Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and Van Alen Institute Unveil Interactive Public Sculpture by Artist Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong in Downtown Brooklyn
COMMON GROUND creates a colorful, vibrant outdoor gathering space to bring community together
March 02, 2023
Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (DBP) and Van Alen Institute today unveiled a new interactive public art installation: COMMON GROUND, by Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong, with lighting design and programming by Xena Petkanas and Christoph Gisel of Arup. Presented with support from Two Trees Management Co., the installation will be on view from March 1 to May 1, 2023, at The Plaza at 300 Ashland, in the heart of the Brooklyn Cultural District in Downtown Brooklyn.
The community pavilion is a site-specific, interactive public artwork comprised of a colorful seating landscape and floor motifs that dance across the plaza. Drawing inspiration from the geometry of shrines and sacred spaces and referencing the terraces of the site, this architectural intervention transforms the plaza into an oasis for sitting, socializing and gathering by day and by night. COMMON GROUND creates a bold, joyous space, and offers a playable topography to embrace the here and now. As a community hub, COMMON GROUND aspires to cultivate togetherness and resilience, while encouraging moments of pause, reflection and play.
During the evening, COMMON GROUND creates a shared synesthetic experience. The pavilion is illuminated with color-changing lighting and sensors that register environmental audio. Light animations shimmer across the sculpture in response to nearby sounds — the movements of passers-by, footsteps on the structure, voices, the hum of traffic. These dynamic colored lights blend with the vibrant hues of the topography, playing with our perception of color. Here, COMMON GROUND is a place of joy and light, celebrating inclusion, diversity, and togetherness.
“With its bold colors and interactive light display, COMMON GROUND transforms one of Downtown Brooklyn’s signature public spaces into a work of art that will engage visitors while also injecting color and life into our streetscape,” said Downtown Brooklyn President Regina Myer. “We are excited to once again partner with Van Alen Institute and Two Trees on a project that invites everyone to pause, reflect, and come together in this unique immersive installation.”
“Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong’s COMMON GROUND ignites downtown Brooklyn with sound, color, and motion, playfully inviting neighbors and passersby to interact,” said Deborah Marton, Executive Director, Van Alen Institute. “COMMON GROUND’s welcoming presence exemplifies Van Alen Institute’s commitment to inclusive shared joy in public spaces. It’s the perfect spot to welcome in spring, and we thank Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and Two Trees for their partnership in bringing this installation to life.”
“COMMON GROUND creates this playful interruption on the plaza, one of Downtown Brooklyn’s everyday spaces, to bring a new community pavilion to the area,” said artist Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong. “By night, it becomes a large-scale instrument of sorts, responding to environmental audio – you’re encouraged to come sit, sing, play, linger and experience the art.”
Performances are scheduled to activate the space, with the opening night on Wednesday, March 1 at 6:00PM featuring the NuTribe Dance Company and Mark Morris Dance Group teaching artists CocoMotion and Luffy with an improvisational performance in the art of Waacking and Krumping.
The Plaza at 300 Ashland has served as a hub for the arts since its unveiling in 2017, even amid the pandemic. Most recently, it was the site of Soft-Firm’s Drive-Thru art installation. Managed, programmed, and maintained by DBP, the plaza also features a year-round calendar of programming including film screenings, concerts, theater performances, dance and fitness classes, readings, community gatherings, and more – all free and open to the public.
COMMON GROUND is part of Van Alen Institute’s Public Realm R+D program, intended to surface the work of emerging designers and test new strategies to bring people together in public space.
COMMON GROUND Performance Lineup
• March 1 - NuTribe Dance Company and MMDG teaching artists CocoMotion and Luffy present an improvisational performance in the art of waacking and krumping.
• April 6 – Peniel Guerrier and Kriye Bode will bring Haitian Rara to the plaza with an enchanting performance that calls all to rejoice in the energy of life as a community.
• April 13 – Dancer, choreographer, and teaching artist Kendra J. Ross will give a glimpse into her latest work in progress.
• April 20 – Soles of Duende, the all-female multicultural trio, will present a spirited collaboration across disciplines in celebration of tap, flamenco and Kathak dance.
• April 22 – Pratt Institute’s fashion department will close out their academic year with JUNIOR THESIS, a fashion performance featuring selected works.
Visiting COMMON GROUND:
The installation in on view daily, with interactive lighting displayed from 5pm-12am. The Plaza at 300 Ashland is located at the intersection of Lafayette and Flatbush Avenues, a short walk from the B, Q, 2/3, and 4/5 subway lines at Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center, the G train at Fulton St, and the C train at Lafayette Ave., as well as numerous bus lines. There is also paid parking close by.
About Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong
Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong is a New York-based artist and trained architect working at the intersection of art, architecture and the public realm. Wong’s work investigates the transformation of space over time and seeks to challenge social and political boundaries through sculpture, installation, performance, and site-specific architectural interventions. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Cheryl received her B.A. in Art and Italian at the University of California at Berkeley, studied sculpture at Brera Academy in Milan, Italy and earned her Master of Architecture from Columbia University GSAPP. She has completed public art commissions with various institutions to activate underused public spaces, including: New York State Thruway Authority, New York City Parks, Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, City of Calgary, City of Inglewood and Washington DC Public Schools.
About Downtown Brooklyn Partnership:
The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership is a not-for-profit local development corporation that serves as the primary champion for Downtown Brooklyn as a world-class business, cultural, educational, residential, and retail destination. Managing three Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) that cover Downtown Brooklyn - the MetroTech BID, Fulton Mall Improvement Association, and Court-Livingston-Schermerhorn BID - the Partnership’s diverse activities include attracting new businesses and improving the environment for existing companies, facilitating the construction of public spaces and streetscapes that promote an active and cohesive community, supporting and promoting Downtown Brooklyn’s cultural assets, and encouraging a sense of place and an engaged civic community.
About Van Alen Institute:
Van Alen Institute helps create equitable cities through community-led inclusive design. In an equitable city, communities are engaged in the conception and creation of their built environment, regardless of income or personal circumstances. Community-driven decisionmaking builds resilience, social infrastructure, and ultimately, more just cities. For 129 years, our purposeful community engagement, convening capacity, and global network have produced profound transformations in the public realm of New York City and beyond. With an interdisciplinary approach to design, the Van Alen team has backgrounds in architecture, arts and culture, community organizing, preservation, and public policy.
See all work at vanalen.org.
About The Plaza at 300 Ashland:
The Plaza at 300 Ashland sits at the heart of the Brooklyn Cultural District, adjacent to the brownstone Brooklyn neighborhoods of Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, and Park Slope. Managed, programmed, and maintained by DBP, the public plaza features a robust calendar of events presented in partnership with premier Brooklyn arts organizations such as BAM, BRIC, Brooklyn Public Library, Mark Morris Dance Group, MoCADA, 651 Arts, and Theatre for a New Audience (TFANA), offering free, high-quality programming for everyone. With ample stepped seating, bistro tables and chairs, and capacity for 2,000, the 15,000-sf plaza has regularly hosted largescale festivals, markets, and community events since its opening in 2017. Programming at The Plaza at 300 Ashland is made possible by support from Two Trees Management Co.