Installation by Rudy Shepherd to open at First Park in Manhattan

"Black Rock Negative Energy Absorber," an installation by Rudy Shepherd, assistant professor of art, will be on display at First Park, Manhattan, from May 27 through November. The public art exhibition is sponsored by NYC Parks and First Street Green, a community organization devoted to cultural programming started by Penn State School of Visual Arts faculty members John Bowman and Ann Shostrom. The sculpture will be on view at the western side of the park at Second Avenue and Houston Street. First Street Green and Shepherd will host a public opening from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 27, to celebrate the installation.

Shepherd’s 10-foot-tall abstract sculpture made out of wood, metal lathe and dyed concrete continues a series he started in 2006 at Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, Queens. Since 2006, Shepherd has continued the series with smaller sculptures in varying materials, sizes and forms, but this will be his return to monumental outdoor work.

Rudy Shepherd's Black Rock Negative Energy Absorber (in progress) in First Park, Manhattan

Rudy Shepherd's "Black Rock Negative Energy Absorber" (in progress) in First Park, Manhattan.

Image: Penn State

"Black Rock Negative Energy Absorbers" are a group of sculptures with a magical function: “to expunge negative energy — which may come in the form of prejudice, racism or even quotidian disdain” — from the people walking by the piece. The sculpture will free them and “allow them to respond to life with the more open, compassionate and positive aspects of their personalities,” noted Shepherd. The series is his response to living in New York City for the past 12 years and witnessing the city’s madness. At the same time, Shepherd’s work is an approach to political art started two decades ago that looks at the problems of society in a more comprehensive way and advances practices culled from new age mythology and ancient religions to heal our divided and troubled country.

Rudy Shepherd received his bachelor of fine arts degree from Wake Forest University (1998) and his master of fine arts degree from the Art Institute of Chicago (2001). Since then, he has had solo exhibitions at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh; Mixed Greens, New York; Location One, New York; and Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C. His group show venues include the PS1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, N.Y.; the Contemporary Museum, Baltimore; the Bronx Museum of Art, New York; the Queens Museum of Art, New York; and Flux Factory, Long Island City, N.Y., among others. He received a fellowship from Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City, N.Y., and was an artist in residence at the PS1 International Studio Program and the Jacob Lawrence Institute for the Visual Arts. He is currently splitting his time between New York City and his teaching position at Penn State. Currently, he has work in the exhibition "When the Stars Begin to Fall" at the Studio Museum in Harlem.

Since 2008, First Street Green (FSG) has converted a derelict building lot at 33 E. 1st Street in Manhattan into an open art space serving the Lower East Side community. Collaborating with NYC Parks and Partnership for Parks, FSG has successfully incorporated the lot into First Park. Today, FSG provides ongoing cultural activity in First Park by engaging with emerging artists, architects, community and cultural groups through a series of programs that activate this public space.

NYC Parks’ Art in the Parks program has consistently fostered the creation and installation of temporary public art in parks throughout the five boroughs. Since 1967, collaborations with arts organizations and artists have produced hundreds of public art projects in New York City parks. For more information, visit

For more information on Shepherd's installation and FSG, visit the FSG website.

Last Updated May 23, 2014