First Park

Rudy Shepherd's Public Art Sculpture Absorbs

Thursday, May 22, 2014
No. 28

NYC Parks and First Street Green are pleased to announce the public art exhibition Black Rock Negative Energy Absorber by artist Rudy Shepherd in First Park, Manhattan. The sculpture will be on view at the western side of the park at Second Avenue and Houston Street now through November 2014. First Street Green and Shepherd will host a public opening on Tuesday, May 27 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm to celebrate the installation.

Rudy Shepherd’s ten-foot-tall abstract sculpture made out of wood, metal lathe, and dyed concrete continues a series he started in 2006 at Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, Queens. Since 2006, Shepherd has continued the series with smaller sculptures in varying materials, sizes, and forms, but this will be his return to monumental outdoor work.

Black Rock Negative Energy Absorbers are a group of sculptures with a magical function: “to expunge negative energy—which may come in the form of prejudice, racism, or even quotidian disdain”—from the people walking by the piece. The sculpture will free them and “allow them to respond to life with the more open, compassionate, and positive aspects of their personalities,” notes Shepherd. The series is his response to living in New York City for the past twelve years and witnessing the city’s madness. At the same time, Shepherd’s work is an is an approach to political art started two decades ago that looks at the problems of society in a more comprehensive way and advances practices culled from new age mythology and ancient religions to heal our divided and troubled country. During the opening on May 27th, the artist will hold an Induction Ceremony where the piece and the audience will be blessed and a Healer will activate the Black Rock Negative Energy Absorber, after which it will continue to function throughout the installation.

Rudy Shepherd received his BFA from Wake Forest University (1998) and his MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago (2001). Since then, he has had solo exhibitions at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA; Mixed Greens, NYC; Location One, NYC; and Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC. His group show venues include the PS1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, NY; the Contemporary Museum, Baltimore, MD; the Bronx Museum of Art, NYC; the Queens Museum of Art, NYC; Flux Factory, Long Island City, NY, among others. He received a fellowship from Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City, NY, and was an artist in residence at the PS1 International Studio Program and the Jacob Lawrence Institute for the Visual Arts. He is currently splitting his time between NYC and State College, PA, where he is an Assistant Professor of Visual Arts at Penn State. Currently, he has work in the exhibition When the Stars Begin to Fall at the Studio Museum in Harlem.

Since 2008, First Street Green (FSG) has converted a derelict building lot at 33 E. 1st Street in Manhattan into an open art space serving the Lower East Side community. Collaborating with NYC Parks and Partnership for Parks, FSG has successfully incorporated the lot into First Park. Today, FSG provides ongoing cultural activity in First Park by engaging with emerging artists, architects, community and cultural groups through a series of programs that activate this public space.

NYC Parks’ Art in the Parks program has consistently fostered the creation and installation of temporary public art in parks throughout the five boroughs. Since 1967, collaborations with arts organizations and artists have produced hundreds of public art projects in New York City parks. For more information visit

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