Opening public reception: Wednesday, February 6, 6-8 pm
With immigration issues making headlines throughout the nation, the next show at the Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College is especially topical. “Crossing the BLVD: strangers, neighbors, aliens in a new America” shares the perspective of dozens of foreign-born people who have settled in turn-of-the-21st-century Queens, the most ethnically diverse county in the United States.
In addition, “Crossing the BLVD” features an interactive component—a story booth where museum visitors may contribute their own photos and family sagas to the project, or access its electronic archive. The show will also be accompanied by a full schedule of public events—from gallery talks, illustrated lectures, and panel discussion to storytelling jams and performances.
Warren Lehrer, a writer, photographer and 1977 Queens College graduate, and Judith Sloan, an actress, oral historian and audio artist, assembled this dramatic traveling exhibition after extensive local research; the title refers to Queens Boulevard, which cuts a seven-mile swath through New York City’s largest borough. Lehrer’s 90 photographs depict individuals who have crossed war zones, borders, oceans, and cultural divides. These portraits are paired with short narratives in the subjects’ own words, maps of their homelands and adopted neighborhoods, and other images and artifacts.
Sloan’s multimedia effects start with an ambient soundscape of prayers, random conversations, and fragments of music that immerse visitors in the immigrants’ world. Formal audio pieces include text and audio compositions by Sloan and Lehrer, original music by composer Scott Johnson and exhibition participants, and documentaries produced by Sloan and Lehrer for public radio.
“This show dovetails perfectly with our community and mission,” says Amy Winter, director and curator of the Godwin-Ternbach Museum. “Our students, faculty and staff represent an exact cross-section of the demographics of the borough itself. Since the exhibition premiered to critical acclaim at the Queens Museum in 2003, the immigration debate has taken on a new urgency—amplifying this exhibition’s power. ‘Crossing the BLVD’ attests not only to the artists’ talent and humanity, but also to their farsightedness in recognizing Queens as a predictor and mirror of the changing American landscape.”
Sloan and Lehrer “traveled the world” between 1999-2002, trekking through the streets of their home borough in search of migration stories and a deeper connection to their diverse community. While preparing their project, Lehrer and Sloan conducted storytelling workshops in libraries, high schools, and community centers throughout Queens. Extended interviews were held in bodegas, family-owned restaurants, places of worship, public housing projects, and private homes. Their project resulted in a book (published by W.W. Norton) praised by Publisher’s Weekly as a “best book of the year.”
“Crossing the BLVD” was awarded the Brendan Gill Prize from the Municipal Art Society of New York. The prize is awarded annually to the creator of a building, book, essay, poem, lyric, song, composition, play, painting, sculpture, landscape or any other work of art which best captures the energy of New York.
Warren Lehrer is an associate professor of art at the School of Art and Design at SUNY Purchase and a member of the graduate faculty at the School of Visual Arts’ Designer as Author program. Judith Sloan is an adjunct professor at the Gallatin School at New York University; she is also the director of Cross-Cultural Dialogue Through the Arts, an arts mentorship and training program creating collaborations between disparate communities. Lehrer and Sloan co-founded EarSay, Inc., a non-profit arts organization dedicated to “documenting and portraying lives of the uncelebrated.”
Exhibition support for “Crossing the BLVD” at the Godwin-Ternbach Museum has been provided by the Queens College Office of the President; the Friends of the Godwin-Ternbach Museum and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Performances and public dialogues are presented in partnership with EarSay and the Kupferberg Center for the Arts. The “Crossing the BLVD” mobile story booth was designed in collaboration with dotsperinch.
Museum hours are Monday—Friday, 10 am to 4 pm; Saturday, 11 am to 5 pm. The museum is open on Sundays during related exhibition events. Please call the Museum at 718-997-4747 for information on the exhibition, lectures and gallery talks. Museum admission is free.
“Crossing the BLVD” books and CDs will be available at the Queens College bookstore and at all the public events, and are available online through amazon and W.W. Norton. Follow the links: http://www.crossingtheblvd.org
By car, the Godwin-Ternbach Museum is 40 minutes from midtown Manhattan. Directions are at http://www.qc.cuny.edu/about/directions.php.
The Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College is the only comprehensive collection of art and artifacts in the borough of Queens, housing over 3,500 objects that date from ancient to modern times. The mission of the GTM has grown over time from serving as a teaching museum for the benefit of art and art history students to embracing all disciplines and an increasingly diverse and engaged community. All exhibitions are free, as are their related lectures, symposia, gallery talks, workshops, films, concerts, and tours.
For more about Queens College visit http://www.qc.cuny.edu/index.php
Contact: Phyllis Cohen Stevens
Deputy Director of News Services