A lifeless storefront in the city of Newburgh, NY will be transformed from an empty shell to an energized colorful environment in Judy Thomas’ upcoming sculptural installation ‘MATRIX:RENEWAL’. Thomas, who was awarded a 2015 Individual Artist Commission grant from Arts Mid-Hudson to realize this project, is excited for this opportunity. “The challenge is to engage the community to create something fun as well as thought provoking,” Thomas explains.
The social and cultural environment of the community is an important aspect of Thomas’ approach to her art. ‘Matrix:Renewal’ will take place at 87 Ann Street, which was donated to Thomas for the duration of the project. The building has seen many businesses over its lifespan, most recently a store for handmade fair trade goods. Thomas will give consideration to the architecture of the space, the history of the space and its future also. She hopes to send a message that this is a safe and creative drug-free zone.
One component of the June 2015 installation will be dozens of colorful balls made from recycled plastic shopping bags, that Thomas fondly calls ‘Troubles’, named after the ‘Tribbles’ of Star Trek fame. She has invited youth from The Boys and Girls Club of Newburgh to help in the creation of the ‘Troubles’ and other parts of the installation. Donations of old newspapers and plastic shopping bags will be the materials used to create ’Trouble balls’. These balls will become part of the installation and will be given away at the end of the project as souvenirs.
The ‘Troubles’ will be brought outside during the 2015 Newburgh Illuminated Festival on June 20th. By placing art in a public setting, Thomas will be sharing her art making process with a community that has limited access to arts programming. Thousand of attendees are expected to fill the downtown area for the Festival.
The creative and interactive process of making MATRIX:RENEWAL will be documented by filmmaker Alysia Mazzella. A Kickstarter campaign is being planned to fund the film.
Judy Thomas’ work has been featured in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Time Out New York, The Detroit News, Huffington Post and the Mid-Hudson Times. Thomas’ recent piece ‘Expansion’ was included in the Hudson Valley Artists 2014 exhibition Worlds of Wonder at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art.