An underutilized park will serve as the canvas for the Bronx’s natural beauty.
The Art in the Parks: Uniqlo Park Expressions Grant is supporting the creation of artworks by NYC-based emerging artists for ten designated parks this June including the Bronx’s Joyce Kilmer Park and Virginia Park.
These creative projects are made possible through Uniqlo’s generous $200,000 donation.
The Uniqlo grant program will transform the parks into art destinations through a series of rotating exhibitions.
Each grantee receives an award of $10,000 to create their proposed artwork which will be displayed for up to one year.
Artist Lovie Pignata, a Pelham Parkway resident and Morris Perk pop-up coffee shop owner, will exhibit her unique installation at Virginia Park.
Pignata, a Pratt Institute alum, draws inspiration from local natural, architectural and historical elements to create two and three-dimensional works incorporating shadows and reflections.
Her work, ‘Daylighting,’ will transform a drab blacktop into a vibrant, painted replica of the Bronx River highlighting the waterway’s importance.
Pignata, an avid canoer, also plans to install decommissioned canoes, retrofiited with seating, donated by the Bronx River Alliance, chessboards, planters and wayfinding signage.
The imaginative installation at Westchester Avenue and White Plains Road will feature a painted replica of the nearby Bronx River and East 174th Street Bridge on the blacktop plaza.
“‘Daylighting’ means to bring life to the Bronx River which is close by, but not many people are aware of,” she explained.
As the seasons change, so too will ‘Daylighting’ to incorporate such elements as autumn leaves and snow complete with raccoon and possum tracks.
“The river is always moving and changing which is something I wanted to convey in this work,” explained Pignata.
‘Daylighting’ is the culmination of Pignata, Loving the Bronx, Partnerships for Parks, Bronx River Alliance and community volunteers’ collaborative efforts.
Nilka Martell, Loving the Bronx founder, has been a major advocate for ‘Daylighting.’
“I’ve lived across from Virginia Park for 42 years and haven’t seen it get as much attention as other parks,” she said.
She added ‘Daylighting’ will transform the park from a transit hub into an inspirational experience for Bronxites to utilize their local waterways.
“This art project will help people draw the connection between the Bronx River and the many recreational activities it offers,” expressed NYC Parks deputy director of Public Art Jennifer Lantzas.
Pignata said work on the ‘Daylighting’ mural will start in mid-May.
Lantzas confirmed ‘Daylighting’ will be displayed until next June.
Martell noted Virginia Park was named one of last year’s Parks Without Border winners.
Parks Without Borders gathers community ideas on how to make parks more inviting through easier access and discovery and by transforming underused areas into vibrant public spaces.
The borough’s Joyce Kilmer Park will also house the ‘Flying High for Equality’ installation inspired by American novelist Richard Bach’s best-seller ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull.’
Venezulean-Americans Patricia Cazorla and her niece Nancy Saleme will install oversized, colorful sculptures of the city’s sparrows as a metaphor for the search for equality.