If you have walked past First Street Green Art Park in the last week, you probably noticed this new installation. It’s John Raymond Mireles’s Neighbors Project, which features 86 portraits of Americans from all 50 states. There will be an official opening Saturday, May 12 from 5-7 p.m.
Mireles started the Neighbors Project in 2015 on his own fence in Logan Heights, San Diego. In the past few years, he traveled across the country, photographing 3,000 Americans from all walks of life. According to press materials, they have included, “sawmill workers in Northern California, rodeo riders in Utah, street hustlers in Atlantic City, power brokers in Washington D.C., newlyweds in St. Louis, farmers in Vermont, white-collar professionals in New Hampshire, and drag queens in New Orleans.”
Alluding to the nationwide immigration debate, Mireles argues that fences can be used to connect people, rather than divide them. Here’s more from the press release:
As part of his quest to restore America’s shattered national unity one photograph at a time, artist John Raymond Mireles exhibits portraits from his Neighbors Project on the perimeter fence of New York’s First Street Green on view from May 1 through June 30. Mireles installed 86 of his larger-than-life portraits along 300 feet of the park fence where they will be visible to pedestrians and drivers as they traverse Houston and Second Streets in the Lower East Side. In addition to serving as a compelling visual document of Americans in the 21st century, the Neighbors Project encourages Americans to remember that, despite their increasingly bitter political and ideological divisions, they are one people with shared values and concerns. By engaging with individuals from varied ethnicities, ideologies, and socioeconomic levels, Mireles’ goal is to encourage empathic connections across differences and promote solidarity by offering viewers the opportunity to better know and relate to their fellow residents of the United States of America.
First Street Green Art Park is located on East Houston Street at First Avenue. There will be a full day of activities on Saturday to usher in the spring/summer season. More info here.