Artist Collective BroLab’s Uplifting Public Art

Bridging principles of art, design, and social psychology, artist collective BroLab creates public works—literal platforms for community discourse that have enlivened sidewalks across New York’s metropolitan area. After meeting in 2009 while attending the Bronx Museum’s Artist in the Marketplace program, the five members—Ryan Roa, Jonathan Brand, Adam Brent, Travis LeRoy Southworth, and Rahul Alexander—decided to join forces to form a collaborative, think-tank style collective. Keeping in mind the enormous benefit of having five individual skill sets at their disposal, BroLab is committed to creating works that encourage a dialogue, engage a community, and provide a useful function for everyday life.

BroLab’s current exhibition at Freight + Volume, “Dead Lift,” is the collective’s first solo show in New York, and showcases their projects created between 2010 and 2013. The show’s title, a bodybuilding term, speaks to the group’s fraternal, exuberant attitude, and also the endurance and ingenuity involved in their practice, which, in their words, is “a combination of opportunity and risk.” “Dead Lift” includes prototypes, videos, and documentary photographs, from several of BroLab’s public projects. Some highlights:

Peer Review: In May 2011 BroLab placed a minimal wooden platform at the center of Sara Roosevelt Park in Lower Manhattan. They set up an observation space on the 14th floor of The Hotel on Rivington, providing surveillance of the site via telescope. BroLab passed out flyers inviting visitors to the observation space and engaged participants in a dialogue on public art.

Bench Press: A project where BroLab developed a plywood bench that could easily be assembled and disassembled to resolve the need for additional seating along bus routes. In October 2011, the benches were set up daily along two routes in Queens, appeasing waiting passengers. 

Piazza Gratissima:Inspired by European communal piazzas and with funding from a Kickstarter campaign and numerous city and community organizations, BroLab transformed a neglected courtyard outside a public library in the Bronx into a piazza.

Stack and Rack: A 16-unit jungle gym-like sculpture that was presented in a new arrangement each day in October 2012, on a sidewalk in Newark, New Jersey. The work successfully activated its surroundings and encouraged passersby to interact with the urban environment, evident in photographs of residents perched atop the structure and playfully climbing its blocks. 

Dead Lift” is on view at Freight +Volume, New York, Jan. 4th–Feb. 8th, 2014.

Explore more artists from Freight + Volume on Artsy.

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