A large-scale roaming exhibition by Brooklyn-based street artist Caledonia Curry, aka Swoon, was on display at Prospect Park over the weekend as part of PBS’ national American Portrait series.

Over the last four weekends, Curry has taken The House Our Families Built exhibit, a roving, diorama-styled sculpture constructed atop a 14-foot box truck, across New York City.

The moving display features a series of intricate cutaways and paintings inspired by the domestic scenes in the PBS American Portrait archives. Employing her signature aesthetic, Curry evokes the intimacy of home life for passersby to discover, highlighting poignant messages of community, empathy and understanding.

The House Our Families Built. Photo: Supplied.

Curry said the exhibit created moments of public reflection about what legacies we carry forward into this new future we are building, and what legacies we make a conscious choice to leave behind.

“My collaborators have distilled hundreds of stories into a glimpse of American life that begins at the dinner table and travels deep inside who we are, via the things we struggle to overcome,” Curry said. “The fantastical truck-turned-sculpture is there to draw us in, to echo the many shapes that home takes. The stories that filter through it are what connect and hold us. “

Curry, who is widely credited as the first woman to gain large-scale recognition in the male-dominated world of street art, built the public art display with Jeff Stark. It was constructed to allow performers inside, who recited reflections from PBS’ database.

The aim of the work was to offer moments of reflection amongst the motion of everyday life and invite a broad, diverse audience to consider the significance and resonance of intergenerational stories and experiences, PBS said in a release.

The PBS American Portrait Public Art Initiative explores how personal stories help construct identity across the United States. Housed and displayed on vehicles, the outdoor format is also constructed with safety and social distancing considerations to engage audiences during the pandemic. The series was held in three cities, including New York, as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations for the network.

The other large-scale installations were created by Rick Lowe and Carlos Ramirez and were staged in Tulsa and Dallas.


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Anna Bradley-Smith

Anna Bradley-Smith is Brooklyn-based reporter with bylines in NBC, VICE, Slate and others. Follow her on Twitter @annabradsmith.

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