Creativity Cubed returned to Astor Place on July 7, for a third year of public creativity and art around one of New York City’s most iconic pieces of public art, the Alamo sculpture, “the Cube”.
For Creativity Cubed 2018 the Village Alliance collaborated with British artist Mark John Smith who created a platform to challenge people’s perceptions about creative spontaneity in public space.
Through constructing a temporary 8’ x 8’ x 8’ plywood cube, initially covered in 100 individually numbered custom white t-shirts, Mark John Smith provided a platform for interactive and immersive intervention, which rapidly became a nexus of live engagement, reaction, and action.
Using paints, sprays, and markers the public themselves became the public art as they created new public art. As the local community, passers-by, tourists from distant countries, and people from all lifestyles gathered around the cube painting and designing their own t-shirts, stories began to emerge. Visit the Creativity Cubed photo gallery to see just what happened!
Friends and strangers spontaneously gathered and bonded through creativity and personal expression as they contemplated the past, reacted to the present, and looked to the future. The sharing of individual stories, sentiments, and thoughts ranged from current affairs to music, fashion to video games, the East Village to Barcelona and everywhere in between.
Some people reacted to the free form context of the event with ease, the freedom of space and lack of direction slowed others as they contemplated the experience of this unfamiliar sense. Others simply celebrated being able to happily and freely graffiti in New York City, in the most public of settings.
These were exactly the reactions envisaged by Mark John Smith before the event, with public space itself becoming the work of art, as a tool and platform for empowerment, learning and discovery.
The public creativity lasted for six hours, resulting in a visually striking cube in the style of street art, touched by the hands of thousands. Also created were one hundred individually numbered and uniquely designed t-shirts. We will never know, but it is likely those t-shirts are now spread across continents, worn in faraway cities, each one documenting a moment in time in New York City.
The Cube it’s self is being preserved by Mark John Smith and it is hoped it will be exhibited back at Astor Place, for many thousands more to see, and perhaps add to, while reading and wondering about the stories behind the messages, drawings, and intricate designs which were left behind on July 7.
Creativity Cubed reminded us of the power of public space and public art to bring people and communities together, that we do not have to rush through space but can stop to engage and immerse with the present, while contemplating the past and future.
In a time of when expression is increasingly, challenged Creativity Cubed demonstrated the power of art for all, and the power of shared and equitable public space to be the platform.