Material for the Arts offers recycled materials throughout NYC

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If you are an art aficionado, Material for the Arts is having an art exhibit featuring work from Spring Artist-in-Residence Dianne Smith titled Twisted Woven Tied.

Material for the Arts is a non-profit program of the Dept. of Cultural Affairs that works with the Dept. of Sanitation and the Dept. of Education, and is one of the largest providers of reused art materials for professional and student artists throughout New York City, according to the organization’s website.

MFTA is located in a 35,000 square-foot warehouse that holds 2 million pounds of art supplies, according to organization’s Executive Director Harriet Taub. Smith was able to have full access to all of that for her art show.

“Well for an artist in New York City to have studio space is a luxury, and then couple that with access to unlimited resources and materials it’s a gift actually,” Smith said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity to work in a size of that space and have that many materials at your disposable.”

Some of Smith’s work will include baskets woven from fiber that she received from MFTA. Her pieces are inspired by the long line of basket weavers in her family that kept that African tradition alive in Central America in Belize.

The Dept. of Education selects the artist-in-residence by conducting research on emerging artists and getting recommendations by fellow artists in the reuse community, according to an MFTA representative.

James Reynolds, an artist, photographer and collagist was one of the people to endorse her.

“She is most certainly a poignant and gifted artist,” Reynolds said. “I have in my collection 23 of her works. I think that she is thoughtful of what is going on in the culture and she uses her art as a vehicle to convey those ideas, whether it has to do with women and African women within the diaspora and injustice under a big umbrella.”

“She makes work that is poignant even though she is in the midst of so many artists that are driven by someone else or the dollar and they are not always true to what it is that they are destined to create,” Reynolds said.

Smith’s exhibit will be at the MFTA gallery located at 33-00 Northern Blvd. at Long Island City from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on June 15.

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

Updated 11:45 am, June 16, 2017
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