More Art Inc.

New York, NY

More Art was founded in 2004 in the neighborhood of Chelsea in NYC, as this working-class neighborhood was transformed into the center of the contemporary art world, in the process marginalizing many long-time, low-income residents. Artists were and still are often identified as one of the most visible initial agents of gentrification; yet some see artists as “pawns,” rather than agents, in the game of gentrification. More Art’s beginnings were grounded in using art to build community and counteract the displacement and erasure that occurs during processes of gentrification. By bridging the gap between Chelsea residents and their new neighbors, More Art hoped to fundamentally reform the public’s relationship with contemporary art, and vice versa. Gradually, the organization moved beyond Chelsea and, even though the issue of gentrification remained central to much of its programming, it harnessed the power of art to address a broad spectrum of social justice issues across the city. 

In collaboration with advocacy organizations and activists in NYC we catalyze public awareness of social issues. We are experts in Creative Engagement, in other words, we use the arts to help people speak truth to power, and exercise agency over social challenges that affect their lives—resulting in action. Creative Engagement is an artistic strategy that includes actionable storytelling and consciousness building through interdisciplinary partnerships, arts-based learning, and participatory art experiences in public spaces. Impact is a result of the continuous chain of change we participate in. Impact is cumulative, and not based on individual projects.

Our aim is to better encourage artists to integrate public engagement and participatory art production into their practices, inviting multiple perspectives and embodiments, open exchange, and differences in world-view, to inform the development of projects that resonate, inspire, liberate, and transform culture. We work towards collectively realizing a world where art is valued as a change agent at all scales of social and political life. We invest in artists and cultural producers who are taking risks to bring about inclusive social change.

We are currently working with Fred Wilson to create a temporary public art installation, Mind Forged Manacles/Manacles Forged Mind, in Downtown Brooklyn’s Columbus Park, to open in April 2022 though March 2023. The complex mesh of wrought iron fences and bars will at times evoke prison bars and at other times gated communities. The piece asks viewers to consider perspective. Who is looking in? Who is looking out? Who is free? Who is trapped? For this project, we are collaborating with the Center for Court Innovation, who has a long history and deep experience with using arts interventions to engage in court-mandated alternative-to-incarceration programs.