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Mosaic-on-the-Move: Augusta Savage

  • 135th Street Station 48 St Nicholas Ave New York, NY, 10026 United States (map)

Harlem, NY - After two months on Governors Island teaching history, the Art Force 5 will be reaching off-island with their unique art programming. The team will construct their mosaic-on-the-move throughout Harlem in parks, plazas, and street corners. Their challenge is to find 300+ people to each paint one tile - a 5-minute process - while never exceeding 15 participants at one given time (to stay under the crowd size requiring a permit for NYC Parks).

This summer the team has already paid tribute to Sgt. Henry Johnson, Lt. James Reese Europe, South African leader Nelson Mandela, poet Joyce Kilmer with plans for suffragist Lucretia Mott at Seneca Falls National Convention Days. Videos of mosaic construction have been posted to Art Force 5's YouTube channel. 

The team plans to begin at 10am at St. Nicholas Park at 135th Street or across the street at Dorrance Brooks Square and move throughout the neighborhood until about 4pm. Those interested in participating can track the traveling art team on twitter @ArtForceFive . 

Augusta Savage moved to Harlem in 1920 and eventually enrolled at Copper Union, graduating in 3 years. By the mid-1920's the Harlem Renaissance was at its peak. During this time Savage earned a reputation as a portrait sculptor, completing busts of W. E. B. Du Bois and Marcus Garvey. She was recognized with the prestigious Julius Rosenwald Fellowship (TWICE) as well as other awards and fellowships which allowed her to travel to France, Italy, Germany and Belgium.  

In 1932, Savage established the Savage Studio of Arts and Crafts and became an influential teacher in Harlem. She took two years off to concentrate on an important commissioned work for the 1939 Worlds Fair. Her 16' foot sculpture The Harp was inspired by the lyrics of James Weldon Johnson's poem Lift Every Voice and Sing, a poem which eventually became known as the Black National Anthem.  (Source: Smithsonian American Art Museum ).

The Art Force 5 was founded at Alfred University in western NYS and is funded by SUNY (State University of New York) to use art to champion creativity over conflict through non-violence workshops and impact community-based art. In 2016, the team was awarded the Unite Rochester grant and worked with Rochester Police Department to use art to provide opportunities for positive and time efficient police / youth activities. THE NYC team is based out of Governors Island and is comprised of students from Alfred University, Purchase College, SUNY Morrisville, University at Buffalo, and Tompkins Cortland Community College. The team welcomes participation by the NYPD to provide a similar outlet for positive police and community relations. 

Questions can be directed to program director Dan Napolitano at artforce5@alfred.edu