Pratt Institute: Put Your Money Where Your Art Is
Pratt Institute is situated in the middle of Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, one of the most interesting yet typical neigborhoods of New York City where one can still see the color and feel the tension of the melting pot that is at the root of the American dream. Sprawling mansions butt up against tenements and towering low income housing projects. Art students, senior citizens, young families all weave together along the bustling commercial stretches of Myrtle Avenue, the quiet tree-lined streets that form a grid between Myrtle and Fulton, or wander up the suddenly lush Fort Greene Park. Walking west you'll stumble into the industrial section of Vinegar Hill, with its AIR (artist-in-residence) buildings signifying the conquest of yet another frontier neighborhood. Whichever way you head, smiles flash unexpectedly, and teasing a story out of the local residents takes nothing more than asking a question.
Pratt, sitting smack in the middle like an imposing and well-groomed animal, is truly a sight to see: 25 acres of sculpture gardens that link together its odd mix of historic, industrial and ultra modern buildings. There are guards at the gates but the general public is welcome, and it is well worth the subway ride that gets you there!
Both the gardens and buildings are peppered with artworks, many the work of former students. "The Trees," shown below, are giant sculptures created by the Romanian artist Mihai Popa Nova. Nova is the father of integral art and architecture to which he gave the name " Transilvanian Architecture."
The library at Pratt, which is open to the public, was designed by William Bunker Tubby (1864-1944) in the Renaissance revival style. The four floor stacks section is one of the miraculously undiscovered gems of NY, a striking medley of glass, steel and bronze decorated by Tiffany and Co.
The main building is housed in a typically late 19th century renovated factory. Its towering chimney is a beacon for the school that can be seen from all the surrounding neighborhoods.
The vegetal sculpture below is part of the Treehugger project, an environmental art project that invites one to re-discover his relationship with nature at a very personal level. The sculptures were created from twigs, branches and vines by Agnieszka Gradzig and Wiktor Szostalo, the latter an artist born in 1952 in Lithuania.
Below, a metallic sculpture by Martha Walker inspired by an atomic mushroom cloud and the absurdity of war. Martha Walker is a former student of Pratt.
The interior decoration of the library was designed by Tiffany.