BROOKLYN – Barclays Center will host an art show featuring 150 pieces created by Brooklyn middle and high school students, inspired by Brooklyn-born artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Students created the artwork as part of a Basquiat educational arts program developed in partnership between the Brooklyn Nets, the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) and the Fund for Public Schools.
The free-admission gallery will be open to the public on Sunday, Aug. 8 and Monday, Aug. 9 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4-7 p.m. and located in the arena’s Geico Atrium. The private opening for the students will take place on Saturday, Aug. 7 from 4-6 p.m. For a look at some of the art that will be featured at Barclays Center, please click HERE.
The Basquiat art program was funded by the Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation. In 2020, the Tsais established a Social Justice Fund to work toward economic mobility and racial justice for Black, Indigenous and People of Color in Brooklyn.
During the 2020-21 school year, the NYC DOE’s Office of Arts and Special Projects (OASP) led a team of Brooklyn visual arts teachers in the creation and dissemination of the art unit that was taught to more than 1,400 middle and high school students across 50 Brooklyn public schools. Throughout the two-month course, which tipped off in April, students studied various Basquiat works, learning how art can both serve as a vehicle for communication and to facilitate societal change. Due to the course’s extraordinary reception, the program’s curriculum will be expanded to all NYC public schools beginning this fall.
Basquiat is widely recognized for popularizing black heritage in art and used his artwork as a creative outlet to explore himself and provide social commentary on the world around him – mostly on societal inequalities. To help students share their own stories through artwork, each participant received art supplies like those used by Basquiat, such as canvas boards, acrylic and oil paints, and oil pastels.
“This partnership has been all about creating new outlets for our students to express themselves, develop their passions, and find inspiration in the important contributions of Jean-Michael Basquiat,” said Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter. “We are thrilled to partner with the Brooklyn Nets on this initiative and can’t wait to see our students’ creations displayed at Barclays Center!”
“Partnering with the NYC DOE and the Fund for Public Schools to create the first-ever Basquiat art unit for students was an incredibly special opportunity for our organization,” said John Abbamondi, CEO of BSE Global, the parent company of the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center. “We are proud to represent Brooklyn and to help celebrate the cultural and societal impact our borough has had on the world. Basquiat is a great source of inspiration for anyone seeking to inspire change, and we believe the messages found in his artwork can continue to shape generations to come. We are looking forward to welcoming the community in August to experience this one-of-a-kind student art exhibit.”
“This exciting partnership with the Brooklyn Nets has empowered more than 1,400 students by providing them with new avenues to express themselves artistically,” said Julie L. Shapiro, CEO of the Fund for Public Schools. “Learning about Jean-Michel Basquiat’s artistic process and social justice legacy sparked students’ commitment to civic leadership in their own communities. As our City recovers from the pandemic, we’re thrilled student artwork will be displayed at Barclays Center for spectators to witness their brilliance, creativity, and hard work.”
“It has been an honor to collaborate with Brooklyn middle and high school teachers to bring Jean-Michel Basquiat's art to life and lively discussion among students and teachers,” said Joy Pace, Brooklyn North Borough Arts Director. “Thank you to the Brooklyn Nets and The Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation Social Justice Fund for making this possible. We hope to continue these important conversations regarding social justice in the arts classroom and that students have an avenue to express their voice through the arts.”
Born in Brooklyn in 1960, Basquiat was a revolutionary artist and painter whose upbringing and diverse cultural background set the stage for much of his artwork. He was a generational talent who blended text and image throughout his iconic works, and in so doing illuminated important themes and issues that continue to resonate today. Basquiat’s true impact would not be felt until after his passing in 1988, and his work remains a fixture in the art world today.