Drifting in Daylight: Art in Central Park

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Group of people in red outfits, some with musical instruments, in Central Park.

Artist Marc Bamuthi Joseph (center) and his group performing "Black Joy in the Hour of Chaos" in Central Park, New York City, as part of the multimedia art installation Drifting in Daylight involving nine distinct arts projects. Photo by Tara Rice

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When you envision public art, what do you see? Most likely, the answer is static sculptures or murals. However, there are a number of arts-presenting organizations that are pushing the boundaries of how art in public spaces is experienced.

Creative Time (CT), for example, is a veteran arts presenter and an unusual one at that. A presenting and commissioning organization, they work with artists to bring their art into the world. Many of their installations are ambitious and provocative like Kara Walker’s A Subtlety, the massive sphinx created in Brooklyn’s old Domino Sugar Factory, or David Byrne’s inventive installation, Playing the Building, where an organ was connected to the bones of the Battery Maritime Bulding, allowing folks to literally play the building. In order to make these projects come to life, there’s one key component that’s often overlooked: partnerships.

In order to realize Drifting in Daylight: Art in Central Park, an NEA-supported, multimedia experience featuring nine distinctly original projects, Creative Time partnered with the Central Park Conservancy (CPC). The CPC is the organization that manages Central Park, otherwise known as the 843 acres of green space smack dab in the middle of the island of Manhattan. Additionally, CT partnered with the artists themselves as they navigated the complications of mounting works of art inside the most iconic urban park in the country. No small task considering all the permits and restrictions the CPC must employ to properly maintain the park.

In order to understand how such a gigantic undertaking like Drifting in Daylight happened, we talked to both organizations and one of the nine artists: Marc Bamuthi Joseph.