size. 24 x 36 x 2 inches
Long Island City residential driveway gravel, silicone, silica, Gorilla glue, NYC salt, Maldon salt, crushed marble, and cosmetics on canvas
This piece was inspired by the people around Long Island City, Queens, New York who fought the deluge of gentrification by Amazon. Amazon decided not to build its HQ2 (or second headquarters) in New York City due to community protests. I, personally, do much of my food shopping and exercising in this area. It is not very crowded, and as a disabled person, I can safely navigate. I was selfishly sad to lose a safe space.
Amazon made a deal with the Governor of New York and the Mayor of New York City to waive normal safety review processes, pay Amazon $48,000 per job, and inform the company of record requests prior to release. In return, NYC got 40,000 high paying jobs (over 25 years) and a more diverse economy that was not as reliant on finance or Manhattan. New York Governor Cuomo said the city and state would have paid $3 billion to reap as much as $27.5 billion in tax revenue from Amazon over a 25-year cycle. If there was no HQ2 built in NYC, Amazon would bring 25,000 jobs in 10 years, according to Cuomo.
One concern is that it was next to the United States' largest public housing project. Amazon was bringing mostly jobs that required specific and high levels of education. It was predicted they would not benefit this undereducated community in which 60% rely solely on food stamps and could use more employment opportunities.
There are three rocks from gravel driveways near the proposed Amazon HQ2 site. They represent the locals who are trying to go with the wave. However, they are socioeconomically and ethnically distinct from the dealmakers and many of the highly-paid tech (represented by marble, silicon, and silica) workers Amazon promised it would attract. The gravel has inertia (no training and no money for obligations like health- and childcare), so don't travel far with the wave's energy.
The neighborhood is 61.4% black, 2.3% white, 1.9% Asian, 1.0% American Indian and 2.4% multiracial. Hispanics of any race are 30.1%. Because of this, there were a lot of people of African descent speaking up about HQ2.
The brown, foamy glue I used is "Gorilla Glue". I picked that brand as a reference to those of the African diaspora being called "gorillas". I imagined these so-called "gorillas" stuck together to halt displacement. I struggled with this term, but decided to include it because I've spoken to people who think it is descriptive, not derogatory. This needs public discussion, STILL!
I collected water from NYC's ocean and dried it into salt. This salt was combined with other, also meaningful, salts. Kosher salt to represent the Kosher presence in NYC. Goya salt to represent the Hispanic presence. Maldon salt from a local store to represent the "hipster gourmets".