embodies late Professor Paul Lazarsfeld’s commitment to improving methodological approaches that address concerns of vital cultural and social significance.

INFORMATION: For more information, please email Amy Starecheski at aas39(at)columbia.edu