A vinyl banner with bright colors flutters in the wind above an electronics shop on Manhattan Avenue depicting a powerful image: a police officer grabbing the hair of a Black woman whose mouth is open, overlaid with the words: “Who Am I Supposed to Call When This Happens?” The piece was made by Caleb Williams, a 20-year-old artist from Queens, in reaction to police violence in the United States.
Another banner by Williams hangs near McGolrick Park. Titled “Together There is Power,” she uses a collage of images from the Library of Congress tell a history of the Black experience in America. Together these works are part of an installation called “Perseverance.”
Williams’ artwork was printed onto large banners as part of a the public art project “Between the Windows” curated by Vanessa Albury. When the pandemic hit, Albury wanted to find a way to support artists who could no longer show work in galleries. She found herself looking at the art inside her apartment wishing that she could share the art with her neighbors. “I figured, why not put it outside the windows,” Albury said.
The project began with Albury hanging artwork between two windows on her building and has expanded from there. With Williams she is bringing the project to locations across Greenpoint and throughout Brooklyn, showcasing four banners in total that will each remain in a location for a week or so, before moving on. “I’m an ‘artist curator’ and for me that means I work with my community as I work with the materials in my art practice,” Albury says.
The original idea behind the project, according to Albury, came from walking around Greenpoint. Looking at the holiday decorations that are strung across Manhattan Avenue in the winters, Albury began reflecting on using public space to share visual art.
Having work in support of Black Lives in Greenpoint was important to Albury. “I thought [Williams’ work] would be really good to see in Greenpoint because we’ve got mostly white people here,” says Albury. “I thought this work needs to be in front of white people because that’s when we can start to create systemic change, when we all identify this as our problem.”
The banners will continue to circulate around Brooklyn until the presidential election in November. Neighbors interested in hosting the banners can contact Albury directly through her email available on her website.