Mind Forged Manacles/manacle Forged Minds By Fred Wilson, Produced By More Art

Picture: Fred Wilson, courtesy of More Art

More Art, a NYC-based organization that supports collaborations between professional artists and communities to create public art and educational programs committed to social justice, has worked with renowned artist Fred Wilson to create a temporary public art installation in Downtown Brooklyn. Wilson’s artwork is a large interactive sculpture, composed of layers of decorative ironwork and fencing. Viewers encounter the elaborate structure comprised of three elaborately framed boxes of various patterns, revealing statues and busts of African, Latinx, and Native American origin held within. The complex mesh of wrought iron fences and bars at times evoke prison bars, and at other times gated communities. The piece asks viewers to consider perspective. Who is looking in? Who is looking out? Who is free? Who is trapped?

Wilson frequently uses vernacular or classical design as a vehicle to understanding emotions, racial issues, and societal traumas. The use of decorative gates and fences as metaphors is intended to evoke timely issues concerning the incarceration of Black men, the detainment of immigrants, security, insecurity, policing, class conflict, and William Blake’s concept of “Mind Forg’d Manacles” — self-created barriers to personal and societal growth and freedom, built by fear, division, and perceptions of difference.

The elegant piece is a visually magnetizing and stimulates public engagement and dialogue, both onsite and via social media. In addition, More Art will partner with local cultural organizations and community groups on a series of public performances and programs designed to further activate the installation and draw diverse audiences to Downtown Brooklyn.

“For almost two decades, More Art has worked to strengthen the connection between art, social justice, and public space. Thanks to the Downtown Brooklyn + Dumbo Art Fund grant, we will launch an ambitious project with Fred Wilson that addresses critical issues of containment and confinement, mass incarceration, and gilded cages. The creative placemaking focus of the initiative advances a collective vision for Downtown Brooklyn and we are excited to connect with other grantee organizations, local businesses and cultural organizations, partners such as the Center for Court Innovation, and community members.”

- Micaela Martegani, Executive Director and Chief Curator, More Art