Art in the City: What NYC Has to Offer Artists and Architects

Wednesday, February 15, 2023, 6:30 - 8pm

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art in the city

Forty years ago New York City enacted the Percent for Art law that requires one percent of the budget for eligible City-funded construction to be dedicated to creating public artworks. But the city’s support of art and design includes much more than what the Percent for Art law provides. From grants and fellowships to installations and even city jobs, join panelists from different city agencies to learn about different opportunities offered to architects and artists. Panelists include Xenia Diente, Cooper Union School of Art alumna and Public Art Deputy Director, Project Excellence with the Department of Design and Construction; Kendal Henry, Assistant Commissioner, Public Art, with NYC Department of Cultural Affairs; Nina Marren, Director of the Department of Transportation’s Art Program; and Elizabeth Masella, Senior Public Art Coordinator for NYC Parks. Whitney Oldenburg, director of The Cooper Union Center for Career Development, moderates.  

Attendees must show proof of vaccination. Masks are encouraged.

Xenia Diente is a Public Art Deputy Director at the NYC Department of Design and Construction, where she works with artists, architects, engineers, city agencies (and many others) to plan, design, fabricate, and install permanent public artworks citywide. With over 20 years of experience with the NYC Percent for Art program, she strives to strengthen opportunities for artists and designers to creatively improve NYC’s built environment.  Diente earned a BFA in 1999 from The Cooper Union School of Art. 

Kendal Henry is an artist and curator who lives in New York City and specializes in the field of public art for over 30 years. He illustrates that public art can be used as a tool for social engagement, civic pride, and economic development through the projects and programs he’s initiated in the United States and internationally. He’s currently the Assistant Commissioner of Public Art at the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and an adjunct professor at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. Previously he served as the director of Culture and Economic Development for the City of Newburgh, NY and manager of arts programs at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Art and Design.   

As Director of the New York City Department of Transportation’s Art Program, Nina Marren oversees implementation of public art and event-based arts and cultural programming on NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) property citywide. Since joining NYC DOT in 2015, her knowledge of visual/studio arts and art history have contributed to the successful execution of varied projects throughout New York City, and her commitment to public programs is fueled by her dedication to the City as a native New Yorker   

Elizabeth Masella is the Senior Public Art Coordinator at NYC Parks. She works closely with a diverse group of artists, community groups, arts organizations, and government agencies to bring both innovative and traditional public art to parks in NYC’s five boroughs. She has managed over 200 temporary public outdoor art installations and organized several exhibitions for the Arsenal Gallery in Central Park.  

As director of The Cooper Union Center for Career Development, Whitney Oldenburg regularly meets with Cooper Union students to give one-on-one feedback and support related to their professional aspirations. She also develops a variety of workshops to address career-related topics within the arts, collaborates on various outreach initiatives, and supports programming efforts within The Center for Career Development. Oldenberg is also a practicing artist who was an MFTA Artist-in-Residence with the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in 2019.  

Located in the Frederick P. Rose Auditorium, at 41 Cooper Square (on Third Avenue between 6th and 7th Streets)

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.