Bay Ridge

Artist seeks help to create work at Brooklyn Army Terminal

May 29, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
This mock-up shows what the art installation “Post War Blues” will look like upon completion. Image courtesy Isabelle Garbani
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Imagine if Pablo Picasso asked you to pick up a paint brush to help him paint “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” back in 1907.

A Bay Ridge artist is offering everyday New Yorkers the chance to assist her in the creation of a new, large-scale art installation she is preparing for the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park.

Isabelle Garbani is seeking volunteers to knit and crochet flowers out of plastic bags for “Post War Blues,” her thought-provoking work of art consisting of thousands of colorful flowers that will burst out of a train car that sits in the Brooklyn Army Terminal atrium.

Under her design, the flowers will rise and fall in waves and will blanket the train track from the atrium to the end of the terminal’s courtyard, a distance of approximately 300 feet.

“I am asking the Bay Ridge, Sunset Park and surrounding communities to consider knitting or crocheting flowers for this new project,” Garbani wrote in an email to the Brooklyn Eagle. “My goal is for ‘Post War Blues’ to function as a meaningful public art engagement: to serve as the glue that can bind a community together, and to show that despite our differences and our violent past, we can make something beautiful and meaningful together.”

When the artwork is completed and installed, participants can enjoy the satisfaction of seeing the results of their input, according to Garbani, who said she hopes it will lead them to pay closer attention to art and its message in the future.

Garbani, who grew up in France, holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the New York Academy of Art.

“Post War Blues” is modeled after two previous community-collaborative projects: “Knit for Trees,” which Garbani created on Governors Island in 2011, and “Invasive Species,” which she made for the Wisconsin Farm/Art Dtour in 2014. “In ‘Knit for Trees,’ I gave free knitting lessons to park visitors on Governors Island every weekend. The knitted panels were then continuously added to the tree installation over the summer,” Garbani explained on her website.

For “Invasive Species,” Garbani issued a national ‘crochet challenge’ for volunteers to make crocheted kudzu leaves through crochet forums, yarn stores, social media sites and local businesses. Over 35 participants, some from as far away as Australia, made over 1,500 leaves that were used in the installation.

Garbani is a participating artist in the Fifth Avenue Storefront Art Walk, an exhibition featuring artworks in store windows along Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge. “Invasive Species” is on display in the front window of Le Petit Salon at 7920 Fifth Ave. through June 28.

The Brooklyn Army Terminal is the perfect setting for “Post War Blues,” according to Garbani, who noted that complex, built in 1919, was heavily used during World War II and was decommissioned and sold to New York City in the 1970s. The terminal currently houses a variety of businesses.

“The building has an amazing architecture. At the time it was built, it was the world’s largest concrete building. The sad truth, however, is that most innovations come from the war effort,” Garbani said. Her art installation is designed to address “what happens to the fruit of war innovations after a conflict is over and how we can work together to start healing a space.”

Garbani is working with Chashama, a non-profit arts group and the New York City Economic Development Corporation, which operates the Brooklyn Army Terminal, to reach out to the public and encourage volunteers to join her.

Post War Blues is sponsored, in part, by the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, administered by Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC).

For information on how to particpate, visit


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