5 Tips for Your High School to Art School Application

Thinking of applying to our High School to Art School program? Helping our student or child put together the application? Here are a few tips to make your application stand out.

But first, more important than any of these tips is the deadline:
be sure to get your application in by June 1!

be thorough


You don’t have to write a novel, but roughly a solid paragraph per question can’t hurt - enough to give us a sense of who you are and why you want to attend this program. When we see one or two incomplete sentences, we wonder if you really invested in participating in this program. Also, be sure to use formal language rather than something you would put in a text message or email. Capitalize your “i”s, use punctuation - edit your writing the same way you would if you were submitting an important paper for school.

2. don’t be shy about sharing why you need the program


Everyone likes to be needed, and our program is no exception. In fact, the purpose of the program is to make an incredible arts education accessible (and get you into a great art school, of course). So if you want to be part of High School to Art School because your school doesn’t offer many art programs, or your parents can’t afford to send you to a tuition-based program, tell us! These are things that we really care about.

3. it’s not all about the portfolio (really)


We would much rather have a student that is passionate, committed, and wants to learn than someone who has it all figured it out (because no one does). Or maybe you do have it all figured out, in which case we applaud you, but then why do you need the program (see point #2)?

You can say, for instance, that your observational drawing skills aren’t where you want them to be right now, and that you’d like to work on them. That’s a good reason to apply to this program! We honestly look more for interest and dedication than a perfect portfolio.

4. do your homework


Before applying, make sure to read through our High School to Art School Page, and get a sense of what session is right for you (spoiler: it could be all of them; we have students that start with us in the Spring, and continue on through our Summer and Fall Sessions, and we welcome that). But think about it: if you’re convinced, say, that the Summer Session is perfect for you, and you tell us why, we’ll be more likely to agree.

5. check your email


While this may hardly feel like a tip, but we have students that make it all the way to our interview process - or are even accepted into the program - and we never hear back from them. And we have to give away their spot to another candidate. How else are we supposed to get in touch with you? We don’t have the budget for a carrier pigeon.

Now that you’re armed with the best information, take the next step!

All researched and ready? Go ahead and apply for the Summer Session here! We just ask a few questions and for some images of your work.

Learn about what the Summer Program has to offer, review the program schedule, read about our accomplished alumni, and more.





Cecilia Lim, 2019 SU-CASA Artist-in-Residence

Cecilia Lim, 2019 SU-CASA Artist-in-Residence

The SU-CASA Artist-in-Residence program places artists in senior centers across the city in an effort to improve the quality of life of our city’s elders. This year socially-engaged visual artist Cecilia Lim was a SU-CASA Artist-in-Residence at JSPOA Theodora Jackson in Jamaica, Queens. Cecilia’s final event with her students culminated in “Queens Elders Rise!”, an exhibition of visual art. The presentation shared the elders’ work in drawing, writing, storytelling, and book-making. The final event also featured a video of the students’ progress throughout their classes and the impact that making art has had on their lives (you can check it out HERE).

Cecilia and her students

Cecilia and her students

To learn more about how the arts can positively impact the quality of life of older adults, please join us on May 15th for our second annual Creative Aging Conference, “Aging with Dignity through a Creative Lens.” We will cover topics including resources and best practices in creative aging; the impact of the growth and changing demographics of New York City’s older adult population; and ways that artists and institutions serving the older adult population can work together. It’s open to artists, arts educators, social services, workers, and anyone committed to serving our city’s elders. RSVP HERE.


1 Comment

Hustle For Your Worth: Behind the Scenes with Art Producer LaNeese Ray

Jamaica-based Art Producer and visionary behind upcoming Artist Commissioning Program event Hustle for Your Worth sat down with QCA to talk about the role of an art producer, professional development for artists, and the relationship between arts practitioners and community.

Copy of Hustle For Your Worth - Kelly Edits.png

Held on friday, May 3 from 5 - 7pm
at Jamaica Central Library,
Hustle for Your Worth
is a free professional development event
for artists and community members
covering the topics of Art Law, Branding,
Finance, and Networking.
Read more and RSVP below!

QCA: Tell us about yourself! What made you want to be part of the Artist Commissioning Program?

Laneese Ray.jpg

LaNeese Ray: I am a dancer and choreographer who was born and raised in Queens. I grew up training and finding my love for dance and the arts here, so this is where it all started for me. The Artist Commissioning Program is a great way to connect with fellow artists, provide support to them using the knowledge I've learned over the years, and develop myself on the opposite side of the art.

I started college and my career at the same time outside of New York and it took me leaving home to ignite a fire in me because I no longer had my comfort zone. It was great for me to leave but I feel it's always great to give back to a community that gave so much to you.

For more about Laneese, read her full bio here.

The Artist Commissioning Program is a great way to connect with fellow artists, provide support to them using the knowledge I’ve learned over the years, and develop myself on the opposite side of the art.
— LaNeese Ray

QCA: After selecting the artist grantees through a panel process, the ACP enters this sort of artist-support and event-planning phase. What sorts of things have you been up to recently as an Art Producer representing Jamaica?

As art producers, we have the experience of being invited to see the creative process of the grantees’ projects .

LaNeese: Right now I have been working on organizing the Hustle for Your Worth event.

 I've booked speakers and guests for the event that I think will benefit the community. I've also been able to collaborate with some of my fellow art producers and the grantees for the event as well.

As art producers, we also have the experience of being invited to see the creative process of the grantees' projects and we're starting to see what the artists have been working on since they received their grants. We give any feedback or assistance that they ask for to make their premieres a success.

QCA: As an art producer, you were tasked with organizing an event for the Artist Commissioning Program. Why did you decide to organize a professional development workshop? Do you see professional practices for artists as a discrete need in our field?

When I was brainstorming the type of  event that I wanted to organize...I knew I wanted to do something not only for the grantees but for the artist community. Professional Development is so important for artists because we work in an industry that is constantly evolving with the times.

LaNeese: When I was brainstorming the type of  event that I wanted to organize, I felt the most passionate about having a professional development workshop.

I knew I wanted to do something not only for the grantees but for the artist community. Professional Development is so important for artists because we work in an industry that is constantly evolving with the times. No matter how great your message is or how great your work is, if you don't adapt with the times that you live in it is easy to not find the connection with the audience that you want to reach.

Artists are always working on their art and I wanted to have an event that helped to give resources that help developed the business of their craft as well. It can take years to find out exactly how you want to introduce your art to the world and there will be many trials and errors to get to a place where you not only see growth but also build longevity.

QCA: For your event, Hustle for Your Worth, you chose to focus on the topics of branding, vision boards, art law, and finance for artists. What made you decide on these topics?

LaNeese: Being around artists that were trying to establish themselves, some of the biggest discussions that always occur were the lack of knowledge on how to negotiate or draft a contract that works for them. Artists also struggle finding ways to promote themselves and their work using the technology that is out now especially in New York where there is a huge saturation of artists. It can be really frustrating and scary because sometimes you don't know where to start. We're in an age where getting the information is so easy because of Google and smartphones, but can we say it's always truthful and helpful information?

QCA: What can participants expect for the Hustle for Your Worth event? How do you see the evening unfolding?

LaNeese: Participants can expect to ask questions and find out information about topics such as Art Law, Branding, Finance, and Networking from people that truly live and breathe it and know it inside and out. They can also expect to be introduced to the Artist Commissioning Program Grantees for the Jamaica community (Kerri Edge and Y? Guyadin), learning how these artists were able to create a brand that resonated with the art producers, and will get one-on-one time to talk to them.

QCA: What do you hope that Jamaica-based artists and community members walk away with after this workshop?

I hope [artists] walk away feeling like they found a community... sometimes people need to find their tribe, and I hope any Jamaica artists that attends realizes their own community wants to support what they do.

LaNeese: I hope that they walk away feeling like they found a community that genuinely will help and support them. I hope that they not only find some information to enhance their work but find a network of like minded people through not only the speakers but the other guests that attend as well.

Sometimes people need to find their tribe, and I hope any Jamaica artists that attends realizes that their own community wants to support what they do.

LaNeese’s Artist Commissioning Program (ACP) event, Hustle for Your Worth,
will take place at jamaica central library (main plaza) on may 3, 2019 from 5 - 7pm. event is free and open to the public.

1 Comment


Lonnie Harrington on Creative Conversations

St. Albans-based musician Lonnie Harrington recently attend our Creative Conversations in Jamaica. The prolific multi-genre artist talked to us about what motivated him to join us. Check out this quick video and learn more about Lonnie and his music at



Meet ArtSite Artist Chemin Hsiao!

Interview with artist Chemin Hsiao by ArtSite Program Manager, Marissa Lazar


What inspired you to apply to ArtSite?

As I’ve worked with Queens Council on the Arts for a few past projects, I really like the collaborations with QCA & venues, how each particular culture project influenced its targeted audiences, and how visitors responded to the artwork. Therefore, I always look for announcements from QCA.

Artistically, I’ve always been looking for opportunity to paint a mural because it’s such a different setting compared to small scale work I usually do in the studio. Also, as a continuation of my previous series of larger paintings, I think ArtSite provides a wonderful cause, for the piece will be about the locations and the community I live in or walk around very often.


Please discuss your connection to Queens.

Since my arrival to New York City from Taiwan to pursue my artistic career 10 years ago, I’ve always live around the area of Jackson Heights (Elmhurst, Grand Ave Station, Rego Park and Corona) because I depend on the Asian food & grocery options so much. Sometimes a warm noodle soup similar to my hometown could give me lots of strength moving forward in life. I also walk a lot in-between these areas, sometimes just for walk and get out of my studio.


Briefly describe your ArtSite project and what inspired your idea?

“My Journey to the West III: Playground” will be the 3rd piece of my large painting series “My Journey to the West,” which interwoven with an old Chinese tale about a monk going from East to West to get the essence of Buddha with the help of Monkey King and other disciples. I place myself in the position as the monk, going from Taiwan to New York City to pursue my artistic career. I combine the Asian scroll narrative painting tradition to tell a story about the environment, its people and explain to me the meaning of certain period of time in life.

 As the series is always about the locations I live and experienced, it fits perfectly with the mission of ArtSite, “to establish an ecosystem of local artists and art producers to create new work that reflects the diverse cultural stories particular to the communities of Jamaica and Jackson Heights.”

Thinking of Jackson Heights, everyone living in it surely knows it’s about the diversity of people & ethnic groups. When I think of Jackson Heights, I see different people with different cultural backgrounds, all play together in one place. There is an unspoken rule that everyone just lives together without interfering with each other’s business. I would like to portrait that in the idea of “Playground.” The narrative painting grew from a playground setting, where various animals symbolizing various ethnic groups play together with each other.  


Where will your project be exhibited and why did you choose this particular site for your ArtSite project?

The piece was painted on the exterior rolling gate & interior wall on canvas at the (former) Zaytoun Restaurant, located at 40 -13 82nd Street, Flushing, 11373. The rolling gate is visible to the public when the current pizzeria closes each evening. The interior piece could be seen during the store hours.


In my proposal stage, I visited the store for gathering information purpose and found out the location owner is very kind, supportive to art & creative projects, also, the rolling gate & interior wall space is perfect for the large narrative painting I plan to do. Therefore, it’s a perfect match.


Will ArtSite be your first public art project? What are some of the key differences between your normal practice and working in the public sphere?

Yes, ArtSite will be my 1st public art project. 

Working onsite with people passing by was such an interesting experiences. It created a different atmosphere than working in a private studio space, which I normally did. The energy of the community becomes a part of the project, and I really enjoyed the instant support from the community while working on the piece.

 The large piece allows me to work physically into the painting, compared to the small watercolor pieces onsite I usually do, it is simply rewarding to get to paint this way.

Obviously, compared to works presented in a gallery setting, public art is much more accessible for people, I found this setting very intriguing at the moment.


How do you want/envision the public to interact with your work?

When the store closes during weekend, the pedestrians could pass by the rolling gate piece, maybe stop for a moment, and have a smile to-go in their daily life.


See more of Chemin’s work!


What sets the ArtPort Program apart from other Residencies?


What sets the ArtPort Program apart from other Residencies?

(Left to Right) Studio views of Brian Soliwoda’s residency space (open now until April), the Landing Pages “kiosk” (ArtPort Session 1) and Sherwin Banfield’s studio for “Passenger Relief” (ArtPort Session 3)

Artists, regardless of where they live and work, often are looking for two things that are always in short supply: funds and affordable studio and exhibition spaces. When we first started the ArtPort Residency, I thought that that would be the biggest draw for artists interested in the program.

At face value, I saw it as an opportunity for artists to have a free space and receive a stipend to make new work – who wouldn’t want that? While that partly is the case – ArtPort artists will have access to a dedicated studio for 3 months as well as a stipend of $6500 – the residency program offers something even more valuable:  access to a unique location and audience.

 When the ArtPort Residency was in its planning stages, LaGuardia Airport General Manager Lysa Scully set out to start a program that enhances the airport environment by providing an artistic and cultural experience that will engage the traveling public with unexpected and participatory encounters. The mission to activate a “non-traditional” space like an airport rotunda makes the ArtPort Residency a unique program with rewarding benefits that exceed space and money.

Most importantly, ArtPort artists will have access. Access to the airport that visitors normally wouldn’t have, and access to engage the hundreds of people that go through the Marine Air Terminal every day.  

We hope that by working in an airport, artists are inspired by the particularities of this place – La Guardia’s s facilities, its history, its energy – and create works that enliven the space. Past ArtPort projects really took into account aspects of the airport to create work that was insightful and conscientious about what it meant to work in LaGuardia.  

ArtPort artists will have access. Access to the airport that visitors normally wouldn’t have, and access to engage the hundreds of people that go through the Marine Air Terminal every day.  

Inspired by LaGuardia’s history as an airport for Clipper seaplanes, current artist-in-resident Brian Soliwoda is constructing a biodegradable sculpture of a clipper ship, with seeds woven and embedded into its sails and structure. Each seed variety highlights a different plant with a role in New York City’s immigration history.  At the end of his project, Brian will be breaking down the sculpture and then planting it on airport grounds with help and permission from Port Authority.

Sandra Lopez-Monsalve and Sherwin Banfield both also worked with the team at LaGuardia to gain access to typically restricted areas. Sandra made recordings of ambient noises throughout the airport, including the rooftop of the MAT and the airplane runway (listen here). Sherwin also explored the tarmac, creating some sketches as research for his final bas-relief mural. Both Sandra and Sherwin were escorted by Port Authority staff, who gave them a rare look into the inner workings of the airport.


Prepatory sketches by ArtPort Resident Sherwin Banfield on the tarmac of LaGuardia Airport

Guided tours of the tarmac and other private areas can inspire new artist projects, but another aspect of the residency that is equally valuable is the number of new people artists can engage with while in studio.

Along with her ambient recordings, Sandra created a series of man-on-the-street recordings where she spoke to travelers at LaGuardia and asked them to reflect on what it means to travel.

For their project “Landing Pages”, writers Gideon Jacobs and Lexie Smith opened their studio to travelers about to fly. They were invited to give the Landing Pages team their flight number and contact information. Once the plane is airborne, Smith and Jacobs had the duration of the flight to write the traveler a new piece of fiction. The project was so successful that it was featured in major publications like the New York Times and Hyperallergic


ArtPort Artists Sandra Lopez-Monsalve (left, in blue) and Lexie Smith (right, in white) speaking with visitors to the studio space.

Artists have exposure to a large number of people who they normally wouldn’t interact with under typical circumstances. An artist can introduce visitors to their work, involve them in the project, or simply give them an insight into the artistic process. This engagement has a twofold benefit: first, it sets out to enliven the airport experience. Second, it allows artists to create innovative projects. 

This past year’s residency projects were all thoughtful about the location they worked in as well as the population they would be interacting with each week. They really did activate a normally “art-less” space to enliven the airport and engage a group of people who probably didn’t intend to see art while traveling. With the second year of the residency about to begin, we hope that the next group of artists continue the tradition of insightful projects that take full advantage of the airport and its travelers.

Interested in applying?


Want to learn more about the ArtPort Residency?

Visit our website for program guidelines and application here

For questions, email Dan Bamba, Grants and Residencies Manager at

The QCA ArtPort Residency is a program of the Queens Council on the Arts, Queens Art Fund that is supported in part by the NYC DCLA, Greater NY Arts Development Fund, in partnership with the NYC Council and in partnership with the PANYNJ.


Since its founding in 1966, QCA has evolved into a wide-ranging arts service organization fostering live cultural experiences and providing grants, professional development, and education services throughout the borough including The Queens Arts Fund, Artist Commissioning Program, Su Casa Residency program, Professional Development workshops, Artist Leaders Circles, LAB and High School to Art School Portfolio Development Program.

More information can be found at


Founded in 1921, PANYNJ builds, operates, and maintains many of the most important transportation and trade infrastructure assets in the country. The agency’s network of aviation, ground, rail, and seaport facilities is among the busiest in the country, supports more than 550,000 regional jobs, and generates more than $23 billion in annual wages and $80 billion in annual economic activity. PANYNJ also owns and manages the 16-acre World Trade Center site, where the 1,776-foot-tall One World Trade Center is now the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere. PANYNJ receives no tax revenue from either the State of New York or New Jersey or from the City of New York. The agency raises the necessary funds for the improvement, construction or acquisition of its facilities primarily on its own credit. For more information, please visit


SU-CASA 2019 Artists-in-Residence

1 Comment

SU-CASA 2019 Artists-in-Residence

SU-CASA is a community arts engagement program that places artists in residence at senior centers across the five boroughs of New York City. Over the past 8 years, QCA has administered the program in partnership with more than 100 Queens-based senior centers. This year’s SU-CASA Artists-in-Residence include: Deborah Wasserman, Shenna Vaughn, Karl Lorenzon, Carol Sudhalter, Anthonia Akinbola, Aurora Reyes, Wojciech Gilewicz, Adam Weisehan, Evie McKenna, Radha Singh, Katya Khan, Alacia Stubbs, Valerie Skakun, Justin Cimino, Cecilia Lim, Simona Minns, Mari Meade, Sandra Vucicevic, Guillermo Severiche, Barbara Westermann, Che Min Hsiao, Aileen Bassis, Bao Ru, Yvonne Shortt, Sherese Francis, David Mills, Emma Brown, and Jinyu Li.

SU-CASA, funded in FY19 by the New York City Council, provides grants to artists and organizations for the creation and delivery of arts programming for seniors. Teaching artists engage participating seniors in an art project or series of cultural programs over the course of the residency, which takes place January 1 - June 30, 2019. The program includes a public program component – an exhibit, reading, performance, open house or other cultural interaction open to the surrounding community.

1 Comment


Art Producer Brittany Wilson On Representation, Equity, and Community

Brittany Wilson.jpg

Behind the Scenes of the
Artist Commissioning Program Panel

After the Artist Commissioning Program panel, we sat down with Jamaica, Queens-based art producer Brittany Wilson for her thoughts on issues of representation and inclusion that arose during the panel. A Queens native, Brittany is a dancer, teacher, choreographer, arts administrator, and funder who began her training at Jamaica’s Edge School of the Arts. For more on Brittany’s background, as well as her fellow art producers, check out her bio here.

Jamaica & Southeast Queens Art Producers & Artists at the 2018-19 ACP Kickoff Party From Left: Tyra Emerson, Darrell Bridges, Jesus Ward, LaNeese Ray, Brittany Wilson, Y? Guyadin, Kerri Edge, Linette Townsley, Brendez Wineglass, and Yolanda Johnson

Jamaica & Southeast Queens Art Producers & Artists at the 2018-19 ACP Kickoff Party
From Left: Tyra Emerson, Darrell Bridges, Jesus Ward, LaNeese Ray, Brittany Wilson, Y? Guyadin, Kerri Edge, Linette Townsley, Brendez Wineglass, and Yolanda Johnson

I am a firm believer that representation breeds courage and innovation.
— Brittany Wilson, ACP Art Producer

QCA: As a 2018-19 Art Producer, you were recently part of a panel representing Jamaica and Southeast Queens. What are your thoughts on how issues of representation were handled during the panel?

Brittany: Disclaimer, my thoughts around representation are purely my own interpretations based on experience.

In the last few years this idea of representation has started to become apart of many conversations. First starting with the big screen and inevitably trickling down into the commercials, workspace and now the arts. I am a firm believer that representation breeds courage and innovation.  If I see don’t myself, an African American women, represented in a hair product commercial, it is unlikely that I will purchase that product. The same can be said for my application review process. While reading through the 30 + submissions I realized there were certain stories that these artists wanted to tell without representing those who were most affected by said story. I found this unsettling but also understand that even with there being a larger conversation, we still have a ways to go. Nonetheless, I was less drawn to those submissions because of the lack of representation.  I personally believe it is very important that we as artists are in tune and responsible with stories we are trying to tell.


QCA: With these issues in mind, what is your advice for 1) future Artist Commissioning Program (ACP) applicants, as well as 2) artists submitting grant proposals in general? 

Brittany: A piece of advice I would lend to future ACP and other grant applicants is to allow those outside their circle to read their submission before they submit. During the review process I found myself wondering if the applicant allowed “other voices” to read what they wrote. I think this would have greatly cut down on the privilege driven approach. This also goes for the supplemental materials they choose to share. Some of the more sensitive topics that were being tackled (gun violence, #MeToo movement, etc) were not always successfully supported by the work samples because they seemed to be contradictory.  On a more technical note, I would advise artists to check their links and any other attached documents to be sure they are working properly. Sometimes something as small as faulty or incomplete links can disqualify a qualified applicant.

QCA: In the spirit of enabling community members to make decisions for their own neighborhoods, this panel was comprised entirely of individuals from Jamaica & Southeast Queens. How do you think this local lens impacted the panel’s conversation and priorities?

This idea of the local lens connects directly back to representation and why it is important. As someone who was born and raised in Jamaica/Southeast Queens, I know what my community experiences.
— Brittany Wilson, ACP Art Producer

Brittany: This idea of the local lens connects directly back to representation and why it is important. As someone who was born and raised in Jamaica/Southeast, Queens, I know what my community experiences. I know what my community will respond to. I know what my community will come out to see because they will see themselves in it. Not everything will resonate with everybody. With this in mind, me and my fellow panelists were pretty much always on the same page. Our first question was, will our community connect to this topic? If they did, our next question was, was our community being represented in the applicants’ narrative? This guided us rather smoothly through the process. And to clarify, although Jamaica/SEQ is made up of predominantly Black & Brown families, we were not looking strictly at color. We were considering experiences and what we want the children of our community to be exposed to in order for the important conversations to be continued.


QCA: Part of the mission of ACP is to democratize who can become a “gatekeeper” in the arts, a role traditionally reserved for the privileged few. How does expanding who can become an arts patron change the type of art being created?

Brittany: It wasn’t until very recently I started hearing people use the word “gatekeeper” as a way to describe those who choose what gains mass support and what doesn’t.  I don’t consider myself a gatekeeper; far from it. This process of democratization isn’t about passing the gate keys; it’s about leveling the playing field. I may be an art producer/patron but that doesn’t make me any less of an artist. With this in mind I’m already on the same page as the artists I am helping to fund. I’m not above them, and I’m not below them. Therefore there is no privileged bias or decisions driven by envy. I’m there in the trenches with them. I also believe that because I am a working artist, I have a pulse to culture that the privileged few do no possess which changes the type of art that is being funded. It won’t always be safe and fluffy because the reality of my community is not always safe and fluffy. Artists and entrepreneurs as art patrons make for realistic work being funded. Parents and teachers as arts patrons make for holistic work being funded. It’s time to change up who we have in the room.


QCA: As an artist, arts administrator, and emerging arts patron, how do you want to foster a more inclusive creative sector?

Brittany: In my work as an artist, arts administrators and emerging arts patron, I have learned a valuable lesson about change. It’s not going to happen overnight, over a decade or quite possibly over a lifetime. It will be messy, and possibly get much worse before a glimmer of light. With this in mind I like operating from a place of acquiring more knowledge for myself that I can eventually share with others. An inclusive creative sector starts with having knowledge for myself. I would like to foster this type of environment by creating spaces for learning and sharing. It is hard to create spaces of inclusivity if you don’t understand people's experiences.



Meet QCA's Gala Honoree - Himanshu “Heems” Suri


Punjabi-American rapper, founder of Greedhead Music, and native New Yorker, Himanshu "Heems" Suri launched his solo career while a member of alternative hip-hop group Das Racist.

QCA had a chance to interview Heems.
Check it out below!

How are you inspired by the artistic communities of Queens?

I'm inspired by the world around me and Queens is a perfect microcosm for this world. I'm inspired by immigrant journeys and this is where it all begins for people coming to New York. In Queens I found a community of like-minded creatives who like myself straddle multiple identities. 

How does your work address a need for cultural equity?

My work is intended to make noise, to be seen and to be heard. While South Asians in this country are equated with professional success we're often limited to this role in capitalism instead of the other facets of our lives, work, and experiences. I hope to give these facets a voice and existence and to shatter stereotypes of Asian-Americans in the process.

What has been your experience as an artist/advocate living/working in Queens?

In Queens I've found a community of artists coping with the same issues I am in a post-9/11 America and a constant source of inspiration for the stories I tell. 

Which of your projects would you like to tell our readers about?

I think my work on Eat Pray Thug and on Swet Shop Boys' Cashmere does a good job of setting my first-generation experience to music. 

QCA will honor Heems at the 2019 Gala - Bollywood Carnival!

Join us! It will be a fun and festive celebration of our borough's artistic community. 
Come and experience the customs and cuisine of a rich culture. 

Thursday, February 7th, 2019
7pm - 10pm

The Knockdown Center
52-19 Flushing Avenue
Maspeth, NY 11378
~ festive attire ~



Meet ArtSite Artist Annabelle Popa!

Interview with artist Annabelle Popa by ArtSite Program Manager, Marissa Lazar


What inspired you to apply to ArtSite?

I saw that ArtSite was doing a project in Jackson Heights, the neighborhood I grew up in, so I though what a special opportunity it would be to have my art in the very place I spent most of my life.

Please discuss your connection to Queens.

My parents moved to Jackson Heights when I was born and I have lived there ever since. As I grew I was able to explore the larger queens area, from Astoria and Steinway street to my favorite bubble tea and dumpling spot in Flushing. Jackson Heights will always be my home base that continues to grow, change, and flourish.

Briefly describe your ArtSite project and what inspired your idea?

Jackson Heights is known as the neighborhood of gardens. Growing up I would take different routes home and would discover some gorgeous courtyards of certain apartment complexes. I found the majority of courtyards and apartments would have 'guardian' animals standing in the pathways. From griffins to lions, to fish over windows, I felt like I was discovering magical lands that were attainable only to those with 'the key'. I feel these creatures have been overlooked and forgotten, so with my project, "Guardians of Jackson Heights", I wanted to bring them into the forefront. By bringing attention to these characters I hope people of the neighborhood will begin to notice and appreciate them once more.

Where will your project be exhibited and why did you choose this particular site for your ArtSite project?

My project will be on a wall along 76th street and 37th avenue at Image Heights Pharmacy. This site is particularly special due to its length, which allows enough room for a narrative to evolve. As viewers walk by the story within the art will be revealed to them. It also has an awning above with lighting so even at night it can be seen.

Will ArtSite be your first public art project? What are some of the key differences between your normal practice and working in the public sphere? 

ArtiSite is my second public art project, but the first that I have full creative control over. In my normal practice I have a commissioner. While I do get some creative freedom, there is a established goal that needs to be met. In my personal work, I do have a narrative or meaning I want to communicate, but it is not often seen by many. This project, I have full creative freedom within the theme that I have established, but I need to keep in mind that this is a piece created for the public. I have an amazing opportunity to make something that will be seen by many, and a responsibility to make something thought provoking.

How do you want/envision the public to interact with your work?

The location of the mural is quite an active block. Busses pass by it and its right on an active avenue. I want people to initially get a glimpse of it, be intrigued, and then go back (whether its on their way home from work or while they're out shopping) to get a closer look. Various elements in the mural are large enough to see from across the block, but many details will be small so going up close will be necessary for the full experience. The wall is right on street level so viewers can get as close as they'd like. I hope the mural encourages viewers to take a closer look at the architecture of the Jackson Heights and find the elements that I tried to emulate within the mural.