May 24 – November 24, 2003
Public Art Work Breaks Down Barriers Traditionally Placed Around Art.
Visual Artist Maria Elena Gonzalez Transforms Public Housing Unit In Watts Into Magical Flying Carpet.
Magic Carpet/Home Provides Safe And Fun Environment For Children To Play And Imagine.
Opens 24 May 2003 at Ted Watkins Park in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts and will stay on view for six months
LACE is working with visual artist Maria Elena González to realize the Los Angeles installation of Magic Carpet/Home, a public sculpture that replicates life-size floor plans of public housing units and visually transforms them into magical flying carpets. The sculpture, versions of which have appeared in Brooklyn and Pittsburgh, is created for and installed in a public park in the vicinity of the public housing community from which the floor plan is derived. In bringing the often confined lives and living spaces of the housing units out into the open, Magic Carpet/Home momentarily carries its audience away from daily life to a place where homes and hopes are boundless.
Crucial to the project is that the sculpture is placed in a public park where members of the housing project and surrounding communities can have direct access to the work and where it can become part of the community’s daily life. The sculpture is 10ft x 20ft x 2ft high and is constructed of plywood and 2x6s. Viewers are encouraged to touch the sculpture, which is coated with a soft, thick, rubber playground-safety surface, and interact with it; use it as a bench, meeting place, or playground. Magic Carpet/Home breaks down barriers traditionally placed around art – cultural, intellectual, otherwise – and encourages new thought and enthusiasm for contemporary art. The gently undulating surface of the magic carpet provides a safe and fun environment on which children can play and imagine. González has witnessed one group of children playing house, literally putting the physicality of the piece into action, acknowledging physically the way the layout functions for most adults on a cognitive level. Another group of children was inspired by Magic Carpet/Home to imagine traveling to far off places. The fact that the piece inspired these children to reflect on their environment on the level of the spatial and the imaginary demonstrates the profound effects of the work.
For its Los Angeles presentation, the artist will use a floor plan from a public housing facility in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts called Nickerson Gardens. The site for the installation is Ted Watkins Park, an ideal location because it is located in close proximity to Nickerson Gardens and other public housing projects as well as to Watts Towers Art Center, several recreation centers (109th street, Green Meadows, and Algin Sutton), several high schools and middle schools and a public library. This project has been organized by Irene Tsatsos and Annie Shaw, of Los angeles Contemporary Exhibitions.
In July of 2001, with the support of the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions hosted a week-long residency with Maria Elena González, during which she researched potential sites for a Los Angeles Magic Carpet and offered public lectures about her project. González has returned to Los Angeles twice to evaluate outstanding needs and to engage in a dialogue with Watts residents about the work prior to its installation. She will return again for two weeks to build and install “Magic Carpet/Home,” and offer discursive activities.
About the Artist
Maria Elena González was born in Havana, Cuba in 1957. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York and Basel, Switzerland. She has been investigating the possibilities of formal sculpture for over a decade. González has received numerous awards and grants, including the Rome Prize for 2003. The artist has had recent solo shows at The Project Gallery, NY, The Center of Art and Visual Culture, Baltimore, and The Bronx Museum. The New York installation of “Magic Carpet/Home” was supported by The Public Art Fund and the Pittsburgh installation was part of Three Rivers Arts Festival. The Baltimore and Los Angeles installations of “Magic Carpet/Home” have been supported in part by Creative Capital.
This project is installed off-site in Ted Watkins Park, operated by Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation. The park is located in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles at 1335 East 103rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90002 and is open to the public daily from 6 AM to 10 PM. For directions, please call Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions at 323.957.1777 or visit www.artleak.org.
1335 East 103rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90002.
(Approximately 16 miles south of downtown Los Angeles)
Off I-110 SOUTH Take the CENTURY BLVD exit
Turn Left on W CENTURY BLVD
Continue on E CENTURY BLVD
Turn Right on S CENTRAL AVE
Turn Left on E 103RD ST
Park in Lot on Left.
Walk Northeast Across Park.
“Magic Carpet/Home” is Located Between the
Baseball Fields and Tennis Courts.
Magic Carpet/Home is a Creative Capital project. Major support for Magic Carpet/Home comes from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Special thanks to Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation, Mrs. Nora King at Nickerson Gardens Residents Management Corporation, the residents of Nickerson Gardens, Claudia Moore at Housing Authority, Al Nodal, Shirley Morales, Carlos Portugal & Judy Irola, Self-Help Graphics, Killer Films, and The Project.