Date Change: “The Witness”, Travers Park


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Due to the rain, we are shifting the dates a bit: 

The next installation will be November 14-15 (Sunday and Monday) / 9am-5pm
Below are some photos from a few weekends ago, at Diversity Plaza.
Two Kids Standing in front of The Witness
The Witness, Under the L Train
Six-Pointed Star Configuration of The Witness
The Witness With a Photographer

Come on Sunday and enjoy the farmer’s market just a block away. On Monday, it should be pretty chill and we might get more sun.

We will be installing two different configurations each day, so come see the work evolve. 

Aerial View, Diversity Plaza, Queens, with location for The Witness
Aerial View, Travers Park, Queens with location for The Witness


I am thrilled to be one of 3,000 New York City-based artists to receive $5,000 through the City Artist Corps Grants program, presented by The New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA), with support from the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) as well as Queens Theatre.
I am humbled to receive a New Works Grant for the second time! This project is made possible (in part) by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
Once again, I am lucky to partner with the amazing team at Wearable Collections. They provided a mountain of recently donated garments that were no longer wearable or desirable and slated for recycling. 
Please contact me if you would like to help. I’m actively seeking additional locations, please reach out if you have any leads. 
Please Venmo @derickmelander If you would like to donate toward the continuation of this project and help defray costs.

Frequently Asked Questions

In general, the risk is considered low, but as it relates to this project, there will be no risk whatsoever. All of the second-hand clothing will be laundered and it will also rest for a minimum of 2 weeks.

I hope to attract people from all walks of life and in particular, reach those who are underexposed to contemporary art and underserved by cultural programming. My work has broad appeal due to the vibrant color of the designs and accessibility of the materials. Clothing is everywhere and made to be touched.

The work will strive to be inclusive. I hope commuters and passersby will see the work, people interacting with me, and become curious. Those who offer advice and feedback will feel like they have influenced the work, and perhaps they will. I hope this approach will instill a sense of connection to the work, and by extension, a sense of connection to Queens.

Around 2002, I was working on a series of sculptures made with hand-carved metal suitcases. I wanted to exhibit the suitcases on display columns, but the standard white box felt too stuffy and formal.  I thought, OK what material is naturally associated with suitcases? Clothing came ready to mind and I started to make display columns from carefully folded second-hand clothing. Over the course of that project, working with clothing every day, I got hooked. There is no end to what you can do with it. Twenty years in and I still have a long list of ideas for new works.

The lack of opportunity to create and exhibit my art. I work mostly by commission and typically far from home. The project teams are often large and we tend to work in relatively close proximity. That approach to making work was obviously a no-go during the pandemic. In addition, the industries that often commission my work, art institutions, and clothing brands, were hit hard by the pandemic, so budgets were an issue as well.

Art communicates with its own unique language. It can bypass the mind and provide a direct balm for the heart, to help us heal. Art should be a part of our emotional recovery but it should also be a part of the economic rebuilding of NYC. I recently read a report from The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis that states that the arts and culture sector contributes $119.9 billion to New York’s economy, representing 7.8% of the state’s GDP.

I love Jackson Heights and have lived here with my husband for over 20 years. I moved to NYC around 1987 to form a garage punk band and spent the interim years living on the rough and ready lower east side. Living in NYC all these years has been really fun, nurturing, and energizing. I love the culture here. The fine arts are inspiring, seeing bands and shows, we have access to the best talent. When you tell people you are an artist, they are usually interested. It is not like that everywhere. I lived in Washington DC for about a year and when I told people I was an artist they would get a far-away look in their eye and excuse themselves. 

We have amazing food and in Jackson Heights, it is over the top. I love our street culture, we don’t make a fuss, we are cool. We are not chatty, but you can engage with anyone if you have something interesting to say. We trash pick and even dumpster dive without shame. We have a lot of style, we are bold.

This sculpture is a test run for a new type of armature that can be leveraged for a much larger work, a memorial for the victims of COVID-19. That project the most ambitious installation I have ever undertaken. My current challenge is to connect with survivor families who would like to participate by donating some of the clothing of the loved one they lost. I plan to mix the clothing of victims with the clothing of survivors and create a piece that brings us all together. I hope to create a place for healing, introspection and release. 

In March/April of 2022, I’ll be hosting an interactive, participatory exhibition at The Laundry King, an experimental arts space run by The Catskill Arts Society in Livingston Manor NY. We are still fleshing it out but there will be programing for the local artist community, kids, and adults. We’ll touch on themes of ecology, LGBTQ+ pride, and we might be able to do something with FOOD!