2015 Quinn Prize Recipient Chat Travieso
Chat Travieso, a 2007 Cooke Graduate Scholar, is a talented architect committed to using socially conscious and creative art to make positive changes in low-income communities around New York City. This year, the Cooke Foundation awarded him a $10,000 Matthew J. Quinn Prize in recognition of his outstanding service to his community.
After graduating from Yale School of Architecture in 2010 with a master’s degree, Chat worked as an architectural and urban designer for WXY Architecture + Urban Design, an award-winning multi-disciplinary practice focused on innovative approaches to design. Chat shared with the foundation that, “The years I worked there taught me a great deal about design and construction, project management, community planning, and working with city agencies.”
By late December 2012, Chat had decided to begin his own cross-disciplinary and community-focused art and design practice, and in January 2013 he began working with community organizations and others to create public art projects that reflected the essence of the neighborhoods in which they were created.
Since then, in collaboration with a variety of community organizations in New York City, Chat’s public art projects have made a positive artistic and environmental impact. His partnerships with the Architectural League of New York, New York Department of Transportation, and few other organizations have produced public art installations that have been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and several urban design periodicals.
“Over the past couple of years, I have had the privilege and pleasure of working closely with community members to create a little free library/bench outside a housing development in the Lower East Side (Word Play), a sprinkler system that attaches to a fire hydrant for children to cool off in the summer (CoolStop), and foldable seats for the elderly outside a housing development in Brooklyn (Sit Anywhere: Borinquen Plaza). To create these pieces I facilitated a number of design workshops to learn from and work with many people in the community.”
One of the community organizations Chat has collaborated extensively with is Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, a community development organization serving the diverse neighborhoods of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. For his “World Play” installation, Chat worked with the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council and students from its afterschool program to develop a site-specific book shelter and bench that attaches to a fence outside a housing development in New York City’s Lower East Side. The project captures the cultural diversity of the neighborhood by incorporating a visual effect that shows the word “LIBRARY” in English, Spanish, and Chinese all at once. Two Bridges Neighborhood Council’s associate director, Kerri Culhane, praised the installation saying, “His ‘Word Play’ at the Little Free Library fosters relationships among residents, while offering youth in the community an opportunity to steward a valuable public resource—a community lending library,”
She also shared with the foundation that, “The Two Bridges community has been fortunate to benefit from Chat’s creative, humane, inspirational and witty work through several collaborations over the past two years.”
Chat shared that ever since he started his practice, he has “created playful and functional public art projects that have made a tangible impression in communities.” He went on to explain that by engaging with local residents, businesses, and community groups in various stages of a project, his work “considers ways cities can be more open to communities that are often excluded from dominant systems of urban development by offering innovative, uplifting and visually striking responses to people’s everyday needs.”
Chat employs bold colors, super graphics, and optical effects to transform common materials into something beautiful and accessible that encourages public participation. While these projects are often modest in size and budget, they reinforce social bonds in the community in which they stand and help to create a more inclusive city.
The Cooke Foundation is proud of its 2015 Matthew J. Quinn Prize recipient and invites you to find out more about Chat’s work by visiting his website: http://www.chattravieso.com/