Island Arts: Jill Brienza curates ‘American Bridge Project’

PHOTO COURTESY OF HUNTER COLLEGE | A view of Robert Longo’s ‘American Bridge Project’ at Hunter College. Curated by Shelter Island's Jill Brienza, the exhibit runs through December 17.

PHOTO COURTESY OF HUNTER COLLEGE | A view of Robert Longo’s ‘American Bridge Project’ at Hunter College. Curated by Shelter Island’s Jill Brienza, the exhibit runs through December 17.

Shelter Island resident Jill Brienza is a curator of a site-specific political work by conceptual artist Robert Longo installed on Hunter College’s iconic sky bridges. The installation, “American Bridge Project,” comprises the artist’s largest public artwork to date.

The work features reproductions on vinyl of two of Mr. Longo’s recent charcoal on mounted paper drawings. The pieces coat the windows of Hunter’s third and seventh floor sky bridges, resulting in an immersive experience for viewers crossing over the bridges as well as a powerful billboard-sized statement visible from Lexington Avenue, both north and south of 68th Street. 

On the third floor sky bridge, the artist presents an image of his drawing of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which affords freedom of assembly, religion, and speech. Rendering the text as it was first written in pen and ink, Mr. Longo reminds viewers that it was crafted by a human hand. Mr. Longo’s seventh floor sky bridge installation presents a cropped image of a 2012 American flag drawing, “Untitled (Berlin Flag)”. Mr. Longo explained in a statement that in a time when the values enshrined in the Constitution are at the center of national debate, the act of enlarging and representing these American images gives them new meaning.

“I don’t usually like to be so explicit,” Mr. Longo said, “but the First Amendment is very important to me. There’s a reason I’m drawing it, and the American flag, at this moment.”

The work of the artist is also featured in the exhibition “Proof: Francisco Goya, Sergei Eisenstein, Robert Longo,” on view at the Brooklyn Museum through January 7, 2018. Mr. Longo’s charcoal drawing “Untitled (First Amendment, September 25, 1789),” is included in that exhibition.

The Hunter College installation will remain on view through December 17.

PHOTO COURTESY OF HUNTER COLLEGE | An interior view of Robert Longo’s ‘American Bridge Project’ at Hunter College.

PHOTO COURTESY OF HUNTER COLLEGE |
An interior view of Robert Longo’s ‘American Bridge Project’ at Hunter College.

Jill Brienza, who worked on the installation with Sarah Watson, is a curator, producer, writer and advisor based in New York City and Shelter Island and has been involved in the field of contemporary art and culture for over 20 years. She was director from 1993 to 2003 of New York’s Roger Smith Gallery, an influential destination for the work of emerging and mid-career artists.

Ms. Brienza has also produced events with writers, filmmakers and performers, including Sarah Jones, who’s work was later transformed into a Tony award winning one-woman play produced by Meryl Streep.

She is a recognized expert on the work of the late Shelter Island artist Alan Shields. Ms. Brienza curated “Alan Shields: A Survey,” a traveling museum exhibition of Mr. Shields’ work (the exhibit had an accompanying catalogue with an introduction by Robert Hughes, who lived on Shelter Island for many years prior to his passing), and “Alan Shields: In Motion,” a recent exhibition at the Parrish Art Museum in  Water Mill.

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