Bringing art and ritual to the people

New York artist SuZen’s Spirit of Spring Festival of the Arts

On the first day of spring, forty years ago, quintessential New York artist SuZen produced the historic event Coming From Blindness Into Sight in the lobby of One World Trade Center. His performance celebrated the artist’s official name change to SuZen and the vernal equinox, in the massive cathedral-ceilinged lobby. On a sea of ​​lush purple carpet, her 6′ x 12′ room divider displayed a triptych of her Blindseries photographs of the iconic World Trade Center, viewed through gradually opening mini-blinds. Performing behind a set of blinds, she emerged from behind the blinds, stripping off her layers of dark clothing, symbolic of her former identity, and revealing her colorful true self, as she danced with the audience.

This year, SuZen kicks off the season of renewal on Sunday, March 20 with the Spirit of Spring Festival of the Arts on Pier 46. The event begins at 11 a.m. with the chiming of the bells at the precise moment of the equinox, 11:33 a.m. time.

The ringing of bells is an international observation of the exact beginning of this season of renewal, which is also observed every year at the United Nations. SuZen’s Spirit of Spring Festival of the Arts, co-hosted by jazz singer, Eve Zanni, invites the public to bring bells and participate in a bell-ringing ceremony, led by newly elected Councilman Erik Bottcher, who will sing, play guitar, and invite the crowd to sing along. Mystical new age musician, Laraaji, will lead a laughter meditation. Among the many participating artists will be co-host Eve Zanni and the Westbeth Bliss Singers, with pianist Issac Raz, Bobby Harden, Victoria Horne, Peter Bernstein. and a special guest appearance from Goldee Goldsteen, Broadway’s The BuddhaFly, and legendary Keni Fine’s “altar ego”!

“My goal is to create beauty, celebration and inspiration.”

—SuZen

Poets, dancers and other artists will add to this collaborative event, which includes egg balancing, a wishing tree for Yoko Ono-inspired messages of peace, face painting and art activities for children.

SuZen’s long career in the arts spans over 50 years and spans many mediums including fine art photography, multimedia installations, performance art, design, fashion and books. . New Yorkers know his work from his 40-by-25-foot painted mural on 42nd Street in Times Square, his Blindseries photography of the New York skyline seen through blinds, funded by NYSCA. The artist sees blinds as a metaphor for perception.

While SuZen’s work has been exhibited in museums and galleries and collected internationally, she takes particular pleasure in presenting in the public sphere, where she can bring art to the public. Over the years, she has created installations and performances at JFK Airport, the Port Authority Bus Station, the World Trade Center and venues abroad, including Museum Ludwig Cologne, Germany. Its events always have a participatory element, inviting viewers to participate.

SuZen’s work, steeped in a Buddhist aesthetic, has been described as having a mythical purity, exploring career themes like the dualities of reality and illusion and mind and light.

Christopher S. Washington