"Asia Sztencel has been pursuing artistic research that is engaged with the experience of immigrants, primarily focusing on the Polish landscape in the imagination and reminiscences of Polish immigrants living in NYC. In this latest work, Sztencel creates two paintings of typical sweets as a metaphor of Polish and American identities in the eyes of the immigrants, offering the concept of national identity in a candy wrapper. The research process continues throughout the exhibition period in the form of meetings with voluntary audience members. The subsequent conversations which transpire and additional paintings of candies produced are related to identity politics and representation. The basic form in which the artist chooses to work generates further dialogues and critical approaches towards the prevailing perspectives of national identity. The formal and conceptual analysis of these simple objects allows the artist to create platforms for further discussions about the notion of identity and its perception."
Curator: Isin Onol
Generous Support for this project was provided by:
Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union
The Kosciuszko Foundation
Polish & Slavic Center
Welcome to My Greenpoint
Welcome to My Greenpoint a multi-component exhibition that included a video mural, painted portraits of neighborhood residents, installations in local businesses, and programming around the artists’ self-drawn and designed tote bags. Experimenting with public engagement within the neighborhoods go Greenpoint and Williamsburg,
Asia Sztencel has designed the hunt as a self-guided tour of local treasures, specially curated by the artist herself for exhibition visitors. Visitors will receive a tote bag with a printed map showing some of the artist’s favorite places in Greenpoint and the location of her artworks installed throughout town as well as some surprises. The scavenger hunt offers a behind-the-scenes look at close personal and collaborative relationships the artist has built in the community with residents and local businesses. Through her intimate stories of place, Sztencel welcomes newcomers and locals alike to revel in and support this vibrant Polish community.
Portraits presented at this exhibition are part of the project "You Can't Carry Your Landscape With You" supported by
Polish Cultural Institute, New York and Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union.
Polish American in Greenpoint
You can’t carry your landscape with you
This project is inspired by Renaissance Florentine paintings, where landscapes were often added to the background behind the portraiture.
I am making portraits of Polish immigrants.
Making full use of the intimate ambience between model and painter,
I guide our conversations to the recollection of scenic settings and precious memories from their earlier lives”
I record the conversations during the painting session.
In August, I am going to Poland and during this trip I will find all the places described to me by my models.
I will contemplate them, sketch them, and photograph them.
After coming back to NYC, I will add the landscapes behind the portraits.
During our painting sessions, I create a special bond between myself and the model; we talk about the experience of being an immigrant, about the good and bad things. We share our dreams and goals for the future; we talk about obstacles and the needs of people like us. (Those dialogs, in turn, have inspired my next series of workshops for the Polish community in Greenpoint and Ridgewood).
Generous Support for this project was provided by:
Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union
Polish Cultural Institute
Parcel From America
A series of free outdoor workshops for school-age children in McGolrick Park, Greenpoint, Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Public Librarywere presented in collaboration with the Polish non-profit organization, Greenpoint-Transitions. Kids were invited to create in a beautiful outdoor setting. Materials provided to each child included paint and brushes and a new, durable, shipping box to use as the surface for painting their interpretation of iconic New York City scenes.
The goal was to integrate Polish families and children into the public life of their city via the creative outlet of painting.
Good Fortune Project
Good Fortune, an art project for everyone.
A Collaboration with artist Hurami Ori.
This project is inspired by the Japanese tradition Omikuji.
Every culture, every tradition, has something interesting and meaningful to share. As an artist, I am truly interested in learning about cultures other than my own. Through my art projects, I want to share my experiences.
OMIKUJI are ‘chance’ fortunes written on strips of paper at Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples in Japan. People randomly choosing them from the fortune box, hoping their fortune to be good BUT when the prediction is bad, it is a custom to fold up the strip of paper and attach it to a pine tree or a wall of metal wires alongside other bad fortunes in the temple or on shrine grounds.
A reason for this custom is a pun on the word for pine tree (松 matsu) and the verb ‘to wait’ (待つ matsu), the idea being that the bad luck will wait by the tree rather than attach itself to the bearer.
By respectfully modifying this Japanese tradition custom I hope to offer an enjoyable experience to my own community.
I am pleased to introduce my friend, Japanese artist Harumi Ori. She and I will invite participants to tell her their worries. She will write it down in beautiful Japanese calligraphy, I will assist with translating from Polish to English if it is required.
In the GOOD FORTUNE project, in the Japanese tradition, participants will have a chance to pause and contemplate, and be symbolically released from their worries.
My installation work is presented in public places to make it easily accessible to viewers who might not otherwise be in the habit of visiting art galleries and museums. My goal is to encourage an interactive and enriching art experience an everyday life context.
With this simple intervention my installations incorporate a lively dialogue between content, concept and the context within which the artworks are presented in. I am interested in the melancholy aspect of the immigrant experience as well as the hopeful, unique, everyday routine of individual lives.
Everyday Drawing Series
EVERYDAY DRAWING SERIES
Most everyone is imprinted with special memories of home, and such memories have extra poignance for immigrants. Adjustment is a many layered process requiring navigation of language and cultural challenges. It often includes seeking familiar, simple necessities such as processed food items with the aromas of home or known thus‘safe’ household cleaning items.
An immigrant is often starting from zero in the new land and strive to surround him or herself with as many such things as possible. Immigrant communities create and shape their new environment in many ways, building places of worship, starting daily newspapers in their native language, importing processed food products, cosmetics, and even furniture. The only thing they can’t carry with them is the landscape.
The experience of moving to Greenpoint two years ago has been immensely inspiring to me as an artist. It has been enriching in many ways to connect with the immigrant community of the country of my birth and childhood. I have gained a deeper understanding for my own feelings of melancholy and longing for my motherland. Immigrants always yearn for their motherland.
GIVE THE INFORMATION TO THE PEOPLE
In early 2015 I started a new project for a non-for-profit NYC-based organization, P.O.M.O.C.
This project integrates important, complimentary aspects of my work as both a professional educator and a Social Practice artist.
The mission of POMOC is to improve the quality of life for those in need, particularly immigrant families and seniors, by providing services that encourage and enable them to achieve maximum self-sufficiency and independence.
My project goal was to make the information easily accessible to the people it was intended for, and to involve the newest generation of young Graphic Designers from NYC in a socially conscious design process.
Together with a group of my students and students of a colleague, we developed and produced branding design for a community organization started by Polish refugees in 1980. The contemporary design we created, supported a professional, functional capability necessary to exist in the 21st Century. This included upgrading their outreach to include social media and creating a user friendly, informative brochures, business cards and letterhead, to connect them with clients and potential sponsors. The high quality materials we produced, have helped them attract the positive attention they deserve after more than 35 years serving a large, diverse community in the US. The participating design students gained valuable professional experience as they earned hands-on credit, working to support their community as designers and socially conscious problem solvers.
The Motherland series is a body of work which stems from my travels in Poland where I was born and raised. Using photographs taken from the window of a moving train as the base image, I screen-print (in monotype technique) a rectangular shape in red similar to that found on the Polish flag.
Revisiting Poland, a country that has undergone significant social, cultural and political changes in the last two decades, I created a travelogue which intentionally blurs the representation of the country’s land to foreground its mutability.
The Series was specifically created for a 2014 exhibition in the Brooklyn Public Library, Greenpoint Branch.
This opportunity allowed me to present easily recognizable Polish landscapes in Greenpoint, in the context of an especially welcoming space available and accessible to the Polish community. The result was a strong, sentimental connection between the images and the viewer, and a new, meaningful experience for me in my role as an artist.