Governors Island Residency Initiative in Response to COVID-19

LMCC Arts Center at Governors Island, photo by David Sundberg/Esto
LMCC Arts Center at Governors Island, photo by David Sundberg/Esto

About the Initiative

Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) is excited to spearhead a new initiative with the Trust for Governors Island (TGI) and numerous Island-based organizations in response to the COVID-19 crisis and its devastating impacts across the NYC cultural landscape. Under the Governors Island Residency Initiative, participating organizations will reposition indoor spaces on the Island historically used for exhibitions and public programming as residencies or work spaces for artists and other members of the City’s cultural community for approximately three months in 2020. 

The Governors Island Residency Initiative endeavors to support artists, writers, cultural workers, creative practitioners living and working across New York City's five boroughs. The Trust, LMCC, and participating organizations will provide eligible individuals free, temporary space to work on the Island. These spaces are programmed on a seasonal basis by a diverse group of New York-based cultural and educational institutions whose programs range from arts and culture to climate science and environmental sustainability. As part of this initiative, beginning July 23, LMCC will launch a separate open call application for available spaces at the Arts Center at Governors Island.

Participating organizations include:

About the LMCC Open Call

LMCC will transition a significant portion of the Arts Center at Governors Island's facilities to accommodate between 12–15 artists and/or small arts groups as a part of this open call. Please note that this open call is meant specifically to apply for a work space based at LMCC’s Arts Center and not any of the other affiliated organizations’ houses on the Island. 

The residency period will begin when relevant safety restrictions allow access to the Island for residency participants and staff, and will continue through the end of the Island’s typical public season.

The application for LMCC's Governors Island Residency Initiative in Response to COVID-19 has closed. For other upcoming opportunities for artists, click here to learn more about our Manhattan Arts Grants programs and our Professional Development Fundraising Fundamentals workshops.

2020 Governors Island Residency Initiative Program Participants

Sherwin Banfield, Visual Arts | Queens

Sherwin Banfield is a Queens, NY based mixed-media artist with recent work attempting to explore journeys of identity and ancestry. Sherwin's creative practice tends to deconstruct the imaginative to physical journey of identity within his preferred subject matter, the human experience. While exploring the journey of his subject, he would seek to draw a connection between their personal stories and established culture, frequently imposing mythological and imaginative ideas as accessories within his sculptures.

His portrait busts and figurative works are expressions of mood meant to draw out the inner identity of his subjects. Accompanying each sculptured identity are accessories of light, sound and/or cultural references that hyper-realize this identity to compliment the organic design of their facial, skull and anatomical structure. The goal is to create a projection of attitude and aura within his sculpted figures.

Recent projects build upon experimental ideas of encompassing various mixed materials with traditional sculpture, lighting and/or sound that he refers to as Illumination or Sonic Sculpture. Sherwin’s recent public sculpture, ‘A Cypher in Queens,’ fused the identity of three Hip-Hop Legends with their musical legacy into sonic monuments. The intention is to showcase multi-dimensional contributions by Hip-Hop Legends, as Sculptural Monuments.

Juan Hinojosa, Visual Arts | Queens

As the first-born child of two Peruvian immigrants in America, Juan Hinojosa became absolutely obsessed with all aspects of American culture. As a child, the desire to have more than they could afford became a constant struggle. This led to Juan’s obsession with collecting everything he could get his hands on. He accumulated discarded ready-made items in order to repurpose them as resources to create collages and sculptures. This method of constructing art with exclusively found materials has changed the way he looks at his own trash and the trash around him.

As a “green artist,” Juan believes he has a responsibility to reduce his waste and the waste in his community, and he accomplishes this by turning debris and case offs into art. Each object is extremely precious, as he does not duplicate them in any way. He mixes high-end products with low-end goods, mashing up two polar opposites that do not normally go together. Similar to many people in America, Juan is conflicted by consumerism, and his artworks are a result of his own “bad habits, desires, and classic American greed.”

Kate Hughes, Literature/Writing | Brooklyn

Kate Hughes is a NYC-based poet. She leverages her interest in attention, and how to take the attention further as one commits it to the page. Her poems beautifully attest to this practice. Hughes is a student of the moment, observing it with patience and wonder. Her poetry is highly aware of the ephemeral sense of now, of watching time have its way with the generations—both those who are alive and those still to come. In accomplishing this with great tenderness, Kate manages to create poems that marry awe with a profound sense of play.

Ann Kim, Visual Arts | New York

Ann Kim’s practice involves finding a second gravity, a new relationship with the invisible forces that govern us. Her primary tools are resistance, tension, friction – forces tied to gravity and contact, which help her agitate things into being to provoke sensation, discomfort, and surprise.

Ann often uses casts of ready-mades as a starting point for improvisational constructions of bodily constriction and escape. The materials she has chosen are stand-ins for the heft and pliancy of flesh, the ballast of body weight, and the rigidity of the human form. These constructions act as a collection of counterpoints that involve the viewer in their struggle for equilibrium. 

“The things I make want to levitate, to be released. Part of my role is to allow or forbid it.”

Eleanor Kipping, Multidisciplinary | Brooklyn

Eleanor is a New York-based socially engaged artist, educator, and arts administrator Eleanor Kipping’s interdisciplinary practice explores the experience of the Black Diasporic female body in the united of amerikkka through the examination and deconstruction of historical and contemporary narratives. She is interested in the public, private, and civic negotiations of race, gender, and class in addition to the effect and practice of violence, and surveillance on the body. This hybrid work exists as performance, video, and photography, poetry/spoken word, collaborative education, educational collaboration, installation, & writing but often draws on other methods such as social practice, and design. Eleanor is originally from Maine and has a BS in Video Production from the New England School of Communications (2007), an MFA from the University of Maine (2018), and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2018. She currently lives in Brooklyn and works as the Audience Activist at HERE, an off-Broadway theatre venue and residency program in Lower Manhattan. She is also a Guest Curator with this year’s Yellow Fish Durational Performance Festival.

Daniel Kukla, Visual Arts | Brooklyn

Daniel Kukla is a queer artist living in Brooklyn, NY whose artistic practice explores the fragile and fraught relationship that humans have with the natural world. He works in photography, video and installation to generate new questions about ecology and human nature. His unorthodox approach to the medium of photography enables him to create visual metaphors that allude to complex ecological, historical or social processes. Increasingly Kukla is interested in exploring how the decisions that we make everyday for our individual desires influence the prosperity of the Earth.

Erica Molesworth, Visual Arts | Brooklyn

Erica Molesworth makes videos and installations about spaces where human activity and the environment come into conflict. Her work presents human attempts to develop more harmonious relationships with the earth, as well as those that are exploitative or indifferent. ‘Silicon Landscapes’ explores Silicon Valley as a real place, aesthetic, and techno-utopian ideology. 'New Earth' meanders through seemingly failed experiments in creating Utopian relationships with the earth, including the Biosphere 2 in Arizona, a former back-to-the-land commune in California, and her parents’ own eco-experiment in Australia. A recent collaborative project, “The Truth Lies…”, employed interviews and a deep dive into local archives to examine the museum site for which it was commissioned. Erica’s process involves the kind of serendipitous research that has been accelerated by the internet and digital video, while maintaining the importance of exploring real places. The use of overlays, leaps of the imagination, and tangential structures in her videos imitates the way the internet combines with technologies of vision to open portals between disparate places and ideas. Her installation work focuses on the armatures of video presentation and other relevant materials, for example, a recent project used tarps and sandbags to reflect the urgency of the climate crisis.

Lovie Pignata, Visual Arts | Bronx

Lovie has produced several public works of art including two recent long term sculpture installations in collaboration with the New York City Parks department and has led a variety of art workshops in The Bronx. She coordinates free programming for Bronx organizations, primarily in parks and other outdoor spaces. Lovie is also the founder of Morris Perk, a mission based coffee pop up company that promotes local businesses and not for profit organizations by providing refreshments to engage volunteers and foster community.

Tony Sjöman, Visual Arts | New York

Tony Sjöman is a mural and studio artist living in NYC, where he moved to twelve years ago. He started painting graffiti at the age of nine along tram tunnels in a housing project called "Bergsjön" in Sweden. 

Aside from large scale murals, Tony’s works include studio painting on wood, canvas and paper, as well as statues / installations.

His artworks are often defined by recurring elements, such as a muted color palette (a tribute to the brutalist surroundings of his childhood) and architectural shapes (that represent the geographical and cultural shifts that he has experienced during his lifetime).

Ian Tousius, Visual Arts | Brooklyn

Ian Tousius uses illustration, cartooning, printmaking and sculpture in order to create micro-narratives that touch upon a spectrum of topics. He uses the term "micro" in an attempt to be explicit about how these narratives usually begin and end within the length of a few images or pages. Oftentimes combining these different disciplines, Ian tells stories revolving around power imbalances, untraditional love, city living and belief systems. The characters he creates, the worlds they inhabit, and the situations they get into are all informed by his own life to some degree, while also exploring aspects of life that are rarely highlighted. Ian’s disconnect from his family's culture, his experience being born and raised in New York City, and the people he has met throughout his life are the primary inspirations for these plots, through which he has derived a good amount of visual inspiration from machinery, fashion, religious iconography and biology, blending them together in a stylized, bubbly world with as many soft curves as there are sharp edges.

André Zachery, Multidisciplinary | Brooklyn

André Zachery is an interdisciplinary artist that fuses movement, history, technology and his African American and Haitian ancestry into projects centering the African Diaspora of the Americas. He is a 2016 New York Foundation for the Arts Gregory Millard Fellow in Choreography and 2019 Jerome Hill Foundation Fellow in Choreography.

His work investigates the tensions between the Black body, space, and architecture over time by questioning the ideological chasm between public and private spaces and what is done in them. Our Black bodies hold layers of unseen histories made by ancestors that pushed forward through incredible odds. In his view, the Black experience in the Americas turns situations of impossibility into infinite potentiality by recording, innovating, improvising and repurposing through “futuring actions”.

He calls on these futuring actions and weaves these invisible stories into interdisciplinary projects that create a tapestry of conceptual leanings into past, current and speculative Black culture. André uses dance as the primary foundation to unlock portals leading to unconsidered dimensions in an attempt to disrupt time and space. In this way, dance becomes more than simply a mode of artistic expression but an act of place-making for layered existences and experiences that need to be made visible.

Applicants to this Open Call at LMCC’s Arts Center at Governors Island should understand that the available spaces will likely vary in size, available amenities, and degrees of accessibility. The selection committee will work with selected participants to address unique needs specific to each artist.

Residency participants will be provided the following basic amenities:

  • Access to free, temporary, daytime work space in LMCC’s Arts Center (please note that there is NO weekend access at this time)
  • Basic work tables and chairs
  • Basic overhead lighting
  • Electricity
  • Wi-Fi
  • A/C

Please note:

  • There is NO stipend offered as part of the opportunity
  • Studios facilities do not offer access to medium- or technique-specific amenities such as a woodshop, print or media lab, or a dance floor
  • Artists must provide their own supplies and tools; restrictions apply
  • Participants will be required to observe mandatory health and safety guidelines in light of the COVID-19 public health pandemic

To be eligible, applicants must be able to answer "yes" to all of the following prompts:

  • I am a practicing artist and/or creative practitioner able to demonstrate a sustained commitment to my work, career, and a public audience;
  • I can demonstrate a temporary loss of studio or a general need for space due to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • I am 21 years of age or older;
  • I have been living and working in one of the five boroughs of New York City for the past one (1) year;
  • I am not an LMCC artist currently being supported by its residency programs (specifically Workspace and Arts Center Residency);
  • I am not affiliated as a full-time employee, board member, director, officer, or immediate family member of any of the participating organizations.

LMCC strives to ensure that artists and cultural practitioners of different disciplines, racial identities, gender expressions, sexual orientations, disability statuses and socioeconomic positions across the five boroughs have access to this opportunity and are being represented. To this end, people who are of color, indigenous, disabled, LGBTQIAP+ and from diverse economic backgrounds are especially encouraged to apply.

All applications will be reviewed for eligibility and completeness, then entered into a random drawing process for remote interviews with LMCC staff. Interviews will gauge feasibility and appropriateness of the applicant’s practice and proposed scope of work.

LMCC, the Trust for Governors Island, and participating organizations will commit to upholding a shared set of values that guide outreach to and selection of residency participants. The preliminary guiding principles are as follows, which will continue to be updated to reflect the participating organizations’ values and priorities: 

  • Serving artists and cultural workers most in need of space in the wake of COVID-19;
  • Ensuring the opportunity is available and accessible to a diverse range of individuals of varying disciplines, practices and demographic and socio-economic backgrounds;
  • Prioritizing artists and cultural workers whose practices give back to, or aim to make positive change within, the NYC cultural community and/or the City at large;
  • Prioritizing artists and cultural workers whose practices address important socio-political issues, including but not limited to public health, gender discrimination, immigration, racial equity, climate change and environmental justice;
  • Providing space to artists and cultural workers whose practices will benefit from working on Governors Island as a public space serving diverse audiences.

July 23, 2020, 10:00AM EST – Application for LMCC’s Open Call goes live

August 6, 2020, 11:59PM EST – Application deadline

August 10–August 24, 2020 – Selections by lottery and subsequent one-on-one interviews (conducted remotely)

August 30, 2020 – All applicants notified of status

Residencies begin on a rolling basis in early September through early December 2020.

If you have any questions about the application and/or the program, please contact with the subject heading, “RE: GI COVID-19 Response Cultural Residency.” 

Please note that LMCC Staff are presently working remotely and at a reduced schedule, hence there may be delays in responding to inquiries.