New Public Art Installation Encourages New Yorkers to ‘Release Their Burdens'

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What to Know

  • Recent events from mass shootings, anti-Asian attacks and the ongoing pandemic take their toll
  • A new art installation by NYC Public Artist in Residence Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya aims to lighten the load
  • The installation is literally made out of New Yorker's stories, as Phingbodhipakkiya weaves together the printed story submissions of members of the public

Amid the recent news cycle, many New Yorkers have been witness to some devastating events, including the Atlanta spa shooting, a sharp rise in anti-Asian attacks across the city and more sexual harassment charges coming to light.

These very real and very challenging issues can weigh down on people, making them anxious, nervous and scared. This is all happening simultaneously alongside a pandemic to which the lives of hundreds of thousands have been lost. At times, it is a lot to bear.

Designed to help New Yorkers overcome some of these feelings, the NYC Public Artist in Residence, Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya has created a piece of art that can speak to collective grief and trauma. Her latest piece of work made in partnership with the NYC Commission on Human Rights, ‘May We Know Our Own Strength,’ is designed to explore how people experience and recover from trauma.

“Right now is an incredibly heavy time, and I wanted to create a space where private sorrow can see the light of day and we can all have a cathartic collective release,” Phingbodhipakkiya told NBC New York.

Her installation is made by weaving together the stories submitted by the public via When a member of the public submits a story, one of a number of bulbs in the exhibition lights up and the submitted story is printed out in real time. Amanda then takes these piles of printed out stories, and weaves them into hanging willow-like structures or ties them to suspended metal grates. “What I wanted to capture was the depth and complexity of healing from trauma. That’s why in different lights you can perceive these sculptures in different ways”, Phingbodhipakkiya said.

As the NYC Public Artist in Residence, Phingbodhipakkiya works closely with the Human Rights Commission to create public art. She previously worked on the series ‘I Still Believe in Our City’ which showed illustrations of Asian American and Pacific Islander faces around New York to combat anti-Asian sentiment.

“The piece 'I Still Believe in Our City, is reclaiming space in a wonderous, colorful way which shows Asian American faces dignified, defiant and hopeful” Phingbodhipakkiya said.

This is the second year running that the agency has had a public artist in residence. Carmelyn P. Malalis, Chair & Commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights spoke to NBC New York on the significance of the piece.

“A huge challenge is getting people to feel like they should report what’s happened to them. For a lot of people, especially those who’ve historically had terrible relationships with government, they think why would I ever go to government when this is happening?” said Malalis on the underreporting of cases of harassment or abuse.

“We have to think of creative, outside of the box ways of reaching people, connecting with people, getting people to understand we see you” said Malalis.

You can see the installation, ‘May We Know Our Own Strength’, from the outside at 401W 14 St. until May 14. If you would like to participate in the exhibit, you may submit your personal stories at for inclusion.

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