Everyday New York Icons on Display at The New School

By Andrea Swalec on July 9, 2013 7:24am 

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 An exhibition on display at The New School during summer 2013 is part of a new approach the college has toward teaching art and design.
'Masterpieces of Everyday New York'
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MANHATTAN — Move over, yellow taxi and Brooklyn Bridge.

Instead of the internationally recognized symbols of the Big Apple, a new exhibit highlights humbler — but still beloved — items like a mangled black umbrella and a paper cup of cheap coffee.

The collection of more than 60 distinctly New York objects and photos will be on display at The New School through Sept. 4, featuring shots of water towers and dots of gum on city sidewalks.

The exhibition, titled "Masterpieces of Everyday New York: Objects as Story," also showcases items such as a "ghost bike" and a 1926 dime, selected by New School faculty because they shed light on who we are and how we live, according to co-curators Margot Bouman and Radhika Subramaniam.

“We were interested in how everyday life in this city is snagged by objects, and in how stories grant luster to the mundane," Subramaniam said in a statement.

Architecture instructor Peter Wheelwright evoked Shakespeare's "King Lear" in explaining why he selected the broken umbrella as a characteristic New York object.

"Whether designed or found in the natural world, objects have a tendency to talk back to us, to suggest not only our own human form or nature, but also our sense of other living entities — real or imagined," he wrote. "Take my tempest-tossed New York City umbrella. Please."

The art show serves as an introduction to a new undergraduate curriculum Parsons will launch in the fall that rethinks how art and design should be introduced to first-year students.

“We’ve done away with the survey textbook, and will instead use New York’s world-class collections as our classroom," Boumain said in a statement. "We want our students to understand these objects as expressions and embodiments of particular places and times, and prepare them to connect their practice to New York City and to the world.”

"Masterpieces of Everyday New York: Objects as Story" will be on display at 2 W. 13th St. at Fifth Avenue through Sept. 4. The gallery is open daily from noon to 6 p.m. and Thursday until 8 p.m. Admission is free.

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