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Inside Steven Alan

NYC To Do: A Fort on a Boat

  • In addition to creating some of the home goods we carry in our shops, Fort Makers are also responsible for much of the textile art that adorns our walls.  The Brooklyn-based multi-disciplinary artist collective recently unveiled an installation on the deck of the LILAC, a historic steam-powered lighthouse tender from the 1930′s, which is berthed at Pier 25. Presented by alternative non-profit SITE95, the project is part of “Dead in August,” or DiA, an annual series of events and exhibitions highlighting New York artists, now in its third year. We caught up with Fort Makers founding member Nana Spears to talk about their work.

    To create the sails, Fort Makers used tyvek, a durable, waterproof material they had
    never used before (the same material we use for our shopping bags), and cut it into
    triangular shapes to mix up the different compositions Naomi had created in the studio.

    How did Fort Makers come about? What was the impetus for starting your own art collective?
    Fort Makers started in 2008 when Naomi Clark (a relatively new friend) and I worked together on editing her MFA Pratt thesis show. I fell in love with her artwork and realized I had talent as a curator. Like a snowball, once our creative dialogue started it never stopped.

    What inspired the name?
    We’ve always been very inspired by the Bauhaus, a school that believed in making useful yet beautiful objects. Bauhaus literally means “house of construction.” I wanted our name to suggest similar things to what the Bauhaus name suggests, while also sounding contemporary and American. Fort Makers reminds people of building forts as a child and the freedom associated with being a kid. The name may also remind people of historical military forts, and this is intentional. We’re interested in the way small groups of people have come together throughout history and relied on each other to live. Forts imply collaboration.

    Nana, Naomi, and Noah attach sail paintings to a rope on the front of the ship

    We’ve never been to a fort on a boat before. What inspired the installation, and what was your favorite aspect of working with the space on the LILAC?
    Our “forts” are more metaphorical than literal. They’re not always made for shelter. They’re much more about “juicing” a space, or enhancing the aspects of a space that inspire us. We were captivated by the wind and the wide open sky vistas experienced on the Lilac. We loved the idea of combining Naomi’s free and spirited painting style with sail objects. The sails wildly dance about, just like Naomi as she paints.

    What have you noticed about how visitors approach and respond to it?
    The night of the opening party on the boat felt really energetic yet relaxed. People were having a great time. Silhouetted in the sky, the different sail shapes flapped about in the wind and made a soothing sound. I think the sails are ambient in the way they add to the experience of watching the sunset on the Lilac.

    Noah makes grommets in the sails

    Tell us about your choice of materials and your process for this project.
    We chose Tyvek as the material for the sails because of its waterproofness and durability. Plus the material is so brightly white. Colors really pop on it.

    What are the secrets to making a good fort?
    Be open, be free and challenge yourself. Try something new!

    Noah hoisting the sails on the front of the ship

    Any exciting projects in the works?
    We’re in Richmond now erecting guerilla-style installations around town for our Action Painting show at the 1708 Gallery. We’ve turned the gallery into our studio and for three weeks we’re sharing our making process with the public. We post upcoming installation locations on social media sites and then take art that we’ve made at the gallery to sites that inspire us. Richmond has been so welcoming and stimulating. The city is loaded with historical meaning and natural beauty. Check out the documentation of our adventure on our Tumblr. We’ll also be making a stage set for MoMA PS1′s summer Warm Up series this August!

    fort makers 7
    Elizabeth collapsed on a piece of tyvek in the midday heat

    Many thanks to Nana, Naomi, Noah, and Elizabeth! You can visit the LILAC at Pier 25, located off of West Street at North Moore Street in Tribeca, now through August 24th, and check out Fort Makers products in our shops.

    This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 30th, 2013 at 4:11 pm and is filed under Events, In the Neighborhood. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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