Shed’s Open Call opens a door for emerging artists

“Training Poses,” by Sam Lavigne, lets visitors interact with machine learning. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

BY GABE HERMAN | The Shed is the newly established arts and cultural center in Hudson Yards, and a new program there gives a platform to local artists trying to establish themselves in the art world.

Open Call, as the program is known, features a variety of disciplines, including digital media, sculpture and dance. The lineup currently features 52 New York City-based artists and collectives selected from more than 900 proposals.

Open Call is split into three groups this year. Group One ran from May 30 to July 6. Group Two, which began June 19, is currently running through Aug. 25 in a big gallery space in the Shed’s building, at W. 30th St. and 11th Ave. Group Three will have performances from Aug. 9 to Aug. 25 in the Shed’s open-air plaza, when the roof will be retracted.

In Group Two of Open Call, “Meditation on the Making of America,” by Kiyan Williams, includes a map of America made from soil and uses the African Diaspora as a starting point to examine issues of displacement and dispossession. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

The current Group Two exhibit boasts 22 works in a large gallery space. Many media are represented in the works, which express a wide variety of perspectives and ideas.

“Training Poses,” by Sam Lavigne, examines the emerging field of machine learning. Visitors interact by posing to match figures shown on a screen, and then observing how the machine interprets their movements.

“A Kind of Pain,” by Moko Fukuyama, uses video and a sculpture to examine ethical issues around harvesting and eating fish, and society’s relationship to fish and the natural world.

An interactive work, “Llevatelo To’ No Me Deje Na,” by Gabriela Corretjer-Contreras, is a recreation of a room where people can try on different clothes, as a way of exploring Puerto Rican identity. The piece offers insight into issues of colonization and the island’s history of invasion and exploitation.

“Llevatelo To’ No Me Deje Na,” by Gabriela Corretjer-Contreras. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

A goal of Open Call was finding emerging artists who show potential, according to senior curator Emma Enderby. She said she is pleased with the quality of all the works.

“It shows the real thoughtfulness of the artists we’re showing,” she said. “They’re all extremely unique works. But certain ideas keep surfacing, showing a contemporary way of thinking, which I thought was interesting.”

Enderby said that when the city gave $75 million to The Shed, she and Tamara McCaw, The Shed’s chief civic program officer, focused on how to meaningfully apply that money in the center. Highlighting local artists in the city was important, she said, “in a place that’s been extremely difficult to work and live in as an artist.”

Another Group Two work is “Hedges,” by Hugh Hayden. It features a smaller, wooden version of a typical suburban house, with tree branches sticking out of it. Three mirrored walls surround the house, creating the illusion of an endless row of houses.

Hayden, 35, said a theme of the work is camouflage. This can mean blending into nature but also blending into society, as seen in the row of repetitive houses. But the natural wood and tree elements also evoke a natural environment, which animals might blend into.

“Over all, my work is rooted in this idea of belonging, being part of a larger whole,” said Hayden.

“Hedges,” by Hugh Hayden. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

The trees came from discarded Christmas trees on Park Ave.

“The trees were trash,” he said. “They would be mulch if I didn’t make something out of them.”

Hayden said that “Hedges” also addresses the narrative of the American Dream and homeownership, which often can be an illusion and unattainable for many, but is seen as a way of fitting into society.

“Part of being an artist is the ability to change someone’s perception of the world,” he said. “And if I can do that with a tree, this ubiquitous thing, if I can change the way you interpret the meaning behind something more mundane, then it’s a way in to have a greater effect or emotional impact.”

Artist Hugh Hayden. (Photo by William Jess Laird, courtesy The Shed)

Hayden said the Open Call program gave him the ability to make “Hedges,” helping provide him with resources, plus a platform.

“One of great things about Open Call is the opportunity to make this piece,” he said.

Enderby said that Open Call has been getting a lot of visitors, including locals and tourists alike. But she said it’s still a work in progress to get the word out about The Shed as a new addition of the city’s cultural scene and a place to see all kinds of art.

Open Call will be an ongoing program at The Shed. Group Four is scheduled to run in 2020, and there are plans to keep the program going beyond that, as well.

Open Call is free but requires a ticket. More information can be found at

One Response to Shed’s Open Call opens a door for emerging artists

  1. Nice art and all, but all Shed propaganda

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