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Clare Weiss Emerging Artist Award

The Award

Clare Weiss (1966-2010) was the Public Art Curator for New York City’s Department of Parks & Recreation. During her tenure she curated more than 100 outdoor public art installations throughout the city and organized complex, thought-provoking and visually compelling thematic exhibitions for the Arsenal Gallery. Clare’s passion, humanity, energy, courage, and collaborative zeal were valued by all who knew her.

The Clare Weiss Emerging Artist Award is granted annually to one emerging artist who submits the most compelling proposal for an outdoor sculpture in a New York City park. The location changes annually and is determined based on the site’s visibility and proximity within a neighborhood underserved by public art.

2015 Award Winner

Wendy Klemperer, Shadow Migration

November 7, 2015 – November 7, 2016
Court Square Park, Queens

Shadow Migration exhibits animal silhouettes cut from steel plates and installed throughout the park. Klemperer investigates animal populations that were threatened in the 20th century, but are now rebounding and showing up in “our backyard.” Wild animals are finding their way into suburban and urban environments as human populations sprawl into their natural habitats. While many species have been devastated, some are adapting and thriving on the largesse of urban life. Hawks dive from high rise cornices to feast on the rich urban population of pigeons and rats; bears walk through New Jersey neighborhoods; and just several blocks from Court Square Park, a coyote found its way to a rooftop in Long Island City. 

Klemperer’s animal silhouettes are steel forms, punctuated with cutouts in the shape of countries from around the world. Each animal is a melting pot, bearing countries on its body that are also represented in Queens’ population—the most diverse community in the world.


The chosen recipient will be granted an award in the amount of $10,000.  The recipient is highly encouraged to procure in-kind support and other additional funding necessary to support this installation.

The Award recipient shall be solely responsible for the installation and removal of the artwork and shall provide at his or her sole cost and expense, all labor, services, and supervision necessary.  Additional expenses the artist will be responsible for include fabrication, insurance and maintenance. At the end of the award term, the artist is responsible for returning the park location to its original condition. This project must adhere to Parks’ specifications for public art.

The Parks Department will assist the awarded artist with technical logistics such as permitting and site specifications. The artist will be responsible for engineering documents if they are necessary.

The Award recipient will be selected through an open application process. Proposals will be reviewed by a jury comprised of an artist, an independent curator, and a Parks Department representative. Proposals will be judged according to artistic and creative merit and suitability to the site.


Proposals will only be accepted from New York City-based emerging artists— artists who have specialized training in their field (not necessarily gained in an academic institution), who are at an early stage in their career, and who have created a modest independent body of work. Artists who are enrolled in a school, college or university are not eligible for the Clare Weiss Emerging Artist Award.

Previous Award Winners

2014 Award Winner

Jarrod Beck, Uplift

August 20, 2014 – August 19, 2015
Sara D. Roosevelt Park, Manhattan

Uplift sits on a tree–lined terrace in Sara D. Roosevelt Park. Made from recycled rubber conveyor belts once used to cart ore out of West Virginia mines, the work suggests stratified rock or a grouping of recently unearthed tectonic plates. Uplift is both memorial and artifact, reminding us of loss, but also rooted in a deep time beyond our memories.

2013 Award Winner

Karlis Rekevics, All-Too-Familiar Tangle

Karlis Rekevics All-Too-Familiar Tangle photo by Karley Klopfenstein

June 27,2013 – June 27, 2014
Tappen Park, Staten Island

Recipient of the third annual Clare Weiss Emerging Artist Award, Karlis Rekevics is drawn to the overlooked part of our urban landscape that we regularly see but rarely register: bridge supports, store facades, guardrails, signs, and scaffolding. After documenting notable forms and architecture around the park, Rekevics created a series of wooden molds that combine recognizable elements in altered scales. The monumental All-Too-Familiar Tangle references the wooden bollards that line the coast near the Staten Island Ferry, as well as the neo-classical limestone columns and rounded portico entryway of the landmarked Staten Island Savings Bank located at 81 Water Street. Further investigation reveals the dormer window details from the park’s historic Village Hall conflated with the defining form of the sculpture—a wall-like structure with three peaks and low windows that echoes the distinctive pink design that covers the face of 7 Beach Street.


Katherine Daniels, Ornamental Paths

Courtesy of NYC Parks

June 7, 2012 to June 2013
Joyce Kilmer Park, Bronx

Katherine Daniels transforms everyday objects and materials into elaborately woven ornamental forms in her site specific installation, Ornamental Paths. The large-scale pieces are currently on view on the Grand Concourse between 161st and 164th Streets in the Bronx. “The placement of the weavings defines the inner triangular shape at the heart of Joyce Kilmer Park and creates a place where people can enter into a spatial drawing.” The brick and mosaic Art Deco patterns that have historically defined the neighborhood’s architectural landmarks are interpreted through Daniel’s interlaced geometric forms, horizontal stripes, and vertical bands that grace the park’s permanent wire fencing. Transcendent of an ordinary walk through the park, a stroll through Ornamental Paths will be a new experience full of color and history.


Ruth McKerrell, Ancient, Goatie Boy, and Goat as Wolf

Ruth McKerrell, Ancient, 2010, aluminum

June 1, 2011 to May 30, 2012
Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn


McKerrell’s three sculptures, originally made of reclaimed Styrofoam, have been cast in aluminum, giving them a timeless presence reminiscent of traditional garden statuary. Two sprightly goats and an alert deer will animate this welcoming space. Attracted to the naiveté and purity of animals, McKerrell has focused on them in her recent drawings and sculptures. A native of Scotland, she frequented local farms as a child and even owned a pet goat, which inspired Goatie Boy. A regular visitor to the Central Park Children’s Zoo, she creates studies from direct observations, as well as historical paintings, and anatomical reference books. However, her final works are made entirely from memory, working intuitively as she imbues her playful subjects with plasticity, life, and undeniable charm. McKerrell is attracted to the “freeness and rawness” of her modeling materials, which permit her to work spontaneously, and comments that they enable her to “create textured surfaces suggestive of an animal’s tactile form.”


Please help sustain the Clare Weiss Emerging Artist Award. Please send contributions payable to the City Parks Foundation with CWEAA noted in the Memo field to NYC Parks & Recreation, Art & Antiquities, The Arsenal, Central Park, Room 20, New York, NY 10065. For more information, please contact Jonathan Kuhn, Director of Art & Antiquities  at (212) 360-3410 or Jennifer Lantzas, Public Art Coordinator at (212) 360- 8163.

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