Artists step up to the plate to aid homeless New Yorkers

Artists step up to the plate to aid homeless New Yorkers

Artists including Ed Ruscha, Jenny Holzer and Rashid Johnson design limited-edition porcelain dishes for Coalition for the Homeless in New York City 

The humble plate: a symbol of nourishment, home and community, and in the case of Coalition for the Homeless’ latest initiative, a blank canvas for world-renowned artists. Following the forced cancellation of Artwalk NY, its annual gala and auction, the charity went back to the drawing board to devise a new, inventive solution to raising funds for the city’s homeless community in an increasingly precarious time. 

The resulting concept, the Artist Plate Project, sees 50 celebrated artists create designs for a run of limited-edition dinner plates produced by New York’s Prospect, which would be sold to support services for homeless New Yorkers and those enduring financial hardship in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. Each plate has been created in an edition of 175 and will be available to purchase online for $175 until 15 December. Illustrating the potential impact of the initiative, the charity states that the sale of one plate has the capacity to feed 75 homeless and hungry New Yorkers.

Ed Ruscha design for the Coalition for the Homeless who have commissioned 50 leading artists to design plates for homeless people in New York
 Ed Ruscha. Image courtesy the Coalition for the Homeless / Copyright the artist

Many of the participating artists have dreamt up new work specifically for the project, others have delved into their archives to adapt their most seminal works to a circular format. Among the featured plates are Ed Ruscha’s text-based work that reads ‘He Up and Went Downtown’, Glenn Ligon’s Warm Broad Glow, based on the artist’s first neon installation created in 2005. The words ‘negro sunshine’ are borrowed from Melanctha, the longest novella in Gertrude Stein’s Three Lives, published in 1909.   

Elsewhere Cecily Brown’s Untitled, created specifically for the project sees a melange of twisting, earthy-hued forms. Maurizio Cattelan’s plate sets a characteristically surreal mood – a colony of ants swarming around a garishly-coloured green paintbrush – and one that’s bound to make for a startling dining experience. Other featured artists include Lawrence Weiner, Sarah Sze, Jenny Holzer, Adam Pendleton, Carmen Herrera, Rashid Johnson, Julian Opie, Ugo Rondinone and Lorna Simpson. 

Maurizio Cattelan. Image courtesy the Coalition for the Homeless / Copyright the artist

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Coalition for the Homeless – America’s oldest advocacy and direct service organisation aiding homeless men, women and children – has taken to the streets of New York to offer life-saving treatment to those most in need. As the winter months approach, and with the looming threat of job losses and increasing hunger, the provision of emergency food and other life-saving aid has never served a more critical role. § 

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