Connective Corridor

Announcing the winners

We thought you’d enjoy the responses from the six selected finalists

Picking artists is never easy, but the Connective Corridor public art jury has reached consensus. After two days of extensive interviews with 16 semi-finalists selected by the jury from the original field of 276 applicants from 17 countries, the jury reached a consensus on the six finalists. It’s the culmination of a thoughtful, deliberative process. The six artists selected by the jury also ranked among top picks by area residents who participated in our recent community outreach session. Input from the community helped guide the jury through their deliberation process.

The next step will be inviting the six artists to visit Syracuse to meet with community members as they refine their initial concepts and scope out locations. We think you’ll find them enjoyable. They are all talented professionals, and also dynamic, engaging people who love working with communities.

The jury asked each candidate: “What approach would you bring to engaging the community?” We thought you’d enjoy the responses from the six selected finalists.

DeWitt Godfrey, Earlville, NY (

  • Works in corten steel and bolts using patterns that mimic genetic cellular structural codes.
  • Is conceptualizing a sculptural installation that is site specific, using cylindrical elements that form an aesthetic, structural and materials ecosystem.

“Working in the public realm is at root collaborative, requiring strong vision, the ability to listen and negotiate, patience, and where necessary, compromise. In my own work and in my teaching, I am interested in the role arts can play in community. Public projects cannot be successful without successfully engaging community. Projects fail when they are imposed — rather, they must be seen as shared investments between the artist, commissioning agency and constituents.”

DeWitt Godfrey, speaking with local community members at a recent public art outreach meeting hosted by the Connective Corridor to solicit input.

DeWitt Godfrey, speaking with local community members at a recent public art outreach meeting hosted by the Connective Corridor to solicit input.

Walczak & Heiss, Allentown, PA (

  • Works in steel, camera recognition software, LED strips, screens, electronics and optics.
  • Is conceptualizing a time-based sculptural installation that would be playful and interactive.

“We are heavily reliant on community engagement in all of our public art commissions. The types of relationships are different for every piece and we would tailor this artwork to Syracuse. We have experience working with different types of communities, whether with teens and kids, historians and librarians, or the public in general. We are excited to develop something specific for the Syracuse community that catches a visitor’s attention and imagination, in addition to creating a memorable experience that people living and working in Syracuse will want to share.”

Sam Van Aken, Syracuse, NY (

  • Works with varied media but is best known for his iconic Tree of 40 Fruit which was featured in media around the world.
  • Is conceptualizing a Grove of Tree of 40 Fruit in Syracuse – a signature hometown project.

“As an artist, I view every step in the public art process as an opportunity for engagement and it is my aim to involve collaborators and participants through the final proposal, planning, viewing and life of this work. I will engage local farmers and growers in identifying heirloom, antique native stone fruit varieties, and collect grafting material from them so that the Grove of Tree of 40 Fruit becomes an amalgamation of this shared time and geography. From the conversations surrounding food production, diversity and security onto a rethinking of how we utilize urban green space, the Tree of 40 Fruit will provoke dialogue.”

BJ Krivanek & Joel Breaux, Chicago, IL (

  • Works in steel, aluminum, fiberglass and motion-activated lighting.
  • Is conceptualizing a responsive, interactive structure that will be a digital experiential space based on community histories, narratives and dynamics.

“For the Syracuse Connective Corridor, we will engage diverse communities, stakeholders, the design team and civic entities in the successive stages of the project development process. This dualistic engagement feeds the process, correlating to our past experience in community-based public art projects. The process will include on-site outreach and input, content selection, collaboration with local creatives, educational programming, ongoing content curation, coordination and civic reviews, and interaction and activation via the artwork.”

Erwin Redl, Bowling Green, OH (

  • Works with suspended light panels integrated with animated RGB-LEDs and computer controlled light installations.
  • Is conceptualizing a series of smaller linear installations that tie together thematically across the Corridor and perhaps the Onondaga Creekwalk area.

“I engage local communities throughout the creative process, from initial conception to final installation and beyond. The design phase is based on regional history, visiting the site, meeting with community groups and all stakeholders in the project. This involves a deep dialogue with representatives of the city, project engineers, architects, local educational and cultural institutions, and the business community. Personal relationships with these groups further inform how the art project can enhance civic development. The input of an engaged public will be key to refining the proposal. During production, local manufacturers will be given preference to create a sense of ownership and pride through the fabrication of the work. On-site installation will be done by local crews. I will offer workshops on the relationship of art, technology and innovative practices from the perspective of a practicing artist and small business owner, and engage local students in teaching how a project develops from abstract ideas to physical reality.”

Blessing Hancock, Tucson, AZ (

  • Works in stainless steel, acrylic, LED lighting and touch sensitive electronics.
  • Is conceptualizing an installation that would serve as an interactive social gathering space enlivened by light.

“Engagement is an essential aspect of my process and my approach is continually evolving based on the specifics of each project. I have conducted workshops, collected stories, participated in interviews, lead internships, taught computer design, and more. For the Connective Corridor, I will immerse myself in the rich culture of the area in order to understand the desires of the site users and establish a cohesive vision for community engagement. My goal is to find interested local groups to engage in the development of the artwork. I use light, color and volumetric form to invite exploration. The aim is to create bold artwork that strengthens the community and celebrates the surroundings, creating a long-lived and much-loved community asset.”

Do you want to get involved with these exciting artists? We’re creating a listserv of interested local people who want to be part of this process. We’re also developing a resource list of local fabricators, suppliers and creative talent. Want to be included? Send us an e-mail: [email protected]

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