The Little Truck that Could

This is a model of a motorized concrete mixer truck. A recycled motor paired to a battery moves the truck forward and reverse. The driver’s cabin is decorated with steering wheel, cushioned seat, headlights, license plate and ladder. This motor is linked to shaft that ends at a yellow gear (visible in the photos below). This gear rotates the concrete mixer and connects to an adjustable trough from which the concrete can be poured when the truck arrives at the construction site. All details are realistically measured against actual trucks.

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My Little Neighborhood

Washington Park in Downtown Newark

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Newark Model Small(Above L to R) Broad Street Station, Polhemus House, YWCA Building, Newark Museum, Ballantine House,
Second Presbyterian Church, American Insurance Company, Newark Public Library

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When I examine old pictures of my neighborhood in the city archives, I realize how much of my city disappeared in the past forty-some years. This sad trend will inevitably continue, as it does in most cities where old buildings outlive their use. If not in the form of my city’s physical destruction, this loss is in the form of my gradual loss of childhood memories. To reconcile this trend, I built the below model as my own souvenir. This keepsake will forever remind me of my identity in Newark.

The landmarks depicted are selected from my neighborhood and include my childhood home. The buildings are drawn with ink and pastel on thick paper, which is then cutout to form a two-dimensional silhouette. The trolleys travel back and forth down the street and are magnetically operated by a crank and hidden string beneath the street. The tracks guide the trains up, down, and into the tunnel. These trolleys are modeled on those that used to exist in Newark, long before my time here.

Perhaps, this models presents a more romanticized and idealized Newark than the city that may actually exist.

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New York in Miniature

The impressive range New York’s architecture, from the humblest home to the slenderest tower, powers my inspiration to create. I aim to capture my perceptions of bustling New York in this model. With a base measuring only 28 by 36 inches, I have built an intricate model replete with subway entrances, lampposts, and people. Whenever I glance at my tiny creation, I rejoice in knowing that my love of New York is within the breadth of my arms.

 

NYC collage small

 

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Paper Cutout Models

Handmade Dollhouse

Over the years, I slowly built this dollhouse. Using balsa wood, cardboard, and scraps salvaged from the garbage, I glued together the numerable pieces of furniture. Odds and ends (many from my sister) such as bottle caps, cloth scraps, and earrings complement the intricate displays. None of the materials are purchased from a conventional model store. They are all hand assembled – either for the sheer joy of it, or as a skill-building exercise in model-making.

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Dollhouse

 

Essex County Jail

 

 

The former Essex Country Jail sits forlorn and abandoned amidst desolate parking lots and lifeless prefab boxes. In the so-called University Heights “neighborhood,” the jail is testimony to the past. Listed on the National Register of Historical Places, this 1837 structure is one of the oldest jails in America. Abandoned for over thirty years, no successful preservation efforts have materialized.

Gradually, the urban jungle of junk trees, vines, and garbage conquers the veritable old fortress. The warden’s garden that zealous prisoners formerly pruned and weeded is now overrun with weeds. Used syringes line the cell-block floors. Not a single window is unbroken. Not a single wall is straight or strong. The rigid geometry defined this urban castle is now blanketed in decay.

Yet, this fortress of old is still a home. A constant trail of homeless squeeze through the rusted barbed wire fencing. They carry with them their few odd “valuables,” cans to be recycled or shopping bags of discarded clothes. Every night, they sleep in the very cells their luckless brethren slept in decades before. Every day, they aimlessly wander city streets. Ironically, the physical prison of brute force and searchlights has evolved into a metaphorical bastion of poverty. Both prisons, new and old, are refuges for the luckless. As its occupants have changed, so has the prison. Both are ghosts. Both are vanishing.

Explore this jail as an interactive exhibit online.

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To see a film featuring the work above: click here

Tower of Light

This lightweight and colorful creation explores how perception alters through shifting one’s vantage point. Inspired by the shapes of Italian Futurist sculptures, this “tree” is part sculpture, part Tower of Babel, and part abstract spaceship. Dimensions: 3 ft diameter base by 8 ft high. Materials: Zome erector kit and floodlight beneath for shadows and contrast.

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christmas tree

 

Saint John the Divine

St. John the Divine 12

 

The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine soars above the low-slung tenements and boxy towers that edge up against it on all sides.

Unfinished it survives; funds have long since dried up in our era of secularism and consumerism. Yet powerful it stands; solid stone will outlive concrete and glass any day.

Five hundred years from now, the urban environment may change. Glass behemoths may rise and fall and condo homes may come and go, but this monument to past ages will stand, solid as ever.

Its soaring jagged silhouette seems to proclaim against the soot that darkens its façade and the urban din that drowns out the sanctity of silence: Come weather, wind, or rain, I will remain.

saint-john-the-divine

 

 

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