I first read about Dumbo, Brooklyn artist Anna Schuleit from the New York Daily News on September 19, 2006. Anna was named a MacArthur Fellow from Chicago-based MacArthur Foundation. After intense review of the creative efforts of thousands of artists considered for the award each year, the MacArthur Foundation selected only 25 fellowships this year. Anna, a Dumbo resident, is an artist “illuminating the lives lived within mental health institutions by transforming historic facilities into moving, multi-sensory memorials.” Her creative endeavors include art and sound installations such as “Bloom”, a 28,000 flowers in bloom and recorded sound at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center in Boston. I was lucky enough to speak with her about her inspirations and thoughts about the Dumbo neighborhood.
The MacArthur Foundation describes you as an artist who brings back to life historic sites and honor those who live in mental institutions. How would you describe your art?
I’m a painter and installation artist with an interest in people, their communities, and their institutions. Much of my site-specific installation work has revolved around psychiatric institutions, because I feel drawn and connected to outsider-history. But on a day-to-day basis it’s my paintings that keep me afloat and busy.
How long have you lived in Dumbo?
Since March of this year.
BLOOM: RED TULIPS | copyright Â© 2003 by Anna Schuleit
How do you think Dumbo has changed since you’ve been here? Do you feel artists are being pushed out because of higher rent prices?
I haven’t lived in Dumbo long enough to point to the ongoing changes, but I have lived in different neighborhoods throughout the city and always witnessed the artists losing their spots to the inevitable influx of higher-income renters and buyers. I don’t know how this would ever change, but I am hopeful that artists can one day be seen as necessary members of any neighborhood, that they would be supported and encouraged to STAY, not leave.
Where do you get your inspiration? How does being in Dumbo inspire your sense of creativity?
I love Dumbo for its architectural drama, its proximity to the water, and the two bridges, which dominate this neighborhood in a wonderful way. There is something about the scale of these, the awe and wonder they evoke, that makes me continually grateful to be able to live here. I hope to be able to stay in this neighborhood.
Thanks Anna for taking your time to interview with us. Best wishes and continued success!
Please take a moment to congratulate Anna on her achievement and visit her website at anna-schuleit.com.