New public artwork turns a Downtown Brooklyn plaza into a playful, colorful oasis

March 3, 2023

All photos courtesy of Cameron Blaylock for Downtown Brooklyn Partnership

A new interactive public art installation in Downtown Brooklyn transforms a plaza into a colorful oasis with shimmering lights. The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and Van Alen Institute on Wednesday unveiled “COMMON GROUND,” a site-specific sculpture created by artist Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong with lighting design by Arup featuring colorful seating, sound-responsive lighting, and floor motifs that provide a vibrant space for people to gather. The installation will be on view from March 1 to May 1 at The Plaza at 300 Ashland.

Inspired by the geometric arrangements of shrines and other sacred spaces, COMMON GROUND has transformed this plaza in Downtown Brooklyn into an “oasis” for sitting, socializing, and gathering both day and night.

From 5 p.m. through 12 a.m., the installation glows with color-changing lighting and sensors that respond to environmental sounds. Playing off the sounds of external noises like footsteps, voices, and traffic, light animations pulse and shimmer across the sculpture, blending together with the installation’s vibrantly-colored seating.

“With its bold colors and interactive light display, COMMON GROUND transforms one of Downtown Brooklyn’s signature public spaces into a work of art that will engage visitors while also injecting color and life into our streetscape,” Regina Myer, President of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, said.

“We are excited to once again partner with Van Alen Institute and Two Trees on a project that invites everyone to pause, reflect, and come together in this unique immersive installation.”

Several live performances will be held at COMMON GROUND in the coming weeks. On April 6, Peniel Guerrier and Kriye Bode will energize the plaza with Haitian Rara, and on April 13, dancer, choreographer, and teaching artist Kendra J. Ross will give spectators an inside look at her latest work.

On April 20, the all-female multicultural dance trio Soles of Duende will perform a dance routine celebrating tap, flamenco, and kathak dance. Finally, on April 22, the Pratt Institute’s fashion department will end its academic year with its junior thesis, a fashion performance featuring a selection of works.

“COMMON GROUND creates this playful interruption on the plaza, one of Downtown Brooklyn’s everyday spaces, to bring a new community pavilion to the area,” Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong said. “By night, it becomes a large-scale instrument of sorts, responding to environmental audio — you’re encouraged to come sit, sing, play, linger and experience the art.”


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